What Hamas’s Massive Terror Tunnel Signifies

Jan. 17 2018

The IDF demolished a Hamas tunnel last weekend that stretched from Egyptian territory in the Sinai, underneath Gaza, to a point 180 meters into Israeli territory, adjacent to the sole border crossing that connects Gaza and Israel. To Ron Ben-Yishai, the tunnel’s existence demonstrates much about Hamas’s plans:

Hamas’s military wing likely counted on this tunnel for smuggling strategic weapons, possibly heavy precision-guided missiles that would be sent to the Strip from Iran through Sinai and serve Hamas in its next conflict with Israel. But that wasn’t its only purpose. Another purpose was to infiltrate Israel and to target the [nearby] communities of Kerem Shalom and Shlomit, and possibly also bomb the crossing on its Israeli side. . . . The [obvious] conclusion is that [Hamas] was willing to sacrifice the Gazans’ welfare and vital needs in favor of a “strategic surprise” for Israel in the Kerem Shalom area.

Those who wondered about Hamas’s leader Yahya Sinwar’s apparent moderation have now received their answer. The restraint practiced by the radical terrorist, [who was among many terrorists released in exchange for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit], was simply a way of covering up his intention to carry out a murderous attack in Israel and bypass the Egyptian measures aimed at disconnecting Islamic State in Sinai from Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations in Gaza. . . .

Hamas and Islamic Jihad now understand, without a doubt, that they are about to lose all of their underground assets. Furthermore, the Egyptians are going to reevaluate their relationship with Hamas in Gaza. As a result, the probability is growing that the two largest terror organizations in the strip will initiate an escalation with Israel, before losing the ability to surprise us [altogether].

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

No, Israelis and Palestinians Can’t Simply Sit Down and Solve the “Israel-Palestinian Conflict”

Jan. 17 2019

By “zooming out” from the blinkered perspective with which most Westerners see the affairs of the Jewish state, argues Matti Friedman, one can begin to see things the way Israelis do:

Many [in Israel] believe that an agreement signed by a Western-backed Palestinian leader in the West Bank won’t end the conflict, because it will wind up creating not a state but a power vacuum destined to be filled by intra-Muslim chaos, or Iranian proxies, or some combination of both. That’s exactly what has happened . . . in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. One of Israel’s nightmares is that the fragile monarchy in Jordan could follow its neighbors . . . into dissolution and into Iran’s orbit, which would mean that if Israel doesn’t hold the West Bank, an Iranian tank will be able to drive directly from Tehran to the outskirts of Tel Aviv. . . .

In the “Israeli-Palestinian” framing, with all other regional components obscured, an Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank seems like a good idea—“like a real-estate deal,” in President Trump’s formulation—if not a moral imperative. And if the regional context were peace, as it was in Northern Ireland, for example, a power vacuum could indeed be filled by calm.

But anyone using a wider lens sees that the actual context here is a complex, multifaceted war, or a set of linked wars, devastating this part of the world. The scope of this conflict is hard to grasp in fragmented news reports but easy to see if you pull out a map and look at Israel’s surroundings, from Libya through Syria and Iraq to Yemen.

The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunnis and Shiites; between majority populations and minorities. If [Israel’s] small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Middle East