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Both countries were ruled by Western-backed autocrats last time Gaza was invaded, but popular uprisings have since swept them aside, and Islamists now dominate in Cairo and Tunis, representing masses who back their fellow Sunni Islamists, Hamas.
“Today we raise our hats to Hamas,” said Talal Okal, a Gaza political analyst normally critical of the movement. “They look organised, aware of what they’re doing and ready to pay the price to achieve their agenda. Ordinary people can only admire them today.”
“Israel is no longer able to predict what Arab leaders might do if a ground offensive takes place, certainly not what Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi could do under pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist and secular parties.
“Maybe Israel does not care much, but its American and European allies do. They care for their own interests in the Middle East, the new Middle East,” Okal said.
Though the long-range rockets fired at Tel Aviv have not caused any casualties or damage - thanks largely to Israel’s Iron Dome interceptor shield - Hamas is content to see Israelis running for cover in a city that was once immune to such attack.
They claim to have shot down an Israeli F-16 fighter, and mock Israel’s “Paper Dome” as a failure. Both claims are outlandish, but they go down well with those eager to believe them.
This is still asymmetric warfare with asymmetric rules and results. Since it erupted last Wednesday, three Israelis have been killed, but 65 Palestinians are dead, most of them civilians. Yet the Islamists believe they are winning an important round in the battle for world public opinion.