On Monday, 12 February 2024, the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies and the Institute for Palestine Studies hosted a symposium on “Hamas in the Aftermath of the War on Gaza” as part of the Annual Palestine Forum. Lourdes Habash, Director of the Ibrahim Abu Lughod Institute for International Studies at Birzeit University chaired a panel that included Mouin Rabbani, Leila Seurat, and Tarek Hammoud.
Rabbani, a researcher, analyst, and commentator specialized in Palestinian affairs, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the contemporary Middle East, discussed the impact of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood and the subsequent war on Gaza on Hamas. Rabbani noted that while it is still too early to make any conclusive evaluation, with the outcome of the conflict yet to be determined, tentative observations can be drawn about Hamas’ organizational cohesion, military capabilities, its role and position within the broader Palestinian political arena, the national movement, its alliances, and its regional and international relations.
Speaking next, Researcher at the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies in Paris, Seurat, discussed scenarios for the “day after”, which currently exclude any Hamas’ presence, whether political or military. Seurat argued that there were no tangible suggestions that Hamas could disappear from the Palestinian arena. Seurat added that, on the contrary, the ability of the Qassam Brigades to confront the Israeli army on the ground indicate that military gains could become political gains. Seurat also discussed the challenges facing Hamas in light of the political changes that the movement has undergone over the past decade and its ability to overcome these challenges. She also discussed its efforts and increased interest in joining the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Assistant Professor at Lusail University in Qatar, Hammoud, noted during his presentation that regardless of the military outcome of the war on Gaza, Hamas has emerged as a political and military gamechanger, displaying capabilities that Palestinian actors have ignored for a long time. Hammoud added that this neglect may have triggered the explosion underway today, emphasizing that this war would change the future of Hamas in two ways. First it will change the internal dynamics of the movement, and restructure it as a political and military movement. In this regard, the current decision-making model may become the subject of a major debate. It will also alter Hamas’ national presence, which is the essence of what Hamas has sought since the 2006 elections. Hammoud concluded by saying that the future of Hamas and its political role within an inclusive and comprehensive national framework can no longer be ignored.