Tag Archives: Hamas

Hamas & Israel: truce or another hot summer?

28 Jun

Hamas & Israel: truce or another hot summer?

The author explains that all indications on the ground, despite the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip, suggest that Hamas and Israel are heading in the direction of reaching a long-term truce agreement.

photo17By Dr. Adnan Abuamer, specialist in Israeli Affairs, political analyst, & Professor at Al Ommah University, Gaza[1] [Photo: Kia Ora Gaza]

The ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, reached in August 2014 after 50-day war, has maintained a relative calm. No major breaches were recorded by both sides, except for exchanging fire between Israel and Salafi groups in Gaza. Despite this, Hamas’ military wing is taking unprecedented steps in the confrontation with Israel, since the beginning of 2015.

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Abbas calls for Arab military intervention against Hamas

1 Apr

A handout picture made available by the Egyptian presidency shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L) welcoming Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas upon the latter's arrival in Red Sea resort of Sharm El-SheikhAbdulfattah al-Sisi, the general who led the military coup against Egypt’s elected president in 2013, welcomes the Palestinian Authority’s de facto leader Mahmoud Abbas to Sharm al-Sheikh, 27 March. (Thaer Ganaim / Maan Images)

Mahmoud Abbas calls for Arab military intervention against Hamas in Gaza

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 30 March 2015.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas issued a thinly veiled call for an Arab military intervention to overthrow Hamas in Gaza, along the lines of the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen.

But the kind of intervention Abbas may be setting the stage for would likely consist of ground troops rather than airstrikes.

Abbas made the suggestion at the Arab League summit hosted by the Egyptian military regime in the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh on Saturday.

Abbas’ speech indicates that a similar call by his religious affairs advisor in a Friday sermon in Ramallah represented official PA policy, and not the views of a maverick. Hamas has condemned the PA leader’s statements.

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Egyptian court declares Hamas a ‘terrorist’ group

2 Mar

3f06ea27f1a34c029d60e0712438be66_18A recent mass rally in Gaza in support of Hamas

Al Jazeera report 28 February 2015.

Palestinian organisation accused of aiding armed groups who have waged string of deadly attacks in Egypt’s Sinai region.

Egypt is now the fourth country to declare Hamas as a “terrorist” organisation, following Israel, the US and Canada.

An Egyptian court has branded Hamas a “terrorist” organisation, weeks after the Palestinian movement’s armed wing was given the same designation.

A judicial source told AFP news agency that the court issued the verdict on Saturday, a ruling seen as keeping with a systematic crackdown on Islamist groups by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The verdict resulted from two separate private suits filed by two lawyers against the de facto rulers of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri denounced the court ruling. “The Egyptian court decision…is shocking, critical and targets the Palestinian people and Palestinian resistance forces,” he said.

Palestinians in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza held a demonstration on Saturday in protest of the Egyptian court’s decision.

Mustafa Barghouti, an independent senior Palestinian official, told Al Jazeera that the verdict “is a very unwise decision” that carries political complications.

“Hamas is part of the Palestinian national unity movement, and this decision is not useful,” Barghouti said.

String of attacks

Saturday’s ruling comes just days after Egypt adopted a new anti-terrorism law allowing the authorities to close the premises of any declared “terrorist” organisation, and to freeze its assets as well as those of its members.

The relationship between Egypt’s authorities and Hamas has soured since the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt also banned after the military coup in 2013.

Since then, Egyptian authorities have accused Hamas of aiding armed groups, who have waged a string of deadly attacks on security forces in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

In January, an Egyptian court also declared Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigades a “terrorist” group.

The case was based on allegations that al-Qassam staged attacks to support the Muslim Brotherhood, and carried out deadly operations in the Sinai Peninsula in October 2014, allegations that the group denied.

Armed groups in Sinai have killed scores of policemen and soldiers since Morsi’s overthrow, vowing revenge for a crackdown on his supporters that has left more than 1,400 people dead. Most of the attacks however have been claimed by the armed group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

 

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

 

‘Everyone has forgotten us’

26 Feb

 

Report by Lyse Doucet, Gaza city, BBC, 25 February 2015

Gaza resident: ‘Everyone has forgotten us’

During the last conflict with Israel, more than 2,000 Gazans were killed and 18,000 Gazan homes destroyed.
Six months after a ceasefire was declared between the Israeli military and Hamas tens of thousands of people still have no shelter and lack essential infrastructure such as electricity and water.
In October last year, international donors pledged billions of dollars for the reconstruction of Gaza, but little of the money has arrived.
Some express concern that the money will be used by Hamas to rearm and to rebuild tunnels.
Lyse Doucet spoke to people in Shejaiya, a neighbourhood of Gaza City, about their struggle to survive.

