Islamic Jihad, Not Hamas, May Be the Greatest Danger in Gaza

March 12 2019

As Hamas continues its efforts at extortion, rejecting Israeli-Egyptian offers while demanding more money, electricity, and fuel in exchange for less, Alex Fishman points to an even more dangerous threat gaining influence in the Gaza Strip: the rival terrorist group Islam Jihad. Hamas receives crucial funding and support from Iran, but it has other backers and enjoys relative autonomy; Islamic Jihad, by contrast, is almost entirely dependent on Tehran, and seems to follow its orders:

Islamic Jihad was responsible for most of the rocket, anti-tank-missile, and sniper attacks carried out in recent months against Israel. Its leaders, who are hiding in the Dahiya neighborhood of Beirut under the leadership of its deputy secretary-general Ziad al-Nahla, have decided to renew military activity from the Gaza Strip. The organization’s representatives in Gaza also stopped coordinating their military activities with Hamas, [which they once did by participating in] a joint war room set up by all the terrorist organizations in the Strip.

And so Hamas today finds itself facing off against an intransigent organization that acts in contravention to its agenda. Islamic Jihad is making sure to carry out its military provocations on the days when Hamas is conducting some sort of dialogue with Israel or with Egypt regarding arrangements in the Strip—and when it attacks, Israel retaliates with attacks on Hamas installations. . . .

[W]hen Israel does not deal with the Islamic Jihad threat, it encourages increased anarchy in Gaza, which will ultimately lead to a ground invasion by the IDF. Hamas, for its part, is waging an ineffective battle against the renegade organization. Several days ago, for example, Hamas’s internal security apparatus arrested Hashem Salem, an Islamic Jihad member who converted from Sunni to Shiite Islam and established a pro-Iranian organization in the Gaza Strip. That’s how it starts: today it’s a small charity, funded by Iran, which supports widows and orphans, but if we do not pay attention, tomorrow that charity will be yet another Iranian military organization in Gaza.

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

Despite What the UN Says, the Violence at the Gaza Border Is Military, Not Civilian, in Nature

March 22 2019

On Monday, a UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry issued its final report on last spring’s disturbances at the Gaza border. Geoffrey Corn and Peter Margulies explain why the report is fatally flawed:

The commission framed the events [in Gaza] as a series of demonstrations that were “civilian in nature.” Israel and its Supreme Court, [which has investigated some of the killings that occurred], framed the same events quite differently: as a new evolution in Israel’s ongoing armed conflict with the terrorist organization Hamas. Consistency and common sense suggest that the Israeli High Court of Justice’s framing is a more rational explanation of what occurred at the Israel-Gaza border in spring 2018.

Kites, [for instance], played a telltale role [in the violence]. When most people think of kites, they think of a child’s plaything or a hobbyist’s harmless passion. In the Gaza confrontation, kites [became] a new and effective, albeit low-tech, tactic for attacking Israel. As the report conceded, senior Gaza leaders, including from Hamas, “encouraged” the unleashing of waves of incendiary kites that during and since the spring 2018 confrontations have burned thousands of acres of arable land within Israel. The resulting destruction included fires that damaged the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which conveys goods and gasoline from Israel to Gaza. . . .

Moreover, the incendiary-kite offensive was an effective diversion from the efforts encouraged and coordinated by Hamas last spring to pierce the border with Israel and attack both IDF personnel and the civilian residents of the beleaguered Israeli towns a short distance from the border fence. . . .

The commission also failed to acknowledge that Hamas sought to use civilians as an operational cover to move members of its armed wing into position along the fence. For IDF commanders, this increased the importance of preventing a breach [in the fence]. Large crowds directly along the fence would simplify breakthrough attempts by intermingled Hamas and other belligerent operatives. The crowds themselves also could attempt to pour through any breach. Unfortunately, the commission seems to have completely omitted any credible assessment of the potential casualties on all sides that would have resulted from IDF action to seal a breach once it was achieved. . . .

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Laws of war, UNHRC, United Nations