Israel: Hamas Feels Victory Slip Sliding Away

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August 22, 2014: Hamas has fired nearly 400 rockets since they broke the ceasefire on the 19 th . About 15 percent of these were intercepted by Iron Dome because so many were long range rockets fired at major cities. So far about 2,100 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have died. The main target of several thousand Hamas rockets has been Israeli civilians. So far three Israeli civilians have been killed by the Hamas rockets. Despite the fact that Hamas broke the ceasefire with rocket fire on the 19 th the Arab League blames Israel for not acceding to Hamas demands for lifting the blockade. Israel and Egypt both oppose lifting the blockade in a major way and many Arab League members privately agree with that. But Hamas has been declared the victim in all this by the media and many politicians so Arab leaders, unless they are Egyptian, are afraid to speak openly about their feelings towards Hamas.

Hamas is desperate to achieve some kind of real victory. At the moment all Hamas can claim is the usual Arab victory (I attacked Israel and am still alive) and that sort of thing is not enough to keep them in power once peace returns. Hamas won an election in 2007, took control of Gaza, tried to establish a religious dictatorship and banned any more elections. The strict religious lifestyle rules Hamas imposed are increasingly unpopular and increasingly ignored. Then there is the unending fighting with Israel (and ceaseless “Israel must be destroyed” propaganda) which has lost its allure for many Gazans. If 46 (and counting) days of rockets going out and smart bombs coming in doesn’t result in some real and defensible gain (like an end, or major easing, of the joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade) Hamas will face even more local opposition and its control over Gaza will be more at risk than ever before. 

Hamas, desperate to halt the Israeli strikes on leaders, key personnel and hideouts in Gaza is again grabbing anyone acting suspicious or deemed expendable (like a known member of political rival Fatah) and executing them for collaborating with Israel. Hamas admitted to three such executions recently but Gaza residents report there have been more. Hamas offers no evidence of guilt, simply referring to “special means” used to identify the spies, who are quickly tried, convicted and executed in an attempt to intimidate the real spies and reassure their own key people that they are nect to die from a smart bomb. Israel is not saying anything, for obvious reasons. Israel has long had an informant network in Gaza, but depends more and more on sensors and more powerful analysis software to find targets. Iranian advisors have warned Hamas about the Israeli “technical means” but Hamas cannot put software up against a wall and shoot it and is desperate. Iran did provide some advice on how to deceive the new Israeli systems but those techniques had limited success and Hamas staff need some reassurance that they won’t die soon.

The Hamas executions came right after the death, earlier this week of the Hamas military commander and three of his subordinate commanders, all in smart bomb attacks. Hamas apparently suspects that Egypt helped the Israelis. Egypt has its own intel network in Gaza, which consists mostly of people. The Egyptians also wanted Deif dead, because Deif and his subordinate commanders are believed to be supporting Islamic terrorists operating in Sinai who are responsible for hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police killed in the last year. Egypt has not been subtle about its desire to see Hamas destroyed and Egyptian media has been full of similar sentiments. If Egypt and Israel are cooperating to track senior Hamas leaders, and kill them, this will hurt Hamas more than attacks on Hamas weapons and facilities. Hamas admits this by the way it immediately began public executions of  “spies” and vows to carry on and avenge the deaths of these leaders. Hamas is now pushing the idea that leaders should be immune to attack, a concept which Hamas has refused to accept in the past when it came to their enemies (Israel, Egypt and Fatah). Israel insists that terrorist leaders have always been targets. Hamas responds that they are not terrorists but a service organization and legitimate government. Hamas believes that Israel should treat Hamas like a legitimate (as defined by international law) enemy and not some stateless terrorists. But many major nations (including some Moslem ones) and international organizations do consider Hamas a terrorist organization.

