Israel’s Gift to Hamas

From the March 2009 Trumpet Print Edition

When Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas actually blamed Hamas for the war. It was an extraordinarily revealing sign. Abbas was essentially admitting that in order to secure a Fatah-led unity government for all Palestinians, Israel had to crush Hamas.

At the beginning of the Gaza war, Fatah fully expected that to happen. “Hamas is very nervous because they feel that their end is nearing,” one senior Fatah official said. Abbas even instructed his PA officials in Gaza to prepare for the likelihood of returning to power.

These dreams were soon dashed.

After 22 days, Israeli military officials declared a unilateral ceasefire even while admitting that Cast Lead hadn’t delivered a knockout blow. Much of Hamas’s stockpile of rockets and other weapons is intact. And only a few hundred fighters—a fraction of its 15,000-man army—were killed.

This is not good news for Israel.

Of course, the spinmeisters in Jerusalem tried to characterize Cast Lead as a decisive victory for Israel. The undeniable truth, however, is that because Hamas resisted Israel and survived the crisis, the group’s popularity on the Arab street—including the West Bank—is sky-high. Hamas “is coming out of this war with huge political gains,” said Naji Sharab, a political science professor at the al-Azhar University. “On the Palestinian scene, it has succeeded in embodying the resistance during more than 20 days.”

This is not good news for Fatah.

Abbas Must Go

Less than a week into the Israeli-Hamas clash, in yet another revealing sign, Mahmoud Abbas promptly reversed course and demanded Israel “immediately stop the aggression.” He had to denounce Israel’s raid in order to save face on the Arab street. By that point, gruesome images and footage of Palestinian suffering and death were flooding Arab television airwaves.

In the West Bank, Arabs were viewing the Israeli aggression as an assault not on Hamas, but against all Palestinians. “When it comes to Israel,” one West Bank resident said, “we are all Hamas.”

So despite Israel’s attack, Hamas gained several enormous strategic victories by simply weathering the storm. Besides its growing popularity on the Arab street, it has tightened its stranglehold on the people of Gaza and obtained international legitimacy while simultaneously delegitimizing the Western-backed Abbas administration.

Palestinians elected Abbas to a four-year term in January 2005. Abbas says legislation passed since then allows for a fifth year in office—an argument Hamas defiantly rejects. The general consensus among Palestinians is that Abbas must go. Even before Cast Lead, one poll indicated that 68 percent of Palestinians wanted Abbas to step down at the conclusion of his four-year term, which ended in January.

After making two devastating miscalculations—assuming Israel had the will to win in Gaza and that Palestinians would rally their support around Fatah—Mahmoud Abbas, politically, is finished.

“Israel hoped that the war in Gaza would not only cripple Hamas,” the New York Times wrote, “but eventually strengthen its secular rival, the Palestinian Authority, and even allow it to claw its way back into Gaza.

“But with each day, the Authority, its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and its leading party, Fatah, seem increasingly beleaguered and marginalized, even in the Palestinian cities of the West Bank,which they control. …

“The more bombs in Gaza, the more Hamas’s support seems to be growing at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, already considered corrupt and distant from average Palestinians” (January 14; emphasis mine throughout).

What a stunning turn of events. At the beginning of the war, Israeli officials boasted about the remarkable success of their opening salvo of airstrikes, and the PA was drawing up plans to reinstall Fatah officials in Gaza. Yet within three weeks, we witnessed another Israeli retreat and the rapid advancement of Iranian-backed radical Islamism, this time into the West Bank.

What Next?

Right after Hamas’s violent overthrow of Gaza in June 2007, the Trumpet editor in chief wrote to supporters of our work and said the bloody civil war among Palestinians “should be sending alarm bells throughout the Western world.” Iran, he went on to say, had just taken over Gaza. In trying to help our readers grasp just how fast prophetic events were moving, my father wrote, “Iran is moving lightning-fast to conquer the Middle East. It is pushing violently at anybody who gets in its way. This nation is being frighteningly effective on every front. And to this point, no nation or groups of nations has had the will to confront its acts of war.”

As our regular readers know, the “push” he mentioned is prophesied in Daniel 11:40. Right now, no one is willing to confront the Iran-led Islamic “king of the south.” Eventually, though, the European Union will rise against the king of the south and come after it like a whirlwind.

The fuse that ignites this explosive clash is lit in Jerusalem. That’s what makes the fallout from the war in Gaza so electrifying, prophetically speaking.

“What is going to be Iran’s next move?” my father asked in the letter mentioned above. “Probably, to take over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The Fatah Muslims have the upper hand over Hamas in East Jerusalem, but their control is shaky. Hamas could and probably will get control of the West Bank soon, as they did in Gaza. Expect Iran to ignite the capturing of East Jerusalem ….”

Iran’s East Jerusalem conquest is prophesied in Zechariah 14:2. Since God says it will be a violent takeover, the implication is that Israel will, to some degree, fight back when violence erupts in its capital city.

For a while, under Ehud Barak’s government in 2000 and more recently under Ehud Olmert, Israel has willingly offered to negotiate away East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. But now, with Iran’s Hamas state setting its sights on the West Bank and Jerusalem, together with the possibility of Israelis electing a harder-line, “keep Jerusalem united” government, the path is now clear for a series of spectacular prophecies to unfold in rapid succession—beginning with Hamas’s West Bank power grab!

These future events are thoroughly explained in our booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy. Study that booklet—and watch Jerusalem.