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Monday, August 31, 2009

Hamas desperate to have embargo lifted

DEBKA is claiming that all the back and forth between the Egyptians and Hamas has nothing to do with Gilad Shalit (which fits in nicely with Prime Minister Netanyahu's denial of the weekend report that a deal for Shalit is in the works). According to DEBKA, Hamas is trying to get the Egyptians to open their side of the border (yes, they have one, although you would never know it from the way Israel is being blamed for all the 'starving' Gazans) to allow more supplies into Gaza.
Hamas leader Mahmoud a-Zahar and its military chief Muhammad al-Jabari were ready to reciprocate by guaranteeing the stoppage of arms smuggling through Egyptian Sinai.

This quid pro quo was discussed at length, together with a proposal in some Egyptian intelligence circles to set up joint Egyptian-Hamas patrols to monitor border traffic across their common border and close down the arms smuggling tunnels running under the12-kilometer Philadelphi border strip. If this arrangement worked, Cairo would pledge a flow of essential foodstuffs, medicine, fuel and building materials into Gaza.

In Israel, this prospective deal was greeted with mixed feelings, according to DEBKAfile's military sources. While quite happy to be hand over to Egypt the burden of supplying Gaza Palestinians with essential supplies, Israel does not trust Hamas to keep to its side of a bargain and expects its military leaders to find alternative means for running war material into the Gaza Strip.

A-Zahar and Jabry traveled to Damascus to lay the plan before Hamas' political bureau chiefs and explain its critical importance for the future of Hamas' rule in the Gaza Strip.

Since the onset of the Ramadan month of fasting last month, Gazans are grumbling more bitterly than ever before about their hardships, which are exacerbated by frequent electricity outrages induced by fuel shortages.

The Hamas government's dilemma is acute: Maintain the posture of "resistance" and pay the price of an embargo, or look after the needs of the population at large and not just its fighting forces. The Palestinian extremists now have their back to the wall because Egypt is finally taking effective action to block the tunnels which are Gaza's lifeline not only for arms but also for vital goods to stock the shops.
Every time I do a post like this, I get comments from Hamas sympathizers who rant and rave about how the Gazans are 'starving' and it's all Israel's fault (I usually don't let them through, which is why many of you may not have seen them. They tend to arrive after all of you are done commenting and have moved on). This ought to make clear that until now Gazans have not been starving, and if in the future they are, it's because the Egyptians are finally taking the same position that the Israelis have all along.

You might think that if Gaza is supplied from Egypt, Hamas will have little incentive to negotiate Gilad Shalit's release. I would argue that Hamas has little incentive to negotiate Gilad Shalit's release in any event, and will continue to have little incentive so long as the 'prisoners' families aren't pressuring Hamas to obtain their release. Israel can bring about that pressure by worsening the country club-like conditions under which Hamas terrorists are held. So far, it has not been willing to do so. Last week, a protest by Shalit's supporters prevented relatives from visiting Hamas terrorists in prison, but that's about as far as it has gone.


At 8:52 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel could bring down Hamas' rule in Gaza at little cost. The question is does it want to?

What could go wrong indeed


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