Israel angry with EU removal of Hamas from terror list

19 Dec

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‘If someone thinks that sacrificing Israel will save Europe, they are wrong. Israel is strong and knows how to defend itself against those who seek its harm. The Europeans themselves will be the ones to suffer from the strengthening of terrorist organisations like Hamas’ – File Photo

Middle East Monitor report, 18 December 2014

Israel responded angrily to a European Union court’s decision yesterday to remove Hamas from a list of terrorist organisations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the court’s decision saying that Israel was “not satisfied” with the explanations the EU gave that Hamas’s removal is only a technical matter.

He added: “The burden of proof is on the EU and we expect them to immediately return Hamas to the list where everyone realises it should be.”

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Gaza: Waiting for the cement

17 Oct

20141018_map504 Palestinians have little faith that Gaza will be rebuilt anytime soon

The Economist report, Gaza City, 16 October 2014

EVERY day merchants troop to the second floor of a Palestinian government office in Gaza City to scour the board that lists what goods Israel has approved—and rejected—for import into Gaza. A Palestinian official says the number of refusals has soared, despite the need to rebuild Gaza after the 50-day war between Hamas and Israel this summer. Similarly glum expressions meet the foreign dignitaries who trudge through Gaza’s rubble promising vast sums of aid, including $5.4 billion pledged at a conference in Cairo on October 12th. Much of the money comes from rehashed earlier pledges—“$2 billion might be a more accurate figure,” says a Western official. And the belligerents, Israel and Hamas, have yet to agree a final settlement.

Heavily populated by refugees, and always poorer than the other portion of occupied Palestine in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip has suffered grievously through the two decades of turmoil, closure and war that followed the 1993 Oslo peace accords. In the latest war, swathes of Gaza were destroyed by Israeli bombardment and some 100,000 people were rendered homeless.

To speed up reconstruction, donors are trying to find ways to sidestep the many political obstacles. The UN has agreed to monitor imported cement by carrying out spot checks in Gaza, responding to Israeli fears that Hamas could nab it to build more cross-border tunnels through which to attack Israel. The first shipment entered on October 14th and soon donkeys were hauling carts piled high with cement bags. These might enable some people to plug holes in their houses caused by artillery shells. But those whose homes were entirely demolished will have to wait longer. Egypt’s leader, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who hosted the conference, is refusing to open his country’s border with Gaza to allow in construction materials, even those approved before the war. At the current rate, says Jan Egeland, a former Norwegian foreign official who now heads the Norwegian Refugee Council, an aid agency, it will take half a century to meet the housing shortage left by the most recent war, the backlog from previous conflicts and soaring population growth.

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Analysis: Donors threaten to withhold Gaza aid

9 Oct

download.aspxDonations are desperately needed to rebuild Gaza. Photo: Shareef Sarhan/UNRWA

An analysis published in IRIN – the news service of UNOCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs , Jerusalem/Dubai, 7 October 2014 

Days ahead of a key meeting in Cairo on rebuilding Gaza in the wake of last summer’s bombardment by Israel, the prospect of forking out more millions has left international donors with a frustrating sense of  déjà vu: they were in the same position in 2009 and 2012. This time, there’s a real risk their funding will be meager in the absence of real commitments from both Israel and the main Palestinian factions. 

With the two sides seemingly unwilling to budge on key issues, pledges at the 12 October conference in Cairo – to be attended by key figures including US Secretary of State John Kerry – could fall far short of the estimated US$4-5 billion needed to rebuild.

Western diplomats said they would be reluctant to invest new money without fresh impetus in negotiations. “Without a [political breakthrough] I think we’ll probably end up giving [at Cairo] but it will be repackaging the assistance that we already give. In reality none of it will be new money,” a senior European official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IRIN. “There isn’t a terrible amount of political commitment or hope.”

 Johan Schaar, the head of Development Cooperation at Sweden’s Consulate General in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said that Western donors were facing an accountability issue if new projects are funded without guarantees that Israel will not bomb Gaza again. Little support would be pledged, he said, without faith in a lasting peace. “No one can expect us to go back to our taxpayers for a third time to ask for contributions to reconstruction and then we simply go back to where we were before all this began. That is out of the question.”

Loosening the blockade

 UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, estimates that at least 60,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in Israel’s aerial bombardment of Gaza, with 20,000 completely uninhabitable. Some 110,000 Gazans, mostly children, are now homeless, while a new document prepared by the Palestinian government in Ramallah estimates reconstruction costs at $4-5 billion. 

 Among the key infrastructure destroyed were dozens of projects funded by international donors – Israeli air strikes hit UNRWA schools seven times. One bridge in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun is believed to have been built with international aid and destroyed four times over in recent conflicts. The Strip’s electricity grid, hospitals and clinics all need to be assembled yet again.

If the current peace is to be more than a stopgap in the fighting in Gaza, both experts and donors argue that the key issue is Israel and Egypt’s restrictions on access to the enclave. The two countries maintain a crippling economic blockade that they argue is necessary to prevent goods falling into the hands of Hamas – the armed Palestinian faction that has controlled Gaza since 2007 but is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and many Western countries. Among the “dual-use” goods that Israel restricts are fertilizers, cement and steel cables – all crucial for any rebuilding effort. 

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Gaza still waiting for help to rise from the rubble

2 Oct

iMtkLvZa7_usBuildings destroyed by IDF airstrikes in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza.

By Saud Abu Ramadan and Jonathan Ferziger, businessweek.com 1 October, 2014

A mountain of concrete rubble and twisted girders blocks the downtown intersection where Israeli F-16 fighter jets struck Gaza City a month ago, toppling the 13-story Al-Basha office tower.

Across town, Mosa Abuaser’s family sleeps in a dusty white tent planted amid the wreckage of their three-story home in the Shuja’iya neighborhood that was pummeled during some of the heaviest fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants. The father of five is scavenging supplies to build a makeshift structure that will allow his family to leave the tent.

“We’re sick of sleeping in the street,” he said.

Palestinians are seeking $4 billion in aid to rebuild Gaza after 50 days of military conflict, the deadliest of three wars with Israel since 2008. The enormity of the devastation and the loss of a smuggling route from Egypt are putting pressure on Hamas to cede some control to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, something it resisted for seven years, as a necessary step for international aid to reach Gaza.

Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah group signed an agreement in Cairo on Sept. 25 to allow their unity government to operate in the Gaza Strip. The partnership between the two groups, which fought each other in Gaza in 2007, should be fully functional by an Oct. 12 donors conference in Cairo, Fatah said.

“Hamas had to back down because there was no way that Gaza would get the money needed for rebuilding if they remained in charge, and people were absolutely furious about the extent of the destruction,” Mukhemer Abu Sada, an Al-Azhar University political scientist in Gaza City, said in an interview.

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Palestinians face crunch talks in Cairo

22 Sep

Gaza metal

With details about the new reconstruction deal still pending, every piece of scrap metal is deemed precious in Gaza

by Nasser Abu Bakr, Middle East Eye, 22 September 2014.

Expectations are low ahead of fresh round of peace talks set to continue in Cairo on Wednesday

The Palestinians launch an intensive diplomatic campaign on three fronts this week: tackling internal divisions, resuming truce talks with Israel and making a fresh appeal to the United Nations. 

Most of the diplomatic activity will take place in Cairo where representatives of the Hamas and Fatah factions are to gather on Tuesday to address issues blocking the implementation of a reconciliation deal, which was inked in April but is now threatening to collapse. 

A day later, a cross-party Palestinian delegation, including Fatah and Hamas, is expected to present a united front in talks with Israel aimed at cementing a ceasefire that took effect on 26 August, ending 50 days of fighting in Gaza.

But in order to negotiate with Israel, internal Palestinian divisions must be put aside and the two sides must agree upon a “unified strategy,” officials say. 

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Noam Chomsky: Ceasefires in which violations never cease

10 Sep

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A Palestinian girl surveys what is left of her home in Shejaiya neighbourhood, Gaza city, following the latest ceasefire.

Noam Chomsky, Middle East Eye, Tuesday 9 September 2014

What’s Next for Israel, Hamas, and Gaza?

On 26 August, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) both accepted a ceasefire agreement after a 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza that left 2,100 Palestinians dead and vast landscapes of destruction behind. The agreement calls for an end to military action by both Israel and Hamas, as well as an easing of the Israeli siege that has strangled Gaza for many years.

This is, however, just the most recent of a series of ceasefire agreements reached after each of Israel’s periodic escalations of its unremitting assault on Gaza.

Throughout this period, the terms of these agreements remain essentially the same. The regular pattern is for Israel, then, to disregard whatever agreement is in place, while Hamas observes it – as Israel has officially recognised – until a sharp increase in Israeli violence elicits a Hamas response, followed by even fiercer brutality. These escalations, which amount to shooting fish in a pond, are called “mowing the lawn” in Israeli parlance.

The most recent was more accurately described as “removing the topsoil” by a senior US military officer, appalled by the practices of the self-described “most moral army in the world.”

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Uncut Chronicles: Blood & Tears – Gaza August 2014

5 Sep

 

RT documentary, 2 September 2014

Israel and Gaza’s ruling Hamas agreed to an open-ended ceasefire on 26 August after seven weeks of fighting – an uneasy deal that halted the Protective Edge operation, with more than 2,200 killed.


No hope for lasting ceasefire

4 Sep

Gaza-AA-2A Palestinian boy stares at the debris of destroyed buildings as Palestinians start to return their homes during ceasefire in al-Shaaf neighborhood Gaza City, Gaza on August 31, 2014 (AA)

Skirting round the biggest issues with vague wording, the latest Gaza ceasefire agreement simply sows the seed for future conflict

Sharif Nashashibi, Opinion, Middle East Eye, 1 September 2014

Jubilation over the Gaza ceasefire is likely to be short-lived, judging by the deal’s content, as well as actions and statements since it was agreed. An analysis of its terms reveals the repetition of flaws that doomed previous truces: vague wording, and the postponement of talks on the fundamental issues.

Perhaps these flaws are what led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say following the deal that he “didn’t agree to accept any of Hamas’ demands”. As such, it is puzzling that the Palestinian faction and its allies are celebrating the ceasefire agreement as a victory.

There is no mention of Egypt or Israel ending their blockades, by far the most important Palestinian demand regarding Gaza. Both countries will reportedly open border crossings, but not all of them. That suggests only an easing of the blockades, the extent of which remains unclear. Given their past restrictions and their hostility towards Hamas, it may well be limited, with any easing – no matter how small – portrayed as a major concession.

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‘Israel staged the alleged Hamas ceasefire breach’

25 Aug

new-attacks-on-gaza-2014-3

 Former Israeli Attorney General: Our government staged the alleged Hamas ceasefire breach last week, to create the conditions for the assassination of the Palestinian resistance leader Muhammad Al-Daif

Middle East Monitor report, 24 August 2014

In the biggest blow to Israeli propaganda, which claimed that Hamas broke the ceasefire [last week], former Israeli Attorney General Michael Ben Yair has said that “it was Israel who staged the alleged Hamas breach of the ceasefire in order to create the conditions for assassinating Muhammad Al-Daif, Commander-in-Chief of Hamas’s military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades.

The website of Makor Rishon newspaper said that Ben Yair, who also worked as a judge in the Israeli supreme court, tweeted on his twitter account the following: “There is no agreement and hostilities have been renewed, but who is the culprit? Hamas who wants an agreement with accomplishments or Israel who staged the breach of the ceasefire in order to justify the assassination of Muhammad Al-Daif?”

The significance of this testimony lies in the fact that Ben Yair, by virtue of his former position, had knowledge of the fine details of the secret Zionist intelligence work. He conducted investigations into the various aspects of the activities carried out by Israel’s Security Agency, the Shabak, which is responsible for intelligence about resistance leaders named for liquidation.

Ben Yair’s testimony is also significant because it comes in the wake of the adoption by Europe and the United States of America of the Israeli narrative as a result of which they held Hamas responsible for breaching the ceasefire.

It is worth mentioning that the Israeli government’s judicial advisor is also in charge of prosecution in the country.

Ben Yair is considered to be a serious person who is highly respectable within Israel, thanks to his revolutionary decisions during the time when he was in office. It is worth noting that Ha’aretz military commentator Amir Oren alluded in an article he published last Wednesday that there were indications that Israel had an interest in the collapse of the ceasefire so as to justify liquidating Al-Daif after receiving intelligence about his whereabouts.

Oren ruled out the possibility that Hamas was the one who violated the ceasefire, noting that what Israel was in need of was a context that justifies the assassination of Al-Daif after receiving valuable intelligence about his whereabouts.

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