HAMAS and Israel: Conflicting Strategies of Group-Based Politics

  • December 01, 2008
  • Dr Sherifa D Zuhur

Efforts to separate HAMAS from its popular support and network of social and charitable organizations have not been effective in destroying the organization, nor in eradicating the will to resist among a fairly large segment of the Palestinian population. It is important to consider this Islamist movement in the context of a region-wide phenomenon of similar movements with local goals, which can be persuaded to relinquish violence or which could become more violent. Certainly an orientation to HAMAS and its base must be factored into new and more practical and effective approaches to peacemaking in the region. At the same time, HAMAS offers a fascinating glimpse of the dynamics of strategic reactions and the modification of Israeli impulses towards aggressive deterrence, as well as the evolution in the Islamist movements’ planning and operations. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict bears similarities to a long-standing civil conflict, even as it has sparked inter-Palestinian hostilities in its most recent phase.