Writing at JNS, Yaakov Lappin says that that violent Gaza protests aren’t a show of strength by Hamas – they’re an act of desperation:
Hamas is seeking legitimacy among the Palestinian public. The terror group’s greatest fear is that its own people in Gaza will turn on it. The “popular” protest model is Hamas’s way of maneuvering out of this threat by diverting civilian distress outwards, rather than inwards. Israel and the P.A. make prime targets for the frustrated energy building up in Gaza.
The international attention these incidents garner is also seen as a plus by Hamas.
Still, the organization is aware of the fact that these protests will not solve any of its basic problems. Ultimately, therefore, Hamas is playing for time. It needs time for something else to take place, which it believes will take it out of its predicament.