Dealing with Hamas

Have we not learned anything from our past experience? Why is Israel negotiating – albeit indirectly – with a terrorist organization that controls Gaza?

By
July 30, 2018 11:51
3 minute read.
Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh looks on as he attends the funeral of Palestinian Hamas militants

Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh looks on as he attends the funeral of Palestinian Hamas militants who were killed in Israeli tank fire, at a mosque in Gaza City July 26, 2018. (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)

 
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Egypt and the UN are seeking to mediate negotiations between Israel and Hamas to achieve a long-lasting cease-fire, apparently to pave the way for a US peace plan that would include significant aid to the Gaza Strip.

During a visit to Washington last week, Egyptian intelligence chief Gen. Abbas Kamel told US officials that there are “signs of a breakthrough.” Here in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred behind closed doors to “an unprecedented diplomatic initiative,” and in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he was planning to make “fateful and dangerous decisions.

Have we not learned anything from our past experience? Why is Israel negotiating – albeit indirectly – with a terrorist organization that controls Gaza? And why has the PA not asserted its authority over the Strip, as determined in all of the peace accords it signed with Israel?

On July 20, St.-Sgt. Aviv Levy, 20, was shot dead by a sniper from the Gaza Strip. In response, the IAF hit dozens of Hamas targets, killing several terrorists. That night, Hamas announced that a cease-fire would go into effect at midnight, mediated by Kamel and United Nations special envoy Nickolay Mladenov.

Nevertheless, as expected, this cease-fire was as shaky as its many predecessors, and the violence soon resumed. Last Wednesday, another IDF soldier was wounded by sniper fire on the Gaza border, and the IDF responded by shelling Hamas targets. Communities in southern Israel again were targeted by Hamas missiles, and Israel had no choice but to respond with force.

A diplomatic source told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night that even though the UN and Egypt are applying immense pressure on all sides to enable talks to progress on a wide-ranging Gaza deal, nothing can happen unless calm is restored between Israel and Hamas, as well as a reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas.

Netanyahu’s government has previously voiced strong opposition to a deal between Fatah and Hamas, because it considers the latter a terrorist organization. Why then is the government now making this a precondition for any progress in the Gaza talks?
The answer, clearly, is that the administration of US President Donald Trump is working on a comprehensive peace accord between Israel and the PA that would include Gaza. And presumably, such a peace accord would require that Hamas relinquish control of Gaza to the PA.

But Hamas, being Hamas, is not to be trusted. One of its top leaders, Fathi Hamad, spoke at a funeral in Gaza City last week about the great success of “the peaceful protests” on the Gaza border that have taken place weekly since March. “We are making history with our peaceful movement,” Hamad said. In the very next breath, he urged worshipers at the Great Omari Mosque to slaughter every Jew they can get their hands on. “O Muslims, wherever you find a Zionist Jew, you must kill him because that is an expression of your solidarity with al-Aqsa Mosque and an expression of your solidarity with your people.”

Hamas’s flying of incendiary kites, balloons, helium-filled condoms and even a “fire falcon” (booby-trapped kestrel) into southern Israel from Gaza is hardly Gandhian non-violence. It has caused immense destruction of Israel’s agriculture, wildlife and nature reserves, and has severely harmed the livelihoods of farmers in the South.

Before Israel’s government makes any deal with the devil, we can only echo the wise words of Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann in the latest issue of The Jerusalem Report: “If you want peace, you have to demonstrate a certain amount of toughness. Otherwise, you are giving an incentive to the other side to be aggressive.”

The people of Gaza have been the primary victims of Hamas’s brutal occupation of the crowded patch of land.

Peace is not going to be achieved until the regime is either removed from power or accepts the fact that the dividends of peace – such as the opening of the crossings into Gaza and free trade with Israel and the world – is their best option, and in their own interests.

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