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

“Ending the War in Yemen” Would Lead to More Bloodshed and Threaten Global Trade

Dec. 13 2018

A bipartisan movement is afloat in Congress to end American support for the Saudi-led coalition currently fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. With frustration at Riyadh over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, reports of impending famine and a cholera outbreak in Yemen, and mounting casualties, Congress could go so far as to cut all funding for U.S. involvement in the war. But to do so would be a grave mistake, argues Mohammed Khalid Alyahya:

Unfortunately, calls to “stop the Yemen war,” though morally satisfying, are fundamentally misguided. . . . A precipitous disengagement by the Saudi-led coalition . . . would have calamitous consequences for Yemen, the Middle East, and the world at large. The urgency to end the war reduces that conflict, and its drivers, to a morality play, with the coalition of Arab states cast as the bloodthirsty villain killing and starving Yemeni civilians. The assumption seems to be that if the coalition’s military operations are brought to a halt, all will be well in Yemen. . . .

[But] if the Saudi-led coalition were to cease operations, Iran’s long arm, the Houthis, would march on areas [previously controlled by the Yemeni government] and exact a bloody toll on the populations of such cities as Aden and Marib with the same ruthlessness with which they [treated] Sanaa and Taiz during the past three years. The rebels have ruled Sanaa, kidnapping, executing, disappearing, systematically torturing, and assassinating detractors. In Taiz, they fire mortars indiscriminately at the civilian population and snipers shoot at children to force residents into submission.

[Moreover], an abrupt termination of the war would leave Iran in control of Yemen [and] deal a serious blow to the global economy. Iran would have the ability to obstruct trade and oil flows from both the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb strait. . . . About 24 percent of the world’s petroleum and petroleum products passes through these two waterways, and Iran already has the capability to disrupt oil flows from Hormuz and threatened to do so this year. Should Iran acquire that capability in Bab el-Mandeb by establishing a foothold in the Gulf of Aden, even if it chose not to utilize this capability oil prices and insurance costs would surge.

Allowing Tehran to control two of the most strategic choke points for the global energy market is simply not an option for the international community. There is every reason to believe that Iran would launch attacks on maritime traffic. The Houthis have mounted multiple attacks on commercial and military vessels over the past several years, and Iran has supplied its Yemeni proxy with drone boats, conventional aerial drones, and ballistic missiles.

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Read more at The Hill

More about: Iran, Oil, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen