Hamas and Islamic State: The Honeymoon is Over

Jan. 11 2018

Last week, the Sinai branch of Islamic State (IS) released a video of its men executing a Hamas terrorist-turned-IS terrorist for smuggling arms and people from the Sinai to the Hamas regime in Gaza. Is the close cooperation between the two groups, which has lasted for several years, coming to an end? Bassam Tawil draws out the implications:

There are many Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who have joined IS in the past few years . . . [and many of these] are former members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, [an Iran-backed group that enjoys cordial relations with Hamas]. Some even held senior positions in the armed wings of those two terror groups.

The business of smuggling weapons and terrorists across the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt has flourished for many years. Until recently, IS and Hamas were in full cooperation in this business, [which] undoubtedly facilitated some of the major terror attacks against Egyptian civilians and the Egyptian army carried out by IS in the Sinai in recent years.

IS, [however], is now making it clear that it has its eyes set on the Gaza Strip. By calling on Palestinians to rebel against Hamas, IS hopes to facilitate its mission of infiltrating Gaza. Its previous attempts to do so have been successfully thwarted by Hamas. Hamas brooks no competition. Ever. . . .

This is . . . a power struggle between two ruthless Islamic jihadist terror groups who have much in common regarding strategy and ideology. . . . For now, no one knows where this IS-Hamas feud is headed. What is certain is that the ongoing attempts by IS to infiltrate the Palestinian arena should worry not only Palestinians but Israel and Egypt as well.

If IS manages to get a toehold in the Gaza Strip, they will be that much closer to Israel’s doorstep, and their jihadists minutes from Israeli towns and cities. For the Egyptians, this means that one day they will have to fight IS not only in the Sinai but also inside the Gaza Strip. The biggest losers, once again: the Palestinians.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Hamas, ISIS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Sinai Peninsula

Putting Aside the Pious Lies about the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Jan. 23 2018

In light of recent developments, including Mahmoud Abbas’s unusually frank speech to the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s leadership, Moshe Arens advocates jettisoning some frequently mouthed but clearly false assumptions about Israel’s situation, beginning with the idea that the U.S. should act as a neutral party in negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah. (Free registration may be required.)

The United States cannot be, and has never been, neutral in mediating the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is the leader of the world’s democratic community of nations and cannot assume a neutral position between democratic Israel and the Palestinians, whether represented by an autocratic leadership that glorifies acts of terror or by Islamic fundamentalists who carry out acts of terror. . . .

In recent years the tectonic shifts in the Arab world, the lower price of oil, and the decreased importance attached to the Palestinian issue in much of the region, have essentially removed the main incentive the United States had in past years to stay involved in the conflict. . . .

Despite the conventional wisdom that the core issues—such as Jerusalem or the fate of Israeli settlements beyond the 1949 armistice lines—are the major stumbling blocks to an agreement, the issue for which there seems to be no solution in sight at the moment is making sure that any Israeli military withdrawal will not result in rockets being launched against Israel’s population centers from areas that are turned over to the Palestinians. . . .

Does that mean that Israel is left with a choice between a state with a Palestinian majority or an apartheid state, as claimed by Israel’s left? This imaginary dilemma is based on a deterministic theory of history, which disregards all other possible alternatives in the years to come, and on questionable demographic predictions. What the left is really saying is this: better rockets on Tel Aviv than a continuation of Israeli military control over Judea and Samaria. There is little support in Israel for that view.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process, US-Israel relations