August 5, 2021

Hamas wants to capitalize on its resistance to Israel

By Louis Imbert

Posted May 25, 2021 at 12:03 p.m. – Updated May 25, 2021 at 2:01 p.m.

Tense, intense, Yahya Sinouar kisses one by one the foreheads of those close to the “martyrs”. On the lawn of the Yarmouk football stadium in Gaza, Monday, May 24, the leader of the armed Islamist movement in the enclave pays homage to their dead and demonstrates humility: he embraces them, refuses with broad gestures that they do not kiss her first.

This thin man with the thin bleached beard, with dark eyes, will not take the microphone. Despite the ceasefire that ended eleven days of war on May 21, it remains a target, according to Israeli authorities. On the dais, Mr. Sinouar is content to quickly embrace the grandson of an engineer in charge of the development of Hamas rockets, Jamal Zebda, killed in a bombardment. He places the child’s small hand on the butt of the machine gun with which he was decked out and raises it to the sky, offering photographers a perfect image of armed martyrology.

Yahya Sinouar, the leader of the armed Islamist movement, at a ceremony organized by Hamas for fighters killed by Israeli air strikes, at the Yarmouk football stadium in Gaza on May 24, 2021.

It is far this year 2018 when Mr. Sinouar, barely in post, affirmed to the foreign press that he was ready “To invest in peace and love. “ This former Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, who spent twenty-three years in Israeli prisons, intended to negotiate a long-term truce – ten years, fifteen years – against the lifting of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade in why Gaza has been slowly dying since 2007.

Today, Hamas has pushed back its “normalization” efforts, returning to what it does best: war. It is a huge mess. But it is also a bet. The movement seized an opportunity by firing a rocket salute at Jerusalem on May 10, after a wave of massive police repression on the Mosques plaza at the end of Ramadan. “It was impossible to know then how long the war would last”, sighs Ghazi Hamad, a member of the Hamas political bureau, fresh out of the shelters. “But we couldn’t let Israel poison the atmosphere, provoke Palestinians everywhere. “

Nationalist burst

From the first days, the movement evoked a truce with the Egyptian mediators. “We were not ready for this escalation”, believes Bassem Naïm, a Hamas executive and former health minister in Gaza. Some 250 Gazan deaths and 12 Israeli victims later, such is the result: “Hamas has won a lot in this war, it will show in the long term. He created a burst of popular pride in Gaza, and he is much more accepted among Palestinians outside the enclave ”, believes independent analyst Omar Shaban in Gaza.

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