Israel: Let's Make a Deal

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June 25, 2007: Israel must give Fatah some goodies, like more freedom to travel in the West Bank, and resumption of foreign aid and the importation of goods, or else Fatah president Abbas will be forced, by Palestinian public opinion, to make a peace deal with Hamas. But Israel knows that pouring more money, and freedom of movement, into the West Bank, also makes it easier for Palestinian terrorists to plan and mount suicide attacks inside Israel. While Gaza is locked down by a security wall, the one surrounding the West Bank is not finished, and enough terrorist teams at work will result in suicide bombers getting into Israel again. For the moment, Fatah seems willing to sacrifice some of its terrorists, at least the ones leaning towards switching to Hamas, in order to keep Israel happy. One thing that hasn't changed is the belief, among most Palestinians, that Israel must be destroyed. The inability of Palestinians to accept the existence of Israel, and make a permanent peace, creates an obstacle to Palestinian prosperity and clean government. While Hamas makes much of being less corrupt than Fatah, it's relative. All the Islamic conservative governments of the last few decades have turned out to be as corrupt as their secular counterparts. There "clean government" phase did not last long once they were in power. One reason Hamas is less corrupt is because they have far less to steal than Fatah.

June 24, 2007: The Hamas takeover in Gaza simply makes official the differences which have long distinguished Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians from the 2.5 million in the West Bank. While Gaza is mostly a collection of refugee camps, the West Bank consists largely of people who have lived there for generations, or, in some cases, thousands of years. The Gaza population is younger, poorer, more recent and more militant. To many Palestinians, Gaza is part of Egypt, a giant refugee camp that the Egyptians won't take responsibility for. Instead, the UN and European aid groups to deal with the needs of the destitute population. Egypt, meanwhile, sees Hamas control of Gaza as a threat, because of Hamas support for Islamic terrorists. Egypt already believes there is a Gaza connection with recent Islamic terrorist attacks in Egypt. It's also no secret that Egyptian smuggling gangs are doing a thriving business supplying Gaza with weapons, and some of those weapons, including several tons of explosives a month, ends up in the hands of terrorists.

In Lebanon, a roadside bomb killed six UN peacekeepers. A local al Qaeda group was believed responsible. The Lebanese government has, for weeks, warned the UN that al Qaeda groups were planning attacks on peacekeepers along the Israeli border. Up north, in Tripoli, the army continues to shoot it out with an al Qaeda group in a Palestinian refugee camp. But the police are also rounding up al Qaeda members outside the camps, and in one such raid today, there was a gun battle that left six terrorists (three Saudis, one Chechen and two Lebanese) dead. Two security troops and two civilians also died.

June 23, 2007: Israel is getting help from Fatah in rounding up Hamas terrorists in the West Bank. This makes sense, as Fatah fears that the Hamas terrorists will now turn on Fatah. Some Hamas officials in Gaza have said as much. Israel also expects Fatah to restrain its own terrorists groups, while Israeli police continue to track down Fatah and Hamas terrorists. For this reason, some of the Fatah terrorist groups are expected to switch allegiance to Hamas. Meanwhile, Hamas is trying to figure out if its much smaller forces in the West Bank could take over there as well. The better leadership and fighting spirit of Hamas gunmen in Gaza enabled them to quickly overcome the much larger Fatah force. For many of the Fatah gunmen, it's just a job, and not something to die for. For the Hamas fighters, their cause is one worth fighting for. That makes a big difference once the fighting starts. At the moment, Hamas has a much smaller force in the West Bank, compared to Fatah. In addition, Israel has roadblocks all over the place, and is free to quickly move troops anywhere in the West Bank. While Hamas might be able to deal with Fatah gunmen, Israeli troops are another story.

June 22, 2007: Hamas has been unsuccessful, so far, in disarming Gaza. There are believed to be several hundred thousand rifles and pistols in Gaza, which has a population of 1.4 million. Most of these weapons are for home security, but there are at least half a dozen clan organizations that can put a thousand or more armed men on the street. Hamas has been unsuccessful in disarming these groups. One of these clans, the Dagmoush family, is holding a BBC reporter, and demanding $2.5 million in ransom, the release of Palestinian prisoners in Britain, and some other items. But now the Dagmoush are afraid to release their captive, under any circumstances, as this would then allow Hamas to attack them.

June 21, 2007: Israel is meeting with Fatah officials on the West Bank, to work out a deal to get Fatah to crack down on its terrorist groups, in return for the resumption of economic aid. However, Israel wants controls on this aid, to limit the stealing, by Fatah officials. It was this corruption that turned so many Palestinians against Fatah. But public opinion has turned against Hamas, because of their dedication to violence and imposing Islamic conservative lifestyle on people. Now, Fatah appears to be the lesser of two evils. Fatah refuses to negotiate with Hamas, and is apparently waiting to see how Hamas deals with the dozens of clan and criminal militias in Gaza. These groups have become more powerful since Hamas won the elections last year, and foreign aid was cut off. Israel is allowing basic food supplies into Gaza, and Egypt has intensified its efforts to stop Hamas from smuggling weapons into Gaza (usually via tunnels).

June 20, 2007: Israel has resumed ground raids into Gaza, killing or capturing known terrorists. Missile attacks on terrorists continue, as do Palestinian rockets fired from Gaza. Israel is also helping Fatah refugees to flee Gaza for Egypt or Israel. Hamas apparently is seeking to kill or imprison many senior Fatah officials. Meanwhile, about a third of the Gaza residents are seeking to get out. This is difficult, because most Gaza residents are technically refugees, and Gaza is their assigned refuge. Since Israel was established, Arab countries have refused to absorb Palestinian refugees. More Palestinians have found permanent residence in the West. In the Middle East, Palestinians are considered refugees, which means they are permanent outsiders wherever they are.

 

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