Israel vs Palestine: Hamas ‘taking advantage’ of war with Israel to boost public image

Israel-Gaza: CCTV captures moment of strike in Petah Tikva

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The Islamist militant group which has controlled Gaza since 2007 has fired thousands of rockets at Israel over the past few days after four Palestinian families were evicted from their homes in east Jerusalem. The families, who have lived in their houses for decades, are based in an area of Palestine controlled by Hamas’ rival Fatah.

Observers claim that the group – a designated terrorist organisation – exploited a “political vacuum” created after its political rival stood idly by.

It used this perceived inaction by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas – who is also Fatah’s chairman – to gain favour with Israeli Arabs and fellow Palestinians.

Before launching the rockets, it said that Israel would “pay a heavy price” if it evicted Palestinian residents from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood Sheikh Jarrah.

Mohammed Deif, the head of Hamas’s military wing, said he was issuing a “clear, final warning” that it would “not stand by helplessly”.

Jean-Paul Chagnollaud, head of the Institut de recherche et d’études Méditerranée Moyen-Orient in Paris, told France24: “Saying that they’re the people who can resist Israel is the card Hamas plays to win Palestinian support.

“By playing this card, they’re presenting themselves as [potential] saviours of a Jerusalem shaken by clashes over threats of eviction of Palestinian families in a kind of new episode of Israeli colonisation.

“Hamas is taking advantage of a political vacuum created by the Palestinian Authority’s weakness.

“President Mahmoud Abbas created a huge space for Hamas to occupy.

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“He’s had little political standing for a long time, then he inflicted a kind of coup de grace on himself by cancelling impending elections he was likely to lose.”

Since it started launching rockets alongside fellow militant organisation Islamic Jihad, 10 Israelis have been killed.

Israel said this morning that about 3,150 rockets have been fired towards Israel from Gaza since the conflict began.

Approximately 460 fell short, it said.

Israeli air defences destroyed about 90 percent, they said, meaning around 269 rockets have landed in Israel in the past week.

Israel, on the other hand, has responded with the full force of its high-tech military.

This has killed more than 200 Palestinians, including dozens of children, Gaza health authorities have said.

And it has caused huge damage to Hamas’ military capabilities.

The organisation has also lost several of its senior commanders, weapons caches and tunnels during Israel’s unrelenting bombardment.

And, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it would continue using the country’s “full force”, it appears their political gamble may have backfired.

Mr Netanyahu said his country “wants to level a heavy price” for the rocket attacks.

With the violence showing no signs of abating – numerous world leaders, including Joe Biden and Boris Johnson, have called for calm.

The US president urged the two sides to work towards a “sustainable calm”.

But with neither side appearing willing to compromise that looks unlikely to happen in the short-term at least.

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