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Why Hamas Is Directing Rioters to Sabotage Gaza’s Economic Lifeline

Over the past few days, rioters in Gaza have managed to destroy the pipelines that bring fuel into the territory, leaving residents unable to use their stoves or obtain gasoline for their vehicles. The rioters, apparently at the direction of Hamas officials, also attacked other infrastructure at the Kerem Shalom border crossing—the only link between Israel and Gaza—including conveyor belts for transporting raw materials. Having spoken with IDF officials responsible for monitoring the border crossing, Judah Ari Gross writes:

As part of an agreement late last year, Hamas handed over the keys to the Palestinian side of Kerem Shalom to the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas, [so that] the Palestinian Authority (PA) could collect taxes on the goods coming through the crossing. This was supposed to be the case for Egypt’s Rafah crossing as well, but Hamas recently seized back control of that passageway. (On Saturday, Egypt reopened Rafah Crossing as a temporary substitute for Kerem Shalom.)

With nothing coming through Kerem Shalom, that means no taxes are being collected by the Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile, “all the taxes from Rafah go to Hamas,” [one IDF] officer said. Unnamed Palestinian sources told the Ynet news site on Saturday that they’d come to a similar conclusion: that the terror group had the crossing destroyed so that its rival, the PA, wouldn’t be able to collect taxes and Hamas would.

But shutting down Kerem Shalom also serves another, perhaps more important goal for Hamas as it gears up for this week’s “March of Return” protests. While the Israeli military believes Hamas is encouraging and directing the riots, the engine that is keeping them going runs on the anger and frustration of the residents of the Gaza Strip, which will only be increased in light of Kerem Shalom’s closure. “They are playing with their people, putting pressure on their people and then ‘exporting’ that pressure toward Israel, the PA, and the international community,” the officer said.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority

 

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen