Gaza’s Quiet Dissenters

Last year, an ogranization called the Center for Peace Communications conducted numerous interviews with residents of the Gaza Strip, taking great pains to protect their identities. The result is a video series titled Whispered in Gaza, which presents a picture of life under Hamas’s tyranny unlike anything that can be found in the press. Jeff Jacoby writes:

Through official intimidation or social pressure, Gazans may face intense pressure to show support for Hamas and its murderous policies. So when Hamas organizes gaudy street revels to celebrate a terrorist attack—like the fireworks and sweets it arranged after a gunman murdered seven Israelis outside a Jerusalem synagogue Friday night—it can be a challenge to remember that there are many Palestinians who don’t rejoice at the murder of innocent Jews.

In one [interview], “Fatima” describes the persecution endured by her brother, a humble vegetable seller, after he refused to pay protection money to Hamas. The police arrested him on a trumped-up drug charge and locked him in prison. “They beat him repeatedly to make him confess to things he had nothing to do with,” she says. Then they threatened to kill him. Eventually he fled the country, leaving behind a family devastated by his absence.

For those of us who detest Hamas no less than for those who defend it, it is powerful to hear the voices of Palestinians like “Layla,” who is sickened by the constant exaltation of war and “resistance” in the Palestinian media. “If you’re a Gazan citizen who opposes war and says, ‘I don’t want war,’ you’re branded a traitor,” she tells her interviewer. “It’s forbidden to say you don’t want war.” So people keep quiet, she explains, for fear of being tarred as disloyal.

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Read more at Boston Globe

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinian dissidents, Palestinian public opinion

An Emboldened Hizballah Is Trying to Remake the Status Quo

March 23 2023

Two weeks ago, a terrorist—most likely working for Hizballah—managed to cross into Israel from Lebanon and plant an explosive device near Megiddo that wounded a civilian. The attack, according to Matthew Levitt, is a sign of the Iran-backed militia’s increasing willingness to challenge the tacit understanding it has had with the IDF for over a decade. Such renewed aggression can also be found in the rhetoric of the group’s leaders:

In the lead-up to the 2006 war, [Hizballah’s] Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah famously miscalculated how Israel would respond to the cross-border abduction of its soldiers. According to Israeli analysts, however, he now believes he can predict the enemy’s behavior more accurately, leading him to sharpen his rhetoric and approve a series of increasingly aggressive actions over the past three years.

Nasrallah’s willingness to risk conflict with Israel was partly driven by domestic economic and political pressures. . . . Yet he also seemed to believe that Israel was unlikely to respond in a serious way to his threats given Hizballah’s enlarged precision-missile arsenal and air-defense systems.

In addition to the bombing, this month has seen increased reports of cross-border harassment against Israelis, such as aiming laser beams at drivers and homes, setting off loud explosions on the Lebanese frontier, and pouring sewage toward Israeli towns. Hizballah has also disrupted Israeli efforts to reinforce the security barrier in several spots along the Blue Line, [which serves as the de-facto border between Lebanon and the Jewish state].

This creeping aggressiveness—coupled with Nasrallah’s sense of having deterred Israel and weakened its military posture—indicate that Hizballah will continue trying to move the goalposts.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security