‘Deluded’ Hamas made a ‘catastrophic miscalculation’, say Palestinian analysts

Hamas is now aiming for some form of political suvival through talks with the PA


Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry figures have indicated that over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks. (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

Palestinian analysts have said that Hamas “catastrophically miscalculated” the balance of the military power between themselves and the IDF and, although the terror group will be hard to destroy, it is a shattered organisation with the hostages their only remaining leverage.

Israeli intelligence estimates that more than 18 of Hamas’s 24 battalions have been dismantled as organised forces and have become smaller guerrilla cells. Approximately half of the group’s 40,000 fighters are thought to have been either killed or wounded.

Yezid Sayigh, a Palestinian analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the FT that Hamas had harboured the “delusion” that Israel’s response to Ocotber 7 would cause mass uprisings against the Jewish state across the Middle East.

With Hezbollah and other Iran-backed forces largely contained and – as yet – no large-scale uprisings in the West Bank, this strategy was a “catastrophic miscalculation”, Sayigh said. 

Ibrahim Dalalsha, head of Horizon Centre, a Ramallah-based think-tank, said Hamas wanting a permanent ceasefire is not “about helping civilians in Gaza but about making the resumption of the war [by Israel] more difficult."

According to Dalalsha, Hamas leaders know that hostages are their “insurance policy” and only means of leverage, which explains why they have become “almost suicidal vis-à-vis the negotiations, with this maximalist position.

“They know that if the war resumes and they’ve released the hostages they’ll be finished.”

The bulk of Hamas’s remaining battalions have retreated to the southern city of Rafah and the refugee camps Nusseirat and Deir al Balah in central Gaza, according to Israeli military officials.

Meanwhile, civilians in Gaza endure a deepening humanitarian catastrophe. Law and order has broken down across the coastal enclave as Hamas’s civil control over northern Gaza and large swathes of the south has been ended.

The Islamist militant group, founded to destroy the Jewish state, is now primarily concerned with survival. Some analysts conclude that Hamas’s desire to sue for a permanent ceasefire as part of a hostage deals is a sign of its desperation.

Regional diplomats and intelligence analysts say Hamas may be realising that its rule over Gaza may be coming to an end and it may be forced to revert to its early roots: a resistance movement providing religious social services with an underground military wing.

Dalalsha added: “Hamas has lost governance in Gaza but they’re still looking for political survival as an organisation. They’re not idiots. They see the needs of Gaza and realise the public and international community won’t accept them again.”
According to the FT, Hamas officials have engaged in talks to allow the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority to reassert control over Gaza through an “ad hoc leadership committee” or newly formed technocratic government.

As Israel looks for confirmation that Hamas’s number-three in Gaza, Marwan Issa, was killed in an airstrike over the weekend, the group’s top leaders, Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and a handful of other leaders responsible for arranging the October 7 massacre, remain alive.

Hamas itself claims that only 6,000 of its fighters have been killed and maintain that it is doing well militarily against the far superior Israeli military.

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