All’s fair in love and war? — Part 2
The breaking of the ceasefire that instigated the latest round of rocket firings into Israel, and the consequential devastating responsive airstrikes by the IAF on Hamas targets in Gaza, may well have been a deliberate act ordered by Hamas’s chief honcho Khaled Mashaal in Qatar. An analysis of events does indicate that Mashaal was under extreme pressure to reject an Egyptian truce proposal that would have taken effect immediately upon the heels of the then current ceasefire. Mashaal could well have ordered a major violation of the ceasefire current at that time in order to scuttle a further Egyptian ceasefire, knowing full well that Israel adamantly refuses to negotiate under fire.
Hamas wanted its allies and financial backers, Qatar and Turkey, to negotiate a truce with Israel on its behalf; America was also endeavoring to negotiate an agreement with the help of Qatar and Turkey; any such agreement would have contained virtually every Hamas demand. Israel, however, was having none of it. Israel knew full well that Qatar had poured hundreds of millions of dollars into establishing Hamas as the preeminent power in Gaza and had, therefore, provided the wherewithal for Hamas to amass its weapons arsenal and build its underground terror-tunnel city. Egypt felt that most of Hamas’s demands were too extreme and did not even include them for discussion in the indirect talks with Israel. Hamas said that there would be no peace unless all their demands were met. Israel, on the other hand, could not allow Hamas to have what it demanded and preferred that there be no agreement. No agreement, it argues, is better than a bad agreement.
Israel’s core demand is that Hamas be disarmed and the Gaza Strip be demilitarized. Hamas, however, refuses to entertain disarmament and threatens to kill anyone who tries to take its weapons. The international community does not have the cojones that are necessary to forcefully demilitarize Gaza; it is happy to continue lambasting Israel for using what it perceives to be “disproportionate” force. When jihadism makes its way into Europe, as it eventually will, and begins to fire rockets into European cities and kill its citizens as ISIS is doing in Iraq and Syria, there may, just may, be a change in Europe’s attitude toward Israel and toward Islamic savagery.
Egypt holds no love for Hamas due to it being an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which is both classified as a terrorist organization in Egypt and also banned from pursuing any activities. Hamas has been involved in numerous terrorist attacks against Egyptian security forces, therefore Egypt is not about to give Hamas free reign in any ceasefire agreement with Israel that would allow it to bring in weapons via the Rafah crossing, which Egypt controls. The permanent opening of the Rafah crossing is a key Hamas demand for any ceasefire agreement. However, Egypt is the only viable ceasefire broker insofar as Israel is concerned and Hamas was being pressured to sign an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement that only slightly begins to address Hamas demands. Egypt will only allow the Rafah crossing, between Gaza and Egypt, to be opened under the supervision of Abu Mazen’s — only Westerners refer to Abu Mazen as Mahmoud Abbas — Fatah security forces, which sidelines Hamas entirely. If Hamas wants to break the siege of Gaza via the opening of the Rafah crossing, it has to eat crow and accept the Egyptian proposal.
Hamas has declared time and again that there would be no more ceasefires with Israel; however, it has taken such a beating from Israeli airstrikes and from the demolition of dozens of its terror tunnels, that it finds itself between a rock and a hard place. It will eventually be forced to accept an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement, it must cave in due to the catastrophic destruction that has been wreaked upon Gaza. Apparently, Hamas was about to wave a white flag before it broke the last ceasefire and by so doing it opened the gates of hell upon itself.
A truce would have come into effect long ago had it not been for Hamas’s kingpin Khaled Mashaal. He has been the central force that has prevented a long-term ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian terror groups; he torpedoed every deal. Mashaal is ensconced abroad in a five-star Qatar hotel and is enmeshed in a disagreement with the local Hamas leadership in Gaza. In Gaza Hamas watches and feels the pain as Israel systematically demolished everything Hamas holds dear, but it does not touch Mashaal in Qatar. Saeb Erekat, Abu Mazen’s right-hand man, delivered a message from the Palestinian president asking Mashaal to support the Egyptian ceasefire proposal. Erekat said that a truce with Israel should be consolidated. Speaking to Palestinian leaders on August 23 Abu Mazen said there was no alternative to the Egyptian initiative for a long-term truce.
Senior Israeli officials said Israel has information that Khaled Mashaal acted to sabotage the ceasefire in order to undermine the Egyptian initiative. Mashaal’s goal, they said, was to advance the Qatar-Turkey proposal that greatly differs from the one put forward by Egypt.
Qatar understood that Mashaal was under pressure to accept the Egyptian proposal and that he was about to throw in the towel and accept. A report by al-Hayat, the London-based Arab daily, said that a high-ranking official in Abu Mazen’s Fatah faction says Qatar threatened to expel Mashaal if he agrees to the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire in its current format. Qatar also wanted a Qatari representative to be invited to Cairo to participate in the talks.
It is this writer’s belief that Mashaal ordered the then ceasefire to be broken in order to sink the proposal being put forward by Egypt. Mashaal’s thinking is that it is more pragmatic for Gaza to lose more structures and more civilians than for him to be expelled from Qatar, torn from his life life of wealth and grandeur. Such bravery, such courage and valor! He is still the same cringing liar that he has always been — hiding himself away in five-star hotels while his underlings are killed and their command centers razed. Syria expelled Mashaal, but the emir of the oil-rich mini-kingdom of Qatar picked up Mashaal’s tab and keeps him in the style he has become accustomed to.
