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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.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

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

What U.S. Success in Syria Should Look Like

April 26 2018

Surveying the history of the Syrian civil war, Jack Keane and Danielle Pletka explain that Bashar al-Assad’s brutal rule and vicious tactics have led to the presence in his country of both Shiite terrorists, led by Hizballah and backed by Iran and Russia, and Sunni jihadist groups like Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda. Any American strategy, they argue, must bear this in mind:

The best option is a Syria without Assad, committed to a future without Iranian or Russian influence. This is not a Pollyanna-like prescription; there are substantial obstacles in the way, not least those we have encountered in Iraq. . . . [But] only such a Syria can guarantee an end to Iranian interference, to the transshipment of weapons for Hizballah, and to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction of the kind we saw used at Douma. (Iran has been instrumental in Syria’s chemical-weapons program for many years.) And, most importantly, only such a Syria can disenfranchise the al-Qaeda and IS affiliates that have found a foothold by exploiting the Syrian people’s desperation.

How do we get there? The United States must first consolidate and strengthen its position in eastern Syria from the Euphrates river to the eastern Syrian border. This involves clearing out the remnants of Islamic State, some several thousand, and ultimately eliminating pockets controlled by the Assad regime and Iranian forces in northeastern Syria. This would enable the creation of a control zone in the eastern part of the country as a base from which to build a credible and capable partner that is not subordinate to the Kurdish chain of command, while effectively shutting down Iran’s strategic land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean. A regional Arab force, reportedly suggested by President Trump’s new national-security adviser, would be a welcome addition. But we should seriously doubt [the Arabs] will participate without American ground leadership and air support.

In western Syria, the United States should rebuild a Syrian opposition force with advisers, weapons, and air power while upping the pressure on Assad and his cronies to select a pathway to a negotiated peace. Pursuing a settlement in Geneva without such leverage over the Assad regime is pure fantasy. Finally, the United States and other Western powers must impede Iran’s and Russia’s ability to be resupplied. Syria’s airfields must be destroyed, and Syria’s airspace must remain clear.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Hizballah, Iran, ISIS, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy