EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: So far, Israel’s objectives in armed conflicts with Hamas have been limited so as to avoid the need to reoccupy Gaza or to send it down the “Somalia model” path of chaos. But there might be a third option.
Despite its radical Islamist ideology and long-term commitment to Israel’s destruction, Hamas in the Gaza Strip is, for now, avoiding high intensity armed conflict.
Hamas’s leader, Yihye Sinwar, has expressed an awareness of the futility of a new war with Israel at this time. Instead, he is focused on other goals: ending the organization’s regional isolation, strengthening its iron grip on Gaza, and avoiding an economic meltdown in the Strip, which could endanger its regime.
Hamas is relying on low intensity pressure tactics, such as weekly border rioting, to promote these goals.