Gaza terror attacks struck a security checkpoint in Gaza City last week. The suicide bomber killed three Hamas police officers and wounded three other Palestinians. For much of the world, a terrorist attack in the Palestinian territory may come as no surprise and perhaps that is why little attention was given. But we should be paying special attention to this attack.
The target of the suicide bomber was not Israel – it was Hamas. Experts believe this could be among the first attacks signaling an incursion of the Islamic State into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Two of the victims in the terror attack were reportedly part of the armed military wing of Hamas. This is not the first attack from more hard-line Islamic groups against Hamas in Palestine, but it is rare.
In previous posts and podcasts, I have noted the consistent trend throughout the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When Israel refuses to negotiate with the parties deemed legitimate to the Palestinians, hard-line militant organizations arise. Historically, by the time Israel is willing to negotiate with a group such as the PLO, the group has lost credibility among the Palestinians after years of Israeli abuse.
This cycle escalates so that more and more extremist groups develop off the dysfunction of the conflict. The PLO was rejected until Hamas became the other option. As Hamas normalized, they were rejected by Israeli negotiators. It now appears that Hamas is losing credibility among hardliners. We could see a day in the very near future where Israelis long for the days of Hamas in contrast to the extremist alternatives that are arising in their stead.
It is noteworthy that in the New York Times article reporting on this terror attack it is noted that the Islamic State opposes the “pragmatic approach” of Hamas toward the conflict with Israel. Several years ago such a statement regarding Hamas would have been unheard of in this publication.
Meanwhile, the extremist threat of the Islamic State in the Sinai is worsening. This is occurring after years of intense repression and counter-terrorism strikes from Egyptian authorities. These are apparently proving ineffective as the Islamic State presence in the Sinai is now spreading from Egypt to the Palestinian territories.
The Gaza terror attacks will be an important trend to follow when it comes to terrorism in the Middle East. Gaza is one of the most populated pieces of land, per square foot, in the world. The Palestinian people there may become caught between an oppressive Israeli government on one side of the conflict and a psychopathic Islamic State terrorist group on the other.