Seven Years of Hamas Rule Have Left Gaza Isolated and Impoverished

Before the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, thousands of Palestinians worked and did business in Israel. But years under the harsh thumb of Hamas have stifled the area’s economy and left it increasingly cut-off from the outside world, including not only Israel but Egypt. In theory, Hamas now rules Gaza in conjunction with the Palestinian Authority, but neither is able to maintain basic services. These dire circumstances were by no means inevitable, writes Armin Rosen:

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The $35-million Israeli border terminal at Erez looks like an international airport, with a soaring wave-like dome reaching over an inviting glass facade. When it opened in 2005, Israel was about to withdraw its soldiers and civilian settlers from the Gaza Strip, formerly Egyptian-occupied land which it had held since the Six-Day War in 1967. Each day more than 15,000 Palestinians were expected to use the terminal—not an unreasonable assumption, given that more than 110,000 Palestinians from both Gaza and the West Bank crossed into Israel for work every day in the late 1990s.

But since the takeover by Hamas, a U.S. and EU-listed terror organization, traffic has precipitously declined. Erez now sees only a few hundred users a day, mostly aid workers and journalists along with Palestinians with rare permission to enter Israel for passage to the West Bank or Jordan or to visit relatives in Israeli hospitals.

Read more at Business Insider

More about: Egypt, Gaza, Hamas, Rafah crossing

The Possible Death of Mohammad Deif, and What It Means

On Saturday, Israeli jets destroyed a building in southern Gaza, killing a Hamas brigade commander named Rafa Salameh. Salameh is one of the most important figures in the Hamas hierarchy, but he was not the primary target. Rather it was Mohammad Deif, who is Yahya Sinwar’s number-two and is thought to be the architect and planner of numerous terrorist attacks, of Hamas’s tunnel network, and of the October 7 invasion itself. Deif has survived at least five Israeli attempts on his life, and the IDF has consequently been especially reluctant to confirm that he had been killed. Yet it seems that it is possible, and perhaps likely, that he was.

Kobi Michael notes that Deif’s demise would have major symbolic value and, moreover, deprive Hamas of important operational know-how. But he also has some words of caution:

The elimination of Deif becomes even more significant given the current reality of severe damage to Hamas’s military wing and its transition to terrorism and guerrilla warfare. However, it is important to remember that organizations such as Hamas and Hizballah are more than the sum of their components or commanders. Israel has previously eliminated the leaders of these organizations and other very senior military figures, and yet the organizations continued to grow, develop, and become more significant security threats to Israel, while establishing their status as political players in the Palestinian and Lebanese arenas.

As for the possibility that Deif’s death will harden Hamas’s position in the hostage negotiations, Tamir Hayman writes:

In my opinion, even if there is a bump in the road now, it is not a strategic one. The reasons that Hamas decided to compromise its demands in the [hostage] deal stem from the operational pressure it is under [and] the fear that the pressure exerted by the IDF will increase.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas