Sunday, October 9

The Relative Respite from Violence in Gaza

The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and the following festivals as well as the Ramadan fasting period coincide this year. We hope that the respite from violence will continue. Hamas have given some hint of cessation of launching rockets into Shderot. While these signs may be seen with guarded optimism, it may also be a false peace. The Palestinians have shown some indication that they have had enough of Hamas violence and this may be the reason why Hamas has halted its terrorist activities, albeit temporarily. Hamas terrorism against Israel is not bringing Hamas the support that they had hoped in Palestinian street.

It is possible that the infighting amongst the various factions in Gaza could be due to the growing opposition to Hamas violence. However, it could be wishful thinking to expect that this could be the end of Hamas terror. One cannot overlook the possibility of a power struggle between the various factions. The Palestinians are tired of the corruption and bribery in government and Hamas has been exploiting this fact with marked success.

Now the limited success of Hamas with its terror tactics has not served the interests of the Palestinian people and this could begin a trend towards a loss in their popularity building up to the upcoming Palestinian elections. Their terror has resulted in Israeli Army retaliation and the loss of many lives. Israel would be making a grave mistake if it shows open support for Mahmoud Abbas in the upcoming Palestinian Elections. Hamas and their terrorist allies view Mahmoud Abbas as an Israeli and U.S. lackey. Israel should remain on the sidelines and not interfere in the Palestinian internal situation.

There have been no practical signs of disarming the terrorist militias. While Hamas remains armed, it will be very difficult for any outside power, whether it is Israel, or the Quartet to exert pressure on Mahmoud Abbas to disqualify Hamas from participating in the elections. The Palestinians may view this as interference in their internal affairs and it could weaken Mahmoud Abbas even further. There is even talk of arming the Palestinian Security Services for the purpose of restoring law and order as well as disarming the Hamas and allied militias. It remains to be seen whether this tactic will work.

The only way that Hamas could be disarmed is if the Palestinian people rise up en masse and show their opposition to an armed terrorist group taking part in the elections. The disarming of Hamas is an essential first step for them to gain legitimacy. If they become a political organization and cease terror operations then their participation in the elections should be encouraged.

Meanwhile there does seem to be a desire on the Palestinian side to maintain the momentum towards a final settlement. There are meetings between the two sides that are encouraging. As Ze'ev Schiff says, the Palestinians cannot expect the world to invest in their infra structure and improving their economic situation while Hamas and their allies remain armed and engage in terrorist activity.

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