The history of the Israel-Palestinian conflict has been characterized by a constant stream of miscalculations by Palestinian leaders who have a unique ability to snatch victory by blundering into defeat. Hamas had witnessed Israel depart from Lebanon after encountering the missiles of Hizbullah and concluded the best strategy was to continue firing missiles until it forced Israel to accept its ideas about how to deal with Gaza. In the week prior to the air assault, Hamas leaders challenged, no, they dared Israel to attack them and promised any attempt would be met with massive resistance by Hamas forces. Their assumption was that Israel had become a paper tiger who could be goaded and teased and humiliated. Hamas leaders enjoyed posing as heroic fighters for the rights of Palestinians and concluded what better way than to fire missiles until Israel caved into their demands.
Hamas leaders today hover in shelters still expressing the rhetoric of defiance even though there is scant prospect they can respond in other than defiant tones. Israel has been under tremendous pressure to halt the bombings but now insists there will be no cease fire until Hamas accepts the reality it can not allow rockets to hit Israel towns. Of course, the question now facing Hamas is whether they even have the power anymore to reign in small groups of so-called fighters for Palestine who insist they will not cease firing rockets. In a sense, the attitude of so many “leaders” in Gaza is, “apres mois, le deluge.”
The Palestinian people have never been blessed with a Nelson Mandela type leader. Their plight calls for the emergence of figures who are shrewd negotiators and able to bargain for a solution that would enable the intelligent and hard working Palestinian population to obtain opportunities for economic and political success. Perhaps, it is time to ask Nelson Mandela to become the temporary advisor to Palestinians on how to negotiate for peace and prosperity.