2014 is starting to feel like 1914. (the start of World War I). The smell of smoke is in the air wherever we look from the China Sea to the Ukraine to the Middle East, war or the threat of war, rings through the air.
As the radical militants and jihadist continue to strike, there are important undercurrents in the background that are often not noticed. Such is the case in the on-going war in Gaza. The hidden message in the recent reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas is a case in point and one of the reasons for the continued strikes by Israel. Of course, the fact that Hama fired thousands of rockets on Israel set the stage for the conflict. The refusal to stop and join a cease fire has perpetuated the conflict. The creation of tunnels into Israel to allow terrorist to attack also threw gasoline on the fire.
Hamas’s persistence in firing rockets when the Iron Dome System knocks every one out that comes close to a population center is a tell-tale sign of how Hamas thinks. They believe in bullets and the sacrifice of human life –even when it is their own.
Have you noticed that there have been virtually no Arab responses supporting Hamas from the surrounding countries? The Egyptian government even blamed Hamas and not Israel for dozens of Palestinian deaths. Egypt has kept their border closed, keeping Gaza residents from fleeing to Egypt. As the carnage became worse, a few governments sent out mixed signals that were feeble compared to their screams in other conflicts with Israel.
Within the folds of this silence is a realization of what the reconciliation talks between the PA and Hamas would end up meaning. Hamas has changed its strategy and was using the Hezbollah model from Lebanon. It’s a “bullets plus ballots” approach putting a high emphasis on killing. In Gaza, they maintain 20,000 well-trained military units and security personnel. Since the June 2007 military takeover of Gaza, Hamas has put 50,000 employees on the public payroll. Hamas has made some shifts to cooperation with the PA, but are actually challenging Fatah in their own backyard. Gaza workshops in turn stepped up production of M-57 missiles.
In other words, Hamas has put more fire-power in the PA and created a greater striking force against Israel. By setting up rockets in residential areas, they seek a propaganda advantage of accusing Israel of attacking women and children. The Israelis aren’t buying it and are destroying all possible sites. Israel will either stop them now or pay the price later.
These adjustments have been spurred by set-backs that directly or in-directly affected Gaza. The loss of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt as well as the cessation of smuggling arms through the Sinai Peninsula hurt Hamas. The decline of financial subsidies from Iran and Qatar blew another log on the fire. Equally bad was the growing resentment of Gaza citizens because of unemployment, hardships, and constant repression. The huge losses in the current warfare won’t help their standing. Moreover, as Israel pounds Gaza militants into the sand, the Israelis are destroying the “bullets and ballots” strategy. Moreover, they are wiping out thousands of rockets and attack tunnels.
The war goes on. Hamas would be smarter to stop firing useless rockets and find a new approach. Anyone for reconciliation? Sorry. The answer is no.