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

Maintaining Security Cooperation with the PA Shouldn’t Require Ignoring Its Support for Terror

In accordance with legislation passed last year, the Israeli government has begun to deduct from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) an amount proportional to what the PA pays to terrorists and their families. Last year, a similar law went into effect in the U.S., suspending all payments to the PA so long as it continues its “pay-for-slay” policy. The PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has retaliated by refusing to accept any tax revenue collected by Israel—raising concerns that the PA will become insolvent and collapse—while insisting that payments to terrorists and their families are sacrosanct. To Yossi Kuperwasser, Abbas’s behavior amounts to mere extortion—which has already worked on the Europeans to the tune of 35 million euros. He urges Israel and the U.S. not to submit:

Abbas [believes] that influential Israeli and European circles, including the security establishment, view strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and certainly preventing its collapse, as being in Israel and Europe’s best interests. They will therefore give in to the pressure he exerts through the creation of an artificial economic crisis. . . .

[T]he PA leadership’s insistence on continuing wage payments to terrorists and their families, even at the price of an artificial economic crisis, shows once again that . . . the Oslo Accords did not reflect a substantive change in Palestinian national aspirations or in the methods employed to achieve them. . . . If paying wages to terrorists (including the many terrorists whose attacks took place after the Oslo Accords were in force) is the raison d’être for the PA’s establishment, as Abbas seems to be saying, . . . one cannot help asking whether Israel has to insist on maintaining the PA’s existence at any price.

True, Israel cooperates on security issues with the PA, but that serves the interests of both sides. . . . The short-term benefits Israel gains from this security cooperation, [however], are of less value than the benefits enjoyed by the Palestinians, and worth even less when measured against the long-term strategic damage resulting from Israel’s resigning itself to the constant incitement, the promotion of terror, and the political struggle against Israel carried out by the PA. Israel should not do anything to hasten the PA’s breakdown, because it has no desire to rule over the Palestinians and run their day to day lives, but it also should not feel more obligated to the PA’s continued existence than do the Palestinians themselves, thereby leaving itself open to continuous extortion.

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Read more at Israel Institute for Strategic Studies

More about: Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror