ANALYSIS: Palestinians face an emerging paradox in Gaza
The IDF, the U.S, Fatah, and Hamas all maintain that greater civilian suffering in Gaza will work in their favor
The events in the Gaza Strip over the past two days, in which 12 Palestinians were killed amid dozens of Qassam rocket and mortar attacks, suggest that the logic driving the policies of Israel and Hamas are diametrically opposed.
Only nine days ago, the government declared the Gaza Strip "hostile territory" in an attempt to up the pressure on Hamas to end the rocket attacks. But Hamas' response has been the opposite; the shooting has only intensified.
Terrorist groups in Gaza, including Hamas' military wing, have also increased efforts to carry out attacks inside Israel.
Most of the 54 mortars fired Wednesday landed near the Sufa crossing terminal. The mortars fired Thursday by Hamas militants targeted crossing points at Eretz and Kerem Shalom. There has also been a great deal of intelligence on Hamas' plans to target the crossing points into Gaza.
As such, a paradox has emerged in which the Israeli government, the U.S. and Fatah believe that by exerting greater pressure on the Gaza Strip's residents, the people will overthrow the Hamas regime there, while the Islamic group is doing its best to shut down the crossings - perhaps assuming that if the civilians suffer more, they will side with Hamas.
Senior Hamas officials deny that they intend this. Ismail Haniyeh says Hamas is interested in opening the crossings, but he was hard-pressed to explain the obvious attempt by Hamas militants to destroy the crossings.
"The military wing decides its targets in an effort to bring an end to the siege over the Strip," he told Haaretz.
But how is shooting at the crossings expected to contribute to lifting the siege? Only Hamas seems to know the answer.
Perhaps it is meant to be a message to Israel that the organization is not afraid of a direct confrontation with the Israel Defense Forces and that only a cease-fire agreement with Hamas - an offer Israel rejected recently - will end the attacks.
However, it is doubtful whether all Hamas factions support this approach. After the recent rocket attack against the Zikim military camp, for example, Haniyeh asked the leaders of the factions involved in rocket attacks to stop temporarily. But Haniyeh's ability to influence these factions is very limited.
Among the militants continuing the attacks are those encouraged by Iran. As for Hamas, it is keeping to the limits it has set for itself: It claims responsibility for the mortar attacks, but the Qassam attacks are being outsourced to other groups it supports.
These attacks are expected to intensify as we close in on the summit scheduled to take place in Washington in November.