The war of attrition that has developed in the south shows no sign of ending. Hamas is hurt, exhausted and weakened, but refuses to surrender precisely because of this. It is firing rockets and mortar shells in large numbers at Israel in order to kill and cause damage, seeking to pressure Israel’s decision-makers. And along with that rocket and mortar fire, Hamas will keep trying to carry out other terror attacks in the next few days — all to show that it is still alive after the dramatic blows to its leadership in last week’s Israeli strikes. The mass executions in Gaza of “collaborators” are another sign of the hysteria in Hamas caused by Israel’s success in getting intelligence during wartime on the locations of its commanders.
In Jerusalem, meanwhile, Israel’s leaders naturally refuse to agree to Hamas’s ridiculous demands. The problem that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the rest of the decision-makers will have to face in the next few days, however, is that the mediation channel of which they had hopes, the one involving Cairo and Ramallah, is closing.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his team left Cairo on Saturday night after talks with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. His main ceasefire negotiators, intelligence chief Majed Faraj and Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad, have left Egypt as well.
Meanwhile, the rift between Abbas and Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal has never been clearer. Their last meeting in Doha at the end of last week, in contrast to previous meetings, featured bitter accusations and complaints by Abbas to the effect that Mashaal and his men are a bunch of “liars” who tried to bring down the PA and engineer a coup in the West Bank. Evidently, the Shin Bet’s revelations last week that Hamas was plotting terror attacks against the PA as part of a wider plot to target Israel and topple Abbas were quite widely read.
Thus the PA is unlikely to renew internal Palestinian discussions with Hamas in the near future. The joint Palestinian delegation to the Cairo talks will publicly, conveniently, claim that the negotiations will be renewed when Israel meets “Palestinian” demands. But all members of the Palestinian delegation know full well that the deadlock now is not with Israel, or even with Gaza, but with Doha. Mashaal and his colleagues are refusing any flexibility and resisting the Egyptian formula, with its key provision for an immediate ceasefire and only then the negotiations on all the various issues.
Mashaal and his people in Gaza are trying hard now to replace the Egyptian channel with one involving the Americans, Qatar and Turkey and to maximize their military gains in the meantime — that is, to kill as many Israelis as possible, even if this means dozens of Gaza apartment buildings being blown up in Israeli airstrikes seeking out those who are responsible. In Gaza, the despair is acute, but Hamas certainly is unmoved by the sight of the bodies and the destroyed buildings. As has been stated before, Mashaal is following the Muslim Brotherhood agenda, and is prepared to fight to the last drop of Gaza residents’ blood.