Foreign Minister Liberman’s new diplomatic offensive couldn’t have come soon enough. As European countries line up to unilaterally recognise a state of Palestine Israel is being given the cold shoulder. Sitting hostilely on the sidelines isn’t the way forward, particularly when Hamas represents the far graver threat.
Since the end of hostilities with Hamas there have been several incidents of rocket fire emanating from the Gaza Strip. Just the other day a Bedouin soldier was put in hospital from gunfire emanating from the Strip. Israeli retaliatory measures included bombing a cement factory from the air.
Does anyone really believe that because the IDF attacked a cement factory there will be no more shooting attacks from the Gaza Strip? Putting an end to the threat posed by Hamas requires far greater moves than tit for tat posturing. The Times of Israel reports;
“After the Friday exchange, Hamas reportedly informed Israel that it was not interested in an escalation in the Gaza Strip, and would crack down on the Palestinians who fired the rocket.”
Of course Hamas aren’t interested in getting into an exchange with Israel right now. By the same token I don’t doubt that the only reason is because of their wish to rebuild and re-equip. So just a few months after the end of hostilities we already find ourselves returning to the very same routine that has existed between Hamas and Israel since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Fire from one side resulting in return fire from the other with the length and ferocity of volleys leading to open conflict.
But time isn’t on Israel’s side. Though tactically weakened by the events of the Summer Hamas are strategically stronger than they have ever been. Their alliance with Turkey has provided them with a safe haven from Israel with which to plan attacks on Israelis with impunity.
Nothing symbolises this alliance more than Khaled Mashaal’s surprise visit to Turkey on Saturday. The leader of the terror organisation was feted by both President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu like a hero. Thousands of Turks interrupted his speech with cheers of “down with Israel!” Judging from the warmth of the reception received by Mashaal it would hardly be surprising if Hamas was to receive support from Turkey in the form of funds, training and weapons.
Not good news for Israelis hoping for a quiet life.
Thus far most Hamas attempts at terror in the West Bank have failed. The Shin Bet have proven to be up to the challenge of finding and rooting out terrorists there on a day to day level. Israel has officially complained to NATO about Turkey’s decision to host Hamas.
Writing in Al Monitor Adnan Abu Amer reports that Hamas is on high alert in Turkey, fearing that the Mossad will start assassinating their operatives across the Middle East. Hamas members have been assassinated in the past. Perhaps the most public of them was Mahmoud al-Mahbouh in January 2010 in Dubai. The killing was largely attributed to Israel though Israel has not claimed responsibility.
On the one hand while the Palestinian Authority is pushing for diplomatic recognition as a state by the UN (with a great deal of success) Hamas remains plotting terror attacks in the West Bank and re-building its capacity in the Gaza Strip.
At some point Jerusalem is going to have to decide whether it’s worth the diplomatic price that is being for the decision not to resume negotiations with the PA while also complaining to the world about Hamas. There is room for a diplomatic quid pro quo here. Israel can leverage negotiations with the PA against diplomatic support for tougher steps against Hamas. Were it to do so it would likely find the United States more willing to put pressure on Turkey regarding its open partnership with the terror organisation.
It’s imperative that Israel prevents the same spiral of violence that leads Israel back to war. Although weakened tactically after each round the terrorist group returns stronger, having learned the lessons of the previous round of fighting. While the IDF learns battlefield lessons Israeli governments are failing time and again to produce an effective strategy.
While Israel suffers from the fallout around the world from operations that result in the deaths of civilians, deaths Hamas has become all too expert at cynically using to its own advantage. It’s time for Jerusalem to launch a diplomatic offensive against Hamas in the only way possible, by embracing the PA and isolating Hamas on the world stage.