Israel’s Opportunity to Cripple Hamas
The following statement appears at the end of every press release that relates to Gaza rocket fire that is sent out to media outlets by the IDF:
“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians, and will operate against anyone who uses terror against the State of Israel. The Hamas terror organization is solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip.”
Rocket fire from Gaza serves as an ongoing threat to Israeli lives and industry in the increasingly expanding areas that fall within range of terrorist projectiles. So much so that according to an article on February 22nd in Israel Hayom, “Israeli media this week reported that the IDF is gearing up for another large-scale ground incursion into the Gaza Strip to halt terrorist rocket fire and curb the threat posed by groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”
The article continued, “One officer argued that, unlike in the past, “There is no need to wait for a provocation to launch an offensive against the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza. The ongoing attacks…are cumulatively more than enough to justify immediate action.””
Now it seems Israel is truly presented with an opportunity to cripple the Gaza terror infrastructure once and for all.
Over the last few months, Hamas PM Haniyeh has embarked on three extensive Middle East tours. Among his objectives was an effort to solicit the support of a regional government that would play host to the terror group’s headquarters in exile. As now that the future status of their current host, Assad in Syria is in doubt, the ideal move for the organization would be to relocate. The trips included visits to Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, Iran, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.
However, on Saturday 25th February the Wall Street Journal reported that “Hamas has thrown its political clout behind an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Palestinian Islamist group’s longtime patron and host, a shift that cracks a formidable alliance and further widens the Middle East’s sectarian divide.” This likely signifies that Haniyeh’s quest ended in failure, and although certain leaders of the organization have relocated to Cairo and Doha, the organization has been forced to hedge its bets in Syria.
As a result, to its detriment, Hamas finds itself embroiled in another regional conflict, and has likely forfeited support from its most significant donor, Syria’s major ally Iran.
Prof. Hillel Frisch of Hebrew University who is considered an expert on Palestinian and Islamic politics confirmed to me as such, “overall Hamas is in trouble because nobody is providing Hamas an alternate center,” he said.
Although Hamas is effectively a branch of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, “so far” says Frisch, “the Muslim Brotherhood is allowing the army to establish relations with Hamas, which has only met with the ministry of interior which deals with security and not other state officials.” “This is in contrast to Abbas,” he said, “who is dealt with as a Statesman while Hamas is dealt with as a security concern.”
“There is basically a Muslim war between Shia Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, with the other Muslim states, and Hamas is now being wooed by the Sunni camp, but the transition has not been completed,” he concluded.
If it is indeed in Israel’s cards to finish what it started in 2008 and make a move on the remainder of Gaza’s terror infrastructure in any way, now the IDF is presented with a less stable, distracted Hamas with less support than in recent memory.
Jerusalem Post columnist Michael Freund recently pointed out, “In December 2011, Gaza-based Palestinian terrorists unleashed more than 40 rockets and shells into southern Israel, hitting Netivot and areas around Ashkelon and Beersheba. That averages out to more than one explosive projectile fired every day. And since the start of the year, dozens more have been launched against the Jewish state.”
Freund added, “Speaking at the Herzliya Conference earlier this month, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz labeled Gaza one of “the largest ammunition and weapon ‘storage facilities’ I know of.” Various reports have indicated that the terror group now has well over 5,000 rockets in its arsenal, including some with a potential range of 75 kilometers that are based on technology supplied by Iran. This means that Hamas could potentially hit Tel Aviv.”
It is only a matter of time before Israel is forced to take action on this front, and what better time to kick a terror organization then when it is down.