BLOG 220 September 26, 2014
For the 12th time in 50 days a cease-fire was brokered by Egypt and the fighting in Gaza stopped. The attack tunnels were now a pile of dust. Starting with 10,000 rockets, Hama ended up with around 2,000. The other 8,000 had done virtually no damage in Israel. The Iron Dome worked. Hamas had lost hundreds of fighters, including commanders. Of course, standing in a pile of rubble and destroyed building, Hama will claim victory. Who are they kidding?
Israel is capable of eliminating the Hamas leadership and destroying any military possibilities. They could recapture Gaza, but then they would be responsible for 1.8 million residents, having to provide them with health services, food, and education. Israel would have to continue to work with aspirations and hopes to defeat Israel –an impossible task!
Israel has a problem.
The Gazans who elected Hamas still want to replace the Palestinian Authority. Egypt, Saudi Arabis, and Jordan will link arms with Israel to oppose Hamas, but they will not work against the wishes of the people of Gaza.
Yes, Israel has a problem.
The Israelis are at a crossroads. To solve the Gaza problem, they need a settlement in the peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA). A sweeping peace would certain be profitable for Israel’s standing in Europe. If Israel does not move forward, it stands the danger of becoming a fortress that closes in upon itself. Should such happen, there is a danger of becoming less democratic along with the issue of possible economic sanctions. Important decisions need to be made soon.
On the other side, what is not widely known is that Hamas is a huge business dealing with billions of dollars obtained through corrupt practices, money laundering, and an infusion of wealth from Arab states. One Jordanian source claimed that Khaled Mashaal , the head of Hamas, is worth over $3 billion dollars.
The problem is that Hamas’s income had gone through a crunch even before the Gaza war. When Egypt overthrew Morsi and the Moslem Brotherhood, Hamas experienced a severe shock with financial repercussions. Hamas in turn had supported Syrian Islamists rebels that resulted in being cut off from funding from Iran which continues to support Syrian President Bashar Assad. These losses impacted Hamas’s payroll in Gaza. PA President Abbas paid only the PA workers and left Hamas out in the cold. The employment rate among Gaza youth is above 40%.
Hamas is both naive and irresponsible. The recent war exposed Hamas’s total disregard for the lives of its own people. As that story continues to unfold and disseminate, Hamas’s hold on the citizens of Gaza may well diminish. Regardless of how much propaganda they distribute, Hamas is in a hard place.
This is a good moment to close the deal. Israel needs to act on the opportunity at hand and move toward a permanent settlement with the PA that will forever isolate Hamas. But will they?
That remains the jackpot question.