Winning: Hamas Holds On In Gaza


July 11, 2024: The Israeli government has for the past 4-5 months only pretended to try to eliminate Hamas in Gaza. Its problem is purely political and self-inflicted. They can’t agree on how to rule Gaza after eliminating Hamas because their choices are all bad, worse and horrible, and so are “slow rolling” the elimination of Hamas. This dithering has caused many problems in and for the United States, and for Israel in the United Nations.

Most Palestinians live in or immediately adjacent to Israel. Two million of Israel’s 9.8 million population are Palestinians. The Gaza Strip contains 365 square kilometers of territory and 2.1 million Palestinians. The West Bank contains 5,655 square kilometers and 4.1 million Palestinians. Gaza has had many rulers over the last century. A century ago Gaza was administered by British officials and occupied by British troops. After 1945 Gaza was ruled by Egyptian officials. In 1956 a war between several Arab states and Israel was won by the Israelis, who also captured Gaza but then withdrew. The 1967 Arab Israeli war saw Gaza once more captured by the Israelis and administered by them until 2005 when, after an 11 year process, Israeli forces withdrew and a local Palestinian government (Al Fatah, which also ruled the West Bank) took over.

In 2006 Hamas, a radical Palestinian group that had taken refuge in Egypt, won Palestinian elections for a united Palestinian government. The West Bank Palestinian leaders refused to accept Hamas rule and there was fighting between Fatah and Hamas factions. Israel did not want this violence to spread into Israel and blockaded Gaza, only letting people in or out who were unarmed and had a good reason, like medical care or visiting relatives the Israeli knew about. Hamas continued to recruit Palestinian men to join their force and obtained weapons to arm them. Hamas completely took over in Gaza in 2007 while Fatah remained in control of the West Bank.

By 2023 Hamas forces in Gaza had ground to about 30,000 men though there were also other rival armed Palestinian and non-Palestinian terrorist groups, and there had been several mini wars between Hamas and Israel since 2007. In October 2023, most of the armed Hamas fighters attacked Israel. About half of the 3,000 attacking Hamas fighters were killed while attacking Israeli forces. The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) lost 376 troops and 767 civilians were killed as well.

Having failed to advance, surviving Hamas gunmen stayed in Gaza and waged a guerilla war against the attacking IDF. Hamas also took 251 Israeli civilians and soldiers captive and is trying to bargain with Israel to get thousands of imprisoned Palestinians freed in return for their Israeli captives. So far Israel is not willing to release thousands of convicted Hamas and other Palestinian killers to get 251 soldiers and civilians back. Instead IDF forces have been searching for the hostages and fighting Hamas gunmen who are guarding them.

Hamas has been much less of a problem in the West Bank where Fatah security forces, with some assistance from the IDF, have kept Hamas out. Hamas leaders, especially Ismail Haniyeh, have lived in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar for several years and control $11 billion dollars donated to Hamas by various western and charitable groups and Arab governments as well several hundred million dollars a year from Iran. In theory this money should be used to make life easier, or at least bearable, for Palestinians living in Gaza. That does not happen because Hamas steals the money as well as foreign aid from Western countries. Israel sends food aid, accompanied by a military escort that fights armed Hamas members seeking to steal the aid. As of mid-2024, this remains the situation in Gaza and the West Bank.




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