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November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Gaza Strip’

IDF Intelligence Chief: Terror Organizations on the Rise

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Head of the Military Intelligence Directorate Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi spoke at the 13th annual Herzliya Conference on Thursday, where he delivered a comprehensive review of the strategic changes currently shaping the Middle East and the threats that such changes pose to Israel’s national security. THE IRANIAN THREAT

Maj. Gen. Kochavi related to the Iranian nuclear program, and was explicit in describing the great threat that Iran poses to the security of the State of Israel, describing it as Israel’s “primary threat”.

“We estimate that they will continue to advance their nuclear program,” he said, explaining that “Iran does not see a high chance of a military attack by the international community on [their] nuclear facilities.”

Maj. Gen. Kochavi said that the Iranian government is in possession of the necessary infrastructure to procure nuclear weapons. “Right now [Iran] has ten thousand spinning centrifuges and another five thousand have been installed,” he said, adding that “should the [President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] decide to move forward towards a bomb, they already have enough material for five or six bombs.”

Despite the progress of Iran’s nuclear program, Maj. Gen. Kochavi said, the international community still has the power to stop them. “The [international] pressure on Iran is intensifying and the economic sanctions are influencing Iran in the most significant way,” he said, adding that such sanctions will become an ever-more influential factor in the decision making in Iran. CHANGING MIDDLE EAST

The intelligence chief stated the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate has identified three central pillars around which the most significant changes influencing the region revolve: the economic situation, social upheaval and Islamization.

“The social upheaval is here to stay,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said, referring to the massive political and social changes that have occurred throughout the Middle East in recent years. “It will continue to seethe and bubble and remain the central determining factor in the Middle East,” he said.

He explained that the social upheaval has removed many of the Middle East’s traditional power structures from authority, leaving room for radical Islam to take over. “[The upheaval] is becoming more violent every day, and it is creating a vacuum which is being filled with Islamist and Jihadist political factions,” he warned.

The Head of Military Intelligence said that while political turmoil abounds, governance has vanished and borders are being breached, leaving Israel surrounded by increasingly lawless areas. The lack of control, he says, is leading to the unfettered passage of weapons and munitions. “For the first time in decades Israel has four active borders which could open up from terror attacks,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said. THE RISE OF TERROR IN SYRIA

Maj. Gen. Kochavi related to the sustained political turmoil in Syria, saying that there too radical Islamism has risen up to fill the void left by political instability. “For some of the [new terror] organizations, Israel is not the focus, but the moment they accomplish their Plan A – the fall of Assad, for instance – they will turn their energy towards Israel,” he said.

Elaborating on the situation in Syria, Maj. Gen. Kochavi said that “it is necessary to think of Syria not as a complete state, but as Assad’s state and the rebels’ state – which includes two thirds of Syria’s populated area.” He added that there are rebel enclaves camped all along the border in the Golan Heights from where they lead the day to day fighting.

“11 of 17 crossings [from Syria into the demilitarized UNDOF zone] are in the hands of the rebels, which enables the passage of refugees, weapons and even Jihadist elements,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said.

The Head of Military Intelligence went on to say that Hezbollah, a traditional ally of Assad, is concerned that should he lose power, Iran may lose free passage through Syria to arm the Lebanese terror organization – a concern which has caused them to become involved in the conflict.

“Assad is intensifying cooperation with Hezbollah and Iran, which maintain a presence in Syria, and are the primary supports of his regime,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said. “The damage of Syria’s demise would be very grave for them. Iran would lose its only Arab ally which borders Israel and thus lose the capability to open fire on Israel from Syria,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said.

Israel Capitulates, Reopens Gaza Crossing in Recognition of Hamas Rule

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Israeli forces on Tuesday reopened the Kerem Shalom commercial border crossing with Gaza, after a week-long closure, a Palestinian official told Ma’an.

Palestinian Authority official Raed Fattouh said that the crossing will operate regularly on Tuesday, with 390 truckloads of goods set to enter Gaza and one truck of flowers to leave.

Israel closed the commercial crossing last Tuesday after a rocket was fired from Gaza toward Ashkelon in southern Israel, but agreed to reopen it Monday.

