With the news that Israel has killed the Hamas military commander in Gaza in retaliation for continuing rocket fire coming from the Strip, it is time to ask she question, why would Hamas choose the current time to risk a new military conflict with Israel? By all normal standards, things would seem to be looking up for Gaza as Egypt eases up on the blockade and Qatar pledging $254 million for reconstruction. Surely, Hamas’ military capabilities have not vastly improved since the last go round with Israel so what might be the salient factor behind the rocket fire campaign? One significant different between now and the last Gaza conflict is that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is in control of the Egyptian government and, to some exert, the Egyptian military and it seems improbable given the intimate relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas that the rocket campaign could have occurred without some form of go ahead by the Egyptian Brotherhood. Now that the conflict is serious escalating, it will be important to observed the Egyptian Brotherhood reaction. There are three likely possible responses:
- Egypt could act as a neutral mediator and attempt to defuse the situation.
- Egypt could act verbally in concert with the Global Muslim Brotherhood to further aggravate the violence. This seems already to be taking place in a virulent condemnation of Israel issued by the Brotherhood that said “The killing of tens of our innocent Palestinian brothers is part of a link in a chain of oppression and Judaization that seeks to impose itself on the ground, and that will never materialize with God’s will.” Such a statement clearly frames the situation as a religious conflict between Jews and Muslims and can only inflame matters further.
- Most gravely, Egypt could engage in threatening or outright military actions risking a wider war in the region.
Another relevant wildcard is the re-election of President Obama who is likely to be seen as far less likely that Governor Romney would have been to take strong action on the side of Israel.
It has been unusually quiet recently on the part of the Palestinian wing of the Global Muslim Brotherhood which has sponsored such previous campaigns as the Gaza flotilla and the Gaza convoys and it is known that the the Global Muslim Brotherhood views Gaza as part of a Jihad. The coming days will tell if the rocket fire was the opening salvo in a new and wider Global Muslim Brotherhood campaign against Israel and what form that campaign is going to take.