Hamas’s initial political and significant popularity surge began after the Disengagement Plan of 2005 that was implemented by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the time which involved the complete removal of Israeli physical presence from the Gaza Strip; including the dismantling of all settlements. The said plan came as a result of the consistency and steadfastness of Hamas’s resistance against Israel’s colonial and occupational presence; thereby promoting the decision by Ariel Sharon to withdraw. Consequently, Hamas won democratic elections in 2006 through a sweeping majority win monitored and confirmed by the Carter Foundation.
Due to these developments, the international community decided to shun Hamas’s renewed and legitimized position; thereby giving Israel the go ahead in the implementation of an illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip as a collective punishment strategy that has lasted for over 8 years and continues to this day post Operation Protective Edge. Setting aside the failure of the blockade in weakening or compromising Hamas and the Gaza Strip with the de-development of the Strip geographically and economically along with three military campaigns unleashed against the Strip - latest being Operation Protective Edge-Hamas’s popularity rejuvenated further after the said latest.
However, it is critical to emphasise the fact that the events that transpired in relation to Hamas and the Palestinians after the Disengagement Plan in 2005 are events that must and ought to be perceived from the counterinsurgency lens as the appropriate contextual applicability framework through which we are to understand the situational circumstances today in Palestine and the overall Nakba; especially with the sudden re-emergence of Mohammad Dahlan; given the historical evidence that is connected to the contemporary. With that being said, Israel’s attempts at implementing a counterinsurgency strategy and Nakba maintenance against Hamas are in threefold.
First and foremost, the elections themselves were a seductive trap for the Palestinian movement. It was a counterinsurgency trap due to the fact that although the elections were conducted in a genuine democratic process and a reinforcement of legitimacy for Hamas; it was already clearly outlined from the start based on the Oslo Accords and the Negotiations also known as the ‘Peace Process’ that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) or Fatah was to be the “sole legitimate representatives” of the Palestinian people in relation to the said process of a Nakba continuum. Mohammad Dahlan was a key player in ensuring the facilitation of the Nakba via the negotiations; including the persecution of any resistance efforts or stances against the so called negotiation process. This institutionalized Nakba of imposed dictatorship and occupation of government extended via Fatah and the PLO continues to be facilitated by the international community today including Ban Ki-Moon. Therefore, the purpose of the election process and the luring of Hamas into it was a divide and conquer tactic by Israel that was rendered successful after the suspicious nature of the death of Yasser Arafat. Mohammad Dahlan along with Israel have been considered prime suspects in the evident and subsumed poisoning of Arafat; causing the birth of the leadership vacuum- whereby relations between Hamas and Fatah collapsed due to the failure of the formation of a National Unity Government. The Palestinian leadership was left distracted with fighting each other before their fragile restoration post Operation Protective Edge that remains to be on the verge of faltering again.
Notwithstanding the illegal blockade implemented as a collective punishment strategy against the democratic aspirations of the Palestinian people as well as a failed attempt to weaken and undermine Hamas by trying to influence the people to “lose their hearts and minds” towards Hamas; the United States, Canada and Israel in coordination with the Palestinian Authority attempted to implement another failed counterinsurgency policy. It was known as the Dayton Project- the training of a security force that would have the ability to facilitate a coup of some sort against a democratically elected government. This force was managed by Mohammad Dahlan and as a result of the exposure of the corrupted intention of this force via the Palestine Papers including the overall project led by U.S. General Keith Dayton, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip; rendering any attempt towards a national unity government null and void. Dahlan resigned from his position as National Security Adviser in the aftermath of Hamas’s take over.
Following these events including the three military campaigns conducted against the Gaza Strip by Israel; the latest being Operation Protective Edge-this latest campaign in particular involved an evident change in political and security coordination in the region. The United Arab Emirates; a country where Halliburton and Blackwater are deeply and heavily involved with; worked very closely with Egypt and Israel against Hamas that Israel called a relationship of renewed ‘security cooperation’. This is significant due to the fact that Mohammad Dahlan is based in the United Arab Emirates and given his history in relation to security related matters; particularly against Hamas such as the likes of the Dayton Project; it is clear what this renewed ‘security cooperation’ means and the sudden reappearance of Mohammad Dahlan in the Gaza Strip on the political forefront. This regional change is further demonstrated with Qatar’s renewed position and relationship with both Egypt and the United Arab Emirates; following a period of deep political and diplomatic turmoil as a result of Qatar’s staunch support of Hamas along with their $1billion contribution to the reconstruction of Gaza.
Operation Protective Edge has cornered Israel on both the military and diplomatic fronts. Militarily, Israel underestimated Hamas’s capabilities and their overall resistance as the response to Israel’s aggression was unexpected; given their constant improvement in military surprises. Diplomatically, Israel is being faced with the sudden and rapid spread of recognition of Palestine; especially by the European Union, including the recent removal of Hamas from the terror blacklist. The diplomatic avenues regarding Palestine have been led by Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas; latest being the United Nations Security Council Resolution presented in relation to a timeline for Israel to withdraw its occupation from Palestine.
Given this information and developments that have transpired on both fronts post Operation Protective Edge, Israel wants a third option to alleviate the pressure from having failed militarily with Hamas and diplomatically with Fatah. Therefore, the idea of introducing a third potential form of leadership with Mohammad Dahlan-who has been problematic to both Hamas and Fatah- to override and undermine both political parties would best serve Israel’s continued colonial and occupational interest in facilitation, cooperation and agreement of states like Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The Israel-Egypt-United Arab Emirates triangle is committing a new act of war via a renewed counterinsurgency strategy that allows Israel’s colonial and occupational identity to continue breathing as opposed to suffocating. Time will demonstrate that they are on the wrong side of history- on the side of the Nakba- i.e. ethnic cleansing and incremental genocide; thereby continuing in “losing of the hearts and minds of the people.”