Friday, July 18, 2014

Gaza Report 3

This report is the third in 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:
We have had the first Israeli casualty of this war, a man delivering sandwiches in a small truck.

We have demolished Zahar's home (Dr Mahmoud Zahar, arguably the real leader of Hamas). Israel is poised to enter Gaza. We have called on citizens of the two Northern neighborhoods and the neighborhood to the East of the Gaza strip to vacate their homes.

There was an Abu Mazin plan which looked very good indeed to me but Hamas has already rejected it. Abu Mazin presented it to Sisi. It involved the manning of the Rafa and Eretz crossings and the Philadelphia border by Palestinian Authority troops. Plus Israel was to release the prisoners from the Shalit prisoner exchange that they had re-taken and then there would be a cease fire.

The idea was from the Palestinian Authority. There is some question as to whether Israel would agree but Israel didn't need to agree because Hamas rejected it.

Tony Blair is back on the scene in Palestine, offering reconstruction and development in Gaza post any cease fire.

Hamas for their part offered a ten year cease fire for a deal that included a seaport and an airport for Gaza.

Israel is holding off on the ground operation. Abu Mazin is going from Cairo to Turkey to meet Erdogan because the Turks have a proposal they want to make.

The Israel cabinet voted to draft another 8,000 reservists in addition to the 40,000 already authorised. I am put in mind of Teddy Roosevelt's words: "The best way not to use a big stick is to carry it."
GAZA: The following comment comes from the NCF's office in Gaza. Again, the words are quoted verbatim:
The situation is bad, very bad. The Israelis are now against children. You know the beach next to the Deira Hotel? Nine children were killed whilst playing on the beach. Then an air strike from a drone killed another five and injured four. It is very difficult.

The Hudna is still far away because Hamas are still talking to the Egypt side about the latest Egypt initiative.

For Hamas, Ghazi Hamad said this initiative is still under discussion because we have told the Egyptian side to change it so that it is acceptable:

  1. They want a complete end to the way Israeli troops surround Gaza and put it under siege, and that means the opening of the crossings, and
  2. They want the release of the prisoners re-taken by Israel who were originally released under the Shalit deal.
Hamas is not going to change its demands easily. Hamas will continue our response. 214 Palestinians have been killed since the start of this current confrontation until now. We had several air strikes in the last few hours.

For our part the shelling from Hamas has been very little today. They have sent very few rockets today.

Maybe it will be difficult tonight, with lots of air strikes, like it was last night.

However, you should understand the one basic thing. Any effort without communication with Hamas directly from Egypt and Abu Mazin (i.e. rather than through third parties) will fail.
COMMENT: Our comment tonight is given to the NCF by a prominent Israeli (name withheld):

Clearly the original kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli kids was done to break the Hamas / Fatah deal. It was done by Hamas from Hebron.

I understand the Hamas position on wanting people to talk to them direct but they signed a deal a few weeks ago so they should honour that and accept that Abu Mazin speaks for them.

Like I say, those three Israeli boys were killed by Hebron Hamas that wanted to break the Fatah-Hamas deal. There was no instruction from Gaza.

That said, Hamas could and should have condemned the killing. They did not. Instead they endorsed it, making themselves effectively culpable.

But even in the early days, the rocket strikes on Israel were primarily from Islamic Jihad, not Hamas. Hamas did not need this at this time and they have had opportunities to step back from it which they are not taking.

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