Hamas’s Kite Terrorism: A Threat that Requires a Decisive Response: Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA, June 20, 2018— Hamas’s setting of wildfires on thousands of hectares of natural woodland and farmland on the Israeli side of the Gaza border is a calculated and organized strategy.
The Decreasing Effectiveness of Hamas Terrorism: Hillel Frisch, Jerusalem Post, June 19, 2018— Hamas’s recent political setbacks are well known.
The Gaza Strip and “the Deal of the Century”: Yoni Ben Menachem, JCPA, June 21, 2018 — Senior figures in the Palestinian Authority are concerned about the visit of a U.S. team, led by Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt…
Palestinians: How to Achieve a Better Life: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, June 21, 2018— In the past two weeks, Palestinians received yet another reminder that they are living under undemocratic regimes that have less than no respect for public freedoms.
On Topic Links
The Many Ways Palestinians Violate International Law: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, June 17, 2018
Palestinians: Victims of Arab Apartheid: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, June 18, 2018
Why Abbas Refuses to Ease Sanctions on Gaza: Yoni Ben Menachem, JNS, June 14, 2018
UN: ‘Great Return March’ Increased Abuse of Women in Gaza: Elder of Ziyon, Algemeiner, June 13, 2018
HAMAS’S KITE TERRORISM:
A THREAT THAT REQUIRES A DECISIVE RESPONSE
Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen
BESA, June 20, 2018
Hamas’s setting of wildfires on thousands of hectares of natural woodland and farmland on the Israeli side of the Gaza border is a calculated and organized strategy. The immense damage being caused to property, wildlife, and natural resources is gradually transforming the area around the Strip into a wilderness, undermining Israel’s ability to provide peace and security to its residents.
The kibbutz movement did well to demand an end to this new terrorist modus operandi. And while the rules of engagement are undoubtedly the exclusive prerogative of the Chief-of-Staff rather than a subject for public debate, by demanding action the kibbutz movement has proved yet again that in the enforcement of state sovereignty, especially in frontier areas, there is no substitute for civilian steadfastness and clinging to the land.
This stands in stark contrast to the withdrawal from al-Hama in April 1951 after an IDF force that had been sent to patrol an area that was under Israeli sovereignty ran into a Syrian ambush that killed seven soldiers. Had there been a civilian community there, the withdrawal might well have generated an outcry and a demand for a more determined military response. In this respect, the kibbutz movement’s demand for a decisive response is emblematic of the traditional pioneering role of frontier communities.
Hamas’s management of the struggle along the fence displays an impressive degree of systemic adaptation. Anxious to avoid an all-out war, and keenly aware of the necessity of finding new means of sustaining the struggle, Hamas has been quick to realize the immense potential of kite terrorism. On the physical level, this method exhausts Israeli security and emergency forces on a daily basis. On the cognitive and legal levels, the activities – which are in some cases carried out by young boys – place Israel in a difficult political and diplomatic position in the international arena.
Although kite terrorism is presented as posing no direct threat to human life, its scope and significance cannot be denied. The question is this: is the state entitled to protect its assets and sovereignty only in those cases where there is a clear danger to human life?
The Talmudic literature recognized the uniqueness of the frontier long ago and established special rules that facilitated its distinct struggle for existence. The Sabbath regulations, for example, include a special stipulation allowing frontier residents to fight on the holy day in defense of their property. In the words of the Holy Scriptures: “Robbers who attack frontier Jews on the Sabbath should be fought even if they only tried to rob straw and hay.”
In other words, even a minor matter that does not ordinarily involve a life-saving situation becomes sufficiently life-threatening whenever it applies to frontier areas and, as such, justifies violating the Sabbath. This encapsulates the underlying ethos of frontier existence: those who cannot protect their straw and hay will have a hard time protecting their lives.
Moshe Dayan, as the Chief-of-Staff who masterminded the retaliation strategy of the early 1950s, explained the rationale of the IDF’s action: “The Arab states will not fight the infiltrators or punish them unless they find this to be in their own interest. The Arab army will awake to the need to fight infiltration only when it realizes that stealing a cow in Ramat Hakovesh is liable to hurt Qalqiliya and that murdering a Jew in Ruhama endangers the residents of Gaza.” The stealing of a cow and the burning of a field are not in and of themselves an existential threat. But by accumulating into a critical mass, they pose a threat that no sovereign state can afford to leave unanswered.
THE DECREASING EFFECTIVENESS OF HAMAS TERRORISM
Jerusalem Post, June 19, 2018
Hamas’s recent political setbacks are well known. The most punishing was the downfall of Egyptian president and Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammad Morsi and his replacement by President al-Sisi, who destroyed the tunnel industry from which Hamas derived most of its revenues to rule Gaza. This was supplemented by moves on the part of the Palestinian Authority to deny Hamas revenue by reducing salaries to 70,000 PA employees in Gaza, by far the largest group of consumers in Gaza. The goal was similar to al-Sisi’s intent – to reduce imports from Israel means also less tax revenue for Hamas.
The downturn in Hamas’ fortunes is not only political, but equally in the exercise of terrorism. Starting from very lethal suicide terrorism in the 1990s through the Second Intifada, the substitutes since then – ballistic, tunnel and now kite terrorism – are decreasingly effective.
How effective suicide attacks by Hamas and its Islamic Jihad ally were in the Second Intifada can be gauged in the numbers of its victims. In the course of three years, these two organizations were responsible for the murder of 400 Israeli citizens (and tens of foreigners), with Hamas doing the lion’s share of the bloodletting. Its effectiveness did not only end there. Suicide bombings brought about the only absolute contraction of the Israeli economy since the state’s inception – what no war with the Arab states brought about, including year-and-a-half-long War of Independence.
The effectiveness of suicide bombing, in fact, the very phenomenon of this lethal means, came to an end after Israel reconquered Area A in the Palestinian Authority in 2002, with nearly daily penetrations and arrests of would-be terrorists since then. The destruction of the sanctuaries that enabled Hamas to plan elaborate suicide bombings – coupled with the smashing of its human infrastructure through incessant arrests of its operants – considerably reduced the capabilities of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
When this happened, Hamas, like most violent organizations, looked for substitute means to hurt the enemy. The decline in suicide bombings was followed by the spectacular rise from 2004 in missile launchings and by continuous improvement in the payload they carried and in the distance they traversed – so much so that by 2006, the number of Israelis directly affected by the missiles increased from 25,000 inhabitants in the immediate areas bordering Gaza to hundreds of thousands who lived in major cities such Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon and beyond.
For all the feelings of terror that the launching of over 14,000 missiles between 2004-2014 engendered, the phenomenon largely came to an end after the third bout between Hamas and Israel in the summer of 2014. The effects of missile terrorism were not nearly as costly to Israel as suicide bombings. Military expenditures as a percentage of gross domestic product and as a percentage of total government expenditures continued to decline, whereas at the height of the Second Intifada they remained level. Missile terrorism was far less costly in human terms as well. Even if we take all the casualties of the three rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas, mortalities add up to approximately 120, less than one-third the human price that Israel paid during the wave of suicide bombings. Note also the wave of missile terrorism took place over 10 years, compared to suicide bombing wave, which lasted three years.
Whereas the effectiveness of suicide terrorism was vastly reduced as a result of military punishment meted by the IDF and the Israel Security Agency, missile terrorism became less effective over time due to technological developments that denied Hamas much of the potency of this means of terrorism. BESA associate Uzi Rubin, in his extensive studies on the Iron Dome anti-missile system published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, plotted its growing effectiveness over time. In the flare-up in 2014, only two of the 72 Israeli deaths during the 55 days of fighting resulted from missile launchings. By then, Hamas had already figured out that tunnel attacks, at first considered a supplement to its arsenal, could become a major substitute for missile launchings.
Just as missile terrorism was far less effective than suicide bombing, tunnel terrorism was less effective than both, essentially foiled by technological developments. Since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas scored successes in tunnel forays in 2006 with the killing of two tank crew members and the capture of a third, for which it successfully negotiated the release of over 1,000 Palestinian terrorists in 2011. During the course of the 2014 campaign, Hamas used tunneling to surprise Israeli forces and succeeded in killing 11 soldiers in three separate incidents.
Significantly, it never used the tunnels it dug into Israel territory, partially out of fear that Israel had developed means to monitor and mine them, as indeed it proved in the killing of at least 12 Islamic Jihad terrorists in October 2017. In any event, the price tag to Israel of tunnel terrorism was only a fraction of the costs of missile terrorism.
It is against the backdrop of the never-ending quest to find substitutes to increasingly ineffective terrorist measures that Hamas’ innovation of kite terrorism can be understood. Though it is too early to say conclusively that this means is the poorest substitute of all those that preceded it, it would seem that a solution will be found before it becomes lethal rather than merely destructive, as it is at present. Of course, a technological solution would be best, but in its absence, some innovative combat moves against the perpetrators would be welcome. Increasingly admired as a military force that reacts effectively to the innovations of its enemies, the IDF is now faced with a golden opportunity to show that operating beyond enemy lines in daring and innovative ways is not only a legacy of the past.
