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Operation Protective Edge disrupted Hamas’ ability to rain terror on Israel – much of its rocket supply was depleted, many of its terror tunnels were found and destroyed. But even as the terrorist group has been weakened, and even as Gaza begins to rebuild, The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff reports that Hamas, too, is rebuilding in an attempt to keep its grip on the Gaza Strip:
Things are as they were: Poverty, desperation, extremism and tens of thousands of displaced people. The sea is the same sea, and Hamas is the same Hamas, with the same aspirations.
There is one major difference, though: Hamas is poorer. Without the income from the Gaza-Egypt tunnels, and having stopped collecting taxes, its funds are dwindling. While the PA will oversee the actual reconstruction of the Strip, Hamas’s top priority is the reestablishment of its internal infrastructure — including its financial infrastructure …
Hamas has lowered its profile, but financial problems or not, it has no intention of relinquishing practical control over the strip. Gaza’s government and social services will formally be run by the Abbas-led administration, but Hamas is not going anywhere. Its police and military hierarchies will continue to operate throughout Gaza, and Abbas’s PA security forces will not, except perhaps at the border crossings.
Furthermore, despite those budgetary constraints, Hamas is already busily is trying to revive its military industry. Since the end of Operation Protective Edge on August 26, it has managed to conduct a series of rocket tests into the Mediterranean, underlining that a new line of rockets is being produced …
Meanwhile, the Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has launched a recruitment drive. Last Thursday, the very day that the “national reconciliation government” held its much-hyped first meeting in Gaza, the brigades held a large military parade in Shejaiya. Some of the same officials who greeted PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in the morning attended the brigades’ rally in the afternoon — a rally intended to convey a clear message to the residents of…Read More » Comments (6) »
Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 8:28 AM | Stand For Israel
Yesterday in Cairo, Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas asked for $4 billion in aid to rebuild Gaza. He received international pledges for at least that much. However, writes Elliott Abrams, the world is aware that Hamas still controls Gaza, and that the money meant for rebuilding might only go to rebuild the terrorist organization:
There are at least two main issues. First, Egypt and Israel want to be sure that construction materials do not go to Hamas for its construction of tunnels, arms depots, and other means of making war rather than for building homes, schools, and the like. They also want to be sure that Hamas does not smuggle in arms and ammunition. This means the establishment of a border control regime and some way of identifying end users inside Gaza. Second, the power struggle between Hamas and Fatah (or the Palestinian Authority–same thing) continues.
On October 12 in Cairo, at an international conference on rebuilding Gaza, PA president Mahmoud Abbas will ask for $4 billion in pledges. He may get some pledges; cash is a different story. Many donors are wary of corruption in the PA and in Hamas, and fear Hamas efforts to divert funds and materials to illicit terrorist uses. Donors from the EU have made some foolish statements about how tired they are of paying for reconstruction of buildings that Israel then bombs, and appear to be seeking some Israeli promise never to strike Gaza again. This is impossible, because Hamas remains in charge in Gaza and may well decide to launch fusillades of mortars and rockets into Israel again, hiding as it usually does within, behind, and under civilian facilities such as houses, mosques, and hospitals. If this happens Israel will respond, so the kind of pledge some European donors have been seeking is impossible to give. Hamas has chosen war several times before and may well choose it again.
The central problem is that Hamas is still running Gaza. The new Palestinian “technocratic”…Read More » Comments (13) »
Monday, October 13th, 2014 at 8:35 AM | Stand For Israel
Throughout Operation Protective Edge, Stand for Israel brought you news of Israel’s battle to defend its people and homeland against Hamas. Now that the war is over – for now – stories of what the IDF encountered are now emerging. The IDF blog provides the experiences of one brave soldier’s service – and survival – in Gaza:
Sgt. Avi, the commander of the Sniper Squad of the IDF Paratroopers Brigade, entered Gaza with the purpose of dismantling Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure, including the vast underground tunnel network built to infiltrate and attack Israel. “My soldiers and I were prepared, both mentally and physically. We knew why we were going in,” said Sgt. Avi. “The company commander got on the radio and said, “pick up your bags’ and we started walking …
“On our second day inside Gaza we moved to a different house; it’s safer not to stay in the same place,” said Sgt. Avi. “We were taking turns keeping watch, and I decided to join the round so that my soldiers would have more time to rest. I had just finished my shift when I realized that the soldiers were tense. One of them had heard a person speaking arabic outside the house and spotted suspicious movement.”
Realizing that there were people in the area, Sgt. Avi and his soldiers heightened their awareness. “I joined my soldiers on the roof. After a few minutes, a man about 40 years old walked out of a house nearby, and then I saw that he was holding a woman, and he was using her as a shield.”
