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.

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Read more at Gatestone

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

Jerusalem’s Economic Crisis, Its Arabs, and Its Future

Oct. 18 2018

The population of Israel’s capital city is 38-percent Arab, making Arab eastern Jerusalem the largest Arab community in the country. Connected to this fact is Jerusalem’s 46-percent poverty rate—the highest of any Israeli municipality. The city’s economic condition stems in part from its large ultra-Orthodox population, but there is also rampant poverty among its Arab residents, whose legal status is different from that of both Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

Jerusalem’s Arab inhabitants are not Israeli citizens—in part because Palestinian society views acceptance of Israeli citizenship, [available to any Arab Jerusalemite who desires it], as acceptance of Israeli claims of sovereignty over the city, and in part because Israel is not eager to accept them, even as it formally views itself as having annexed the area. Nevertheless, they have a form of permanent residency that, unlike West Bank Palestinians, allows them unimpeded access to the rest of Israel. . . .

There are good reasons for this poverty among eastern Jerusalem’s Arabs, rooted in the political trap that has ensnared the Arab half of the city and with it the rest of the city as well. Right-wing Israeli political leaders have avoided investing in Arab eastern Jerusalem, fearing that such investments would increase the flow of Palestinians into the city. Left-wing leaders have done the same on the grounds that the Arab half would be given away in a future peace deal.

Meanwhile, eastern Jerusalem’s complicated situation, suspended between the Israeli and Palestinian worlds, means residents cannot take full advantage of their access to the Israeli economy. For example, while most Arab women elsewhere in Israel learn usable Hebrew in school, most Arab schools in eastern Jerusalem teach from the Palestinian curriculum, which does not offer students the Hebrew they will need to find work in the western half of the city. . . .

It is not unreasonable to argue that Jerusalem cannot really be divided, not for political reasons but for economic ones. If Jerusalem remains a solely Israeli capital, it will have to integrate better its disparate parts and massively develop its weaker communities if it hopes ever to become solvent and prosperous. Arabs must be able to find more and better work in Jewish Jerusalem—and in Arab Jerusalem, too. Conversely, if the city is divided into two capitals, that of a Jewish state and that of a Palestinian one, that won’t change the underlying economic reality that its prosperity, its capacity to accommodate tourism and develop efficient infrastructure, and its ability to ensure access for all religions to their many holy sites, will still require a unified urban space.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli economy, Jerusalem