By now, everyone knows, or should know, that another cease-fire agreement has been reached. This time, however, it is intended to be long-term with the goal of ending the hostilities. This latest round of political maneuvering has generated a multitude of problems in Israel, not the least of which is the problem of credibility, but not the credibility of Hamas, because it has none.
Hamas executes “collaborators” with Israel
While some in the media continued to play up the difficulties that faced the residents of the Gaza Strip, others began to open their eyes to the true nature of Hamas and started to report the news as it is, without trying to put a “spin” on it that would end up with another accusation against Israel.
Hamas publicly executed around two dozen residents of Gaza, some of whom were women, who were accused by the terrorist organization of being “collaborators” with Israel and who supplied information that allowed Israel to eliminate three senior members of Hamas last week. Most of them were publicly shot to death in front of a police station in Gaza. Also, as hundreds of people were leaving the largest mosque in the city, six of them were grabbed by members of Hamas’s military wing and pushed to the ground. One of Hamas militants shouted out “This is the final moment of the Zionist enemy collaborators” and then the six were sprayed with bullets by the gunmen in front of the mosque.
The caption in the above photo reads (Hamas to ISIS):
“You’re barbaric! Be ashamed! You’re giving us a bad name!
The caption in the above photo reads (Hamas to ISIS):
“You’re barbaric! Be ashamed! You’re giving us a bad name!
Amnesty International spoke out against the actions of Hamas and condemned the summary execution of the alleged “collaborators”: “This flurry of executions by Hamas is made even more shocking by the fact that the victims were sentenced to death after trials which, if they happened at all, were summary and grossly unfair…Hamas must immediately and totally cease its use of the death penalty.” However, international “rights” organizations tend to fail to grasp the reality that these summary executions are intended to strike fear in the hearts of the people. By blaming residents of Gaza for Israel’s successes in the war, Hamas also sought to shift the focus of the people’s attention from the failures of the Hamas leadership during the past almost two months. The West continues in its failure to understand the mentality of Hamas and other terrorist groups, like ISIS, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda, which allows them to continue their paths of terror, intimidation and murder. There are none so blind as those who will not see. Maybe because the threat is so far away. But, there is a growing reality that ISIS needs to be dealt with while on “foreign soil”, to prevent it and its influence from being felt “at home”.
Demilitarization of the Gaza Strip? Not according to Hamas.
Hamas representative Mahmoud Al-Zahar said that his organization will not “agree to international resolutions that will only harm the weapons of the resistance and won’t assist in completely removing the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.” By “international resolutions”, Al-Zahar was referring to U.N. Security Council resolutions that might be approved, which would call for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.
At the same time, “Palestinian” Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, and Khaled Mashaal, Hamas’s exiled leader who was living it up in Doha, Qatar, throughout the course of the Gaza War, were urging the U.N. to prepare a “timetable” to end the claimed “Israeli occupation of ‘Palestinian’ territories.” At a meeting that took place in Doha between the two “Palestinian” leaders last week, they stressed that the unity government “represents all the ‘Palestinian’ people and looks after their interests.”
In an interview with Yahoo News this month in Doha, Mashaal stated, among other things, that Hamas was against the killing of any civilians – a blatant lie, while admitting that the organization has a “problem” directing its projectiles at military targets only. Then he added: “We do not have sophisticated weapons. We do not have the weapons available to our enemy … so aiming is difficult … We promise that if we get more precise weapons, we will only target military targets.” Are we supposed to be happy that Hamas is looking forward to being able to “upgrade” its terrorist capability to make its missiles more accurate? Mashaal’s statement makes it clear that as long as Hamas continues to exist, the missiles will continue to be launched from the Gaza Strip against targets in Israel, irrespective of how many cease-fire agreements are entered into. Until it gets more sophisticated weaponry, it will continue to target civilians, because that it its best method of operation. If civilians are targeted, Hamas knows that Israel will respond with force and Hamas can, once again, portray itself as victim, despite its being the aggressor.
Secret meeting between Netanyahu and Abbas?
In a speech last week, P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was pursuing a new diplomatic “horizon”, but he did not elaborate on this. Must speculation focused on the possibility of developing relationships with certain neighboring countries and strengthening ties with Egypt and Jordan, with whom Israel already has peace treaties.
