The Importance of Driving Iran Out of Gaza

Dec. 12 2018

Since 2017, Iran has become Hamas’s leading supplier of funds and weapons; in addition, the second-largest military force in Gaza, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, functions as an Iranian proxy. Both of these groups are Sunni—unlike the Shiite militias Tehran has sponsored throughout the Middle East. But since 2012 the Islamic Republic has also cultivating another group, known as Sabireen, which is led by Shiites, is modeled on Hizballah, and has between 400 and 3,000 fighters. Noting that the Tehran has no doubt played a role in the recent outbreaks of anti-Israel violence, Danny Shoham explains what its interference in Gaza means going forward:

[W]hile Sabireen remains a murky movement, its very existence is a clear sign that Iran is not prepared to tolerate quiet in the Palestinian territories, even as Hamas and Fatah seek time and space to solidify their fragile unity arrangement. This is a strong indicator of Tehran’s broader goals in the Palestinian arena. Instead of heeding the will of the overwhelming majority of Palestinians, who support efforts to re-forge a national government [exercising authority over both Gaza and the West Bank] after years of fracture, Iran appears intent on pushing the Palestinians into conflict with Israel—or even with each other. . . .

Iranian conduct [over the past 35 years] exhibits a clear modus operandi. In line with that pattern of behavior, Iran has significantly strengthened its position in Gaza, possibly to the point that it is now a critical factor there. Tehran’s chief goal is in all likelihood to obstruct the broad efforts of Egypt and the UN to stabilize the [recent] ceasefire between Israel and Gaza and possibly expand the terms of the truce. Without Iranian interference, the situation in Gaza—indeed, in much of the Middle East—would be a great deal more promising. . . .

[For Israel], rooting out—entirely and for good—whatever Iranian presence exists in that area, or otherwise terminating its impact, while difficult, . . . is both vital and feasible.

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

The Riots on the Gaza Border are Carefully Coordinated Attacks on Israel, and Should Be Treated as Such

Jan. 16 2019

On Friday, the weekly riots at the Gaza security fence resumed in full force: 13,000 people participated, and a Palestinian woman was apparently killed by Israeli gunfire. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) had established a commission of inquiry in May, not long after these riots began, “to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human-rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, . . . particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on March 20, 2018.” In a report to the commission, Richard Kemp, a retired senior British officer, concludes, after investigating the situation at the Gaza border, that there is no evidence whatsoever of Israeli wrongdoing, and that the commission is operating under faulty assumptions:

The terms of [the commission’s] mandate are self-evidently biased against the state of Israel and the IDF. The context cited—“the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests”—make clear that the UNHRC either failed to understand what was happening on the ground or deliberately misrepresented the reality. In addition, the commission’s mandate terms the Gaza Strip “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” which it is not. . . .

[T]he so-called “civilian protests” in reality were, and continue to be, a deliberate military operation, orchestrated and controlled by Hamas, [a] terrorist group that has been waging an armed conflict against Israel for many years. Their intention was and remains to kill and wound IDF soldiers, to break through the border fence, to murder and maim innocent civilians, to destroy property, and to compel the IDF to take defensive action resulting in the death of Gaza civilians for exploitation in the international arena. [Israel’s] “military assaults” were not what was implied by this prejudicial mandate. They were in fact lawful, proportionate, and restrained defensive actions. . . .

Suggestions that these demonstrations are [protests] against Israeli policy toward the Gaza Strip are demonstrably false and easily refuted by cursory viewing of Hamas and other public statements made at the time of the events. . . . Further, it is clear that Hamas intended this violence to continue its long-standing strategy of creating and intensifying international outrage, vilification, isolation, and criminalization of the state of Israel and its officials. . . .

[T]he starkest indication that these events were entirely under Hamas control is the simple fact that, when it suited Hamas’s political interests, the [demonstrations] occurred and were of a violent nature, and when such actions did not serve Hamas’s interests, the border was quiet. As the most recent example of this, in November 2018, Qatar began to make large cash payments to Hamas in Gaza. The most recent payment of $15 million was handed over in December 2018. These payments are reportedly part of an agreement with Hamas to diminish violence along the Gaza border. [After] the first payment, the border violence [was] reduced [and the] demonstrations [became] far more restrained.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Laws of war, UNHRC