Hizbollah og Hamas har oppdaget potensialet i å bekjempe Israel med sivile aksjoner. «Mavi Marmara» fikk dem til å forstå PR-gevinsten ved at israelske militære må bekjempe aktivister i sivil. Nå støtter gruppene protestaksjoner mot sikkerhetsgjerdet og produkter laget på Vestbredden.
Det er det perfekte cover: sivile aktivister fra en rekke land, som har sine regjeringer i ryggen, slik at Israel risikerer å få nasjonal presse og regjeringer på nakken. Blant dem kan man plassere trente militante i svil, som med kommunikasjonsutstyr og kamperfaring kan gi israelerne overraskelser.
Dermed forvandles tilsynelatende ikke-voldsaksjoner til ledd i asymmetrisk krigføring. Det er umulig å si hva som er hva. Opinionsdannerne forholder seg til at det er en sivil aksjon, og gir Israel skylden for det meste som skjer.
Hamas skal også ha oppdaget verdien av å trekke Israel og israelske ledere for internasjonale domstoler. FN og menneskerettskonvensjoner kan være potente våpen.
After the incident, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called on supporters to participate in the next flotilla bound for Gaza. Ghaleb Abu Zeinab, a member of the Hezbollah politburo in Beirut, said it was the first time Mr. Nasrallah had forcefully and publicly embraced such tactics against Israel.
«We saw that this kind of resistance has driven the Israelis into a big plight,» he said. Organizers in Lebanon say they have two ships ready to sail, but no departure date has been set.
A senior Israeli foreign ministry official said Israel recognizes «changes in the tactical thinking of Hamas and other resistance movements.» The official said the groups are no less committed to Israel’s destruction, but have simply concluded they are more likely to defeat Israel by encouraging its international isolation instead of through military force.
«People who are provoking violence are using peaceful protest as a cover,» said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev.
The Palestinian protest movement picked up steam in the past year, spearheaded by activists in the West Bank and a coalition of pro-Palestinian international human-rights groups.
The absence of peace talks for much of the past two years has pushed the Palestinian Authority leadership to embrace the movement as well. Dominated by members of Hamas’s more moderate rival Fatah, they long advocated a negotiated settlement with Israel and dismissed popular protest campaigns.
But in January, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad launched a campaign to boycott products produced in Israeli settlements and to plant trees in areas declared off limits by Israel. In April, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas outlawed settlement products in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.
Hamas’s turnaround has been more striking, said Mustapha Barghouti, a prominent Palestinian advocate for nonviolent resistance. «When we used to call for protests, and marches, and boycotts and anything called nonviolence, Hamas used these sexist insults against us. They described it as women’s struggle,» Mr. Barghouti said. That changed in 2008, he said, after the first aid ship successfully ran the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
«Hamas has started to appreciate just how effective this can be,» Mr. Barghouti said.
Hamas has started organizing its own peaceful marches into the Israeli-controlled buffer zone along the Gaza border and supported lawsuits against Israeli officials in European courts. Hamas says it has ramped up support for a committee dedicated to sponsoring similar protests in Gaza.
Mr. Dweik, the Hamas lawmaker, recently began turning up at weekly protests against Israel’s West Bank barrier.
Israel’s Foes Embrace New Resistance Tactics
Hamas and Hezbollah Find Inspiration In Flotilla, Support Protest Movements