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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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

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

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey