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

 

The Struggle for Iraq, and What It Means for Israel

Oct. 17 2018

Almost immediately after the 2003 invasion, Iraq became a battleground between the U.S. and Iran, as the latter sent troops, money, and arms to foment and support an insurgency. The war on Islamic State, along with the Obama administration’s effort to align itself with the Islamic Republic, led to a temporary truce, but also gave Tehran-backed militias a great deal of power. Iran has also established a major conduit of supplies through Iraq to support its efforts in Syria. Meanwhile, it is hard to say if the recent elections have brought a government to Baghdad that will be pro-American or pro-Iranian. Eldad Shavit and Raz Zimmt comment how these developments might affect Israel:

Although statements by the U.S. administration have addressed Iran’s overall activity in the region, they appear to emphasize the potential for confrontation in Iraq. First and foremost, this [emphasis] stems from the U.S. perception of this arena as posing the greatest danger, in light of the extensive presence of U.S. military and civilian personnel operating throughout the country, and in light of past experience, which saw many American soldiers attacked by Shiite militias under Iranian supervision. The American media have reported that U.S. intelligence possesses information indicating that the Shiite militias and other elements under Iranian auspices intend to carry out attacks against American targets and interests. . . .

In light of Iran’s intensifying confrontation with the United States and its mounting economic crisis, Tehran finds it essential to maintain its influence in Iraq, particularly in the event of a future clash with the United States. The Iranian leadership has striven to send a message of deterrence to the United States regarding the implications of a military clash. . . .

A recently published report also indicates that Iran transferred ballistic missiles to the Shiite militias it supports in Iraq. Although Iran has denied this report, it might indeed attempt to transfer advanced military equipment to the Shiite militias in order to improve their capabilities in the event of a military confrontation between Iran and the United States and/or Israel, or a confrontation between [the militias] and the central government in Baghdad.

From Israel’s perspective, after years when the Iraqi arena received little attention from Israeli decision makers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman have mentioned the possibility of Israel’s taking action against Iranian targets in Iraq. In this context, and particularly in light of the possibility that Iraq could become an arena of greater conflict between the United States and Iran, it is critical that there be full coordination between Israel and the United States. This is of particular importance due to [the American estimation of] stability in Iraq as a major element of the the campaign against Islamic State, which, though declared a success, is not yet complete.

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More about: Barack Obama, Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Israel & Zionism, U.S. Foreign policy