An interview Friday with Avraham Sela, co-author of ‘The Palestinian Hamas,’ on Israel’s Channel 2 website shed light on just how Hamas operates, and whether the recent conflict with Israel devastated the terror organization or emboldened it.
Sela said that as a fighting unit Hamas had developed significantly in the past decade, but compared to other terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah “They have not really even reached half the level,” he says. Sela says this is a result of the fact that they are always being monitored and thus have a far more difficult time training.
Militarily Hamas is fairly autonomous. There is very little or no supervision. The fighters receive around 2,000 shekels (about $500) a month. The military apparatus was initially much less ad-hoc. It was based around individuals as opposed to a military organization. This didn’t begin until Israel withdrew from Gaza and was a development of Mohammed Dief’s and also Ahmed Jabari’s.
Speaking of Ahmed Jabari, Sela says whether his death will ultimately prove fatal to Hamas’ army is something that “time will tell” Sela makes the point that with the death of other commanders in the past, new, even more sophisticated people have taken their place.
In the meantime Hamas may be experiencing a short-term surge in popularity. “Hamas’s prestige rose following the operation, together with that of the Islamic Jihad,” Sela says. “I believe that Hamas chalked up a significant political and moral achievement,” from their viewpoint. Sela argues this based on the fact that they continued to fire into Israel non-stop throughout Operation Pillar of Defense, and Hamas was also an equal party to a ceasefire agreement with Israel.
None of this bodes well for future prospects of peace along the Israel-Gaza border. “The likelihood is not great because of the many organizations in the Gaza Strip. They have between them a competition and rivalry, on the one hand, and a light trigger finger aimed at Israel, on the other.”