Israel Must Cut Off Hamas’s Access to Cash

President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have made clear that they wish America to aid in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, and the amelioration of its overall material situation, while making sure that these funds don’t go to Hamas. But it is not at all clear how this can be done, given the terrorist group’s tight control over the territory and the willingness of such institutions as UNRWA—the UN organization that provides aid to Palestinians—to cooperate with it. Israel, for its part, has long allowed Qatar to support Hamas with large cash payments. But Nitsana Darshan-Leitner suggests an alternative:

The truth is simple: money transferred to the Gaza Strip cannot be monitored. Not by international organizations whose functionaries answer to Hamas, not by charities—as their infrastructure is an integral part of Hamas and the public sympathy for it—and certainly not by the Palestinian Authority, which has no power over the Strip whatsoever. . . . [A]ny cash that goes into Gaza finds its way to Hamas’s military goals.

Israel must now inform Qatar and European countries that if they want to support the impoverished Palestinians in Gaza, they are more than welcome to send as many containers of food, medicine, clothing, toys, textbooks, furniture, etc. as they want. Want to pay for fuel and electricity? Excellent. But keep the cash. Dollars only buy ammunition and Israel will no longer allow it into Gaza.

A terrorist group cannot pay operatives without banks, communicate without technological means, or operate in general without lawyers and accountants. . . . The thousands of rockets [Hamas] has developed, the missiles it purchased, the underground city it dug [for conducting military operations], the stipends paid to terrorists and their families—all cost more than a billion dollars.

To this end, Darshan-Leitner concludes, Israel must follow up its military offensive against the terrorist group with a financial one—otherwise it is merely allowing Hamas to build back what the IDF just destroyed.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Hamas, Israeli Security, Joe Biden

Why the White House’s Plan to Prevent an Israel-Hizballah War Won’t Work

On Monday, Hizballah downed an Israeli drone, leading the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes that killed one of the terrorist group’s commanders in southern Lebanon, and two more of its members in the northeast. The latter strike marks an escalation by the IDF, which normally confines its activities to the southern part of the country. Hizballah responded by firing two barrages of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday, while Hamas operatives in Lebanon fired another barrage yesterday.

According to the Iran-backed militia, 219 of its fighters have been killed since October; six Israeli civilians and ten soldiers have lost their lives in the north. The Biden administration has meanwhile been involved in ongoing negotiations to prevent these skirmishes from turning into an all-out war. The administration’s plan, however, requires carrots for Hizballah in exchange for unenforceable guarantees, as Richard Goldberg explains:

Israel and Hizballah last went to war in 2006. That summer, Hizballah crossed the border, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Israel responded with furious airstrikes, a naval blockade, and eventually a ground operation that met stiff resistance and mixed results. A UN-endorsed ceasefire went into effect after 34 days of war, accompanied by a Security Council Resolution that ordered the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in disarming Hizballah in southern Lebanon—from the Israeli border up to the Litani River, some 30 kilometers away.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer support over the last seventeen years, the LAF made no requests to UNIFIL, which then never disarmed Hizballah. Instead, Iran accelerated delivering weapons to the terrorist group—building up its forces to a threat level that dwarfs the one Israel faced in 2006. The politics of Lebanon shifted over time as well, with Hizballah taking effective control of the Lebanese government and exerting its influence (and sometimes even control) over the LAF and its U.S.-funded systems.

Now the U.S. is offering Lebanon an economic bailout in exchange for a promise to keep Hizballah forces from coming within a mere ten kilometers of the border, essentially abrogating the Security Council resolution. Goldberg continues:

Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent seventeen years helping Hizballah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hizballah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for [Hizballah’s chief Hassan] Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within ten kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from ten kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hizballah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden