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What am I missing about Gaza??

02/06/2008

I have probably written too much about Gaza in recent weeks (eg It's the Gaza strip, Stupid!, Gaza Grief, Gaza Gimmix. That is because for me, at least, there are two or three unsolved mysteries regarding Gaza.

The first mystery is why nobody does anything about it. The second mystery is why there is a growing number of calls, from people who should know better, calling for an Israeli deal with the Hamas or calling for an "end to the siege." The third mystery is why numerous "humanitarians" like Louisa Morgantini, a vice President of the EU, go about screaming about the suffering caused by the "siege" of Gaza, but all the methods they propose to end the "siege" would empower Hamas and put more weapons in their hands. Nobody is moving to provide humanitarian aid only to the Palestinians of Gaza.

Ostensibly, the US, the European Union, the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations, the "peace camp" and Israel all want to negotiate an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and allow the creation of an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza. They support the fragile peace process. But they must understand that no peace and no Palestinian state are possible as long as Hamas rule in Gaza, as long as the Hamas ideology is unchanged, and as long as Hamas and their Jihadist allies are not disarmed. Hamas has repeatedly stated that it will never make peace with Israel. They show not the least sign of willingness to alter the racist and genocidal Hamas Charter Yet nobody makes any practical suggestions for removing Hamas from power or "persuading" it to change its ideology.

Everyone must also understand that the continuing "siege" of Gaza is a disaster in the making that is used and will be used by Hamas in the most cynical ways to portray itself as the underdog and the champion of "humanitarian" rescue of the Palestinians in Gaza. Attempts by Egypt to seal the Rafah border have already resulted in the death of a Palestinian. "Ending the siege" by giving in to Hamas demands will weaken the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas and hurt the peace process. Continuing the current sanctions against the Hamas government will also hurt the peace process and aggrandize Hamas. The obvious solution is to undertake to open the borders under conditions that do not allow Hamas to import arms, but do allow the free flow of legitimate goods and free travel for innocent civilians. European Union representatives like Louisa Morgantini call for "ending the siege" as does Uri Avneri and others, but their method of ending the siege will be a victory for Hamas and will mean the end of the peace process. The EU, the UN, the US, Israel, the Arab League have all been silent on the problem of how to open the borders of Gaza in a secure way. It is not impossible.

The Israeli government does not have a rational program for dealing with Gaza. The measures it has taken, such as killing terrorists in Gaza and cutting fuel deliveries are not hurting Hamas noticeably. Day by day, Hamas is importing more arms and explosives, the Qassam rocket firings on Sderot continue unabated and all Israeli actions tend to end in Hamas "victories." Time is not on the side of peace. Eventually the Hamas will be strong enough to take over the West Bank as well, or force a "unity" deal with Fatah as a prelude to taking over the West Bank as well as Gaza, and then the peace process will surely be dead.

Let's face it. Ultimately, if we want peace, Hamas must be ousted from Gaza. The best way for this to happen is peacefully. By decision of the Arab League and/or the UN and the Quartet, free elections should be held in the Palestinian Authority, including Gaza, that include only parties willing to disarm their militias and support the peace process. Nobody is making any move in that direction. The worst way to get rid of the Hamas is by force, but it might be the only way. Every day that passes makes it harder to remove the Hamas.

It does not require much cynicism to conclude that Israel does not act to remove the Hamas because the Hamas is convenient. As long as it is in Gaza, there is no need to negotiate peace seriously, and the peace process can be stalled indefinitely. With the Hamas gone, both the Israelis and the government of Mahmoud Abbas are going to have to make "painful concessions" for peace. They will both feel the pain personally, in terms of political support. Both leaderships are shaky and probably would not survive. But if there is no progress in the peace talks, Hamas and its allies will eventually be able to exploit the situation for further violence, and then both the "moderate" Israeli leadership and the "moderate" Palestinian leadership will probably be replaced by hardliners.

But the biggest mystery of all is posed by the calls for talks with Hamas by "peace camp" people. Any talks with Hamas tend to legitimize that organization and weaken the less extreme Palestinian Authority, the ostensible peace partners of Israel. An agreement of any kind between Hamas and Israel would probably put an end to the government of Salem Fayyad and the authority of President Abbas. Yet that is exactly what Chaim Oron of Meretz, Uri Avnery and others who claim to support peace propose!

Most amazing to me was an Israeli report by Professor Dror Ze'evi of secret Israeli-Hamas talks that enthusiastically backed the prospect of an "agreement" (truce? hudna? Tahidiyeh) with the Hamas. Professor Ze'evi gives us this delightful prospect:

The Hamas supporters did not hide their motives: At this time their organisation is hurt and fighting with clenched teeth. It is interested in utilising the armistice in order to rearm and rebuild its power, in the hopes that in another generation or two it would be able to attack more effectively.

In my view, there was something refreshing in their honesty. Those were people who were not resorting to hypocrisy or two-facedness. They openly expressed their hope for Israel's elimination...

. I'll bet that woke up the Israelis. The death threat that refreshes!! Professor Ze'evi and the Hamas offer Israel a peace now, annihilation later plan.