Probably the last thing that would have entered the minds of the Middle-East pundits was that Netanyahu would meet secretly with Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the “Palestinian” Authority. Yet, according to a report yesterday (Thursday) appearing in the Jordanian newspaper, Al-Ghad, the two men met secretly in Amman several days before the latest cease-fire agreement was reached bring an end to the 50-day Gaza War. No additional details were mentioned in the article and the Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the report. Nevertheless, Israel’s Army Radio said that such a meeting did take place last Sunday, two days before Abbas announced the cease-fire on Tuesday evening.
Still another facet of the “cease-fire agreement” was revealed by Senior “Palestinian” official Nabil Shaath, who told the Ma’an news agency that Israel was pressured by the United States into agreeing to the truce, even though it was not made conditional on disarming Hamas. Shaath also stated that the agreed-upon cease-fire would result in the opening of Gaza border crossings, not only for humanitarian aid, but also for travel. The immediate affect of the removal of restrictions in the border crossings would be to effectively end the naval blockade of Gaza.
Hamas had originally declared that the ending of the naval blockade was its prime objective, although its spokesman declared towards the very end of the Gaza War that the goal was to liberate Jerusalem from Israel’s control. Notwithstanding the statements of Shaath and other “Palestinians”, Netanyahu remained firm in his position that Hamas did not gain anything from either this conflict or from the cease-fire agreement, adding that Hamas has been hit harder than at any time in its existence. Responding to critics from all corners of Israel, Netanyahu stated that the present cease-fire is “a major military achievement, as well as a major diplomatic achievement for the State of Israel. Hamas was hit hard and it did not receive even a single one of the conditions that it set for a cease-fire, not even one.” It should be pointed out that Hamas had a long list of demands, which included establishment of an international seaport and international airport; release of those terrorists who were freed as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange, who were re-arrested by Israel during Operation “Brothers Keeper” during the search for the 3 Jewish students, who were murdered by Hamas; release of terrorists, who were supposed to be freed in the fourth stage of prisoner release that was part of the 9-month, “peace negotiations” that ended in failure in April; mediation of the conflict by Qatar and Turkey, both of whom are openly and fully supportive of Hamas, among other “demands”.
In early May, officials of the U.S. warned that “Palestinians” will get a state, even if Israel doesn’t like it. Abbas and the “Palestinian” Authority entered into agreements with different U.N. organizations to advance its pursuit for nation-state status. About 3 weeks after the negotiations collapsed between Israel and the “Palestinian” Authority, Israeli Minister of Justice and senior Israeli negotiator in those talks, Tzippi Livni, met with Abbas against the wishes of P.M. Netanyahu. According to media reports at the time, Netanyahu was furious with Livni and even considered firing her, but chose not to do so for fear that it would endanger his coalition. Now, the same accusation of a secret meeting with Abbas is being made about Netanyahu.
The failure of the Prime Minister’s Office to comment on the alleged, secret meeting is problematic. The simplest thing would have been for it to deny that such a meeting occurred. Not having done so creates the gnawing feeling that he did, in fact, meet secretly with Abbas only two days before the announcement of the cease-fire – and with that feeling, the open question of what this latest cease-fire will cost Israel.
Now, even though the fight against Hamas cannot be said to be over, another war is shaping up diplomatically, namely, the intention of the “Palestinian” Authority to force Israel, through the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly, to provide “a clear and defined timetable for withdrawing from the ‘Palestinian’ territories”. Did Netanyahu agree to the establishment of a “Palestinian” state according to 1967 guidelines? According to Abbas, the U.S. told him that the answer is “yes”. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu “never expressed to him [Abbas] a willingness to accept the 1967 borders.”
So, who won the war? That is, if the war is over …
The answer, of course, depends on what considerations are of interest when asking the question. A number of observations come into play.
In this part of the world, the attitude is that if you don’t win, then you are considered to have lost. Although Israel eliminated some senior officials of Hamas, the leadership remained intact. True, some were in deep hiding in bunkers under a hospital and another one was living like royalty while staying out the war in Qatar. And the question remains whether Muhammad Deif, the military chief of Hamas, was eliminated a week and a half ago. In addition, for its belligerency against Israel, including the killing of three Jewish students in mid-June, the European Union is willing to provide Gaza with a sea port, as well as to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution that “directs” Israel and the “Palestinians” to resume the dead peace negotiations based on the pre-1967 Green Line, said to be guaranteed by President Obama, or worse, based on the 1949 Armistice lines. Add to this the willingness of Israel to negotiate with a known and declared terrorist organisation has opened the door for the U.S. and the E.U. to do the same. As a result, Hamas has claimed victory over Israel and has been given the incentive to fight to the last man against Israel and with the last drop of the blood of their children.
