Real Winner in Gaza War? Could Be Hamas.

Facing Off With Israel, Islamists Bolster Standing

The Real Winners: Palestinians are bearing the brunt of the confrontation in Gaza. Yet paradoxically, public opinion is likely to sharply back Hamas.
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The Real Winners: Palestinians are bearing the brunt of the confrontation in Gaza. Yet paradoxically, public opinion is likely to sharply back Hamas.

By Reuters

Published November 18, 2012.
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As Israel bombed Palestinian militant targets in the Gaza Strip for a fifth day, Ali Al-Ahmed took to the streets of Gaza city in his pyjamas on Sunday to buy eggs and chocolate for his three children.

“Terrifying, that’s how it feels,” he said.

“But they are also terrorised on the other side of the border,” he added approvingly. “To be honest, I thought Hamas had forgotten about fighting Israel. I was wrong.”

That will be music to the ears of the Islamist movement that rules the blockaded sliver of land where 1.7 million people have been cooped up since 2007 when the Hamas government, hostile to Israel, took charge.

In an earlier clash, the three-week winter war of 2008-2009, many Palestinian rivals blamed Hamas’s rocket-firing bravado for bringing Israel’s military might down on Gaza.

That war ended with over 1,400 Palestinians in early graves and a territory scarred by bombing, shelling and invasion. Israel lost 13 lives in the lopsided battle, and Hamas licked its wounds.

This time is different. The Arab Spring has changed the Middle East, and Hamas has more powerful weapons.

Many Facebook pages express undisguised glee at Israelis scuttling for cover, and two singers from the West Bank have made a YouTube hit, “Strike Tel Aviv”, praising Hamas and others for firing rockets that can threaten Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time.

Hamas also scored a diplomatic hit, with solidarity visits last week by the foreign ministers of Egypt and Tunisia while its positions were under attack.


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