This story – Israeli commandos killed a senior Hamas militant in the West Bank on Thursday – led an American colleague to make the following observations:
It is a classic Israeli technique to respond to uncomfortable political situations (such as the current moment of too much talk of a “peace process” and of “two states”) to foment some violence on the part of the Palestinians, who usually (unfortunately) are happy to accommodate.
Here’s how it works. When the Israels want to change the subject and move into “there’s no partner” mode, they do an incursion of one sort or another in the West Bank or Gaza, as Ehud… Barak did in Gaza in early November to begin to undermine the cease-fire with Hamas. They count (correctly) on little notice being taken of their aggression in the West, so that when the Palestinians respond (say, by violating the cease-fire by shooting Qassam rockets from Gaza, as happened last November/December),… it is the Palestinians who… are deemed the bad guys.
If you’re… initially perplexed at… why the Israelis absolutely… had to do this… assassination at precisely this moment and you conclude that their goal is not really to kill another Palestinian “terrorist” but rather is to change… the subject and also make the point to… Obama that the Palestinians are bad, then you’ve become a true student of the conflict. Go to the head of the class.
Now, do I think that Hamas would do itself and the Palestinian people a big favor by not responding violently? Yes, I do. But let’s keep our eyes on the ball and watch how this plays out.