The recent attacks on civilians in Israel by the terrorist group Hamas differs fundamentally from previous operations in that rather than being depicted as victims, the Palestinian organization, with the filmed taking of hostages, seems to be aiming to inflict as much suffering as possible, according to an Estonian former diplomat.
The attack began on Saturday and in addition to rocket strikes saw militants breaking through the Gaza–Israel barrier and has so far led to hundreds of civilian deaths.
Hamas has presented internationally the action in a way fundamentally different from what has gone before, says Marin Mõttus, who has both served as charge d'affaires in Tel Aviv and is also a former Estonian ambassador to Iran.
Speaking to ETV foreign affairs show "Välisilm" Monday, Mõttus, pictured, said: "Whereas up to now the goal has clearly been to portray the Palestinians constantly as being the victims, victims of a brutal Israeli apartheid regime, this time we have been seeing the hostage taking, all being filmed; the filming of Israeli hostages, and the dead, in humiliating situations, for instance naked. /.../ It seems to me that their goal is to inflict as much pain as possible, physically, emotionally, morally; to humiliate and insult."
"Such a goal has a tendency to make you feel sick, and forces parallels with another, ongoing war. There is this sense that the brutality is almost a goal in and of itself," she went on.
Another goal, Mõttus added, may be to hamper progress in improving diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, Mõttus noted.
This would, she said, fundamentally and positively alter the dynamics of relations in the Middle East, and would represent a diplomatic victory for both Israel and the United States.
Saudi Arabia may in return receive security guarantees; the country has expressed a desire for the U.S. to provide assistance in establishing a civilian nuclear program, Mõttus added.
Meanwhile, while Hamas' operation has been relatively short, the organization may be banking on Israel's response being much longer-lasting, exposing Israel to greater international criticism, Mõttus said.
"Their hope is that potentially these horrors will be forgotten, as every news channel in the world then shows the houses collapsing in Gaza [having been hit by Israeli missile strikes]," Mõttus went on.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael.
Source: "Välisilm", interviewer Astrid Kannel