Gaza and Hamas: Now What?

Having failed to achieve its goals through unceasing rocket attacks on Israel, Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007, proceeded to concentrate its efforts on creating a network of attack tunnels. In 2014’s Operation Protective Edge and subsequently, the IDF has succeeded in systematically destroying these tunnels—an achievement that most likely spurred Hamas to take up its current tactic of mass protests at the security fence combined with attempted infiltration. Now that it has defeated this effort as well, Elliott Abrams asks what Israel should do next.

Misery in Gaza is not in Israel’s interest. The problem is that Hamas has thus far shown no interest in transforming itself from Islamist terrorist group into responsible government of Gaza. This should be no surprise. Yasir Arafat could never make that transformation either, from terrorist into head of government. His rejection of Israel’s offer at Camp David was in part a rejection of changing himself from a “resistance” leader in military uniform into an administrator responsible for schools, hospitals, and roads. And Arafat was secular. . . .

Hamas [by contrast] is an Islamist terrorist group dedicated to eliminating Israel and will never agree to transform itself into a “normal” government. This leaves Israel and Egypt, and anyone else who is serious about avoiding more violence, with few good options. How can Israel and Egypt pursue a policy of improving economic conditions in Gaza—more electricity, water, sewage treatment, jobs, opportunities to leave the Gaza Strip to study or to get medical treatment—without strengthening Hamas’s ability to move terrorists in and out and acquire more weapons or their components? We are familiar with the story of cement: permitted to be imported to build houses, but instead diverted by Hamas into construction of those tunnels.

It is worth trying again to reduce misery in Gaza, even if success will be partial or minimal. Efforts at humanitarian relief at least show Gazans and moralists in Europe (so quick to jump to facile criticism of Israel, as we saw this week) that the true author of Gaza’s plight is Hamas, which sees Gazans as cannon fodder rather than citizens for whom it is responsible. There is no visible “solution” to the problem of Gaza, because it is today a small Islamist emirate governed by a terrorist organization. For Israel, violence can at best be reduced or delayed, but not avoided entirely, when the goal of the group ruling Gaza is precisely violence designed to destroy you.

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Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Yasir Arafat

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary], approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat