Three Political Crises Drove the Gaza Violence
This article was originally published in Defense One on May 25, 2021.
While the explosions, air raid sirens, and images of rubble led many to interpret the recent violence between Israelis and Palestinians as a military crisis, it was really the product of three simultaneous political crises. If Secretary of State Tony Blinken is to achieve any lasting results during his swing through the region, he must seek not just to cement a ceasefire but to revive cross-border discussion.
The first political crisis is in Gaza. Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since in 2007, but Hamas is no unified actor. The organization is split between its political and armed wings, and its Gaza organization and its organization outside Gaza. Because Hamas operates in secret, understanding the forces at play is difficult, and understanding how to influence them is more difficult still. Even so, Yahya Sinwar’s narrow reelection as the head of Hamas’ Gaza political bureau in March suggests underlying tensions, as does the sudden ubiquity of political chief Ismail Haniyeh after years of quiet.