The new Israeli challenge on two fronts: The emergence of Russia and a ‘new Hamas’?

While Israel has always shown no fear when it comes down to staring down, or taking down, its enemies, a new chapter may be opening, and the thinking toward a sufficient response is needed.

May 5, 2018 22:55
2 minute read.
Ministers Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, Sergei Lavrov of Russia and Mevlut Cavusoglu of Turkey

Foreign Ministers Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, Sergei Lavrov of Russia and Mevlut Cavusoglu of Turkey. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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‘Vigilance’ is a word that comes to mind when one thinks about Israeli security. There is no rest for a country that must deal constantly with a myriad of existential threats. However, there are two situations now unfolding that have upped the ante with regard to Israeli security.

The recent Palestinian uprising in Gaza, although not a new phenomenon, is now joined at the hip to Hamas’s closer bonds with Iran. Israel thus has an internal challenge to deal with in Gaza, and, perhaps, a new foreign challenge in Syria. While Syria has always been on Israel’s policy radar screen, recent developments could turn that into a flashing red light.

With Turkey, Iran and Russia forging a close alliance, Israel may face, and be confronted with, a major player on the world scene, namely Russia, in a military and economic bond with its historic enemies.

It is troubling that the Syrian regime feels free to use chemical weapons on its own people. What is perhaps more troubling is that Syria has basically become a client state of Russia. Iran also has forces in Syria, a little too close for Israeli comfort.

With Tehran and Hamas now back in a warm embrace, the recent troubles in Gaza show just how much both of these parties want to bring the issue of “right of return” back to center stage.

The question one must ask is how the new triumvirate of Turkey, Iran and Russia will help facilitate the furthering of Hamas’s goals. Over the years, uprisings in Gaza boil, simmer, and then seem to evaporate. Will this new uprising be different? Israel, it seems, may be facing an internal problem that may turn out not to be so “internal.”

While outside influences have always been a concern for Israeli security, Russia, for the most part, has stayed subdued vis-à-vis Israeli policy. But Russia’s finger pointing at Israel over its possible attacks on Syrian targets may be a game changer, both as it relates to their diplomatic relations and to the situation in Gaza.

It is possible that a new financial “domino effect” may take place, with Russia filling the coffers of Iran in order to increase the pipeline to Hamas. If so, we may see a stronger and more organized Hamas leadership ultimately taking its cues from Moscow – not a farfetched idea at all considering that Russia is vying for a greater presence in the Middle East.

Additionally, a well-funded uprising that will last for weeks, or even months, may prove to be a public relations coup for Hamas, and the benefits may flow back to Iran and Russia.

Meanwhile, will we see a more bellicose Russian policy toward Israel? Will Iran and Russia pull a tag team act on Israel, applying both military and diplomatic pressure to attempt to intimidate Israel and redirect its present policies? What’s more, possible American intervention in Syria could add yet another dynamic that could possibly result in a major military conflagration.

While Israel has always shown no fear when it comes down to staring down, or taking down, its enemies, a new chapter may be opening, and the thinking toward a reasoned and sufficient response needs to start immediately.

The author is an independent journalist, author and publisher located in Greenville, South Carolina. He is a frequent contributor to the Gannett News Chain. His work has also appeared in The Jerusalem Post. His latest book is Unnecessary Noises.

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