Friday, July 18, 2014

Gaza Report 1

This report is the first of a series on the current confrontation between Gaza and Israel.

ISRAEL: The following is the perspective of a senior member of Israel's establishment. The words are his:

"Hamas think they can do well if we move into Gaza because they now have anti-tank weapons. They won't accept the Egyptian cease fire proposal even though it contains none of the demands from Israel for what is to happen after the cessation of hostilities (i.e. Israel has been demanding that a process be put in place to disarm Hamas, particularly vis a vis its rockets). Hamas for their part are demanding the release of prisoners taken during the past three week period including 54 who had been re-arrested and who were formerly in the prisoner exchange for Shalit.

"Hamas has 20 to 30,000 rockets stockpiled, of which they have let off barely a thousand. Israel has managed to destroy just 2 to 3,000 of that stockpile through air strikes. Hamas launched a home made drone yesterday over Ashkelon. The way they did this was they shot down one of our drones in the last 2012 war which was flying over Gaza - and they managed to repair the damaged drone and use it against us.

"Israel has tanks poised around Gaza and an incursion is expected at any moment. But it will be limited.

"The Qataris offered to negotiate a cease fire but we said no. So did the Turks but again we said no. The US offered but nobody wanted them, not even the Gazans themselves. Abu Mazin is a little involved.

"So far Hamas is the winner and in a ground invasion, Hamas will really be the winner. Of course it is possible to move in with real major force and remove the government in Gaza. That is what some in Abu Mazin's government would like to see.

"Israel is targeting the homes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants. We make a phone call to say we are about to attack. Then we send a small rocket that does no real damage as a warning. Then 15 minutes later we send a full scale rocket."

LEBANON: The following comment comes from an NCF member in Lebanon. The words are hers (as at 11 am this morning):

"At 0:40 hours today two rockets were fired at Northern Israel from Lebanon. This was not done by Hezbollah. 25 rockets were fired back (Israel described their attacks as "artillery" but we can't distinguish - for us if it explodes it's a "rocket"). This is the third time rockets have been launched from Lebanon against Israel since the current attacks on Gaza began."

GAZA: The following comment comes from the NCF's office in Gaza. Again, the words are quoted verbatim (as at 1 pm this afternoon):

"Dozens of air strikes continue. Last night we had it very bad. More than a hundred strikes. Today morning there were 30 air strikes and 5 houses, mostly in Khan Younis, were destroyed (in addition to the 360 houses destroyed since the current round of Israel air strikes / Gaza rocket attacks began).

"At the moment Hamas and Jihad are still firing rockets at Israel. There are more and more efforts to promote a hudna (cease fire) but till now nothing is working. Hamas are demanding an end to the siege on Gaza plus an end to Israeli aggression against Gaza plus the release of prisoners arrested recently in Gaza and the West Bank - especially those guys re-arrested who were released under the Shalit prisoner exchange. This is unacceptable for Israel and indeed unacceptable for the main negotiator, Egypt.

"Europe, Germany, Britain and France have been supporting attempts to make a cease fire. But they refuse to talk to Hamas direct. So there are indirect talks where the USA and EU talk to the Qataris and the Turks who talk with Hamas representatives outside Gaza who then in turn talk with Hamas representatives inside Gaza.
"If we do somehow get a cease fire agreement through this mechanism, then someone like Al Marzouk, the deputy of Mishal (Moussa Abu Marzouk,deputy to Khaled Mishal, is the only channel of contact between Hamas and Egyptian intelligence), will travel from Cairo to Gaza to pass the details on to Hamas inside Gaza so that they can then agree if they choose to."
COMMENT: Professor Shai Feldman writes: No factor is more important in causing this crisis than the weak political leadership of all the relevant parties. In the most recent attempt to reach a negotiated end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict—that was orchestrated by Secretary of State John Kerry—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas both proved too weak to make the difficult historic decisions that a deal required. And the Obama administration was equally weak and refrained from exercising the leverage required to compel the parties to reconcile their differences.

In turn, the failure of diplomacy left the arena open to the extremes on both sides to set the agenda and that’s exactly what they did: with a couple of Hamas-affiliated operatives abducting and murdering three Israeli teenagers and with six Israeli extremists taking revenge by murdering a Palestinian teenager ...

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