What Israel Gains from Reconciliation with Turkey

Three weeks ago, the Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz visited Ankara, where he met with his Turkish counterpart as well as with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in what seemed a further step toward reconciliation between the two countries. Yet Turkey still refuses to accede to Jerusalem’s requests that it expel Hamas from its territory. Ankara, now reeling from a terrorist attack, has been in a difficult position both economically and diplomatically for some time, and it is easy to see how it might benefit from mending fences with one of the strongest powers in the region. But what, asks Eran Lerman, is in it for Israel?

Clearly, at the core of the two countries’ mutual concern at this point is the growing challenge posed by reckless Iranian conduct. In recent months, this has become a highly specific threat to basic Turkish interests, creating common ground with Israel. The immediate trigger for this new impetus for cooperation was the effort by Iranian agents to use Turkish soil for attacks on Israeli citizens—tourists or businesspeople visiting Istanbul—as an act of revenge against Israel’s alleged complicity in the killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps operatives on Iranian soil.

The Iranian challenge to both countries is not, however, confined to such terror tactics. Israel and Turkey (and Pakistan as well) share an ally currently under active Iranian threat—Azerbaijan. It is close to Turkey in language, culture, and heritage as well in strategic terms. At the same time, since its independence in 1992, it has been a friend (and energy supplier) of Israel and a significant client of Israel’s defense industries. Following the Azeri success in the Nagorno-Karabakh War of autumn 2020, both Turkish and Israeli flags could be seen in the streets of Baku.

Within the last few months, Iranian threats against Azerbaijan have become more intense, backed by force concentrations and military exercises at the border.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Azerbaijan, Benny Gantz, Iran, Israeli Security, Turkey

Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion