The Al-Mustaqbal research center, which is affiliated with Hamas, recently published a study on the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the new era after the IDF withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria. Al-Mustaqbal operates in Gaza, and publishes studies and polls.

The publications of the center express the views of Hamas, even if they do not voice the movement’s formal position. The institute is headed by Dr. Atef Ibrahim Adwan, a political science lecturer and a graduate of Oxford University.

In June 2005, the center published a study on the Hamas web site regarding the implications of the disengagement plan on the continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In August, during the evacuation of the settlements from the Gaza Strip, the center published another study, more detailed and focused than the previous one, regarding the strategy and tactics that Hamas and the other terror organizations would adopt in light of the new reality expected on the “day after.” Terror offensive will move to Judea and Samaria, along with Kassam rockets

The author of the study details at its end the main conclusions of the study on the operational level and on the policy and strategic level: Hamas and the other terror organizations will not disarm and will not halt the armed struggle against Israel, although the Palestinian Authority is expected to attempt to compel them to do so, either by force or by political means. The author predicts that terror will be renewed, “although there may be calm for a certain period.” The nature of the organizations’ activity will change in light of the new reality, and the focus of the armed activity against Israel will move from Gaza, where the organizations will adopt a defensive posture, to Judea and Samaria, where they will conduct offensive initiatives. Within this context, the organizations will develop new and lethal weaponry and will ultimately move the Kassam rockets, the leading weapon in the next stage of the confrontation, to Judea and Samaria.

The study assesses that the Palestinian Authority, the US, the EU and the Egyptians are incapable of forcing Hamas and the other organizations to lay down their arms and halt their armed activity.

And perhaps the most important conclusion: The Israeli “flight” from Gaza illustrated in the Palestinian consciousness the importance of “resistance” (the armed struggle) and the necessity of adopting it as a “strategic option” at the expense of the alternative of negotiation and concessions.

Fighting in Judea and Samaria will overflow to Gaza Strip

The study expresses the fear that the Palestinian Authority will try to dismantle the “Murabitun,” the popular army of Hamas, which is perceived by the PA as a threat to its rule. The author of the article says that the Murabitun protect the Palestinian towns and there will still be a need for them, in the Gaza Strip too, on the “day after.” However, in the opinion of the article’s author it will be necessary to re-examine the deployment of the Murabitun and their methods of operation, in order to adapt them to the new reality.

The study does not rule out the possibility that Palestinian initiatives in Judea and Samaria will lead to Israeli reactions, which will lead to cautious Palestinian reactions in the Gaza Strip. The reactive actions of the organizations in the Gaza Strip will be manifested in firing Kassam rockets at the areas neighboring on the Gaza Strip. The author of the study is well aware of the escalatory potential of such fire in the era after the evacuation of Gaza, and fears a harsh IDF response. Therefore, he notes that the Palestinian activity from the Gaza Strip must be calculated and cautious so as not to take matters too far and elicit a massive Israeli reaction (“action must be taken at such a degree that will not provoke the Zionist enemy and push it to re-enter the Gaza Strip”).

However, the author of the article notes, “in the Gaza Strip, after the completion of the construction of the apartheid wall, it will be highly difficult to commit suicide attacks.” Therefore, the activity of the terror organizations will focus in the new stage on terror attacks on main roads against soldiers and settlers and use of the “new weapon” that it will be possible to manufacture in Judea and Samaria at the next stage of the confrontation (this refers to Kassam rockets-HH). Kassam rockets on Negev and Judea and Samaria in third Intifada

In case of an overall confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the terror organizations will enter from a position of power, in the opinion of the study’s author. This is due to the fact that “the options at their disposal have increased, and they have developed a number of weapons, such as extending the range of the Kassam rockets.” In this scenario, the terror organizations in the Gaza Strip will focus on launching Kassam rockets, their “strategic weapon,” at Israeli communities close to the Gaza Strip.

As for Judea and Samaria, the study foresees a number of possible modes of action: Transferring technologies of weaponry such as mortars and rockets from the Gaza Strip to Judea and Samaria. These will make it possible to easily shell Israeli population centers located close to the security fence, and this will render the fence being built useless (“the Kassam rockets will constitute a strategic weapon in the West Bank”). The study predicts that the mortars will also reach Judea and Samaria and will be manufactured there in “large quantities.”

Along with the Kassam rocket fire, the combat in Judea and Samaria in the new era will be characterized by guerilla attacks that will be carried out by small groups of terrorists, “as was done in southern Lebanon,” and by fire from a distance as was done in the Gaza Strip during the period of “calm.” These attacks will focus on settlers and soldiers, and will consist of attacks against roads, military bases and settlements.

The author of the study also addresses the issue of carrying out suicide bombings in Israeli territory in the new era. These attacks, states the study, have the greatest effect on Israel, but “after the construction of the fence they have become highly difficult.” However, in his opinion, committing such attacks is still conceivable, since the organizations will find methods of circumventing the barrier built by Israel. “The length of the fence and its proximity to population centers will make the task easier,” states the study.

The study counts a number of new tactics that the organizations may adopt at the next stage of the confrontation: Forming independent terrorist cells and avoiding an institutionalized organizational structure of cells that are linked to each other. Maintaining compartmentalization and a lack of institutionalization will enable the various operatives to disperse in case one of the operatives is arrested, and escape the Israeli security branches. Quality instead of quantity-placing an emphasis on the quality of the attacks and professional execution rather than the quantity of attacks.

The study foresees that small, well-trained and well-armed cells will carry out “quality attacks” rather than “formal attacks,” which do not pose a threat to Israel. This style of operation will also make it difficult for the Israeli security services to penetrate the cells. [.]

This piece ran in the daily HaTzofeh newspaper on September 22nd, 2005.