Friday, July 18, 2014

Gaza Report 2

This report is the second 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 (as at 9 am this morning):
The Israeli cabinet just voted to accept the proposal for a cease fire. It involves the slight opening of Rafa crossing (between Gaza and Egypt). The Israeli cabinet are saying that since some of Hamas will regard this as a failure for them, we can regard it as acceptable. It is a victory for the Egyptians. This is the only party it strengthens. It resolves none of the problems of Gaza. It is just a temporary time out. It is a return to the 2012 cease fire arrangement and leaves other issues unresolved.

GAZA: The following comment comes from the NCF's office in Gaza. Again, the words are quoted verbatim:

Hamas directly rejects the Egypt initiative because it brings no end to the siege. Hamas wants to reopen all the crossings including Karim Shalom (a goods crossing between Israel and Gaza). There will be no cease fire without an end to the siege. It also wants to stop the salary blockade. To stop the aggression against Gaza and the West Bank. There will be more and more aggression from the Israel side.

Hamas wants direct contact with Egypt. Currently there is only indirect contact via Islamic Jihad and via the Palestinian Authority. This is not good for Hamas. Hamas is very angry. Hamas has opened a very small, very narrow, negotiations channel with the US and the EU.

Hamas wants this situation to move. To take something like an end to the siege. To end pressure on the movement. But I think that in the next 24 hours there will be something because there is more and more effort from Qatar, the EU and the USA because they want an end to this.

The problem is not on the Israel side, the problem is in accommodating Hamas. For them the closure of the Rafa crossing (between Egypt and Gaza) is a problem. President Sisi of Egypt doesn't want Rafa open because he wants more and more and more pressure on Hamas.

Under the reconciliation agreement (between Fatah and Hamas) Rafa was supposed to be reopened (subject to various conditions including Palestinian Authority guards from the West Bank at the border). But the Egyptian side, after the announcement, said why did you announce this about the Rafa crossing? This is sensitive because Sinai is sensitive. So the crossing never was reopened.

If there is pressure from the USA on Egypt, then there will be a cease fire. Hamas cannot agree without Rafa. Another thing that is especially important to them is Karim Shallom (the goods crossing between Israel and Gaza through which construction materials are no longer allowed to pass)which needs to be opened for building material.

Hanniah (the Hamas Palestinian Prime Minister) said last night, "We have nothing to loose". For us the problem is the situation in Gaza, not the absence of a cease fire. If Hamas take Rafa and Karim Shallom (i.e. these crossings are fully reopened for people and goods respectively) then all will be fine because Hamas really want a cease fire.

The most people are suffering in Gaza. People here are very very tired. But even those who hate Hamas do not want to return to the situation before the war. People want to change the situation. Hamas want a cease fire.

Hamas needs to take something for the Hamas movement - not just the Gaza people. Hamas people cannot travel outside Gaza since June one year ago. Hamas want to take something.
Hamas believes Israel is not ready to completely reoccupy Gaza.

EGYPT: The following comment comes from an Egyptian intelligence officer. The words are his: We are aware that Hamas rejects the cease fire. Be patient. We understand Hamas anger at the fact that there are no direct talks and because there is no Rafa crossing. I know they are frustrated. We must wait.
COMMENT: Imad Karam from Initiatives of Change who lost fifteen members of his brother-in-law's family in air strikes on Gaza last night made the following comment at 12 noon today:

To trust one another we need to forgive. Trust is a by product of forgiveness. Then we need empathy. Then we can re-humanise the other.

Trust is not easy to come by. There hasn't been anyone at the political, public level that can bring the people together. When there are so many factions within that are not keen on building trust, what can we do?

We haven't yet seen an acceptable level of trust building.

Ariel Sharon once said "Enough is enough. It is enough to control the destiny of another people." That was the most courageous statement by an Israel leader since Yithak Rabin.
We have not seen those kinds of statements today.

The Palestinian side have not had a united front for peace or for war. This whole escalation has been to stop Palestinian conciliation. Similarly Israel has nothing but coalition government and has no real strategy.

We are emotional and it is no bad thing to acknowledge those emotions as long as we do not become controlled by them.

We have a Palestinian Mandela in the shape of Marwan Barghouti but we lack an Israeli de Klerk.
As for what the rest of us should do: We need to seek the truth. Truth is the first casualty of war. We need to challenge our friends about what is right - not about who is right.

There is something that I have learnt through marriage. Love may wax and may wane, it may go up or go down. But trust, if it goes down, is hard to build again.
FURTHER COMMENT: The International Crisis Group is an organisation with a variable reputation, however its latest comments on the Gaza crisis make for useful background: CHECK THIS LINK

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