Israel and Hamas are on collision course, each new incursion or terror attack propelling them towards outright war. It is a confrontation with the potential to set a new standard for horrific violence in the Middle East.
As terrorists strike deep in the heart of Israel and schoolchildren are buried in Gaza, a new and devastating chapter in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict looks set to unfold. Israel and Hamas are on collision course, each new incursion or terror attack propelling them towards outright war. It is a confrontation with the potential to set a new standard for horrific violence in the Middle East.
Unreported World reporter Sam Kiley and director Edward Watts travel across Israel, Gaza and the West Bank to discover whether Hamas' strategy is working despite Israeli assaults, a siege on Gaza, international isolation, and virtual civil war. Are the Islamists' succeeding in their aim to be a credible government and lead the Palestinian national cause?
Unreported World reveals that not only does Hamas remain undefeated, its power is expanding in areas where it supposedly has been chased out. In Gaza it has harnessed Palestinian defiance at the siege, and used brutal oppression to crush its internal opponents, while continuing to rain rockets down on Israeli civilians.
The team reveals the human tragedies caused by Israel's response. Civilians who suffer horrific injuries on the edge of supposedly targeted airstrikes. Electricity engineers who ration the electricity and switch transformers by hand, risking death by electrocution or lynching by angry citizens. Homes flooded with sewage that bubbles up through their toilets.
On the other side of the line in Israel, the team visits Sderot, which has been hit with more than 8,000 rockets in three years. Its population lives in a state of grinding fear. Families are forced to camp in their ground floor living rooms for safety.
Back inside the Gaza Strip, despite the presence of Hamas bodyguards, Kiley finds that where Hamas fails to inspire loyalty, force is frequently applied. Young men and women have been shot for being members of the rival Fatah political faction. Many do not dare seek treatment in the main Hamas-controlled hospitals and seek medical help from Medecins sans Frontieres. Kiley is repeatedly told by Hamas' victims that they hate the Islamist movement.
But Ahmed Yusef, a senior adviser to the Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, insists that Hamas is unrepentant. It still refuses to recognise Israel's right to exist, or to halt the rocket fire. Hamas will make Israel "bleed as we bleed" he insists.
Hamas legislators, militants, students and preachers have been rounded up in their hundreds on the West Bank which is ruled by the US and EU backed Palestinian Authority.
The team travels to Ramallah in the West Bank, where they find Palestinian youths burning tyres and blocking the roads. The death of a local Hamas imam in Palestinian police custody has ignited widespread demonstrations and marks on his body confirm that he has been extensively tortured. Thousands of Hamas supporters defy the authorities to attend his funeral denouncing the US, Israel, and the West Bank leaders.
Kiley reveals that, far from collapsing in the face of the political, economic and military pressure Hamas survives - and may even be gaining in strength. The US, the UK, European Union and Israel's government have refused to negotiate with a movement they label "terrorist". But a majority of Israelis, 64 per cent, think they are wrong. As Yusef, the Hamas spokesman says: "you negotiate with your enemies - not your friends".