Ongoing developments in the Gaza Strip are testing the limits of the dynamic that has shaped relations between Hamas and Israel since a stifling blockade was first imposed on Gaza eleven years ago. This dynamic has generally taken the form of an equilibrium of belligerence, whereby both Israel and Hamas rely on force to negotiate short-term gains while avoiding political or ideological concessions.
Since 2007, Hamas and other factions have relied on rocket fire and tunnel attacks to protest the hermetic blockade of the Gaza Strip, which they view as an act of war that legitimates the use of force in self-defense. Ostensibly in response to these rockets, Israel carries out military incursions, extrajudicial targeted assassinations, and has, so far, inflicted three devastating assaults on the territory.
The dynamic, which is largely defined by what happens on the battlefield, has given way to indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel. Through various rounds of ceasefire and related discussions, Israel has pursued what it calls “calm for calm,” whereby it alleges to cease military operations in the Gaza Strip if Hamas stops rocket fire and tunnel attacks. Hamas, on the other hand, has conditioned such calm on the lifting of the blockade.