Posted tagged ‘Israel and Hamas’

Suffering to Purchase Sympathy

June 25, 2017

Suffering to Purchase Sympathy, Clarion ProjectElliot Friedland, June 25, 2017

(Please see also, Illuminating Gaza, which suggests satirically that Hamas relinquish some of its weapons for electricity:

For example, what if Israel agreed to provide Hamas with 2 MWh for every stockpiled Qassam rocket turned over to us? They have thousands of these, which could keep the lights on for weeks. Not to mention longer-range rockets, which would be worth more. And tunnels – I’m sure we would be happy to give them a whole day’s worth of electricity for the precise location of a terror tunnel. Just give us the coordinates and we’ll do the rest! Anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons are valuable, too. A nice shoulder-fired SAM is probably worth 10 MWh. Even rifles and mortar shells could help keep the juice flowing.

— DM)

Hamas fighters in Gaza. (Photo by Abid Katib/Getty Images)

The choices made by Palestinian leaders are deliberately spurring on a crisis over electricity for their own benefit, with Palestinians as the victims.

Here’s the crisis explained in brief:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, himself a dictator (since he cancelled elections after becoming president in 2005) has informed Israel that he will no longer pay for electricity to Gaza. He made the decision because Hamas is unable to pay for its electricity anymore.

This electricity is provided on behalf of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza by the Israeli electric company. Abbas asked Israel to cut power to the Gaza Strip since he decided not to foot the bill. Israel complied, reducing electricity supply by 40 percent.

News of the cuts spread internationally. Since Gaza consists of a small area where two million people live, a humanitarian disaster is in the making. Gaza’s power plant has already been shut down since April, again because of unpaid bills by Hamas, so the territory already only had power for around four hours a day.

Egypt stepped in on Thursday to ease the crisis, sending one million liters of fuel to restart Gaza’s power plant.

However this measure is only a temporary stop gap measure, and the crisis will reemerge when the fuel is used up.

What Does This Have to Do With Anything?

Gaza’s electricity crisis is symptomatic of a broader policy of Islamist terror factions, in general, and Hamas, in particular. Understanding and refusing to engage in this manipulative cycle is essential to defeating these groups and essential for ending the cycle of deprivation hitting those living in areas controlled by jihadis.

How does the cycle work? It can be loosely broken up into three stages:

1.Spend all the money on terrorism.

Hamas collects 100 million shekels ($29,000,000) a year in taxes from residents in Gaza. It has also been given hundreds of million dollars in international aid for reconstruction and humanitarian assistance. Yet, this year, Israel’s security services arrested Muhammad Murtaja, the head of the Gaza branch of the Turkish charity IHH, for siphoning off aid money for terror purposes.

“The egotistical Hamas terror organization has robbed funds that are meant for the needy of Gaza from international organizations. Hamas prospers at the expense of the residents of the Strip and uses donations meant for them to finance terror,” Major General Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of government activities in the territories said of the arrests.

Nor is this case isolated. In 2016, Israel arrested Waheed al Borsh, an engineer working for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), for stealing aid money to build a jetty for Hamas’ naval forces.

More egregiously the manager of international charity World Vision has been charged with funneling at least $43 million earmarked for international aid to Hamas’ military wing to pay for fighters and weapons.

As the independent think tank the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies notes, “According to the budget and expenditures for the 2013 fiscal year released by the last official Hamas government in 2014, a mere 2% of total expenditures of $348 million went to development and only 11.2% to social welfare transfers (compared to 25% in Egypt, which has a similar socio-economic profile). The rival PA estimates that over two-thirds of Hamas expenditures went to the production of terror.”

Spending in this way harms the inhabitants of Gaza. This, however, is a win for Hamas, because …

2.Manipulate the Ensuing Humanitarian Crisis

It’s important to note that the humanitarian crisis is real. According to Israel itself, in addition to the blackouts, 96% of Gaza’s water is reportedly not fit for drinking, due to the strain on the aquifers. There are widespread shortages. Unemployment is at 42%.

At this stage, Hamas’ goal is now to use these crises to extract concessions from Israel and malign Israel in the international press.

During the recent electricity crisis, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri thundered that Israel “bears responsibility for the consequences of the reduction.”

“Israel is trying to cause a humanitarian crisis in Gaza to oust Hamas,” accused Vice, in an incredibly misleading headline, despite the fact that even the Palestinian Authority blamed Hamas for the current crisis.

The UN Special Envoy on the Peace Process Nikolay Mladenov warned that the humanitarian crisis could spark another war, giving as the reason that “people will be angry, increasingly desperate…”

“UN warns of Gaza’s ‘total collapse’ amid power crisis,” writes Al-Jazeera, lamenting that, “Further cuts to Gaza’s already diminished electricity supply has besieged Strip on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe.”

The UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied territories, Robert Piper, warned of the disastrous effect of further power cuts. A joint statement signed by 16 NGOs, including Rabbis for Human Rights, B’Tselem and Peace Now, called on the Israeli attorney general to intervene and force Israel to give Gaza free electricity on the grounds that Israel is legally responsible for the humanitarian welfare of the Gaza strip.

