The Weekend in the Holy Land
Gaza clashes reveal new dynamics among Israel, Hamas, Egypt, and P.A.
A couple dozen rockets and mortars. Approximately 10 Palestinian terrorists killed. One Israeli civilian slain. Only a few hours ago, in a continuation of what has been the Israeli military’s modus operandi, aircraft struck two terrorists who were preparing to launch rockets from Gaza, killing them both before they could. Prime Minister Netanyahu insisted, “There is no cease-fire” and pledged that the military would protect citizens of Israel’s south.
Haaretz’s (and, occasionally, Tablet Magazine’s) Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff explain that Islamic Jihad (and its Iranian sponsor), which rejects even temporary concessions to the Jewish state, needed to regain some prominence before Gazans forgot about it amidst Hamas’ tremendous victory in securing more than 1,000 prisoners in the Gilad Shalit trade; Hamas, in turn, must allow Jihad to do this to some extent lest it seem to have abandoned resistance totally, but also has much inducement to cut it off pretty quickly in order to make sure the second half of the Shalit deal still goes through (550 prisoners have yet to be released, as per the agreement) and to appease its new sponsor in Cairo.
Indeed, what cease-fires there fleetingly were and, eventually, will be are brokered by Egypt, which continues to use its newly strong ties with Hamas to flex its power. It was Egypt that reached out to Jihad to try to get it to stop. And it was also over the weekend that officials from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood made their first official trip to Gaza.
Contrast Hamas to the Palestinian Authority, which is run by its chief rival, Fatah. Today’s victory at UNESCO is likely to be short-lived one way or another. Despite denials, the P.A. is considering disbanding as a response to the stagnancy of the Oslo peace process, which might prove initially bold but would end up leaving it with yet less leverage. And it’s fallen to a Saudi prince to offer money to captors of Israeli soldiers: a further sign that the Shalit deal made the P.A.—and the moderate Palestinian path—appear less effective than ever.