How Israel Is Destroying Hamas, and Why the U.S. Must Pressure Qatar

Last week, the IDF released photos of its soldiers holding up an Israeli flag in what used to be the Gaza parliament building. Later, the building was destroyed. Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports have been circulating over the weekend of a possible deal to release some hostages in exchange for a five-day ceasefire. Meir Ben-Shabbat assesses these developments:

It is crucial that Hamas’s governing facilities not only be seized but also completely destroyed after being cleared. This is the way to disabuse Hamas of its hope that Gaza will return to the days before October 7. This must be done not only through military activity. Israel must destroy the Kerem Shalom and Erez border crossings, so as to make it clear there will never be a return to the situation in which Palestinians can enter Israel. . . .

The immediate goal of Hamas is to have Israel stop fighting while creating a channel that allows the terrorist organization to maximize its gains from the hostages it holds. Hamas is pinning its hopes on Qatari mediation efforts, internal pressure in Israel on this issue, and international pressure on Israel regarding humanitarian issues. As expected, with the assistance of Qatar—whose main interest is to ensure Hamas’s survival—Hamas has put out the bait and started waving with their assets to achieve their goals.

Accordingly, if Israel wants to get more opportunities to secure the hostages while lowering the price of a deal and increasing its likelihood, it is crucial to continue with the military campaign while ratcheting up pressure on Qatar. . . . It is time to change the policy towards Qatar by demanding that the United States act against it not only with “carrots” but also with “sticks,” [by threatening] to reconsider its relationship with the sheikhdom.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security, Qatar

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy