Iran’s Plans for a Takeover of Gaza

Oct. 11 2018

After Hamas, the most important political (and terrorist) organization in the Gaza Strip is Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—which, like Hizballah in Lebanon and various militias in Iraq, is an Iranian proxy. Khaled Abu Toameh explains the threat the group poses:

PIJ . . . is responsible for hundreds of terrorist attacks against Israel, including suicide bombings. In recent years, the group has also been launching rockets and mortars at Israel. Although it considers itself an independent group, PIJ often operates in coordination with Hamas. The two groups even have a joint-operations command to coordinate their attacks on Israel. Sometimes, they carry out joint attacks. . . .

Hamas does not tolerate competition from other armed groups in the Gaza Strip, but when it comes to PIJ and its military wing, the story is altogether different. When PIJ displays its power and weapons on the streets of Gaza, Hamas shuts up about it, [since] Hamas is aware that meddling with PIJ means getting into trouble with PIJ’s paymasters in Iran. Like PIJ, Hamas is dependent on Iran’s political, financial, and military backing. [Yet] Iran considers PIJ its main ally and puppet in the Gaza Strip. Through PIJ, Iran inserts its tentacles into the internal affairs of the Palestinians. . . .

Despite the apparent rapprochement [with Hamas after a rift over the Syrian civil war], Iran has strong reservations about trusting the organization. Its skepticism appears based on Iran’s fear that Hamas is ready to reach a reconciliation agreement with Fatah and a truce accord with Israel. Such an alliance, in the eyes of Iran, would constitute a betrayal on the part of Hamas. Any agreement with Fatah would mean that Hamas is prepared to join forces with Abbas and, even worse, engage in future peace talks with Israel. . . .

Even if Hamas were to be removed from power, the Palestinians would continue to suffer under other radical groups such as the PIJ. Second, even if Hamas were to wake up tomorrow morning and have an about-face, striking a genuine truce with Israel, there will always be other terrorist groups that are prepared to breach the agreement any time they wish. . . . These are crucial factors that need to be taken into account by any international party that seeks a solution to the catastrophe called Gaza.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel & Zionism

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security