THE GAZA STRIP AND “THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY”
Yoni Ben Menachem
JCPA, June 21, 2018
Senior figures in the Palestinian Authority are concerned about the visit of a U.S. team, led by Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, to the region and American preparations for promoting President Trump’s peace plan, known as “the deal of the century.” With this in mind, they see the June 18, 2018, meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and King Abdullah II of Jordan in Amman as an additional American-Israeli attempt to soften the King’s opposition to “the deal of the century” and an American effort to create a barrier between him and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Sources in the Authority do not dismiss the possibility that Prime Minister Netanyahu has soothed the Jordanian monarch’s concerns regarding anything challenging Jordan’s position as guardian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, in accordance with the 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan, and that Netanyahu has promised that Jordan’s position will not be harmed by “the deal of the century.”
The Palestinian Authority claims that the Trump administration is trying to use the Gaza Strip as a “key” to present to the leaders of the moderate Arab states to advance “the deal of the century.” These Arab leaders want complete calm in Gaza, and they are concerned that continued violence and the “return march” campaign will upset the stability in their own countries and will lead to a military confrontation between Israel and Hamas on the southern border, the results of which would be particularly hard on the Palestinians.
The fears of the senior PA officials are based on a report in the Haaretz newspaper on June 17, 2018, that, according to sources in the Trump administration, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt will try to raise between $500 million and $1 billion from Qatar and Saudi Arabia for a series of projects serving the Gaza Strip. It is hoped that these projects will quiet the security situation and create positive momentum for the presentation of President Trump’s “the deal of the century” plan.
Among other things, projects built in northern Sinai will provide the needs of the residents of Gaza, such as solar energy, a power station, and a seaport. Some of these ideas were presented to the U.S. team during a conference at the White House in March 13, 2018, by the then-coordinator of activities in the territories Gen. Yoav (Poli) Mordechai. PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas was invited to the conference, attended by the representatives of 20 countries, but he boycotted it. Of course, implementing these ideas requires the agreement of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
A considerable part of “the deal of the century” deals with the Gaza Strip. According to PA sources, which learned about the plan from Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the Gaza Strip will be declared an independent state together with parts of the West Bank, excluding east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. The Palestinian capital will be located in the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis, along with several Arab neighborhoods in northern Jerusalem.
All of this is meant to solve the problems of the Gaza Strip and soften the resistance of Arab leaders to the new U.S. peace plan. Senior sources in the Palestinian Authority told the Al-Hayat newspaper on June 17, 2018, that Kushner and Greenblatt are working to raise Arab funding for essential projects in Gaza in order to put it at the center of a diplomatic solution in accordance with Trump’s “deal of the century.” Nabil Abu Rudeina, the PA chairman’s spokesman, claims that the United States and Israel are planning to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank under the headline “humanitarian aid for Gaza.”
He added that the Palestinian leadership warns against any measures where the objective is to bypass the Palestinian “national project” and perpetuate the division of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and to compromise on Jerusalem and the holy sites.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is continuing to boycott the Trump administration since its declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. He also continues to rail against the administration and to “reveal” the details of “the deal of the century” plan even though he has never seen any of its details. Abbas is afraid of possible betrayal by the Arab leaders over the Palestinian problem because, for them, the Iranian danger takes priority.
Therefore, the senior officials of the Palestinian Authority make sure to issue regular reminders through the media that not only is the PA chairman opposed to “the deal of the century,” but so are all of the leaders of the Arab countries. Nabil Shaath, Mahmoud Abbas’ adviser for international affairs, told the Al-Hayat newspaper on June 17, 2018, that the Palestinians relied on the resistance of the Arab leaders to “the deal of the century” and that they promised to oppose any diplomatic plan that was not acceptable to the Palestinian leadership.
PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has been working in recent months to build a Palestinian, Arab, and international consensus to torpedo “the deal of the century,” the motto of which is “there’s no state in Gaza, and there’s no state without Gaza.” The Trump administration is now working hard to break up this consensus. Hamas terror in the Gaza Strip is increasing the concerns of the leaders of the Arab world who want quiet, and it is most likely that they will cooperate with the ideas of President Trump.
PALESTINIANS: HOW TO ACHIEVE A BETTER LIFE
Gatestone Institute, June 21, 2018
In the past two weeks, Palestinians received yet another reminder that they are living under undemocratic regimes that have less than no respect for public freedoms. The regimes of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip never miss an opportunity to remind their people of the dire consequences that await anyone who speaks out against the leaders. The two Palestinian regimes have been forcing it down the throats of their people for many years.