A dispute between Hamas and the company operating the crossing further delayed its opening. When the dispute was over, the franchise for operating the Gaza side of the crossing was taken away from the company with an authorization from the Palestinian Authority and given over to a company beholden to Hamas. That removed the last vestige of the PA’s official presence in the Gaza Strip. And Israel, which until Tuesday could pretend to only be dealing with Hamas indirectly, through the PA – is now dealing directly with Hamas.

Officials in Gaza told Ma’an that the Hamas government dismissed the company in charge of the terminal after a dispute over the collection of customs revenue.

The officials told Ma’an that Hamas wants to keep the taxes, which are usually paid to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria. Now everything will be going directly to the true rulers of Gaza, with Israel’s full support.

Truck drivers at Kerem Shalom told Ma’an that rivalries over control of the crossing were impeding their work. Now, thank God, peace is restored and the Hamas coffers will fill up again. Those coffers had gone bare recently, because the Egyptians are flooding the smuggling tunnels with sewer water, depriving Hamas of import fees on the smuggled goods

Tens of Thousands of Judea and Samaria Hamas Loyalists Have Launched the Third Intifada

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

By allowing Hamas to celebrate its 25th anniversary in Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Authority leadership is paving the way for a third intifada against Israel.

In fact, in the past few days, the third intifada has already begun, as violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers have increased in various parts of Judea and Samaria.

Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters have taken to the streets of Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron and Tulkarem to celebrate the event, the first of its kind since the Islamist movement expelled the Palestinian Authority from the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Since then, in Judea and Samaria, the Palestinian Authority had been cracking down on Hamas, arresting hundreds of its supporters and members and closing down dozens of institutions belonging to the movement.

In recent weeks, however, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has apparently decided to endorse a new strategy towards Hamas. He now considers Hamas a political ally rather than an enemy.

The change came immediately after the Israeli military offensive against Hamas in mid-November.

The rapprochement between Abbas and Hamas reached its peak before and after the UN General Assembly vote in favor of upgrading the Palestinians’ status to non-member observer state in late November.

Both Abbas and Hamas see the two events — the war in the Gaza Strip and the UN vote — as “historic achievements” and military and political victories over Israel.

Emboldened by the “victories,” Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal recently reached a secret agreement on the need to launch a “popular intifada” against Israel in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources in Ramallah revealed.

The two men believe that such an intifada at this stage would further isolate Israel and earn the Palestinians even more sympathy in the international arena, the sources said.

Abbas and Mashaal are aware, the sources noted, that the Palestinians are now not ready for another military confrontation with Israel — neither in the West Bank nor in the Gaza Strip.

That is why the two men agreed that the best and only option facing the Palestinians these days is a “popular intifada” that would see Palestinian youths engage in daily confrontations with Israeli soldiers and settlers, especially in Judea and Samaria.

Abbas and Mashaal want an uprising similar to the first intifada, which erupted in 1987, when Palestinians mainly used stones and firebombs against soldiers and settlers, and refrained from launching terror attacks inside Israel.

Yet Abbas and Mashaal seem to disagree on the ultimate goal of the “popular intifada.”

While Abbas is hoping that daily clashes between Palestinian stone-throwers and Israeli soldiers will force Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 lines, including east Jerusalem, Mashaal and his Hamas movement are hoping that the uprising would lead to the “liberation of all Palestine, from the Jordan river to the sea.”

Abbas and Hamas have decided for now to lay their differences aside and work towards escalating tensions on the ground, particularly in Judea and Samaria. Representatives of the two parties have been holding “reconciliation” talks in Cairo during the past few weeks in a bid to agree on a new strategy against Israel.

Their goal is to drag Israel into a confrontation with Palestinian civilians — one that would embarrass the Israelis among the international community and force them to capitulate.

This article was slightly edited and originally published at the Gatestone Institute

Supporting Hamas, Al-Jazeera Looking to Pin Arafat’s Murder on the PA

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Even as Mahmoud Abbas’ minions were extracting the bones of Yasser Arafat from his grave, the Palestinian Authority upgraded its status at the United Nations to “Palestine” and was accepted as a non-member observer state by the UN General Assembly. The timing of the request for recognition by the UN and the grisly exhumation of the PA’s “president” were part of the contest between Hamas and the PLO for Palestinian leadership. The contest was won by Hamas.

