February 18, 2024
Hamas Aims for a Post-War Role in Palestinian Politics
World Palasteine

Hamas Aims for a Post-War Role in Palestinian Politics

Hamas Aims for a Post-War Role in Palestinian Politics/AFP

Hamas Aims for a Post-War Role in Palestinian Politics

by

AFP

Hamas’s release of a polished document justifying its devastating October 7 attacks shows the Islamist group is positioning itself for a post-war political role, a senior official and analysts say.

Following the publication of “Our Narrative… Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” in measured, well-written English and later in French as well as Arabic, a senior Hamas official explained that the group, which Israel has vowed to crush, seeks to retain a say.

Bassem Naim, Hamas’s director of international relations, said the group’s action at a national leadership level and its “resistance to the Zionist project… qualifies it to be in the leadership of the Palestinian people”.

“The movement does not demand, through this document or otherwise, the exclusivity of the leadership of the Palestinian people,” said Naim, a former health minister in Gaza. “Hamas calls for the rearrangement of the Palestinian house and the reform of the Palestine Liberation Organisation so that it is representative of all,” he told AFP.

“No party that wants to reach a solution to this conflict can ignore Hamas.” Hamas posted a landslide victory in the last Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 but has never been part of the PLO, which remains the preserve of the rival Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and smaller factions.

The 16-page pamphlet bears on its cover a silhouetted fighter with a motorised paraglider — the airborne troops for its shock, multi-pronged assault. While seeking to refute in often legal language what it calls “Israeli fabricated accusations and allegations”, it also admits that “maybe some faults happened”.

The Gaza war broke out with Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attacks, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,140 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

In response, Israel launched a relentless offensive against Hamas which has killed at least 25,700 people in Gaza, around 70 percent of them women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

Operatives also seized 250 hostages, and Israel says around 132 remain in Gaza. That number includes the bodies of at least 28 dead hostages, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures. ‘Caveats and contradictions’ 

As well as setting out its version of events, the Hamas document urges an international investigation into Israel’s occupation, specifically calling on the United States and European countries to support a process at the International Criminal Court.

Hugh Lovatt, a Middle East expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, called the publication a “propaganda exercise” but said, “it does show some of the internal conversation and dynamics within Hamas on the issue of civilian casualties”.

He highlighted, however, that there were “caveats and maybe even contradictions in the document,” as Hamas regards all Israelis of military age as combatants.

Aymenn Al-Tamimi, an analyst from the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum said by appealing to an international audience, Hamas was looking to refute comparisons, like those made by Israel, with the Islamic State.

“They’re trying to push back on the idea that they’re like jihadist groups like Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State,” he said. “Hamas (is) appealing to the wider global system in a way jihadists don’t do. They’re clearly distinguishing themselves from jihadists in the way they are talking,” he added.

‘Hard truth’  Andreas Kreig, a security expert at Kings College London said Hamas’s power had shifted in the wake of October 7 and in the more than 100 days of war that have followed. “If the metric is social, political control of Gaza, Hamas has certainly lost that,” he said, but “internationally speaking, they have very much been able to strengthen their position”.

“I think a case for a Palestinian state can be more easily made with more support… in the global south anyway, but also in the Western liberal north,” he added.

South Africa has launched an emergency case at the International Court of Justice arguing that Israel stands in breach of the UN Genocide Convention, while last week Mexico and Chile joined South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, the Comoros and Djibouti in calling for an investigation into the conflict by the International Criminal Court.

In an apparent appeal to the global south, the Hamas document calls on “those nations who were colonised and realise the suffering of the Palestinian people, to take serious and effective positions against… the Israeli occupation”.

Lovatt said the “hard truth” of the current conflict meant “any stabilising initiative for Gaza, any return of a revitalised Palestinian Authority, will likely have to be with a degree of acceptance from Hamas itself”. “Hamas will not be defeated and will not be eradicated… from Gaza, that’s quite clear,” he said.

However, the London-based expert said Hamas’s narrative did not make a convincing argument for its political rehabilitation

“If the movement wants to start making a case for why it should not be treated as the pariah that it deserves to be from October 7, then it needs to start spelling out its political visions and strategy. This document does not do that.”

(This story has not been edited by VoM News staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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