Friday, June 22, 2018

Economic Collapse Or War: Hamas' Desperate Bid To Pressure Israel

Economic collapse or war: Hamas's desperate bid to pressure Israel, PA

Israel and Hamas have been conducting negotiations in recent weeks for a ceasefire along the Gaza border — sort of.
The incendiary kites, rockets, protests and riots on the border, and the Israeli strikes in the Strip, have been the most important mediums in the “dialogue” forged between the sides.
There are, too, the more diplomatic massages Hamas is sending through various channels explaining that it is interested in reaching an arrangement with Israel about the Gaza-Israel relationship. But at this stage in the negotiations, it is the weapons (and kites and balloons) that are doing most of the talking.

The various emissaries shuttling between the sides — UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov, Qatari envoy Muhammad al-Amadi, and as always, officials from Egyptian intelligence — have told Israel more than once that Hamas is not interested in war. Hamas, rather, wants a long-term arrangement that would give Israel years of quiet. In return, it seeks the lifting of what it calls the “Israeli blockade” of the Strip, meaning the manner in which Gaza is cut off from the Israeli economy. Hamas would like to see a resumption of trade with Israel, workers from Gaza being allowed to work in Israel, and other measures that would revive the territory’s ailing economy.

There are many on the Israeli side who are advocating a similar arrangement.
The problem, as always, is the security question. Hamas is willing to discuss a freeze on attacks against Israel, but not dismantling its military infrastructures in Gaza. It won’t destroy its rocket arsenals and it won’t stop building tunnels, including passages that reach across the border into Israeli territory and under Israeli towns.
To this Hamas insistence, conveyed by the international envoys, Israel has said it views Hamas’s military infrastructure as a standing threat and will not discuss any long-term ceasefire that won’t lead to the group’s disarmament.
On Wednesday afternoon, a small mushroom cloud could be seen billowing over central Gaza, at the site of the Bureij refugee camp, by residents of the Israeli villages of Kissufim and Ein Hashlosha.
It wasn’t garbage burning in the summer heat, but rather the remnant of an incident that took place just moments earlier – a warning rocket fired by Israel at a group of Palestinians trying to deploy incendiary kites. No one was hurt in the incident, and no kites were launched in its immediate aftermath, but the lull lasted only a few hours. By Wednesday evening, several new brush fires were burning on the Israeli side.
Fires often take their toll at this time of year in the agricultural areas around the Gaza Strip, though the damage from the hundreds of incendiary devices flown over the border in recent weeks looks to the untrained eye to be immense, and many areas around Gaza still smell like smoke.
There is nothing spontaneous about the kite and balloon attacks. It’s an effort arranged and managed by Hamas. Its purpose is to force Israelis to pay attention to Gaza as part of Hamas’s bid for ceasefire talks — and to pressure the Netanyahu government to, ironically, pressure the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to life the PA’s own blockade on Gaza, which has worsened the Strip’s financial crisis significantly in recent months.

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