There are Palestinians who claim that the Palestinian Authority, which was unceremoniously expelled by Hamas from the Gaza Strip in 2007, rules the West Bank only from nine to five — the day shift; the night shift is run by Israeli intelligence. Otherwise, they say, the Palestinian Authority would long since have collapsed.

For quite some time the leadership of the new Islamic world — the one that grew like a weed after the Arab Spring — has been of the opinion that the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas are no longer relevant and should depart.

Before and during Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas received the support of the Emir of Qatar and was visited by senior officials from Turkey and Tunisia. Hamas received backing from Egypt and became the target of pilgrimages from Arab League representatives as well as a panoply of Islamic luminaries, who were all, like Shakespeare’s Brutus, “honorable men.”

They all gave Hamas a wind at its back, and, at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, supported it as the “victor” in the battle against Israel, despite the fact that Israel had just defeated Hamas in Operation Pillar of Defense — a retaliation by Israel for weeks of being bombarded by missiles and rockets from Gaza.

Meanwhile Al-Jazeera TV, owned by the Emir of Qatar, broadcasts that it suspects that the Palestinian Authority was involved in a plot to poison Arafat. Al-Jazeera TV in Arabic also accuses Israel of poisoning him, but hints that the deed itself was actually done by someone on the inside, one of Arafat’s loyal followers or bodyguards. That is why the Palestinian Authority gravediggers dug up Arafat’s bones with such serious, frozen faces. The skeleton in the closet is the Palestinian Authority, because Al-Jazeera wants to destroy the Palestinian Authority’s reputation by accusing its senior figures of complicity in Arafat’s death, and forcing an investigation into his “poisoning.” Al Jazeera’s objective is to bury the Palestinian Authority, such that gaining UN recognition for “Palestine” is the last act the PA will ever perform.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

U.S. Senators Urge Morsi to Halt Gaza Arms Smuggling

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

A bipartisan slate of U.S. senators urged Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to crack down on arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

“In order for the cease-fire to hold, it is imperative that your government bolster its efforts to halt all weapons smuggling taking place via both overland and underground routes,” said the letter, which was initiated by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and signed by another 16 senators.

In the letter, sent Tuesday, the senators said they were “encouraged” by the “constructive role” Morsi played in brokering a cease-fire to the most recent Hamas-Israel conflict in the Gaza Strip.

“This is all the more important in light of the potential easing of restrictions on the movement of people and goods through Gaza border crossings as a condition of the cease-fire you helped to broker,” they said. “Preventing Hamas from re-arming is just one step in helping to prevent violence from erupting again.”

Hamas Sees Abbas’s Statehood Bid as Step to Islamist Rule

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Why did some Hamas leaders come out in public in support of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s request to the UN General Assembly to upgrade the status of the Palestinians to “Non-Member Observer State”?

Because the Hamas leaders know that sooner or later the Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem will fall into their hands.

Hamas has not abandoned its dream of replacing Israel with an Islamic state, “from the river to the sea.”

This is what several Hamas leaders reiterated over the past week when asked why they had backed Abbas’s effort to establish a Palestinian state on “only” 22% of Mandatory Palestine.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad representatives even participated in Fatah celebrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip marking the “victory” at the UN General Assembly last Thursday.

These representatives did not take part in the celebrations because they accept the two-state solution and are willing to live in peace alongside Israel.

Nor did they take to the streets to express their joy over the upgrading of the status of the Palestinians at the UN.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad celebrated because they think that the UN has paved the way for the establishment of an Islamist state within the pre-1967 lines. Like many Palestinians, the two Islamist groups are confident that the countdown has begun for the creation of an Iranian-backed entity in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Islamists’s message to the Palestinians is: “Let Mahmoud Abbas take now whatever he can because we know that in the future these lands will be under our control.”

Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials and spokesmen have even gone on record stating that their support for Abbas’s statehood bid does not mean that they have relinquished their dream of destroying Israel and “liberating the rest of Palestine.”

The Islamists are hoping to achieve their goal with the support of three parties: Iran, Qatar and Egypt.

Iran will continue to supply Hamas and Islamic Jihad with various types of rockets, while the Qataris will prove the funds. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President, Mohamed Morsi, will provide the political cover and support.

Following Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip, some Hamas leaders, including Khaled Mashaal, revealed that many of the rockets that were fired at Israel came from Iran.

