Hamas Is Trying to Spark an Explosion in the West Bank

Despite some scattered rocket fire from Gaza in the past two weeks, argues Yoav Limor, Hamas does not want to escalate from within that territory. Instead, writes Limor, its current strategy is to use its cells in Judea and Samaria to plan attacks on Israelis. A recent report from the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal-security service, detailing hundreds of foiled attacks—mostly originating from the West Bank—makes this clear:

The most dramatic data in [the Shin Bet report] centered on the 148 Hamas terrorist cells apprehended in Judea and Samaria this year. This number means that, . . . in Judea and Samaria, [Hamas] has its foot firmly on the gas pedal, doing its utmost to carry out attacks. These efforts include a substantial financial investment and intensive recruitment in search of new human resources—the kind who would have a better shot at succeeding, like east Jerusalem Arabs and even Israeli Arabs.

The Hamas efforts are aimed at achieving three key objectives: keeping the conflict away from Gaza, perpetuating the conflict [overall], and destabilizing the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the rival Fatah faction. These objectives are intertwined. . . . Hamas is willing to make short-term sacrifices in order to achieve its long-term endgame: taking over the Palestinian Authority (PA) and gaining enough power to fight Israel and win. . . .

Hamas is playing a double game with Abbas on a number of different playing fields: engaging in reconciliation talks designed to give Gaza a much-needed lifeline, and waging battle—an overt diplomatic battle and a covert military battle—against him in the West Bank. Over the last year, the terrorist plots thwarted by the Shin Bet were mainly directed at Israelis, but also at the Palestinian Authority. . . .

A large-scale terrorist attack [from Judea and Samaria] will obligate Israel to retaliate. The Israeli response will make sure that Hamas suffers in the West Bank, but the Palestinian Authority will suffer, too. The attack will reinforce the [Palestinian] public’s view of their leadership as weak, an empty vessel. While Hamas takes action against the occupation, . . . the Palestinian Authority will look like it collaborates with the Israelis, [which it has been doing to curb Hamas’s infiltration of its territory]—depriving it of even more support and halting whatever momentum it has managed to gain. In practice, it will only make Hamas stronger.

Indeed, Limor concludes, a single terrorist attack that slips by the Shin Bet could be enough to topple the PA and start a war.

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More about: Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, Shin Bet, West Bank


To Israel’s Leading Strategist, Strength, Not Concessions, Has Brought a Measure of Calm

Aug. 14 2018

Following a long and distinguished career in the IDF, Yaakov Amidror served as Israel’s national-security adviser from 2011 to 2013. He speaks with Armin Rosen about the threats from Gaza, Hizballah, and Iran:

For Israel’s entire existence, would-be peacemakers have argued that the key to regional harmony is the reduction of the Jewish state’s hard power through territorial withdrawals and/or the legitimization of the country’s non-state enemies. In Amidror’s view, reality has thoroughly debunked this line of reasoning.

Amidror believes peace—or calm, at least—came as a result of Israeli muscle. Israel proved to its former enemies in the Sunni Arab world that it’s powerful enough to fill the vacuum left by America’s exit from the region and to stand up to Iran on the rest of the Middle East’s behalf. “The stronger Israel is, the more the ability of Arab countries to cooperate [with it] grows,” Amidror explained. On the whole, Amidror said he’s “very optimistic. I remember the threat that we faced when we were young. We fought the Six-Day War and I remember the Yom Kippur War, and I see what we are facing today. We have only one-and-a-half problems. One problem is Iran, and the half-problem is Hizballah.” . . .

In all likelihood the next Israeli-Iranian confrontation will be a clash with Amidror’s half-threat: the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hizballah, Iran’s most effective proxy in the Middle East and perhaps the best armed non-state military force on earth. . . . “We should neutralize the military capability of Hizballah,” [in the event of war], he said. “We should not destroy the organization as a political tool. If the Shiites want these people to represent them, it’s their problem.” . . .

“It will be a very nasty war,” Amidror said. “A very, very nasty war.” Hizballah will fire “thousands and thousands” of long-range missiles of improved precision, speed, and range at Israeli population centers, a bombardment larger than Israel’s various layers of missile defense will be able to neutralize in full. . . . This will, [however], be a blow Israel can withstand. “Israelis will be killed, no question,” Amidror said. “But it’s not going to be catastrophic.”

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Lebanon