Death and injury has become a daily backdrop to life in Gaza. In one horrific scene at a hospital in the Hamas dominated enclave nine people were killed, 25 injured. They were shelled by the Israeli’s as the military temperature in the region reaches boiling point.
It was one incident on Wednesday, the second day of Israel’s offensive in response to rockets being fired into their territory from Gaza.
All were caught on a night out at the beach, there to enjoy the World Cup semi-final. What happened could not have been envisaged by the football fans who had flocked here to watch the game.
Instead of discussing the football the focus was on the carnage among the sand. There was the gruesome task of uncovering the bodies of those who lost their lives, the desperate search to find any survivors.
The reality of a night out in Gaza. But what is the endgame how will it play out?
Sophie Desjardin, euronews: “Gilles Kepel, you are an expert on Islam, Jihadi movements and the Arab world in general. The situation we are witnessing now is very complex, with Israel on one side, Hamas on the other and Fatah, I could say, in the middle. Each of them holds a key that could be a game changer.
‘Let’s start with Hamas. This movement is more and more isolated since it was “dropped” by Egypt. What is the movement looking for with these provocations against Israel?”
Gilles Kepel: “Hamas is playing a difficult game. The first thing it wants to do is to show it still exists, that it still is the symbol of Palestinian identity, just when it had to give away its independence, accept that the Gaza strip is again under PLO authority and approve this national unity government.
‘Even if there are still lots of weapons in Gaza and even if they can be made there, now with a more discreet Iran and a more vigilant Egypt, soon or later Hamas will have to fire its last salvo.”
eruonews: “After the inconsequential reconciliation between Fatah end Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas did not do anything to get back his grip on Gaza. The people feel forgotten and Hamas is reinforcing itself again among the Palestinians, also in the West Bank. What can Abbas do?”
GK: “Abbas at the moment cannot do a lot because he does not have the political hand and he finds himself between two political forces. If Hamas is weakened enough, it will be good for him because he will be the only one to stay on the political scene. If, on the contrary Hamas gains a political victory, Abbas will have to wait for Hamas to be ruined financially or beaten militarily.”
euronews: “In Israel, there have been some demonstrations by pacifists but at the same time extremism and the extreme right is getting stronger. Slogans have shifted from “death to terrorists” to “death to Arabs”. Can Netanyahu dare to choose the strong way?”
GK: “From the beginning, Netanyahu strongly opposed a unity government, against the recommendations of some of his advisers, and then he became more and more nervous and bellicose, thinking he could strike Hamas with force.
‘The consequence is that it reinforced those who wanted to apply the “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth” rule. It went out of control when this young Palestinian was assassinated, because until then, law was on the Israeli side to a certain extent and Israel’s critics were very weak. But then, the grief was balanced out, that’s why Netanyahu is in a more difficult position in terms of international image.”
euronews: “What are the risks with the Jihadists in Iraq and Syria, are they waiting, will they try to go to the end with Hamas and take control of Gaza?”
GK: “There are already some Jihadists in Gaza and Hamas does not occupy the whole Islamist scene there. Hamas is in what I would dare call a “centrist” position, that’s it, because Hamas is composed of the Muslim Brotherhood but also of armed wings who obey its political commandment, to a certain extent.
‘If Hamas is politically crushed, it means that certain autonomous armed groups – who don’t think in political terms anymore – will take the advantage in Gaza.”