Hamas achieved what it wanted by attacking Israel: Terror, escalation, and disruption to international order


In some ways Hamas’s assault on Israel sums up the essence of terrorism. The group’s mass incursions have seen its operatives storming Israeli cities, killing and kidnapping a whole bunch. This seems to have been executed by the e book on the subject of creating emotions of terror and escalating the scenario.

But it’s additionally a reminder, as pioneering terrorism scholar Martha Crenshaw teaches, that terrorism relies on the precise context of the scenario from which it arises, and on the identical time its implications usually go effectively past nationwide boundaries.

Among the many many observations that may very well be made, three are value flagging. At the beginning, terrorism is in its nature a extremely developed type of psychological warfare. Quantity-wise, terrorism kills far fewer folks than malaria, automotive accidents and cardiovascular illnesses, however polls constantly present that many individuals stay highly concerned about terrorism.

Terrorism is constructed upon secrecy, deception and shock. Each time possible, it needs to be spectacular, deadly and indiscriminate, as a result of terrorism is sort of a stage for seeking media attention.

Hanging on symbolic dates and flooding the online with graphic, bone-chilling videos (together with pretend ones) is significant for terrorists. It permits them to blow issues out of proportion and convey folks’s worst nightmares to life. On this sense, Hamas did all of it.

Motivation and functionality

Second, as distinguished counter-terrorism researcher Boaz Ganor has argued, the probability of a terrorist attack relies on the motivation and capabilities of terrorists.

Despite the ceasefire agreed on the finish of the 2014 Gaza conflict, Hamas clearly nonetheless has an uncompromising, partly spiritual motivation. Its violence is in keeping with its founding charter, which states: “There isn’t any answer for the Palestinian query besides by jihad. Initiatives, proposals and worldwide conferences are all a waste of time.”

However not solely does Hamas have very sturdy motivation that justifies mass killing, it additionally has a lot functionality, together with weapons, funds, intelligence and diplomatic protection, a lot of which comes from Iran. The group’s arsenal contains rockets, drones and small arms, but additionally much less typical methods to maximise casualties, resembling bulldozers to tear down fences and paragliders to elude extra technologically refined protection methods.

Palestinians storm Israeli territory, east of the city of Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip, October 7, 2023.
Palestinians storm Israeli territory, east of the town of Khan Yunis, south of the Gaza Strip, October 7, 2023. (Credit score: Anas-Mohammed / Shutterstock)

In earlier conflicts, Hamas has allegedly used tunnels, booby traps and a whole bunch of individuals not essentially affiliated with the group however nonetheless able to battle to the dying to create deadly resistance to Israeli troops. Israel ought to count on one thing comparable if it invades Gaza once more.

On this respect, it has the motivation to kill as many individuals as attainable and the capabilities to battle a protracted conflict, so its terrorist assaults are very prone to proceed cyclically.

Upsetting a response

Third, the assault reiterates terrorism’s lust for overreaction and escalation, particularly within the face of waning home and worldwide assist for the group that commits it.

In a twisted method, Hamas arguably wants this escalation. Previously weeks, rising numbers of Gazan residents have reportedly been protesting the group’s leadership, accusing it of corruption and failing to enhance residing circumstances. However most significantly, the rising chance of an settlement between Israel and Saudi Arabia can be an amazing blow to Hamas’s credibility inside the Islamic world as a result of it will straight contradict its anti-Israel place.

Now that it has efficiently provoked Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing “mighty revenge”, Hamas can divert Palestinian consideration away from its issues and rating factors in its competitors with the rival Palestinian Authority (PA). If Israel assaults, Hamas will silence criticism coming from PA and others within the West Financial institution, who won’t ever facet with Israel, rallying the Palestinian inhabitants round its flag. The Israeli-Saudi deal is prone to collapse.

There may be extra. The seemingly upcoming conflict may spill over to southern Lebanon as Hezbollah (the terrorist group that controls the area) additionally desires escalation. Like Hamas, Hezbollah has been dropping grip over varied segments of Lebanese society on account of allegations of corruption, intervention within the Syrian battle, and tampering with the judicial investigation into the 2020 Beirut port blast.

Iran may additionally see conflict as a golden alternative to weaken Israel and severely compromise accords with Saudi Arabia, Tehran’s different key regional competitor.

Israel dangers getting dragged in a bloody, prolonged conflict wherein its troops need to go door-to-door on the lookout for Hamas operatives. This could end in a whole bunch if not hundreds of deaths and do precisely what Hamas and Hezbollah need by making them into Palestine’s solely, actual defenders in its folks’s eyes.

Giant-scale and sensationalized terrorist assaults usually bear soul-searching questions. Within the case of Israel and its allies, this may imply re-examining intelligence sharing and evaluation capabilities.

But in addition, what are really efficient counterstrategies to this form of terrorism, and what does victory actually seem like? As successful turns into an more and more blurred idea, they could conclude {that a} navy response is paramount. However nobody goes to police or bomb their method out of this.The Conversation

Article written by Michele Groppi, Lecturer in Protection Research, Protection Research Division, King’s College London

This text is republished from The Conversation underneath a Artistic Commons license. Learn the original articleMichele Groppi doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that might profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.

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