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Those who think Sinwar is an irrational player are playing the wrong game

Yesterday, we discussed the difficulty of Israel understanding Hamas on a basic level. Due to the fundamental differences between Israel’s values and priorities, we find it difficult to understand Hamas' motivation and rationale.

This is why we were horrified to read in Haaretz today that officials in Israel think Hamas leader Sinwar is irrational. Moreover, reports from last week brought the assessment of Israeli officials that Sinwar is hiding in the tunnels and therefore does not understand the real extent of  damage in Gaza, and hence, show no flexibility during the negotiations over the hostage’s deal. We are concerned by these reports, as it indicated the learning curve of the Israeli security apparatus may not be very impressive. It is exactly this way of thinking that exposes Israel to more strategic surprises like the one on October 7.

The Hamas logic is cohesive and coherent, as well as very rational and is according to Sinwar's values and priorities. As discussed in yesterday’s post, the pogrom perpetrated by Hamas was intended to break the spirit of Israeli society.

Sinwar in

This is also how Hamas views the perhaps imminent hostage deal. Hamas presents the kidnapping of hundreds of Israelis as a bargaining chip for the release of its prisoners. However, this is not its real aim, it is more focused on the psychological effects on Israeli society.

Hamas understands that the analogy to ISIS does not serve him. If they had released the dozens of children and elderly they kidnapped, including babies and elderly men close to 90 years old, they could have earned 'free' credit points at the international level. Why didn't they do that? After all, nearly 200 hostages would still be in their hands. According to Hamas' immoral rationale, psychological terror against Israeli society is more important than their prisoners in Israel or International public opinion.

Hamas' demonic image in the world may not be convenient for them or serve their purposes, but it is tolerable. However, their demonic image in Israeli society is desirable and intentional. The exchange deal may or may not succeed, but only with pressure and force is there a chance of some of the hostages being released.


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