How the Oslo Accords Let Illegal Weapons Flow into Israel

In addition to the recent wave of terrorism coming from the West Bank, the past year has seen a surge criminal violence, much of it gang-related, in Israel’s Arab communities, with most of the victims Arabs themselves. Many factors account for this problem, among them the availability of illegal arms—a legacy, David M. Weinberg argues, of the Oslo Accords:

There is a direct line that runs from Oslo to the current Israeli Wild West situation. Israel provided Yasir Arafat’s police force with tens of thousands of rifles and hundreds of tons of ammunition. These weapons soon ended up in the shooting arms of Arafat’s sixteen different declared security organizations and many other declared and undeclared terrorist factions.

At first, Israel sought to monitor and therefore control the use of its weapons in the Palestinian Authority (PA) by registering the ballistic signature of every gun and rifle before transferring it to Arafat. But the Oslo-era enthusiasm for “strengthening” the Palestinian Authority led to more and more helter-skelter arms handovers, with Israel soon losing track of the weapons. The U.S. and other Western countries involved in providing security assistance and training to the PA also were supposed to have a handle on this, but they too soon lost track of the swelling armories of Yasir Arafat and his multiple organizations of gunmen.

Much of this Israeli-provided weaponry was directed at Israeli civilians and IDF troops during the second intifada, leading to the need for Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. For a while, this operation indeed led to a renewed tight Israeli grip on the flow of weaponry into and within Palestinian areas. But in 2004 then-Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz re-approved gun licenses for all PA police officers. Over the years since, and under American pressure to ease up on the PA and “strengthen” Arafat’s successor Mahmoud Abbas, the IDF has further relented, leading to the current weapons-loose state of affairs.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Israeli Arabs, Israeli Security, Oslo Accords, Yasir Arafat


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security