With Turkish Help, Islamism Takes Hold in Eastern Jerusalem

According to a recent, detailed study published in the Hebrew-language journal Hashiloach, radical Islamic organizations are rapidly gaining influence and popularity in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Many such organizations are sponsored by Ankara, which aims to supplant both Jordan as the guardian of the Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the source of political legitimacy in the city. David M. Weinberg writes:

[T]here has been very significant erosion in the status of the veteran eastern Jerusalem mukhtars [local elders] and the influence of Fatah political infrastructures and Palestinian Authority leaders. Into the vacuum have stepped elements identified with Hamas, with the northern faction of the Islamic Movement in Israel [which routinely encourages violence against Jews], and with the Muslim Brotherhood in general.

Through a series of civic associations, nonprofits, and grassroots organizations, sometimes at the neighborhood level and sometimes more extensive, [Islamists] are investing tens of millions of dollars per year in dawa (missionary) activities, mainly charitable enterprises and educational programs to attract the young to [radical] Islamic values. There is a direct line, say the [study’s] authors, from civic dawa to radicalization and active enlistment in the armed struggle against Israel. . . .

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, which is the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood’s main patron, . . . now enjoys unprecedented popularity among the residents of eastern Jerusalem. . . . The Turks’ public support of the Palestinian cause and adoption of the al-Aqsa issue, and their decision to inject millions of dollars into eastern Jerusalem, have won them great sympathy and support. . . .

The enlarged foreign presence in the heart of Israel’s capital touches the deepest chords of the issue of Israeli sovereignty in the eastern part of the city. . . . While significant security action and determined diplomatic maneuver are clearly mandated, Israel will have to do more to “recapture” eastern Jerusalem. It will have to assume full responsibility for the services that eastern Jerusalem Arab residents need, with major budgetary repercussions.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: East Jerusalem, Islamism, Israel & Zionism, Muslim Brotherhood, Palestinians, Turkey

In the Next Phase of the War, Israel’s Biggest Obstacles May Be Political Rather Than Military

To defeat Hamas, Israel will have to attack the city of Rafah, which lies on the border between Egypt and Gaza, and which now contains the bulk of the terrorist group’s fighting forces as well as, most likely, the Israeli hostages. Edward Luttwak examines how this stage of the war will be different from those that preceded it:

To start with, Rafah has very few of the high-rise apartment houses, condo towers, and mansions of Gaza City and Khan Yunis. This makes street-fighting much simpler because there are no multilevel basements from which many fighters can erupt at once, nor looming heights with firing positions for snipers. Above all, if a building must be entered and cleared room-by-room, perhaps because a high-value target is thought to be hiding there, it does not take hundreds of soldiers to search the place quickly.

Luttwak also argues that the IDF will be able to evacuate a portion of the civilian population without allowing large numbers of Hamas guerrillas to escape. In his view, the biggest challenge facing Israel, therefore, is a political one:

Israel will have to contend with one final hurdle: the fact that its forces cannot proceed without close coordination with Egypt’s rulers. President Sisi’s government detests Hamas—the Gaza offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood they overthrew—and shed no tears at the prospect of its further destruction in Rafah. However, they also greatly fear the arrival of a flood of Palestinians fleeing from the Israeli offensive.

As for the Israeli war cabinet, it is equally determined to win this war in Rafah and to preserve strategic cooperation with Egypt, which has served both sides very well. That takes some doing, and accounts for the IDF’s failure to move quickly into Rafah. But victory is Israel’s aim—and it’s not going to give up on that.

Read more at UnHerd

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security