August 21, 2014: Egypt is having difficulty getting its endangered citizens out of Libya, where a civil war has broken out. This is mainly because there are over 500,000 Egyptians in Libya and not all of them have been able to get to the Tunisian, Algerian or Egyptian borders. Egypt suggested a joint Algerian/Egyptian military effort to quiet things down inside Libya but Algeria was not interested, at least not yet.

August 20, 2014: For the first time a Hamas leader (Saleh Arouri) admitted, in a speech made in Turkey, that Hamas had planned and carried out the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in June. Operations like this are carried out by the military wing, commanded by the recently deceased Muhammad Deif . The three kids were killed when Israeli police got too close to where they were held. This incident led to the current war with Israel. Arouri, like many Hamas leaders, operates from exile, safely outside of Gaza. Arouri was also identified as the one who organized a coup attempt against Fatah in the West Bank. Israel confirmed that 93 Hamas operatives it has arrested in the West Bank since May were involved in a organizing a violent coup to overthrow Fatah rule in the West Bank. Also seized were 37 firearms, lots of ammo and explosives and evidence that these operatives had recently received two million dollars in cash for the coup. Arouri used to live in the West Bank, where he has been a Hamas leader in the 1990s. He was jailed on terrorism charges and released, after 16 years in prison, in a 2010 prisoner swap and expelled from the West Bank.

On a more positive note, nothing much happening on the borders with Lebanon and Syria.

In Egypt (northern Sinai) troops clashed with Islamic terrorists, killing two and arresting 66 others in a series of raids. Two Gaza smuggling tunnels were also found and destroyed. Since early 2013 over 1,700 tunnels from Egypt to Gaza have been found and destroyed. This has made lifting the blockade even more crucial for Hamas as the tunnels were long a major supply route for Gaza. 

August 19, 2014: Soon after yet another ceasefire (lasting eight days) was broken by Hamas with a barrage of rockets fired at Israel, an Israeli smart bomb destroyed the home of Hamas military chief Muhammad Deif, killing him, his wife and two children. Deif had been targeted before, but five earlier attempts (over more than a decade) to kill him failed. Deif knew he was still a major target and took extraordinary precautions. At first Hamas claimed Deif was not at home and still alive, but there has been no “proof of life”. This is easy enough to provide if the guy is still alive and a great boost to morale. The next day three of Deif’s subordinate commanders were killed in a similar fashion. Hamas fired over 180 rockets on the 19th and 20th.

August 18, 2014: The five day ceasefire has been extended another 24 hours but despite Egyptian willingness to ease up on the blockade a bit, Israel does not want to open up as much as Hamas demands. Israel is willing to lift the blockade a lot if Hamas will disarm, and allow regular inspections to verify that. Egypt backs that approach as it would also disarm the Islamic terrorist groups in Gaza that are attacking Egyptian targets. Hamas will not consider disarmament because Hamas still maintains that its primary goal is the destruction of Israel and it needs lots of weapons to do that. 

In Egypt (northern Nile Delta) Islamic terrorists attacked some police, killing one and wounding another.

August 15, 2014: In Egypt (Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, Fayyoum and Minya) two demonstrators were killed during violent protests against the 2013 removal of the elected and pro-Moslem Brotherhood president Morsi. In the last two days over 200 pro-Morsi militants were arrested.

August 14, 2014: In Egypt (Cairo and Giza) six demonstrators and one policeman were killed during violent protests against the 2013 removal of president Morsi.

August 13, 2014: As a three day truce ended eight rockets were fired at Israel. One headed for a residential area and was shot down. Israel responded with some attacks on Islamic terrorist targets. But then an agreement was reached on a new, five day ceasefire. This is to provide time for Egypt, Israel and Hamas to work out a longer term end to the current fighting. 

In Egypt (northern Sinai) troops clashed with Islamic terrorists, killing two and arresting 37 others in a series of raids.

August 12, 2014: In Egypt (northern Sinai) troops clashed with Islamic terrorists, killing nine and arresting fifteen others.

 

 

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