The surgery was successful, but the patient isn’t dead.
What is also clear is that military superiority does not necessarily determine the outcome. Israel’s capability far exceeded that of Hamas, but it was more cautious than Hamas in selecting its targets and in its surgical strikes, in an effort to minimise civilian casualties. And, when it was all over – if it can be said to be over (which is highly doubtful), Hamas still had the capability to fire rockets into populated areas in Israel. In addition, the goals of the parties were different. Israel was dragged into a war that it didn’t want. Its primary goal was to restore quiet to the residents in the south of Israel. It was also aware of the tunnels that Hamas had constructed and was in the process of coming up with a plan against such tunnels. But, the timetable was moved up when we discovered that Hamas was planning a major attack on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. And what was intended to be an air and sea assault upon Hamas and its rocket-launching facilities expanded to a ground assault. Once we entered Gaza physically, there were political voices calling for seizing control of the Gaza Strip. The government resisted that call and withdrew our ground troops shortly thereafter. Time will be the judge of the many things that Israel could have, or should have, done in this latest war with Hamas. But, the major failing that came at the end of the military operation, that could have wide-range political consequences, is that Netanyahu did not allow the security cabinet to vote on the cease-fire proposal, a failure which opens the door to considerable criticism, even from within the ranks of the coalition.
On the other hand, Hamas never expected to win a military war against Israel. Such thoughts would be ludicrous. Its primary goal was to show that it could disrupt the daily life and routine of Israeli society, targeting residential communities as far north as Haifa. It demonstrated that no place that was reachable by its rockets was beyond its consideration for attack. But, despite its expressed goals of opening the border crossings and lifting the naval blockade, along with “liberating” Jerusalem, it fought a parallel war for media attention. And, in this regard, it succeeded. The media was tripping all over itself to show pictures of death and destruction, particularly deaths of children. The intention was to gain worldwide sympathy for the “Palestinian” cause and, to a large extent, it succeeded. Admittedly, its public relations surpassed that of Israel’s. Blood and guts won out over self-defense and what was right. Terrorism took a back seat to photographs of civilian casualties of the war. Anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment poured out onto the streets of major cities of the Western world.
Although Israel says that Hamas did not succeed with any of its demands, and although Hamas was forced to agree to a cease-fire under conditions that it had refused to accept previously, still, the bottom line is that Gaza will not be demilitarized, at least not at this point. Border crossing will be eased and the area of fishing zones will be enlarged. AND, discussions will take place in another month about key issues of establishing a seaport and an airport, two things will will effectively convert the Gaza Strip into a small state.
However, the decision about who won the war needs to be held in abeyance. It can only be determined when we know whether Hamas has been beaten to the point where it will think twice before picking another fight with Israel and whether quiet will return to the residents in the south. When this becomes clear, the outcome of the war can be determined.
For now, Israel needs to take the initiative and set the rules of engagement. During the course of the Gaza War, Hamas called the shots – when to fight, when to stop, when to agree to a cease-fire and the “demands” for ending the fight. Israel has to change that and make the decisions about how, when and where we go from here. In my opinion, we need to start with encouraging the communities in the south, particularly in the area of the cities and settlements surrounding the Gaza Strip. We need to invest time, energy and resources, to develop the area and to cause the desert to bloom. If we do, we will have won the war. If we don’t, we will have lost.
However we look at it, we need to call Hamas by its name – “Evil”.
Many of those who read this may have never experienced a missile or mortar falling so close as to cause injury, death and destruction. Many have never had to be concerned about someone blowing himself up in a mall, a restaurant or a bus. Many have never had a neighbor who thinks so little about the lives of other within his own community that he is willing to have them all die, while he expresses his hatred towards you. For that, we give thanks to God. But, that is not the case in this part of the world and particularly in Israel. While some want to continue to bury their heads in the sand, others see things for the way they are. Others of us have lost family because of hatred of us simply because we are Jews. I would encourage you to take 14.5 minutes of your time and listen to Treasury Minister Yair Lapid, as he spoke at Platform 17, in Germany, about the totality of EVIL.
With the temporary halt in hostilities with Hamas, Israel is now looking to its northern border, where al-Qaeda-linked rebels claim to have taken control of the Quneitra border crossing. With ISIS having slaughtered its way across south-western Iraq and portions of Syria, the IDF is getting ready for a possible resumption of hostilities on its northern borders.
“He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted . Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.'” (Deuteronomy 20:2-4)
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.