The same sort of "peace" proposals were made by Nazi Germany to Britain at the start of World War II, and later repeated by Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler through the willing agency of Count Folke Bernadotte. Would Ze'evi have accepted those proposals? From the Israeli point of view, what advantage could accrue from allowing the Hamas to get stronger? From the point of view of advancing peace and moderation in the Middle East, such an agreement would be a disaster. It would mean the end of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and the end of the peace process. Ze'evi does not say what the conditions for such an agreement might be, but the Hamas has repeatedly reiterated its "offer" for a "truce" if Israel withdraws to the armistice borders in force before the Six Day War. A Hamas Jihadist state, enjoying the support of Iran, would be set up on Israel's borders.

Ze'evi wrote:

Moreover, we wondered, what could Hamas do in order to fight the IDF? Would it be able to smuggle jets, helicopters, or tanks through underground tunnels and into the Strip? And if they do, so what? Any rookie military strategist will realize that Hamas' military build up is bad for it. The more it shifts from being a light-footed and mobile guerrilla group to a heavily armed and awkward military, the more it becomes exposed to intelligence gathering efforts and to attack. So please, let them arm themselves, let them establish an orderly military with headquarters and communication means. Let them acquire sophisticated weapons, tanks, and armored personnel carriers. This is a blatant case where power is weakness and weakness is power.

It is hard to believe that an Israeli academic wrote such nonsense, or that it was given space in a serious Israeli journal. If Hamas's military buildup is bad for it, and if this is understood by every rookie, then why are they doing it? Are they or their Iranian masters stupid? I don't think so. Was the military buildup of the Hezbollah bad for it? Was the military buildup of the Viet Cong bad for it? Indeed, once they became a regular army, the Americans had no trouble beating them, right? How about the military buildup of the Algerian FLN? Is Iran becoming weaker and weaker as it continues its military buildup? If Ze'evi had been in charge of policy for British Mandatory authorities, he would no doubt have advised them to let the Irgun and the Haganah build up their forces, because any rookie understands that this will weaken them.

Like the German communists who voted Hitler into power, Ze'evi believes that the worse it gets, the better it gets. But of course, in any agreement, Hamas would be allowed to import whatever it pleases, in fact if not in the wording of the agreement. What could Hamas do? They could acquire 175 mm howitzers, jets, helicopters, Iranian pilots and IRGC fighters who would come through Rafah and through the port of Gaza that would be opened and the airport that would be opened. The Karine A, the boatload of Iranian weapons that would have caused a horrendous escalation of the Palestinian violence had it not been caught, would be as nothing compared to the daily business of the Gaza port. And that is only considering the minimal, and unlikely, case that Hamas would remain confined to Gaza. Even they did not lay down the condition of Israeli withdrawal, it is virtually certain that an Israeli agreement with Hamas would lead to Hamas takeover of the West Bank.

Ze'evi appears to be under the illusion that Hamas is just a little local group of terrorists, and that they have accomplished all that they accomplished on their own. He did not learn in his university that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group are supplied and supported by Iran, Syria and the Hezbollah. He doesn't know, it seems, that Hamas boss Khaled Meshaal lives in Syria and calls the shots (literally) from there. Ze'evi doesn't know that Hamas is an offspring of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood either, it seems. Indeed, Professor Ze'evi, in my humble opinion, there are more things in the Middle East than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

We remain with the mysteries: What is the great attraction to the "peace camp" of negotiations with Hamas? Why isn't anyone doing anything practical to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza without empowering the Hamas? Why isn't anyone thinking of a serious strategy to remove the Hamas from Gaza?

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000671.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 4 comments

Of course UN figures utter stupidities about the situation that inherently please the national representatives that extend their tenure. Hell how many of us don't actually kiss the bosses a*** all the way up to his tonsils?
What do you expect anyone to do? Send our soldiers to stand along the Gaza / Israel border, just to be used as target practice by Hamas etc?
What happens if Hamas imports several hundred tanks or artillery pieces? Can't Israel simply restrict the flow of water and electricity? Hard to drink tanks and canons...

Surely the error was in effectively dismissing the Hamas elected government and attempting to keep the relationship with Abbas going. Hamas is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, but that does not mean that Israel has to deal with it. Israel should have simply walked away, perhaps continuing a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank, and let the Palestinians stew. IMO Israel should have informed the int'l aid agencies that in light of the election of Hamas that transfers of goods etc should occur through Rafah and that until such times as a Palestinian government exists that recognises the state of Israel no engagement can occur.
What Israel has effectively done is to facilitate Hamas' continued status and allowed the Palestinian people to avoid the responsibility for the consequences of the electoral choices.

If YOU vote for some fascist party, no one holds anyone responsible but YOU if they get into power.

The Palestinians voted for existential war, and no matter how stupid that decision it is their decision and you must respect it. They are not children.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 02/07/2008 09:49 PM CST

What a strange statement that "communists voted Hitler into power". We were taught that communists in Germany 1933 were the first to be put in concentrationcamps. Regards Joop Hoekstra, Netherlands

Posted by Joop Hoekstra @ 03/12/2008 03:19 PM CST

yap, cutoff their water in the desert. that's what hitler would do. but in this case it won't work. israel's nazi tactics are just creating more popularity for hamas. you all don't get it. that's true.

Posted by scottsoperson @ 03/22/2008 09:09 PM CST

addendum: you all would be warlike zionists.

Posted by scottsoperson @ 03/22/2008 09:10 PM CST


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