If Hamas is found to be responsible for an incident of this gravity, Israel is unlikely to exercise restraint. That could mean the targeting of Hamas leaders in Gaza, and the arrests of Hamas leaders in the West Bank. And that, in turn, would likely bring a Hamas response, including rocket fire from Gaza on Israel cities including Tel Aviv. So Israel could easily find itself embroiled in a strategic upsurge of hostility that would reshape the security environment for some years. If, that is, again, it becomes clear that Hamas kidnapped the three Israeli teenagers.Sponsored Ads
Whoever was responsible, it must be said, the cell that carried out the kidnapping showed a greater professionalism than the other terrorists who have been confronting Israel in the territories. One can imagine that the kidnappers might have dressed up in Jewish garb in order to entice the three into their car (or cars) without arousing their fears of a kidnapping.
Al-Monitor says Gaza anti-aircraft weapons number in the tens and are dispersed among different factions.
Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have announced on more than one occasion that their anti-aircraft guns and missiles had achieved a breakthrough that would affect the ability of attack aircraft to maneuver during combat. They claim to have damaged an Israeli helicopter, which was forced to land, and downed an armed surveillance drone. They did not provide dates for these incidents, but circulated YouTube videos of remains of Israeli drones it claims were downed by Hamas anti-aircraft missiles.
In mid-September 2013, the al-Qassam Brigades revealed that their troops in Gaza possessed SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles, which were publicly presented at a military parade attended by this Al-Monitor contributor. Also on display were light machine guns, sniper rifles, RPG anti-tank rockets, as well as heavy weapons mounted on four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Israeli military sources in 2012 attributed the availability of these weapons to the collapse of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya, which led to the flow of massive amounts of sophisticated weapons into Gaza. According to a 2012 Al-Monitor report, approximately 1,000 such missiles went missing from Libya’s military stockpiles. Despite American efforts to locate them, only a few hundred were ever found.
Withdrawal may signal ‘green light’ for upsurge in rocket fire; Israeli minister warns IDF may invade Gaza if attacks don’t stop
Hamas has removed from the Gaza-Israel border most members of the 900-strong force it employs to prevent rocket fire into Israel, The Times of Israel has learned.
Sources in Gaza said the decision of Hamas’s military wing to withdraw most members of the rocket-prevention force, which was first deployed last July, was taken in the wake of Israel’s airstrikes on targets in Gaza overnight Thursday. Those strikes were ordered in response to a rocket attack on the southern city of Netivot on Thursday.
After crushing the Muslim Brotherhood at home, Egypt’s military rulers plan to undermine the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which runs the neighboring Gaza Strip, senior Egyptian security officials told Reuters.
The aim, which the officials say could take years to pull off, includes working with Hamas’s political rivals Fatah and supporting popular anti-Hamas activities in Gaza, four security and diplomatic officials said.
Since it seized power in Egypt last summer, Egypt’s military has squeezed Gaza’s economy by destroying most of the 1,200 tunnels used to smuggle food, cars and weapons to the coastal enclave, which is under an Israeli blockade.
A senior Hamas politician has joined the call for an “intifada” terror war against Israel over Jews’ visits to the Temple Mount.
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is Judaism’s holiest site. It is also the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Muslim and Arab leaders have accused Israel of intending to destroy the mosque and rebuild the Jewish Temple, though Jewish activists say they are merely campaigning for equal prayer rights at their holiest site.
Gaza Minister of Religious Affairs Ismail Radwan accused Israel of “raiding the holy Aqsa Mosque” and called for a holy war, Hamas’ Al-Qassam website reports.
Despite falling out over the Syrian civil war, Iran and Hamas are still apparently cooperating in order to facilitate attacks against Israel, and to challenge the authority of the Fatah party of Mahmoud Abbas in Judea and Samaria.
A report by Stratfor has outlined how the Iranian regime is making use of Syrian proxies in the region to transfer weapons to Hamas cells in Judea and Samaria. This despite the fact that Hamas has aligned itself with the Sunni opposition to the Iranian-backed regime of Syrian President Bashar el-Assad.
On the other hand, the despotism of the Assad regime is horrid, monstrous. There is no good choice here. There are good Syrians, but they’re nowhere near the corridors of power, and they’re not contenders in the current civil war. And so there is no good side here.
And therefore, I draw the conclusion that just as we helped Stalin against Hitler, and we helped Saddam Hussein against the Ayatollah Khomeini, we should — as Assad is going down, we should help Assad against the rebels. I don’t want Assad to prevail, but I also don’t want the Islamist rebels to prevail. I don’t want the Iranians to benefit from this, I don’t want the Turks to benefit from it. I would rather see them just go at each other. I think we should use what influence we have with the supporters of both sides to get the fighting away from the civilians, so that there is not this horrid humanitarian cost.
But from our strategic point of view, it’s clearly in our interest to have Hamas fighting with Hezbollah. I mean, can you imagine a better scenario than that?
A leading Western think tank has determined that the West Bank was heading toward a Palestinian revolt.
The International Crisis Group has determined that Palestinians were preparing to revolt against Israeli rule in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The Brussels-based think tank, said the PA, despite massive foreign aid, was also undergoing steady deterioration amid the rise of Hamas.
In essence, Syria has become not just a gruesome civil war, but also a proxy war with significant global implications — with the United States, Israel, and like-minded Arab states who seek Assad’s ouster on one side, and Russia, Iran, and terrorist groups like Hezbollah who seek his survival on the other.
If so, Assad’s survival in defiance of widespread expectations and U.S. desires will position Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah as regional “strong horses.” And it will nourish a growing sense in the region and elsewhere that the U.S. has become a decidedly “weak horse,” unable to shape events and, worse, unlikely to spend much energy trying.
There are two levels to think about:
Rebels – Worse than Assad, but no strategic alliance with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. They will likely push for Sharia law once they take over. Perhaps there will be an eventual alliance with Turkey. And Turkey is a key player to watch in the future. Everybody wants to bring back historical greatness in some form: Persian Empire, Ottoman Empire, Chinese Empire, Soviet Union, … . Eventually, I would expect the Rebels to go against Israel.
Assad – Not as bad as the rebels, but has a strategic alliance with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. Also, Russia is a backer. So there is the potential to do a lot more damage to Israel in the future.
There are no good answers here. There are only bad answers and worse answers. In a sick sort of way, keeping the civil war going may be the best option for the West. Obviously, that is not a good option for the Syrian people but neither are the other options.
Israel’s military has been bracing for Palestinian missile and rocket strikes from the West Bank. Military sources said the Home Front Command has assessed that Hamas and other Palestinian insurgency movements were building missile and rocket arsenals in the West Bank.