Recently, Qatar pledged to support Hamas with more than $400 million, in order to boost the Islamist movement and assist it in tightening its grip on the Gaza Strip.

Morsi, for his part, has been actively seeking to legitimize Hamas and turn it into a major player in the Palestinian, regional and international arenas.

Ironically, if anyone is about to facilitate the process of establishing a fundamentalist Islamic state it is Abbas himself.

Abbas has already declared his intention to seek unity between his Fatah faction and Hamas in the aftermath of the UN vote.

Abbas has even indicated his readiness to travel to the Gaza Strip — for the first time since he was expelled from there in 2007 — to advance the “reconciliation” process with Hamas.

When and if Abbas manages to solve his dispute with Hamas, the Palestinians will be called to participate in new presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a move that will undoubtedly result in another victory for the Islamist movement.

The UN vote last week has paved the way for the creation of a radical Islamist state that will be used by the Iranians and Muslim Brotherhood to advance their goal of wiping Israel off the map. That is why Hamas and Islamic Jihad have good reason to be celebrating in the streets.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Is Abbas About to Join Hamas?

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

As of last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will think twice before he condemns any rocket or terror attack on Israel.

Alarmed by Hamas’s growing popularity among Palestinians, especially in wake of its purported “victory,” Abbas appears to have completely changed his attitude toward the Islamist movement and its terror attacks against Israel.

Abbas’s new attitude toward Hamas has prompted some Palestinians to wonder, quite sarcastically, whether he was planning to grow a beard and join the Islamist movement.

They pointed out that this was the same Abbas who, on more than one occasion, had accused Hamas of plotting to assassinate him and topple his regime in the West Bank. They also noted that this was the same Abbas whom Hamas had expelled from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007.

Abbas was one of the first Arab leaders to congratulate Hamas on its “victory” over Israel during the recent eight-day confrontation.

Hamas announced that Abbas phoned its prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, one day after the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire went into effect to “congratulate him on Hamas’s victory and offer condolences for the martyrs.”

Abbas’s phone call to the Hamas leader did not come as a surprise.

Since the beginning of the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip, Abbas has been begging Hamas to forget about its differences with his Fatah faction and agree to “national unity.”

Until recently, Abbas used to mock Hamas’s rockets, calling them “ineffective.” It is not that Abbas was opposed to the idea of launching rockets at Israel; rather, his position was based on the argument that these rockets were not inflicting enough casualties and damage on the Israeli side.

Over the past few years, Abbas had publicly denounced Hamas for providing Israel with an “excuse” to attack the Gaza Strip by launching the “ineffective” rockets at Israeli cities and towns.

But during the last confrontation, Abbas did not utter a word against Hamas and other radical groups in the Gaza Strip.

Instead, he chose to issue strong condemnations against Israel, holding it fully responsible for initiating the violence.

In public statements, Abbas and his top aides in the West Bank accused Israel of perpetrating “war crimes” by targeting “innocent civilians.” They also heaped praise on Hamas and Islamic Jihad for their “steadfastness in the face of Israeli aggression.”

Not once did Abbas and his aides denounce Hamas and Islamic Jihad for firing rockets at Israel. The rockets, from their perspective, were no longer “ineffective” because this time they were extracting a heavy price from Israel.

As soon as the cease-fire went into effect, Abbas’s top Fatah officials joined Hamas supporters in the Gaza Strip who took to the streets to celebrate “victory” over Israel.

Zakariya al-Agha, a senior Fatah leader, praised Hamas and Islamic Jihad for launching rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv “until Israel asked for a cease-fire.”

Abbas Zaki, another Fatah official, boasted that Abbas and the Fatah leadership in the West Bank had helped provide “political justification” for the rocket attacks against Israel.

Until the last round of violence, Abbas considered Hamas to be his number one enemy. That view was why his security forces had been waging a relentless crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank.

Obviously, Abbas has now changed his policy and Hamas is no longer a threat to him and his regime. Now he will have to stop arresting — and torturing — Hamas members in the West Bank in the hope that the Islamist movement will forgive him for “collaborating” with Israel.

It now remains to be seen whether Hamas will forgive Abbas for his “sins,” and join forces with him.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/is-abbas-about-to-join-hamas/2012/11/29/

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