Amnesty International and other global NGOs also joined the condemnation.

All these condemnations harm Israel’s image  and increase pressure on it, creating strategic opportunities for Hamas to exploit for …

3.Profit

If Israel gives Gaza free electricity, it will, in effect, be subsidizing Hamas terrorism by freeing up resources that would be spent on paying for its own electricity, thus paying for terrorism.

This money will be coming from the pocket of the Israeli taxpayer.

If Israel refuses to pay for Hamas’ electricity, it tarnishes its already battered international image. It also puts itself in a moral quandary as images of beleaguered Palestinians roll across the news. This can also create social and political tension in Israel.

If Israel decides enough is enough and invades Gaza to replace Hamas, this will also benefit Hamas. As soon as the body count starts racking up, international and Palestinian sympathy will swing to support Hamas, as happened during and after the last Gaza war.

As the Jerusalem Post noted in their editorial on the electricity crisis, “Ultimately, the so-called electricity crisis is of Hamas’s making. As with the Islamist movement’s use of human shields, its purposeful positioning of combatants and rocket launchers in the midst of population centers, so too the default on Gaza’s electricity bill presents Israel with a difficult moral dilemma.

“Hamas is willing to sacrifice the lives of Gaza’s civilians in order to win the battle of public opinion. The image of a sick Palestinian baby lying untreated in a darkened Rantisi Pediatric Hospital in Gaza City is a blow to the gut that is impossible to explain away.”

There is yet another benefit: the international aid that can be extracted from the international community when Gaza faces a humanitarian crisis.

Hamas has already asked the UN, Europe and the Arab states to intercede with Abbas over the crisis. Meanwhile a ship containing 10,000 tons of aid from the Turkish IHH charity — the same charity whose head was arrested for using aid money to fund Hamas terror — docked in Ashdod so the goods could be taken to Gaza.

International donors give millions in aid to Gaza and will in all likelihood do so again if the situation worsens.

If this happens, Hamas will reap the benefits and steal the fresh aid money to fund terrorism while ignoring those who live under its rule.

Theirs is the strategy of the boa constrictor, aiming to slowly choke out Israel, not through brute force, but through relentless attrition and making all choices bad choices. The fact that Palestinians suffer is not only not a moral consideration, but it is actually part of the plan.

It is both brilliant and evil.

Illuminating Gaza

June 18, 2017

Illuminating Gaza, The Jewish PressVic Rosenthal, June 18, 2017

An Arab family eats a Ramadan dinner by candlelight in the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, during a power outage on June 12, 2017.

I’m calling it the Watts for Weapons program. I’m sure they’ll go along with it. Only someone who prefers killing Jews to keeping his own people alive could possibly turn it down.

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{Originally posted to the author’s website, Abu Yehuda}

Gaza’s electricity shortage has recently become critical. Gaza gets its power from Israel and Egypt, and has a small power station of its own. But due to a decision of the Palestinian Authority to further reduce the amount it pays Israel  for electricity, the 3-4 hours a day during which Gaza is illuminated will be reduced by another 45 minutes or so – unless money is found somewhere.

Hamas is threatening that there will be an “explosion” unless something is done. It is a big problem for the population, because food is not being refrigerated, sewage is not being processed, water is not being pumped, and hospitals are unable to operate. And the weather is getting hotter.

Israel presently supplies Hamas with about 125 megawatt-hours (MWh) per day, and Egypt provides a smaller amount. Gaza’s own power station is presently not operating due to lack of fuel. It’s estimated that a 24-hour supply of electricity would require 400-500 MWh per day.

Negotiations are under way (Wednesday) for Western and Arab countries to pick up some of the slack. After all, think of the children. And nobody wants an “explosion.”

But there is a solution that nobody seems to have proposed yet. Let’s begin by asking a question: why doesn’t Hamas have money for electricity? After all, it levies heavy taxes on goods coming into the strip (both legally via the crossings from Israel and illegally via tunnels from Egypt) and on almost every other form of economic activity. It got money from Qatar until recently, and has now started receiving aid from Iran again. International donors pledged large sums for reconstruction after the 2014 war, although there was very little rebuilding done. Where did the money go?

The answer is simple: some of it enriched Hamas insiders, but most of it was used to dig tunnels, to manufacture rockets and for other weapons and military infrastructure. Hamas officials were ready to see their children (well, the children of other Gaza residents) hungry and wading in sewage if it advanced their project to destroy Israel.

In effect money was converted into weapons. And that provides a way to solve the problem: we can convert it back.

For example, what if Israel agreed to provide Hamas with 2 MWh for every stockpiled Qassam rocket turned over to us? They have thousands of these, which could keep the lights on for weeks. Not to mention longer-range rockets, which would be worth more. And tunnels – I’m sure we would be happy to give them a whole day’s worth of electricity for the precise location of a terror tunnel. Just give us the coordinates and we’ll do the rest! Anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons are valuable, too. A nice shoulder-fired SAM is probably worth 10 MWh. Even rifles and mortar shells could help keep the juice flowing.

