Adam Shatz, 3 June 2021
Privately, Netanyahu and the Israeli army have always had an interest in keeping Hamas in power in Gaza. Israel allowed the movement to flourish in its early years as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the PLO. Hamas’s rule in Gaza kept the Palestinians divided, and Palestinian political fragmentation has always been a key Israeli objective. Several Israeli pundits have suggested that Netanyahu deliberately provoked Hamas in order to prevent his opponents from establishing a governing coalition. Israel has had four elections in two years, and if he fails to hold on to power, he could face corruption charges and a prison term. In the lead-up to Hamas’s rocket barrage, he pursued a series of flagrantly reckless policies. Oppression alone seldom detonates revolt; humiliation – what the Algerians call hogra – is also necessary. Netanyahu supplied it in abundance. The war was more of a gift to Hamas than he bargained for, however.