“That was the first time I saw with my own eyes someone using another person, a woman, as a shield. I’d seen videos at home, I’d heard about it on the news, and I had believed it, but now I was seeing…Read More » Comments (12) »
Monday, September 22nd, 2014 at 10:52 AM | Stand for Israel
While Hamas’ strategy of using human shields has been exposed, and its members have even admitted to launching rockets from civilian locations, the world still wants to blame Israel for the civilian deaths in Gaza this past summer. To find the truth, the Gatestone Institute’s Mudar Zahran spoke to actual Gazans, who told a very different story:
They spoke of Hamas atrocities and war crimes implicating Hamas in the civilian deaths of its own people.
Although Gazans, fearful of Hamas’s revenge against them, were afraid to speak to the media, friends in the West Bank offered introductions to relatives in Gaza. One, a renowned Gazan academic, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that as soon as someone talked to a Western journalist, he was immediately questioned by Hamas and accused of “communicating with the Mossad”. “Hamas makes sure that the average Gazan will not talk to Western journalists — or actually any journalists at all,” he said, continuing:
“Hamas does not want the truth about Gaza to come out. Hamas terrorizes and kills us just like Daesh [ISIS] terrorizes kills Iraqis. Hamas is a dictatorship that kills us. The Gazans you see praising Hamas on TV are either Hamas members or too afraid to speak against Hamas. Few foreign [Western] journalists were probably able to report what Gazans think of Hamas.”
D, a store owner, said:
“There were two major protests against Hamas during the third week of the war. When Hamas fighters opened fire at the protesters in the Bait Hanoun area and the Shijaiya, five were killed instantly. I saw that with my own eyes. Many were injured. A doctor at Shifa hospital told me that 35 were killed at both protests. He went and saw their bodies at the morgue.”
To verify those reports, I spoke to a second Gazan academic, who holds a PhD. from a Western university, who stated:
“Hamas did kill protesters, no doubt about that. But we could not confirm how many were actually killed. If…Read More » Comments (19) »
Friday, September 19th, 2014 at 8:25 AM | Stand for Israel
Operation Protective Edge damaged Hamas and other Gazan terror organizations’ capabilities – from targeting terrorists to destroying terror tunnels and weapons stashes. But the above video of a new Islamic Jihad terror tunnel – built after the latest war in Gaza – being shown off to an Al Jazeera reporter illustrates that while the IDF did much to slow its enemies, the threat is still very present:
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Gazan terror group Islamic Jihad is rebuilding tunnels beneath the Strip, including some that are to burrow under the border with Israel, according to a report from Al-Jazeera TV …
At the start of the clip the reporter is shown being taken blindfolded to the tunnel entrance to conceal its location. Once inside the tunnel the reporter, who must hunch over in order to make his way along the low passageway, explains that it is being “dug by resistance fighters in this border area.”
The tunnel looks similar to dozens of others discovered by IDF forces in the past with cement blocks positioned to shore up the walls and roof.
“What is remarkable about this tunnel is that it is has been dug recently,” he says. “As you can see it is still being dug … “
“We are now in one of the tunnels of the Al-Quds Brigades,” the worker explains, using the name of Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, “on which work began as soon as the war on Gaza ended, and the ceasefire was declared. We have begun work and we are continuing it regardless of the threats by the Zionist enemy.”
“We will not be hindered by the threats of the enemy, or by the ban on importing cement and other building materials,” he adds.
Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 at 11:50 AM | Stand for Israel
As Operation Protective Edge brought Israel back into Gaza, it also brought the United Nations’ UNRWA agency back into the news. Much of this attention was due to the fact that terrorist rockets were found in UNRWA-run schools, while many more rockets were launched from such locations. Former national security adviser Elliott Abrams writes that while UNRWA has always been bad, now they seem to be even worse:
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So now there are two compelling reasons to end UNRWA. Its cooperation with Hamas, and the way in which it has been permeated by Hamas, constitute one reason. The second is that UNRWA is engaged in the perpetuation and expansion of the “Palestinian refugee problem” rather than its solution …
In the decades of its existence, it has not solved or even diminished the Palesinian refugee problem; instead it has presided over a massive increase in its size, for all the descendants of Palestinian refugees are considered to be refugees as well. Once there were 750,000; now there are five million people considered by UNRWA to be “Palestinian refugees … ”
Which side is UNRWA on? Its supporters would say “on the side of Palestinian refugees,” but instead the agency appears to be on two other sides: its own, always expanding its own empire and responsibilities, and on the side of Hamas …
The Gaza war has illuminated once again the ways in which Hamas has been acting as a parasite feeding on this UN agency–to which the United States is the largest donor. Time for a change.
