Jerusalem, Israel – The Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA), is based in Ramallah and propped up by the Bush Administration, under the premise that it would be fighting the Hamas regime in Gaza.
Yet that same Fatah dominated PA continues to provide funding for Hamas under the premises of the Mecca accord that was reached between the Fatah and Hamas in Mecca, the capital of Saudi Arabia, in March 2007. The Mecca accord mandated that Hamas and Fatah would divide the public funds at the disposal of the Palestinian Authority, and that is the case today.
The U.S. government and the Israeli government know that the Palestinian Authority continue to fund Hamas. Yet neither government will do anything to stop it.
Since June 2007, Hamas has consolidated its position in the Gaza Strip and has become the sovereign authority. Hamas has captured the universities, the chambers of commerce, the news media, the public institutions and the Gaza population.
Although elected to its position of preeminence under American-sponsored elections in January 2006, Hamas imposes its hegemony by dictatorial powers that leave no room for insurrection or even expression of protest.
Meanwhile, Israel sells products to Gaza that keeps Gaza from falling into a humanitarian crisis.
The European Union pays for the fuel from the Israeli gasoline monopoly known as DOR ALON, and also covers the cost of the operation of the one power station in Gaza.
The health and education services are paid for by the PA in Ramallah, run by the Abbas/Fayyad government. The PA in Ramallah covers unemployment compensation for 78,000 unemployed people.
Iran covers the military expenses of the PA. At present the Hamas army has about 16,000 soldiers. According to a senior source in Israeli intelligence, the Hamas army is modeled on Hezbollah’s military structure.
Many of the troops leave the Gaza Strip through the Rafah tunnels and are sent to Iran or Syria for military training.
Since it seized power a year ago Hamas has turned the Gaza Strip into a huge armory, hundreds of its people have been trained in Iran, Lebanon and Syria, and when they came back they passed on their new military know-how to thousands of others in local training camps.
With every month that passes, Hamas builds its power so that it will eventually threaten the Israeli port city of Ashdod, and will soon be able to reach Beer Sheva.
The latest weapons acquisitions consist of advanced Iranian intelligence facilities that were smuggled in from Sinai and installed in the Gaza Strip.
A Lull In Stages
The outline for a planned “lull” of fighting between Israel and Hamas has three stages.
The Israeli POW, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, in Hamas hands in Gaza will not be included at first, and after three days of quiet, all the crossing points in Gaza will be opened except the one in Rafah.
In the second stage, accelerated talks will begin, with mediation by Cairo, for the kidnapped soldier’s release.
The third stage involves the opening of the Rafah crossing point and the lifting of the blockade – after Cpl. Shalit’s release.
On Saturday, the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat quoted an Egyptian source as saying that in principle, Israel has already agreed to the lull and that Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman, who is responsible for the mediation, convinced Israel not to include Cpl. Shalit’s release in it.
The Egyptian source said that Mr. Suleiman promised that Cpl. Shalit’s release, in exchange for Palestinian convicts, will be the first subject to be discussed immediately after the lull is announced. “Israel and the Hamas movement accepted this,” said the report.
Hamas operatives have reiterated that the organization is interested in a lull agreement on condition that it also include the opening of Gaza’s crossing points.
The Israeli POW, Cpl. Shalit, say Hamas operatives, is not part of the agreement. “Egypt understands very well that these are two separate subjects,” a Hamas spokesman said.
Cpl. Shalit’s father, Noam Shalit, heard the reports in the media that his son would not be included in the agreement. “We received a promise from official sources in the government that Gilad is part of the topics that Israel views as part of the lull agreement,” Mr. Shalit said. “We were given to understand that Gilad would be included in any agreement that Israel may reach, and that there will be no agreement without him. A lull agreement can be an opportunity to move his release forward. We have gone for almost two years and, regrettably, nothing new has happened.”
Mr. Shalit said that he is in contact with officials, and he had been told nothing different.
Meanwhile, a high-ranking Israeli officer warns that the continued trend of removing roadblocks in Judea and Samaria under American pressure could lead to rocket fire from there as well. “If Israel gives in to American pressure, we could soon see high trajectory fire on the Israeli home front,” the officer said. “The Palestinian police do not deal in security, but rather in law and order. They deal with rapists, murderers and thieves. They do not arrest terrorists or get into conflict with Hamas.”
Another Israeli officer criticized the Palestinian Authority, claiming, “On the one hand, more than 700 police officers are operating in the Jenin sector, but on the other hand they have no judicial system or jails. So they arrest and release.” According to the officer, the Palestinians arrested people involved in terrorism only several times, but released them very quickly because “they have no system that can incorporate such a matter.”
“We must understand,” an Israeli security official explained, “that the Palestinian police officer can have one brother in Hamas and another in Islamic Jihad…We have no high expectations from the Palestinian police officers.”
‘The Abductors Are Moving Gilad Every Two Days’
Despite denials, reports intensified over the weekend regarding the formalization of a truce agreement – one without Cpl. Shalit. “Sadly,” says a senior officials in Egypt, “we don’t know where Gilad Shalit is and it is our understanding that Israel does not know either, seeing how he is in constant motion.”
According to an Egyptian source, the abductors are concerned that Israel will attempt to rescue the abducted soldiers and are therefore making every possible effort to thwart any possibility of an operation by Israel’s elite forces. “Gilad Shalit has been on the move ever since the abduction,” says the source “and the abductors are moving him from place to place in Gaza every two or three days. They have devised a sophisticated system of transferring him without its being possible to track the transfer.”
The Egyptian source further said that Hamas Political Bureau Director Khaled Mashaal has instructed the abductors unambiguously that no harm should be inflicted to the Israeli soldier “because he is the key to the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.”
Despite this, the Palestinian mediators are refusing to accept any packages or letters for Cpl. Shalit from Israel and even from his relatives.
Their Patience Paid Off
Any cease-fire – whether as part of an official declaration or by silent consent – will be pointed out by Hamas as yet another victory over Israel. It will also gain them more time to solidify their hold on Gaza.
It is no secret that Hamas’ leaders are very much interested in a cease-fire. And yet, much like in the matter of Cpl. Shalit – which they also want very much to resolve – they are the ones dictating the terms. In both cases, they are conducting negotiations from a position of strength and with very few concessions. The most vital point for Hamas is its insistence on a cease-fire with a sense of victory, a balance of terror as well as a military equilibrium with the IDF – especially by the firing of Kassam rockets and the successful imitation of Hezbollah’s model of warfare.
Gaza sources observe the behavior of Sderot’s residents and the way the rockets break their resolve with much satisfaction.
More than anything, Hamas are gloating amid the Israeli government’s stuttering and inability to reach a resolution.
Because of this, they are not at all afraid to fire barrages of rockets and mortars: Hamas’ leaders know well that at most the Israeli response will be to bomb one of their facilities, which in all probability they have long since evacuated.
Israel’s code of military ethics forbids Israel from firing into a civilian area, even if missiles have been fired from that area, so Hamas has transformed the Israeli military code of ethics into their latest human shield similarly to how the Hezbollah did in Lebanon, during the summer 2006 attacks on Israel, when Hezbollah fighters launched massive mortar attacks from the cover of Lebanese villages that were protected by Israel’s military code of ethics.
An Israeli intelligence source also notes that Hamas’ sense of victory also interprets Israel’s inability to decide on a military operation as being the result of Israel’s fear harbors of a military debacle. Hamas’ spokesmen take the opportunity to declare in front of every open microphone that “Gaza will be a graveyard for Israeli soldiers,” and they call on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to “prepare the coffins,” and announce with much arrogance and vanity: “We are prepared to face a military operation.”
After a year in power, Hamas is now saying that “saber” and “somud,” the Arabic terms for “patience” and “endurance,” play an important part in the Palestinian ethos, and particularly in Hamas’, have in fact forced Israel’s resolve toward a “hudna,” the Islamic concept of a cease-fire.
The authoritative Islamic Encyclopedia (London, 1922) defines “hudna” as a “temporary treaty” which can be approved or abrogated by Islamic religious leaders, depending on whether or not it serves the interests of Islam; and a hudna cannot last for more than 10 years. A hudna means no more than a temporary respite in the war between Islamic forces and non-Islamic forces.
David Bedein can be reached at email@example.com. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008