Friday, June 15, 2007


Hamas is "trapped" in Gaza.

That is one conclusion one can draw from this past week's events. While Fatah was still a power in the strip, the Palestinians at least had plausible deniability - one side could happily fire off its rockets, while the other side could smile ingratiatingly and tell Israel "no, no, that wasn't us, it was that 'other' group, now give us some ammo and please keep the electricity and water running". This advantageous situation has come to an end.

What does this mean, and what are Hamas going to do now?

Hamas can say "keep the electricity and water running OR we fire off more rockets".
Israel can say "stop the rockets OR the electricity and water will be turned off".

But Israel's option listed above has severe limits. If the power and water are shut off too long, Israel has a disaster on their hands. A mounting health crisis in Gaza will be blamed on Israel, especially in Europe (which is always eager to paint Israel as a Nazi-type tyrant - a predictable European dysfunctionality based in their own collective guilty conscience). World leaders (by which I mostly mean the dwarves that lead Europe and the thugs in charge of the third world) will stress that Israeli dominance of the situation is punishing innocent civilians and creating a hot-house in which terrorism will thrive. And everyone will say that Israel HAS to deal with Hamas, if only to prevent an explosive situation from developing which has no transparency and where there is no way of exerting influence.

Within days of any cut-off of services and supplies, desperate civilians will storm the border. Which will result in refugee camps in Israel proper, or in the Sinai. Neither eventuality is desirable, and either will encourage the supporters of the one-state solution. Any suffering by Gazans will be directly blamed on Israel, especially with only one side in charge of Gaza, and blaming extremists while praising moderates will not be possible.
Israel holding Gaza hostage for the Islamists' good behaviour will be seen as sabotage.

What about the West-Bank?

The West Bank now also presents a problem. With Fatah eliminating Hamas in the areas over which they still have control, the aforementioned world leaders will insist that the moderates are in charge and must be coddled, even when elements in the West Bank commit terrorist acts or murder Israeli citizens OR other Arabs in cold-blood. Any action to interdict terrorism or exert control will be criticized as inimical to prospects for peace and co-operation. Israel, in the jaundiced and prejudiced eyes of the world, will just have to turn a blind eye to Palestinian mis-steps.
Anything else will be seen as sabotage.

Essentially, what had been a mess on two fronts is now a nightmare all around. Hamas can act without opposition in Gaza. Fatah will become strong and emboldened in the West-Bank. The Europeans will insist on ridiculous and extreme pragmatism, and the world demand restraint.
The situation is azoy problematic that one has to suspect the hand of an outside actor.

In the meantime, Syria is preparing for war.

Countries like Syria cannot maintain war-preparedness for long. They have to act, or lose their chance.

Oh, and did I mention that Syria has re-armed Sheikh Nasrallah so well that Hezbollah's capabilities are far greater than they have ever been? They're still pissed about last summer, and Bashar Assad will gladly let them drain Israel's resolve and attention for a few weeks. Especially if the international community screams bloody murder again. Which it will.

I'm expecting that this will be a long hot summer.


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Tzipporah said...

oy and oof. I hadn't thought about it in those (cynical) terms yet, but I fear you are, once again, right on the money.

We all knew it would come down to civil war eventually, on both sides (Hamas/Fatah or something similar, and secular/religious in Israel). I didn't foresee the West Bank/Gaza split, though, but I haven't been paying much attention to all this lately. Too depressing.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

It's not depressing -- it's an opportunity!


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