With the recent headlines in Israeli media on threats made by Hamas against Ben Gvir’s plans to visit the Temple Mount, I think there’s room for an in-depth explanation that will help us better understand these statements and the organization’s real intentions on the matter. Let’s first look at Hamas’ statements:
1. Last night, Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanua released the following statement:
“Netanyahu’s invasion of the Western Wall, which included Talmudic ceremonies, alongside Ben Gvir the criminal announcing his intention to invade al-Aqsa Mosque, express the arrogance of the fascist settler government and its intentions to further the raids on al-Aqsa and divide it. These escalations in al-Aqsa are like the fuze of an explosive device. The Zionist occupation government will bear the consequences, and our people will confront these acts of stupidity and provocations with bravery, not allowing the occupation’s plans to go through.”
2. This morning, the Lebanese al-Mayadeen channel reported that:
Hamas had sent a sharp message to Egyptian mediators and UN officials regarding the new Israeli Police Minister’s intention to visit the Temple Mount, stating that they would not “sit idly by” and that such a visit would lead to an “explosion”.
When analyzing such threats from Hamas, it’s important to examine the exact wording of the statements and note who is issuing them.
Looking at the first statement made by Hamas’ official spokesman, al-Qanua did use harsh words such as “invasion” and “arrogance” when referring to Israeli PM Netanyahu’s visit to the Western Wall and Ben Gvir’s plans to visit the Temple Mount.
However, he deliberately came short of promising that Hamas would respond, in one way or the other, if these plans were to go through.
Doing so, he avoided binding his organization, putting it in a difficult spot where everyone would expect them to act, and risking a full-on confrontation with Israel which they aren’t interested in. Instead, he chose the rather ambiguous “Palestinian people”, who he mentioned “will confront these acts of stupidity”, leaving some much-needed wiggle room for Hamas.
In the second statement, published by al-Mayadeen, the threat is a bit more concrete: “Hamas will not sit idly by in the face of Ben Gvir’s plans”.
So what’s missing in this one? The catch here is that the threat was made by al-Mayadeen’s “unnamed sources” within Hamas, not by any of Hamas officials. Hamas didn’t even publish the threat on any of its official channels, but chose al-Mayadeen, which it favors for such unofficial announcements.
This is a well-known tactic that Hamas frequently uses.
This way, Hamas is prepared for whatever comes next. If Ben Gvir visits the Temple Mount, they can “fold” and save face in front of the “Palestinian” public, claiming they promised nothing. If Ben Gvir cancels his plans, then Hamas will take the credit, assume the role of “al-Aqsa’s Protector”, and claim that its threats were the reason for hias cancelation.
Hamas knows how to issue “real threats”, as it did in the past (for instance, before Operation “Guardian of the Walls” when it officially promised a military response for the “March of the Flags”, and followed through with a barrage of rockets about an hour before fighting began). In this case, Hamas is simply not interested in doing so.
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— בז news (@1717Bazz) January 3, 2023