Still, some Palestinians seem surprised each time the PA or Hamas send their police officers to break up (or, more precisely, to break bones in) a demonstration in Ramallah or the Gaza Strip. The streets of Ramallah and Gaza City showcase, yet again, that the Palestinians’ true tragedy over the past five decades has been failed and corrupt leadership — one that keeps dragging them from one disaster to another; one that never offers them any hope; one that has been radicalizing and brainwashing its people; one that steals large portions of the financial aid provided by the international community, and one that has brought them nothing but dictatorship and repression.
The Palestinian Authority is nearly 25 years old, but it continues to act as a corrupt dictatorship. Like most Arab regimes, the PA and its leaders have zero tolerance for any form of criticism. Ask Palestinian journalists, bloggers and pundits in the West Bank and they will tell you (in private and anonymously; they would like to save their skins) how the Palestinian Authority cracks down on them and imposes severe restrictions on their work. In the past year alone, at least 11 Palestinian journalists and political activists have either been arrested or summoned for interrogation by Palestinian security forces in the West Bank. The charge: voicing various forms of criticism against the Palestinian Authority or one of its senior officials, including, of course, President Mahmoud Abbas.
Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority went one step further in demonstrating to its constituents what dictatorship looks like. Hundreds of Palestinians were staging a peaceful demonstration in the center of Ramallah to call on Abbas to lift the sanctions he had imposed on the Gaza Strip a year earlier. The sanctions, which severely aggravated the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip, included firing thousands of PA civil servants and cutting off social assistance to many families. Abbas has also refused to pay for the electricity and medical care that Israel supplies to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas placed the sanctions on the Gaza Strip in the hope that affected Palestinians would revolt against his enemies in Hamas. So far, however, his measures seem to have backfired. Hamas is still in power and there is almost no real challenge to its rule over the Gaza Strip. Also, Abbas does not want to bear any responsibility for his people in the Gaza Strip; he wants the Gaza Strip to be the problem of Israel, Egypt and the rest of the world. Anyone who thinks that Abbas is eager to go back to the Gaza Strip is living in a dream world. (Hamas expelled the Palestinian Authority and Abbas from the Gaza Strip in 2007).
Abbas does not like to be reminded of his responsibility for what many describe as a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, and he does not want any Palestinians to protest the punitive measures he imposed on the Gaza Strip. First, Abbas issued a directive banning Palestinians from protesting in the major cities in the West Bank. His directive, however, did not stop hundreds of Palestinian activists from taking to the streets of Ramallah on June 13 to condemn Abbas’s sanctions. What was supposed to be a peaceful protest turned out to be one of the most violent clashes between Abbas’s security forces and demonstrators, whose only crime was that they were calling on their leader to lift the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians in the West Bank are also trying to show solidarity with their brothers in the Gaza Strip. They seem to be beginning to realize that Abbas, instead of helping the people in the Gaza Strip, is actually punishing them by cutting off their salaries and denying them medical and humanitarian aid. The Ramallah protest also came amid growing criticism (mainly from the Gaza Strip) that the Palestinians of the West Bank are indifferent to the suffering of their brothers in the Gaza Strip. On instructions from Abbas, dozens of Palestinian policemen, both in uniform and civilian clothes, attacked the protesters with brute force, using clubs and tear gas. More than 44 protestors were arrested and 20 injured…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
On Topic Links
The Many Ways Palestinians Violate International Law: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, June 17, 2018—The international community unleashed a new round of Israel-bashing at the UN General Assembly on June 14, 2018, on the issue of the Hamas-generated riots and demonstrations along the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians: Victims of Arab Apartheid: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, June 18, 2018—Lebanon is one of several Arab countries where Palestinians are subjected to discriminatory and apartheid laws and measures. The plight of Palestinians in Arab countries, however, is apparently of no interest to the international community, pro-Palestinian activists and groups around the world.
Why Abbas Refuses to Ease Sanctions on Gaza: Yoni Ben Menachem, JNS, June 14, 2018 —The two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip are paying the price for the political rivalry between Fatah and Hamas. This week, the Israeli government’s Security Cabinet decided not to make any further humanitarian concessions to Gaza as long as Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas stands firm in his refusal to remove the sanctions that he imposed on Gaza a year ago.
UN: ‘Great Return March’ Increased Abuse of Women in Gaza: Elder of Ziyon, Algemeiner, June 13, 2018—The United Nations Population Fund has written a report about the dangers to Gaza’s women as a result of the “Great Return March.” The report proves that Palestinian society is pretty sick — and it identifies four groups of Gazan women that were negatively impacted by the riots.