Sunday, July 06, 2014

6-Jul-14: For Hamas, Fatah and the PA, those rockets are about money, power, foreign aid and (naturally) corruption

A shared concern: Khaled Mashaal of Hamas;
Mahmoud Abbas of PA [Image Source: AP]
It was reported Thursday night that Israel had issued an ultimatum to Hamas in Gaza to halt the rocket fire or face a massive Israeli strike. The rockets have continued. Here's a Saturday night overview.
  • The rocket-men of Gaza have been pressing their attacks further and further into Israel today, aiming at Be'er Sheva for the first time since November 2012's Operation Pillar of Defense. At that time, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem all absorbed Hamas rockets. In the course of eight days of fighting, the IDF carried out some 1,500 airstrikes against terrorist targets. Six Israelis and 167 Palestinians were killed.
  • There were three rocket attacks on the southern desert city tonight (Saturday evening). One incoming rocket was intercepted in mid-flight by the IDF's Iron Dome defense system. Two others crashed and exploded in open fields with no reports of casualties. Beersheba has a population of 200,000. 
  • Times of Israel says shortly after Be'er Sheva was attacked, five additional rockets were fired towards the Hof Ashkelon and Eshkol regions. Three were intercepted by Iron Dome; two crashed and exploded in open areas. 
  • Ofakim (population 25,000) also came under rocket fire in another barrage today.
  • By nightfall, the tally of rockets and mortar shells was at least 20 and possibly higher. That's also how many were fired at Israel during Friday.
  • Times of Israel says: "With the attack on Beersheba, Israeli patience could now be wearing thin."
  • Meanwhile a Hamas statement late tonight ["Hamas boasts that all Israeli cities are within its reach"] makes their public posture quite plain.
What's behind the Gaza rockets? According to Avi Issacharoff, who writes for Times of Israel today and has commented for several other media channels, it's about power and cash ["For Hamas, it’s all about the money", posted Saturday night July 5]. He quotes sources in Gaza who say the ongoing rocket fire from Gaza keeps happening because Hamas is seeking to achieve a public relations victory in the eyes of its Gazan public. They prefer to sidestep a larger conflict but they need to be seen as being unafraid of an escalation.

So where's the power? And what's happened to the cash?
  • Hamas has threatened the PA that if the salaries of about 40,000 Hamas government employees, (essentially doing nothing for years already but being paid off nonetheless via foreign aid sources) are not paid by next Sunday, it will step back into the government offices in Hamas and take back control.
  • Fatah and Hamas have been in a confrontation on this money issue since they created a so-called national unity government in April.
  • The PA's president Mahmoud Abbas and his insiders have been saying for some weeks that the "reconciliation" agreement requires that a committee must decide on who gets to continue to be paid by the PA government from its foreign aid sources and who not. Those decisions have not yet been made. Much depends on this.
  • The perpetually-broke PA is of course unable to make the payment itself. But no problem: Qatar says it will provide the money. However this is currently easier said than done, as Issacharoff writes: "Banks refuse to transfer the money to Hamas members’ accounts because of international laws restricting aid to terrorist groups, and Egypt refuses to let Qatar transfer cash overland into the Gaza Strip. Abbas, for his part, is not prepared to pay the salaries, and certainly not after the kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teens last month... Perhaps then Hamas feels it’s better to create tension with Israel (not a full-scale escalation) in a bid to increase pressure on Egypt to permit the transfer of funds or salaries to the Gaza Strip."
  • The article closes with a quote from an anonymous senior terrorist from Hamas, saying “Those who expect Hamas to stop the rocket fire... should turn to (Palestinian Authority Prime Minister) Rami Hamdallah”. Message: This is really all about those salary payments.
Arguments among Palestinian Arab factions over cash and the payment of salaries to people who don't have to show up to work and who plainly have nothing to do and are not expected to do it are a constant in this ongoing war. The 2013 report of the European Union's Court of Auditors referred to it and got almost no attention. The Issacharoff article will probably get the same treatment. This is not what the mainstream news media want us to be thinking about Arab/Israel conflict.

Some of our earlier posts about the toxic role played by corruption and money in perpetuating the rocket-fire and other forms of Palestinian Arab terror:

No comments: