Thursday, August 25, 2016


Power Plays In The Israel-Gaza Conflict

An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket near the Israeli city of Ashkelon on November 19.
An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket near the Israeli city of Ashkelon on November 19.

Related Articles

Video Gaza Death Toll Tops 100

Palestinian officials said more than a dozen people had been killed in fresh Israeli air strikes on Gaza as the conflict with Hamas militants was in its sixth day.
By Ron Synovitz
The conflict between Israel and Hamas is the most intense fighting in Gaza since the Arab Spring uprisings began to change the dynamics of regional politics in the Middle East. 

Middle East experts say the outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas is the result of events that have reshaped the power structures within Hamas and its relations with regional forces -- including Syria, Iran, Egypt, and Israel.

Here's a primer on some of the regional and international forces at play -- and why they matter.


The declared goal of Israel's air and naval strikes on Gaza is to stop the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from launching rockets that have targeted southern Israel for years. Israel considers its military campaign to be a legitimate response to almost daily rocket attacks from Hamas-ruled Gaza -- where Israel and Palestinian militants fought a three-week conflict in late 2008 and early 2009.

The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, says Israel has "exhibited superhuman restraint" since 2009 by not responding to more than 2,500 rocket attacks from Gaza. Israel -- along with the United States and the European Union -- has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.

According to Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Agency, Gaza militants fired more than 1,500 rockets at Israel during 2012 before Israel responded on November 14 by killing Hamas military chief Ahmed al-Jaabari in a targeted air strike. Since then, Israeli Defense Forces say some 850 rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel -- with more than 300 penetrating Israel's antimissile systems.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has argued that "if Israel were to put down its arms, there would be no more Israel. If the Arabs were to put down their arms, there would be no more war."


Hamas is seen by its supporters as a legitimate resistance movement against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza.

Created in 1987 after the start of the first intifadah against the Israeli occupation, Hamas is -- according to its charter -- committed to the destruction of Israel. Hamas officials say they can neither recognize nor accept the existence of Israel until Israel recognizes their existence.

Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections of 2006. But the victory sparked tensions with the rival Fatah faction -- the secular nationalist party of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas that controls the West Bank. In fact, the two factions have been politically and geographically divided since the tensions escalated into violence in Gaza in June 2007.

The politburo of Hamas, based almost entirely in nearby Arab countries, traditionally had been more militant than the movement's domestic political leadership in Gaza -- that is, until the Arab Spring changed the dynamics of politics in the Middle East. Since then, Hamas leaders in Gaza have increasingly argued that they are the movement's top leadership.


Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, points to the Syrian uprising as a key regional development affecting the foreign alliances of Hamas. The Hamas Politburo had close relations with Iran and Syria through its headquarters in Damascus. But writing recently in "Foreign Policy," Ibish noted that relations between Hamas and the Syrian government "completely collapsed" after Hamas registered opposition to the crackdown on dissent by President Bashar al-Assad's regime. As a result, the Hamas Politburo was forced to abandon its Damascus headquarters and its members scattered throughout the Arab world.

Palestinians try to remove the remains of a car after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on November 14.Palestinians try to remove the remains of a car after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on November 14.
Palestinians try to remove the remains of a car after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on November 14.
Palestinians try to remove the remains of a car after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on November 14.

Iran -- a key ally of Assad's regime in Syria -- also has been a key supporter of Hamas for years. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in 2010 called Hamas the true representative of the Palestinian people. That angered the rival Palestinian faction Fatah, which accused Iran of trying to divide the Palestinian people and foment strife. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Abbas said before the Arab Spring began that Hamas was being funded mainly by Iran. Ibish says the closure of the Hamas Politburo headquarters in Damascus has created "enormous strains with Iran, which is apparently supplying much less funding and material to Hamas than in the past." Nevertheless, Tehran continues to issue statements in support of Hamas. In September, Ahmadinejad said Israel was an "occupier" without roots in the Middle East and would be "eliminated." Previously, Ahmadinejad called Israel a "tumor" and said it should be wiped off the map.


In Lebanon, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah has called on Arab countries to show support for Hamas and to open their borders for Palestinian refugees trying to flee the fighting. Nasrallah has criticized Arab leaders for failing to provide more support to Palestinians in Gaza. He also said Israel is taking advantage of the Syrian civil war to wage an assault on Gaza. He said Hizballah was able to provide support to Gaza through Syria in the 2008-09 Israel-Gaza conflict. But he said that is impossible now because of the ongoing conflict in Syria.


The Gaza conflict puts Egypt's newly elected Islamist president, Muhammad Morsi, in a challenging position. Egypt needs to keep good relations with the United States in order to secure millions of dollars in military aid, as well as economic support from Saudi Arabia and institutions like the World Bank. But Morsi, a Sunni Muslim, also faces strong calls from the Egyptian people to intervene in the Gaza conflict. Morsi came to power through elections after the 2011 Egyptian uprising that ousted long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak -- one of Israel's few allies in the Middle East. Under Morsi, Egypt has pushed to secure a truce between Israelis and Palestinians.


Qatar is an ally of the United States and previously maintained some ties with Israel. But relations have deteriorated in recent years with Qatar supporting Hamas in its conflict with Israel. In October, the emir of Qatar -- Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani -- became the first head of state to visit Gaza since Hamas took over the territory's administration in 2007. As Israel's offensive against Gaza has intensified, Qatar has called for Israel to be "punished." Along with Egypt, Qatar has been a driving force within the Arab League that is pushing for a truce.


The Arab League -- led by Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby -- has backed Egypt's efforts to establish a truce between Israel and Hamas. Elaraby also has condemned "Israel's aggression" against Palestinians and pledged to "confront this aggression and break the siege," bringing an end to an Israeli economic blockade imposed on Gaza since 2007.


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also has called for an immediate truce between the Palestinians and Israel. He said Israel's economic embargo against Gaza should be "abolished in a gradual way" and that peace talks should be launched within 90 days. On November 19 he issued sharper comments, calling Israel a "terrorist state" over its Gaza assault.


The United States has blamed Hamas for the outbreak of violence in Gaza, while also saying it regrets the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians. U.S. President Barack Obama said on November 18 that Washington fully supports Israel's right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Gaza, but it is "preferable" for the Gaza crisis to be resolved without "ramping up" Israeli military activity. Obama said a series of rocket attacks on Israeli territory by Hamas was the "precipitating event" of the crisis.


The United Nations Security Council has called for a halt to violence between Hamas and Israel but has taken no action to date. While Arab envoys have called on the Security Council to condemn Israel's attacks, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice has said: "There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has issued statements expressing concern about "the worrisome escalation of violence in southern Israel and Gaza and the need to prevent any further deterioration." He also has had talks about the violence with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Egyptian President Morsi.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 20, 2012 07:49
Finally the RFE/RL managed to create a "comment" section for one of its "article" on this criminal action of Israel.
And the comment I wanted to post since the beginning of this slaughter is that: the govt of Israel has spent the last year promising to "attack Iran"; and - just as I pointed out just so many times on this forum - apparently they have enough ammunition only to TALK about attacking Iran, and not to actually do that. Thus, the only thing they actually CAN do is continue killing Palestinians.
But this time around - unlike the last time 4 years ago - it looks like they are just too afraid to send their ground troops to the Gaza Strip - which once again demonstrate that Israel, just as their bosses in Washington DC, are getting ever weaker as the regional environment gets ever more hostile to them. And this bombing campaign might be one of their last convulsions.
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
November 20, 2012 10:34
Good old Eugenia,Sharia laws were created for the likes of you,my son,pardon,daughter.
In Response

by: Sudhakar from: Japan
November 20, 2012 11:00
hey man, Israel can easily kill all palestinians in an hour, but they are not doing that.

When you guys are firing rockets on Israeli citizens, still Israel is not doing that. Assume if they also do it, do you think any one of yo u survive and see next sunrise ?

You non-sense terrorists!
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 20, 2012 15:41
To Sudhakar from Japan: First of all, Sudhakar, if I were Andrew from Auckland I would probably say that your English leaves a lot to be disred. As a matter of fact, it's difficult to understand what exactly you are trying to say, or - better said - to mumble.
Second, I am not quite sure whom exactly you mean when you say "you" - apparently, you, guys, in Japan are just as good at georgaphy as the Beavuses and happen to think that Vienna is located somewhere on the Ocupied Territories. Well, if this is the case, I can just pity you.
Third, you are saying that "Israel can easily kill all palestinians in an hour". Really? What makes you think that, Sudhakar? From what I know, the Israelis have spent more than 60 years killing those whose land they - with the help of the British - stole in the first half of the 20th century, AND YET the proportion of Jews as the percentage of the population of Israel itself is steadily diminishing...
Well, I could tell you a few more things on this subject, but the RFE/RL will definitely censor that, so I just stop here.
In Response

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
November 20, 2012 17:03
If there was someone that wanted to destroy Iran or Gaza, they would have already been destroyed. There are very few countries/societies in the world that just want to destroy and kill.

by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
November 20, 2012 12:46
The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, says Israel has "exhibited superhuman restraint" since 2009 by not responding to more than 2,500 rocket attacks from Gaza.
There is a point at which Israel can be goaded into action. The low intensity conflict cannot be allowed to continue but stopping it cannot be at the expense of lifting the embargo against Gaza. The people of Gaza knew what Hamas was before they elected them. Abbas would have been a better choise.

by: Alex from: LA
November 20, 2012 17:30
The world countries shooed do as Israel does, sell more weapons to enemies of other states, meaning in this case the Palestinians, because Israeli's Jews don't see a problem selling weapons to states that promise to use it against another country that they have problems with. They should not be crying about other doing the same thing they are. More weapons = more causalities of so called negotiation with weapons.And to comment on Sudhakar's comment, yes we know Israel has illegal nukes and they can wipe Palestian lands, but do u remember Hiroshima and the other one that US dropped on Japan, How do you feel about that? ohh wait you don't give a damn because you are not Japanese. It's ok people of the world Jew are always innocent remember Holocaust, they suffered so they allowed for 100 years to do as they please, because god said so, and their god is the best, their china made product are also the best because they are selling it. So no one out their ever think that they are the best, because Jews are the best people in the world, righteous, pay taxes to their states and not the synagogue that send that money back to Israel (those are obvious lies), laid down their lives to save Jews from Hitler (wait that only happened with American Jews, still true), and thanks to Quintin Torontino for that movie Inglorious Bastards, very good historical motion picture. Shuuu lots of sarcasm.... Keep on killing for the sake of security that was probably not even breached, was wanted so much by Natahui's government to be attacked so they can put to use those exercises they had up until now. Keep on dropping bombs Israel, after all you will ensure your own destruction through your own action, just like it has happen over and over in your history.' DON"T MAKE PEACE ANNEX ENOUGH LAND BEFORE YOU MAKE PEACE.' That's Israeli gov't motto. ohh ya god promised that land don't forget that Muslim Palestinians, GOD PROMISED AND GAVE YOUR (Palestinian) LAND AWAY. I'm not saying all those lands are for Jews or Palestinians, It's theirs both (one by native(ness) and one through religion and being there for thousand of years) and it should not be separate, one secular state ruled by Christians, Jews, Muslim and others. That country was everyone through out history and it should remain that way, or else we see what happens when only one of those is in control, WAR WAR WAR!!!!
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
November 21, 2012 10:45
Alex is saying: "Israel has illegal nukes and they can wipe Palestian lands". Alex, are you ok? Are you familiar with the fact that a nuclear bomb - once it explodes - has the tendency of spreading radioactive particles to the distances ranging up to several hundred kilometers from the epicenter of the explosion? I mean, if the Israelis used a nuclear bomb against the population of the Gaza Strip, this radiactive contamination would wipe themselves from the surface of the Earth within hours.
Cheers from Vienna, Alex, and please be careful with explosives should you come across any :-)).

by: Ben
November 21, 2012 20:17
When "the window of truth" for Israel-Muslims conflict opens( by the political wind blow ) some obedient Jew will explain the simple facts to the handful of RFERL`s Israel-haters,so funny!

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
November 22, 2012 02:40
.Who are these "wise men" who give the names for some events in the world.?
Arab spring-)))))
It's something the sort of mockery of common sense.
The word -spring, must be understood as killing, bombing, looting and anarchy-))))))
Why not Arabic mess?-what is really going on today in the Arab world...


Palestinians run out of rockets, and the number one goal for them is to restock missile and start fire into Israel as soon as possible...

cease-fire means temporary ceasefire....

Most Popular

Editor's Picks