Hamas apparently expected fierce US pressure on Israel to quickly end the fighting in Gaza. This was likely a key factor in the decision to instigate a military clash with the IDF. The assessment turned out to be off the mark, but by the time Hamas realized this it was too late.
President Joe Biden’s initial moves in the White House were problematic for Israel. His soft approach to Iran and its proxies and renewed embrace of the Palestinians caused grave concern in Jerusalem. With a sense that US-Israel ties were cooling, Hamas also sought to capitalize on the new reality.
Encouraged by Biden’s policies and Israel’s political crisis, Gaza terrorists launched their rocket assault and prepared for an intense but brief battle. They probably assumed that US pressure would force the IDF to limit and shorten its military operations. But this never happened.
Hamas walked right into a deadly trap, created by its own misconceptions and flawed judgement. Gaza’s terror chiefs failed to see that Biden’s moves are mostly based on a desire to disengage from the Middle East and finalize a deal with Iran so that America can focus on other fronts, namely China.
While some of his policies are arguably unwise, Biden’s worldview is not based on anti-Israel sentiments. Throughout his career, he has been a strong supporter of the Jewish State’s right to defend itself. Moreover, on the Palestinian front he favors a peace process that can only be advanced with a weaker Hamas. Unfortunately for Gaza’s terrorists, they learned this the hard way.
The Iran paradox
Instead of sustained American pressure Hamas got a dose of “Sleepy Joe,” as Biden largely disappeared in the early stages of conflict. He eventually made some general statements and reasserted Israel’s right for self-defense, before returning to more pressing priorities. In parallel, the US blocked proposals for an unfriendly UN resolution.
Meanwhile in Gaza, the IDF continued to pound Hamas and Islamic Jihad, destroying their assets and degrading their capabilities.
Paradoxically, Biden’s weak approach to Iran helped Israel in another critical way. Tehran and its allies, most crucially Hezbollah, did not join the fighting as not to endanger their promising relationship with Biden.
Instead of opening more fronts against Israel and complicating the IDF’s mission, the Iran axis took great care to stay out of the conflict, aside from some symbolic but harmless moves. Other factors, such as fear of a harsh Israeli response and Lebanon’s domestic crisis also contributed to this, leaving Gaza’s terrorists alone against the IDF.
Ultimately, misreading Biden and other flawed estimates convinced Hamas to take action that it very likely regrets. While US policies elsewhere remain a concern for Israel, in Gaza Biden unintentionally set the stage for a painful blow to Israel’s enemies.