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The power Hamas holds over Israel’s elections

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows that terror attacks by Hamas right before the March 2 elections could cost him his job.
Masked Palestinians prepare to attach balloons to a gas canister before releasing it near Gaza's Bureij refugee camp, along the Israel-Gaza border fence, on February 10, 2020. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP) (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images)
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One multiple casualty terror attack in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon on the eve of the March 2 elections for the 23rd Knesset could determine the nature of Israel’s next government. One photo of an Israeli killed in a Gaza Strip border community is "worth" more than the thousand words of praise that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has heaped on himself since the unveiling of US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” for Israeli-Palestinian peace. One siren warning of incoming rockets from Gaza into the town of Ashdod will keep more Likud party voters home on election day than the number of those wowed by Netanyahu’s Moscow operation last month to bring home Naama Issachar, the young Israeli jailed in Russia on drug charges whom he freed after intense pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Indeed, not only are the lives and deaths of Israelis in the hands of the Palestinians launching rockets and explosive balloons into Israel, but Hamas and Islamic Jihad have a decisive impact on the makeup of Israel’s next government.

Both political blocs in Israel are familiar with Israeli sensitivities over deadly terror attacks. Acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres attributed his Labor party’s loss of the elections for the 12th Knesset to an Oct. 30, 1988, terror attack on the outskirts of Jericho in which a mother and her three children were burned to death. Many in the Likud were convinced that a terrorist who stabbed to death a 15-year-old girl in the suburban Tel Aviv town of Bat Yam on May 24, 1992, a month before the elections, restored Labor to power. Suicide attacks contributed to Labor’s downfall and Netanyahu’s victory in the 1996 elections more than any other factor.

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