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 at 8:34 AM | Stand for Israel
As all wars do, Operation Protective Edge cost Israel much – in the lives lost, in the soldiers wounded, in the financial and emotional prices paid. Yet much was also gained. Writing at The Times of Israel’s blog, Dr. Daniel Polisar says that the war made Israel stronger by strengthening Israeli society, strengthening the Jewish state’s diplomacy, and weakening Israel’s enemies:
First and foremost, Israeli society was strengthened over the last seven weeks … showered soldiers with moral and material support, demonstrated gritty determination to continue the ground war despite the large number of IDF casualties, and bolstered the spirits of those most in need by attending en masse funerals of people whom they did not know—with the most sublime symbol being the sign placed near the grave of ex-Californian infantry fighter Max Steinberg, “There is no such thing as a lone soldier in Israel.”
Such acts gave Israelis and their leaders the fortitude to go on under difficult circumstances, but also have longer-term effects. They etched into the hearts of Israelis, especially those who recently came of age, that we are a people capable of great courage, compassion, and commitment when it matters most. When the dust settles and the commentaries of today and tomorrow are forgotten, it will be this sense that will remain and will instill in Israelis the conviction we have what it takes to survive and thrive, come what may.
Diplomatically, Israel was of course subject to increasing criticism from Europe and suffered a well-publicized rift with its leading ally, the United States. Even so, European actions, in any event not decisive, did not undergo a qualitative shift and the U.S.-Israel relationship remains firm, as witnessed by continued cooperation on numerous fronts. The only real strategic change was the remarkable deepening of Israel’s ties with Egypt, the most powerful Arab country …
Finally, the conduct of the war has given pause to Hamas and the heads of the more powerful Hezbollah about engaging soon in another military clash…Read More » Comments (14) »
Friday, August 29th, 2014 at 9:04 AM | Stand For Israel
As the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has held, Israel begins to rebuild, even as it watches warily the threats it faces on all sides. But writing at the Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh asks – in light of Hamas’ stated intentions and overall strategy – if Israel’s war in Gaza is really over:
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However, it is important to note that these cease-fire demands are not part of Hamas’s or Islamic Jihad’s overall strategy, namely to have Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip are not only fighting for an airport and seaport. Nor are they fighting only for the reopening of all border crossings with Israel and Egypt.
During this war, many seem to have forgotten that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are actually fighting to “liberate Jerusalem and all Palestine.” The two groups have never recognized Israel’s right to exist and continue to oppose any attempt to make peace with the “Zionist entity.”
Operation Protective Edge may have ended, but the dream to destroy Israel is still alive. Even if Hamas and Islamic Jihad eventually get their own airport and seaport, it is obvious that the two groups are now more determined than ever to pursue their fight to eliminate Israel, especially in light of the fact that they feel they have emerged from the war triumphant.
Thursday, August 28th, 2014 at 9:23 AM | Stand For Israel
As soon as yesterday’s ceasefire was announced, Hamas’ leaders crawled out from the bunkers and tunnels in which they’d been living, and from the hospitals underneath which they’d been cowardly hiding, and began proclaiming that their war with Israel had resulted in victory. Writing at the Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil wonders how the terrorist organization can consider this devastating defeat a win:
The Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leadership waged their war from deep underground bunkers, beneath high-rise buildings and below Gaza’s showcase Al-Shifa Hospital. The leadership left the civilian population above ground and urged them onto the roofs of buildings or to stay home and receive the strikes that were coming toward their weapons stockpiles and rocket launchers. Waging war from five-star hotels in Qatar or bunkers under Gaza’s urban landscape, Hamas’s leaders positioned these rocket launchers next to hospitals, schools, mosques, UNRWA facilities, residential complexes and even hotels where foreign media personnel were staying.
It was the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders, not the Israelis, who are the war criminals. It was these Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders who were responsible for the civilian deaths of more than two thousand Gazans, while they safely hid and only claimed that they wanted to be shaheeds [martyrs].
While the Hamas leadership threw the Gazan civilians to their bitter fate, the Israelis used the safe rooms they had built for their civilians and their Iron Dome aerial defense system to keep their own civilians safe. Not relying solely on Iron Dome, the IDF sent infantry units to the front lines inside the Gaza Strip to protect Israel’s home front. The Israel Air Force attacked rocket and mortar shell launchers; its ground forces destroyed 32 terrorist tunnels that led from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.
Its tunnels into Israel were blown up; the rockets smuggled in from Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Korea were neutralized; thousands of civilians were killed and tens of thousands of Gazan homes were destroyed, and yet the…Read More » Comments (6) »
Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 at 9:28 AM | Stand for Israel