You get the idea. From Israel’s point of view, it would be far cheaper than the tamir rockets used by Iron Dome to shoot down the Qassams ($50k -$100k each!), and the amount of effort needed to find the tunnels. Hamas would get its electricity – and we would get some peace and quiet for a change.

I’m calling it the Watts for Weapons program. I’m sure they’ll go along with it. Only someone who prefers killing Jews to keeping his own people alive could possibly turn it down.

Military crisis in Qatar may spark Gaza outbreak

June 13, 2017

Military crisis in Qatar may spark Gaza outbreak, DEBKAfile, June 13, 2017

A military crisis centering on Qatar would be a catalyst for an outbreak of violence from the Gaza Strip. And indeed, after the failed Sanwar mission to Cairo and the reduction of electric power to the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesmen warned that an “explosion” was imminent.

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The electricity cutback in the Gaza Strip, engineered by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to flex muscle against Hamas rule, was just one piece on the checkerboard created by the crackdown Egypt, Saudi Arabia Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have imposed on Qatar for supporting terrorist groups like the Palestinian extremist Hamas. Therefore, Hamas leader Yahya Sanwar had little to expect from his mission to Cairo last weekend to persuade the El-Sisi government to ease its restrictions on the Gaza Strip.

He arrived at the head of a large mission, in which the group’s military arm, Ezz e-Din El-Qassam was heavily represented. Their appeals to Maj.-Gen Khaled Fawzy, director of Egyptian General Intelligence, met with a list of tough conditions. When the Palestinian delegation balked, Cairo acted to tighten its blockade on the Palestinian enclave.

The Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip found themselves in the same boat as their old friend, Qatar, in the week that their internal rival, Mahmoud Abba, docked payment for the electricity Israeli supplies the Gaza Strip. The power supply was cut by 40 percent.

From 2015, the emir of Qatar remained the only Arab ruler backing the Palestinian extremist Hamas with occasional cash donations to Gaza City and permission for its top officials to set up shop in Doha.

This flow of aid was abruptly cut off by the land, sea and air blockade Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt clamped down on Qatar last week over its support for terrorist groups and ties with Tehran. Sheikh Tamim bin-Hamad Al-Khalifa defied the ultimatum they presented him, and so Qatar’s banks and international assets have been losing dollars, its currency has plummeted and there is no money to spare for the Gaza Strip.

Qatar and Hamas are being pushed into the same corner.

The small Gulf island, which is the world’s largest supplier of natural gas, was been told by the four leading Arab governments to expel Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas officials from its soil, after years of providing them with hospitality plus pensions generous enough for them to live a life of ease and plenty, while also running their terrorist networks across the region and beyond.

Qatar was also told to discontinue its propaganda campaigns against Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and shut down its main platform, the Al Jazeera TV channel; and hundreds of Egyptian and Saudi dissidents granted political asylum deported forthwith.

With nowhere else to go, these dissidents could potentially head for sanctuary in the Gaza Strip, making it a “little Qatar,” which is why Cairo further tightened the Palestinian enclave’s isolation by blocking all routes of access.

The Hamas delegation was likewise confronted in Cairo with tough demands by the Egyptian intelligence chief:

1. To turn in the Muslim Brotherhood fugitives they were sheltering in the Gaza Strip.

2.  Not just to sever cooperation between the Hamas military arm and the Islamic State networks in the Sinai Peninsula, but to surrender to Egypt all the intelligence they possessed about the jihadists and their activities.

3.  To discontinue weapons smuggling operations through Sinai.

After balking at the Egyptian demands, Yahya Sanwar was forced to leave Cairo empty-handed with regard to eased restrictions and humanitarian aid – only to find on his return home that the Egyptians had raised their biggest gun against the Gaza Strip: They had cut off power.

A humanitarian catastrophe now hangs over the two million inhabitants of the tiny Mediterranean enclave. Hospitals are cutting back operations, refrigerators are switched off, clean water supplies are dwindling because desalination plants are without power, raw sewage is dumped into the sea and sanitary conditions deteriorating.

Cairo asked the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and the Israeli government not to relent, but to keep the pressure on the Hamas regime high. Ramallah must continue to hold back payment to cover Israel’s electricity bills, which suits Mahmoud Abbas’ campaign for bringing Hamas to heel.

But for Israel, there is a dilemma. Nonetheless, the Netanyahu government is extremely wary of breaking away from the anti-terror line taken by Arab governments, because this could put paid to the delicate ties established with them – especially in the military domain – through long and laborious effort.

In Jerusalem, it is therefore ardently hoped that the Qatar crisis is quickly resolved and Hamas and Cairo can reach terms exponentially for easing the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

For the time being, there is no sign of this happening. On the contrary, there are indications of the crisis moving onto a military plane. Sources in the Middle East are not ruling out possible military action by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE against Qatar.

Read more about this looming potential in the coming DEBKA Weekly issue (for subscribers) out next Friday, June 16. 

A military crisis centering on Qatar would be a catalyst for an outbreak of violence from the Gaza Strip. And indeed, after the failed Sanwar mission to Cairo and the reduction of electric power to the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesmen warned that an “explosion” was imminent.