is faced with an intolerable situation on its southern border. Nearly every day, Qassam rockets
rain down on the Western Negev, launched from the very unoccupied Gaza strip by the Popular Resistance Committees and the Islamic Jihad, with the connivance of the Hamas
government. The rockets have made life well nigh unbearable for residents of Sderot. Last week, the Qassams struck an Israeli army base, wounding over 60 soldiers.
The Israeli government is under fairly intense pressure to "do something"
about the Qassam rockets (see also here
), that "something" being a large scale Israeli invasion of Gaza or at least, occupation of the southern border of Gaza, to prevent smuggling of arms and raw materials from Egypt. The big problem presented by such an operation is not military. It is no secret that the Hamas government is intensely unpopular among Palestinians, owing to its repressive methods and the defacto institution of a radical Islamist moral code
. The following is typical of the antics of the Hamas:
The dispute stems from the recent firing of the hospital's director and its longtime public relations officer because, the doctors say, they supported Fatah.
"They told me that if I stayed a bullet might enter my head," said Jumah al-Saqa, 49, the former spokesman, who was removed from his office by Hamas gunmen last month after two decades in the post. "They want Hamas in all those jobs."
Reports such as those should put an end to illusions that the Hamas government is "democratic."
The West Bank government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is hoping to build on the unpopularity of the Hamas to one day recapture control of Gaza. But an Israeli invasion of Gaza would unite all Palestinians behind the Hamas government, and Hamas would then be able to claim the glory of martyrdom and leading "resistance" against an actual Israeli enemy. Therefore Fatah wants Israel to hold back in Gaza.
In fact, there is practically no realistic scenario in which an Israeli military operation in Gaza could really solve the problem of terror from the Gaza strip, unless it was followed by a diplomatic solution. And it is not realistic to believe that Gazans will accept a Palestinian government that is imposed by Israeli bayonets.
Israel has adopted a compromise solution of small scale raids which don't relieve the Qassam fire, and at the same time help the Hamas preserve their legitimacy, in the eyes of the Palestinians, of fighting the Israelis and maintain a modicum of unity in Gaza under the guise of "fighting the occupation." Israel has also declared Gaza to be an enemy entity, threatening to cut off electricity and fuel. This policy, however, has met with opposition from the UN.. With due respect for the humanitarian concerns of the UN, they do not offer an alternative solution. If the U.N. is concerned for the welfare of the people of Gaza, it can show its concern by taking over the administration of Gaza, eliminating the government of oozlebarts, and making it possible for both Israelis and the inhabitants of Gaza to lead normal and peaceful lives.
The position of the UN is that the rocket fire is due to "desperation" and would not be attenuated by further economic sanctions:
It is difficult to see how this is in anyone's interest, not Israel's, and not the people in Gaza's. There is already a dire humanitarian situation there and this will only add to the sense of isolation and
desperation. We all know that desperation in this situation drives people further toward extremism," said Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nation's Relief and Works Agency.
In fact however, Gazans blame the Hamas for the economic situation:
"We blame Hamas, the reason for all of this," said Hamdi Badr, 49, who two months ago shut down the clothing factory his family has owned since 1969. "But we don't really know what to do."
That is very strange. When war and economic privation made the Russian people desperate in 1917, they knew exactly what to do. The Palestinians voted the Hamas into office, and the Palestinians can remove the Hamas from office.
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Replies: 1 Comment
The "dilemma" you speak of is really a figment of Olmertian cowardice. If Fatah doesn't wish something, what reason is there to take notice of it. Fatah is weak and, weak or not, cannot be trusted to honor any commitments it makes. As for the Gazans uniting behind Hamas if any action is taken, there is at least a 50% chance that the opposite would occur.
Either or both of the following scenarios would resolve the dilemma.
1) Take control of southern Gaza and let Fatah ( and the Rician wish for a Bush legacy of an agreement built on sand ) be damned.
2) Don't announce that Gaza is an enemy entity and undertake a systematic squeeze on its economy. Rather, announce a tit-for-tat strategy of linking electricity and fuel cessations to rocket fire from Gaza. If the Gazans are subjected to privation, they have only to pressure Hamas ( or, just as likely, Fatah-related rocketeers ) to cease. The analogy is to siege warfare with the humanitarian proviso that the besieged have the ability to cause the siege pressures to abate at will.
Stuart L. Meyer, Monday, September 24th
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