Sunday, November 18, 2012

Things seem a little different this time round

I mean PR-wise in Gaza. Yes, of course, the BBC refers to retaliation when Hamas sends rockets towards Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in response to the killing of top level terrorists that, in itself, was in response to many thousands of rockets fired into Israel over the last few months and even years. Yes, of course, the usual so-called anti-Zionists or anti-Israelis appear from nowhere weeping over the plight of the Palestinians, something they never do when the said Palestinians are murdered by Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah or other Arab militias.

Nevertheless, the media seems remarkably ready to acknowledge that maybe Israel has a point and leading politicians in the West are not pretending to be balanced in their judgements. Hamas is being blamed.

I can't help wondering whether this has anything to do with the sudden realization that the Gazans, poor benighted people that they are who cannot manage without huge amounts of aid, have acquired long-distance rockets. Hmm, where could those have come from? Who is playing desperate politics in that part of the world and are Hamas, Hezbollah and the others equally desperately scrambling to retain their position both with their own people (a tough call in the circumstances) and with their patrons?

Stratfor has kept up a supply of very rational analytical pieces. I was particularly taken with this picture that shows FAJR-5 impact locations.

A piece about Iran's agenda (so who did you think I was talking about?) goes through the various ramifications with special emphasis on those long-range rockets and the possibility that Hamas had not realized that Israel has known about them for some time.
On Nov. 14, Jabari was assassinated, and Hamas had to work under the assumption that Israel would do whatever it took to launch a comprehensive military campaign to eliminate the Fajr threat. It is at this point that Hamas likely resigned to a "use it or lose it" strategy and launched Fajr rockets toward Tel Aviv, knowing that they would be targeted anyway and potentially using the threat as leverage in an eventual attempt at another truce with Israel. A strong Hamas response would also boost Hamas' credibility among Palestinians. Hamas essentially tried to make the most out of an already difficult situation and will now likely work through Egypt to try to reach a truce to avoid an Israeli ground campaign in Gaza that could further undermine its authority in the territory.
And talking of Egypt, whose new government is presiding over an unstable country, which expects some of what was demanded in that Spring, that is better life and a stronger economy, to be delivered at some point, here is an analysis of the relationship between it and Israel with some reference to Sinai where the Egyptians, too, have had problems with militants.

Then there is Hezbollah, who appear to be taking a cautious approach at the moment.
With Hezbollah uncertain how the Israeli-Hamas battle will play out, the group appears to be taking a cautious approach. Stratfor has received indication that Hezbollah has prevented radical Palestinian groups in southern Lebanese refugee camps from firing rockets into northern Israel. In addition to an increase in the number of patrols by the Lebanese army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, Hezbollah has been deploying numerous operatives in plainclothes along the border to monitor the situation. Hezbollah has also installed cameras around the Ain al Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon to monitor traffic from the camp to its outside environs. Whereas Hezbollah completely controls movement into and out of Palestinian refugee camps in the deep south, Ain al Hilweh lies completely within a Sunni neighborhood. For this reason, Hezbollah has rented a number of apartments around the camp, especially in al Ta'mir area, to keep a close watch there.
Much will depend on whether there is a ground war in Gaza and how that works out as well as on developments in Syria.

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