EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The real test of Hamas’s March of Return campaign in Gaza lies in its ability to mobilize mass violence in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, and other parts of the West Bank. So far, most of the Arab inhabitants of those areas are content to watch the events on their screens rather than in the streets.
Hamas’s March of Return campaign in Gaza will count as a success for its organizers only insofar as it mobilizes mass violence in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, and elsewhere in the West Bank. This is why Israeli Arab members of Knesset Ahmad Tibi and Hanan Zouabi, among many others, urge the inhabitants of those areas to violently protest Israeli forces in solidarity with their brethren in Gaza. They encourage them to risk their own lives while they continue to draw substantial salaries from the Israeli treasury and enjoy parliamentary immunity. Sending others to the trenches is, after all, a long-established historical tradition.
Anything less than sustained mass violence in these areas will amount to one more defeat for Hamas in its string of defeats. They include its inability to solve Gaza’s social and economic problems; its inability to cope with the loss of potential strategic partner Muhammad Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood member and ousted Egyptian president, and its inability to handle his replacement by incumbent President al-Sisi, who shares an enmity to the organization fully supported by financial powerhouses such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The stakes of failure are high. Both Hamas and its nemesis, the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas, which is free-riding on the campaign to condemn Israel, recognize that ever since the takeover of Gaza by Hamas nearly 12 years ago, the Palestinians in the territories no longer cooperate against Israel.