So Far, the Gaza Protests Are a Failed Gimmick

April 12 2018

Beginning on March 30, Hamas has been organizing mass demonstrations at the security fence separating Gaza from Israel; these demonstrations are supposed to recur every Friday and culminate on May 14 or 15. They have been combined with attempts to breach the fence, the detonation of explosives, and the burning of tires. But, argues Yoni Ben Menachem, the tactics have thus far proved ineffective:

The Hamas leadership, which did not want to lose too many participants at its events, gave in to pressure from the younger generation in Gaza who brought up the idea of the old-new gimmick of burning thousands of tires. They wanted to use the tactic to hinder the actions of IDF marksmen across the border, thereby “protecting the lives of the protesters.” According to Fatah sources in Gaza, the Hamas leadership believed that this new gimmick would succeed following the failure of the underground-tunnels project.

Burning tires is not new. The tactic first appeared during the civil war in Lebanon in 1975-1990, and it was also used extensively during the first intifada in 1987 and the second intifada in 2000. [The] burning tires [were] intended to draw the IDF into a situation where it would have to deal with thousands of protesting civilians in conditions of poor visibility, which would cause it to make mistakes.

However, an assessment of the results shows that the purpose for which thousands of tires were burned was not achieved. The IDF forces at the Gaza border were prepared in advance. Whenever necessary, they used water cannons, fans, and fire hoses, and they also used aerial drones to overcome the heavy smokescreen. Anyone who attempted to approach the border fence, damage it, cross it, or carry out terror attacks under cover of the smoke from the tires was hit by sniper fire.

The Palestinians did not manage to infiltrate the territory of the state of Israel in vast numbers, and the Israeli deterrent was preserved.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The U.S. Should Recognize Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights

July 19 2018

Since the 1970s, American governments have sporadically pressured Jerusalem to negotiate the return of the Golan to Syria in exchange for peace. Had Israel given up this territory, Iranian forces would now be preparing to establish themselves on its strategically advantageous high ground. Michael Doran, testifying before the House of Representatives, argues that for this and other reasons, Congress should recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. (Video is available at the link below.)

Between 1949 and 1967, [the period during which Syria held the Golan], thousands of clashes erupted [there]. By contrast, ever since Israel took control of the Golan Heights in June 1967, they have served as a natural buffer between the two belligerents. The last 70 years serve as a laboratory of real life, and the results [of the experiment conducted therein] are incontrovertible: when in the hands of Syria, the Golan Heights promoted conflict. When in the hands of Israel, they have promoted stability. . . .

From the outbreak of the [Syrian] civil war, Iran and Russia have worked aggressively to shape the conflict so as to serve their interests. The influence of Iran is particularly worrisome because, in the division of labor between Moscow and Tehran, Russia provides the air power while Iran provides much of the ground forces. . . . Thanks to Iran’s newfound ground presence [in Syria], it is well on the way to completing a so-called “land bridge” stretching from Tehran to Beirut. There can be no doubt that a major aim of the land bridge is to increase the military pressure on Israel (and Jordan, too). . . .

Would Americans ever consciously choose to place Iranian soldiers on the Golan Heights, so that they could peer down their riflescopes at Jewish civilians below? Is there any American interest that would be served by allowing Iran to have direct access to the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s primary water reservoir? Would it ever be wise to place Iranian troops [where they could] serve as a wedge between Jordan and Israel? The answer to all of these questions, obviously, is no. And the clearest way to send that message to the world is to pass a law recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

As for the claim that the Jewish state’s seizure of the Golan in 1967 violates international law, Doran notes that Washington undermined this claim with its attempts in the 1990s to broker a deal between Jerusalem and Damascus:

The ready American (and Israeli) acceptance of the June 4, 1967 cease-fire line [as the basis for such a deal] is nothing short of startling. That line . . . leaves Syria in possession of territory along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and elsewhere that it acquired by force in 1948. In other words, to win over its enemy, [Syria], the Clinton administration dispensed with the principle of the impermissibility of the acquisition of territory by force—the very principle that the United States has remained ever-vigilant in applying to its ally, Israel.

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More about: Congress, Golan Heights, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy