Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab writes in the Washington Post:
The disproportionate and heavy-handed Israeli attacks on Gaza have been a bonanza for Hamas. The movement has renewed its standing in the Arab world, secured international favor further afield and succeeded in scuttling indirect Israeli-Syrian talks and direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. It has also greatly embarrassed Israel’s strongest Arab neighbors, Egypt and Jordan.
While it is not apparent how this violent confrontation will end, it is abundantly clear that the Islamic Hamas movement has been brought back from near political defeat while moderate Arab leaders have been forced to back away from their support for any reconciliation with Israel
In all likelihood, Israel is probably trying to weaken Hamas, not strengthen them; but, just like the war in Iraq, their attempt to reduce terrorism simply ended up increasing it. Violence and victiminzation are extremely effective recruiting tool for terrorist organizations, who wave the bloody shirt of what they portray as western aggression to radicalize Middle Eastern Muslims and swell their own ranks.
It’s in Israel’s–and probably Palestine’s–best interests for Hamas to become weakend, so they will be replaced by the more moderate Fatah in the next elections. Unfortunately for everyone, Israel’s heavy-handed actions (even though they do have a right to defend themselves, their response was a bit over the top), which have lead to the deaths of between 300 and 400 Palestinians, has virtually guaranteed that Hamas will remain in power, further complicating the road to peace.