Hamas Foments Violence, While Keeping Gaza Quiet

Oct. 30 2015

Hamas has played no small part in encouraging and planning the recent wave of attacks in Israel, some of which are carried out by Hamas fighters in the West Bank. But at the same time it has refrained from initiating any operations from its base in Gaza itself. Jonathan Schanzer explains why:

The group’s leader [in Gaza], Ismail Haniyeh, has called for an intifada, or uprising. Yet he hasn’t unleashed Hamas’s huge arsenal of rockets or its trained fighting forces from the Gaza Strip, the territory he controls. Hamas has one foot in the uprising and one foot out. . . .

Though Hamas is surely tempted to join the unrest, it is restrained by the memory of last summer’s devastating conflict and the certain knowledge that a new war would only compound Gazans’ misery. And they also know how difficult it has been to negotiate reconstruction after last summer’s war. . . .

Aware of its limitations in Gaza, Hamas has mobilized its fighters in the West Bank. With this arms-length strategy, Hamas can both strike out at Israel and also undermine its political rival, the Palestinian Authority, which it has for more than a decade tried to unseat. This poses little risk to Hamas’s grip on Gaza.

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Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: Gaza, Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian terror

Why the Recent Uptick of Israeli Activity in Syria?

Sept. 23 2022

On September 16 and 17, the IDF carried out airstrikes in the vicinity of Damascus, reportedly aimed at Iranian logistical centers there. These follow on an increase in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks, which have included strikes on the Aleppo airport on August 31 and September 6. Jonathan Spyer comments:

The specific targeting of the Aleppo airport is almost certainly related to recent indications that Iran is relying increasingly on its “air bridge” to Syria and Lebanon, because of Israel’s successful and systematic targeting of efforts to move weaponry and equipment by land [via Iraq]. But the increased tempo of activity is not solely related to the specific issue of greater use of air transport by Teheran. Rather, it is part of a broader picture of increasing regional tension. There are a number of factors that contribute to this emergent picture.

Firstly, Russia appears to be pulling back in Syria. . . . There are no prospects for a complete Russian withdrawal. The air base at Khmeimim and the naval facilities at Tartus and Latakia are hard strategic assets which will be maintained. The maintenance of Assad’s rule is also a clear objective for Moscow. But beyond this, the Russians are busy now with a flailing, faltering military campaign in Ukraine. Moscow lacks the capacity for two close strategic engagements at once.

Secondly, assuming that some last-minute twist does not occur, it now looks like a return to the [2015 nuclear deal] is not imminent. In the absence of any diplomatic process related to the Iranian nuclear program, and given Israeli determination to roll back Iran’s regional ambitions, confrontation becomes more likely.

Lastly, it is important to note that the uptick in Israeli activity is clearly not related to Syria alone. Rather, it is part of a more general broadening and deepening by Israel in recent months of its assertive posture toward the full gamut of Iranian activity in the region. . . . The increasing scope and boldness of Israeli air activity in Syria reflects this changing of the season.

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Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria, War in Ukraine