Qatar funds Islamic terrorism and terrorists everywhere, but it has a special relationship with Hamas and liberally finances it. In an August 25 New York Times opinion piece, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor calls on the international community to stop Qatar’s funding of Hamas activities. Prosor writes, “Today, the petite petroleum kingdom is determined to buy its way to regional hegemony, and like other actors in the Middle East, it has used proxies to leverage influence and destabilize rivals. Every one of Hamas’s tunnels and rockets might as well have had a sign that read “Made possible through a kind donation from the emir of Qatar.” Prosor called Qatar the “Club Med for Terrorists.”
On August 26 the Israeli media had a number of articles quoting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad being in favor of an immediate truce. In comments made to the Arabic daily Al-Hayat, senior Hamas official, spokesman and political bureau number-two (after Khaled Mashaal) Moussa Abu Marzouk, says Hamas accepts the formulation in the latest Egyptian ceasefire proposal. An Islamic Jihad official told Al-Hayat that the Egyptian proposal will strengthen the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Gaza, as it gives the West Bank-based authority control of Gaza’s border crossings — a proposal already accepted by members of Israel’s security cabinet.
The Islamic Jihad official said his group decided to accept the Egyptian proposal in order to ‘prevent the deaths of more Palestinian children.’ He adds that Israel failed in Operation Protective Edge because it has failed to disarm the Gaza Strip or prevent the construction of additional tunnels.
We see from the last statement an overt endeavor to save face, which is very important to Arabs. Israel has devastated the Hamas and Islamic Jihad infrastructures and also killed many hundreds of their operatives and gunmen. Thousands of buildings, up to 15 stories high, have been leveled to the ground because in them were terrorist command centers. There is considerable damage done to homes in Israel as a result of the 4,564 rockets that were fired into Israeli populated areas, but only seven civilians, including a four-year-old child, died as a result. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted 735 rockets heading for the nation’s most heavily populated areas.
Israel also mourned the loss of 64 of its soldiers who gave their lives defending their country. During the current round of hostilities Hamas and Islamic Jihad have repeatedly claimed to have won the war — as they have done throughout and at the end of every war — and Hamas loudly and proudly made the claim again, this time with street celebrations and gunfire, on August 26 when an open-ended ceasefire was announced. France24 gave full and repeated coverage to Hamas’s claim to have won the war by having beaten Israel.
“We have won,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri exulted at a news conference in front of Shifa Hospital. He said the group’s fighters had accomplished “what no Arab army has done. We have defeated them,” referring to Israel. Hamas’s big deal of claiming victory over Israel should be placed into perspective: the ceasefire it claims to have successfully ‘negotiated’ is the same proposal that Egypt offered on July 15, one week following the outbreak of the war. Israel accepted the ceasefire proposal at that time, but Hamas spurned it. Today Hamas is loudly celebrating its negotiation of a ceasefire that fulfills its demands when in actual fact there is absolutely nothing more to the proposal than there was a month and a half ago. Israel lost nothing by agreeing to the ceasefire and Hamas gained nothing from accepting it. In the end Hamas was forced to eat crow. On the afternoon of August 26, when first word of the ceasefire began to emerge, it became abundantly clear that Hamas had capitulated, retreated with its tail between its legs, it had abandoned everything it had insisted upon.
Had Hamas accepted the proposal six weeks ago there would be 2,100 Palestinians still alive; 59 Israeli soldiers would not have lost their lives; and six Israel civilians,
including the four-year-old boy, would still be alive. All the claims of having beaten Israel is just so much huff, puff, and bluff. But that is how Arabs are; they live in a fantasy world that has very little to do with reality (see this writer’s book Philistine: The Great Deception).
On July 31 Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert lampooned the Israel-Gaza media controversy. He says, in reference to the hundreds of dead body shots shown on behalf of the Palestinians, but only shots of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu on Israel’s behalf. He said that “Israel’s Netanyahu could not compete against all the dead bodies, but that’s how war works!” Colbert then says, “We know that whoever has the most dead bodies wins!” Hamas must also view the war much the same way as Colbert does, only it is serious while Colbert was making fun of it.
Dr. Richard Landes, the director and co-founder of the Center of Millennial Studies at Boston University has coined the phrase “Pallywood” to describe Palestinian obfuscation and outright lying in reporting news events. Indeed, trying to follow Hamas’s logic is about the same as understanding a drowning man filling his pockets with stones in order to keep himself afloat. Gaza lies in ruins; there is a combatant death ratio of at least 14 – 1; and the civilian death ratio stands at 189 – 1. Apparently, Stephen Colbert was correct. Hamas has won because it ‘has the most dead bodies.’ It also has the most catastrophic destruction of its buildings since the founding of Hamas. Who can argue with their claim of victory with all this?
Israel says little, but its very existence on the world stage bears witness to a divine claim, a claim that its God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob watches over the nation. The One who called Israel into existence also bears silent witness that Israel belongs to God. This provokes the world into an uproar against the Jewish state and its people — God’s chosen people.
If you have enjoyed reading these postings by Ramon Bennett and would like to read more of his writings, please consider subscribing to Arm of Salvation’s “Update,” which is a regular newsletter written by Ramon and which covers events around the world affecting the nation of Israel. To subscribe, click on the tab marked “Newsletter” on this site. It is available in either digital or printed form.
Arm of Salvation welcomes readers’ comments to the posts on this blog and would also welcome donations to its ministry in and for Israel and the Jewish people. Donations toward covering the costs of maintaining this Shekinah website would also be appreciated as would those given in appreciation of the time and effort Ramon invests in producing these postings.