The Iran-backed Palestinian group Hamas, a designated terrorist entity that controls the Gaza Strip and remains publicly committed to Israel's destruction, launched a series of internal crackdowns this week as a range of Palestinian groups targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians.
The abuses and attacks come in the aftermath of a series of diplomatic victories scored by Hamas, including a visit to Gaza by the Emir of Qatar and a promised visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Together they call into question foreign policy analysis which predicts that diplomatic legitimacy and engagement moderates terror groups.
Hamas's targeting of protesters, journalists, and supporters of rival Palestinian factions drew condemnation from human rights groups. Last week Hamas security officials arrested and interrogated two journalists who were seeking to leave the Gaza Strip for a media conference, questioning them about their political affiliation. The interrogation was linked by analysts to what seems to be a broad crackdown on sympathizers of Hamas's rival Fatah.
The Hamas government was also forced to apologize after their security officials attacked female activists calling for reconciliation between Palestinian factions.
On Monday three IDF soldiers were injured by a likely roadside bomb along the border between Gaza and Israel, and on Thursday an Israeli soldier was wounded by an underground tunnel explosion. Israeli defense officials explicitly linked the attack to Hamas. Terror groups this week also continued targeting Israeli civilians with rockets and mortars, bringing to 766 the number fired into Israel thus far in 2012, up from 653 in 2011 and 238 in 2010.
A TIP analysis recently outlined how Palestinian terror groups, including and especially Hamas, seem to be pursuing a strategy of escalation designed to drag Israel into a diplomatically costly ground war in the Gaza Strip. That analysis can be read here: Worrisome Trends in Gaza Mirror Hamas's 2008 Lead-Up To War.