With the “March of Return,” Hamas Finds a New Way to Use Human Shields

April 3 2018

On Friday March 30, Hamas gathered thousands of its subjects at the border fence separating Gaza from Israel to inaugurate the “March of Return.” The protests are planned to continue until May, culminating in a massive attempt to storm the border. Oded Granot explains:

[Hamas’s] calculation is simple. Israel has enough military might to repel any military threat to its borders and sovereignty. But it won’t dare slaughter civilians en masse—women and children who are trying to “return to their homes in Haifa, Acre, and Ashkelon.” And if, heaven forbid, it did, it would be immediately condemned by the international community and accused of harming innocent civilians and of crimes against humanity. . . .

About 250 buses brought some 30,000 people to the border area [on Friday]. Some are relatives of Hamas operatives and public officials. Not everyone participated willingly. Some were forced.

This was no peaceful, popular demonstration, as the organizers promised it would be. This was incitement. Rocks were thrown. Attempts were made to vandalize the border fence, and demonstrators were used as cover for an attempted attack against IDF forces. When these attempts failed, and seventeen people had been killed—including ten known terrorists—Israel was accused of perpetrating a mass slaughter. In this sense, Hamas’s tactics during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, in which it located terrorist headquarters and weapons caches in civilian homes, didn’t differ much from the events on Friday. In both cases, civilians were forced to serve as human shields.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism

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