Tuesday, April 14, 2015

14-Apr-15: From Gaza, where seldom is heard an encouraging word, a (very) cautiously optimistic note

Smoke rises (in this Getty Images photo published in The Guardian) in October 2013 from
the mouth of a smuggling tunnel dug beneath the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. "Egypt's army has destroyed many of the tunnels on the Egyptian side of Rafah", the caption reads
Here's a slightly surprising follow-on to a post we put up yesterday: "13-Apr-15: The carnage resulting from Gaza's Hamas tunnels may now be sharply reduced". 

Khaled Abu Toameh, one of the most well-informed and worthwhile news sources in the Arab parts of the Middle East, writes on the Gatestone Institute that Egypt's tough new regime of security measures and laws to strangle the massive number of tunnels running underground between the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip and Egypt is having an impact:
"The smuggling (of weapons into the Gaza Strip) has been stopped almost completely," admitted Abu Mohammed, a Palestinian arms dealer from the town Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. "Rarely does anyone manage to smuggle light weapons or ammunition." ...He complained that it has become impossible to smuggle missiles and rockets into the Gaza Strip... ["T]he cost of one bullet, which used to sell for one US dollar, had doubled in recent months. Similarly, the price of an Egyptian-made AK-47 assault rifle has risen from $900 to $1300"... Sisi has shown real guts and determination in his war to drain the swamps of terrorists. The tough measures he has taken along the border with the Gaza Strip have proven to be even more effective than Israel's military operations against the smuggling tunnels. That the Gaza Strip is facing a weapons shortage is good news not only for Israel and Egypt, but also for the Palestinians living there. It is hard to see how Hamas will rush into another military confrontation with Israel -- where Palestinians would once again pay a heavy price -- at a time when Sisi's army is working around the clock to destroy smuggling tunnels, and the prices of rifles and bullets in the Gaza Strip are skyrocketing... ["Gaza: Egypt Responsible For Weapons Shortage", Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, April 13, 2015]
A note of a less sanguine kind is sounded in a bulletin issued yesterday by MEMRI. The MEMRI mission is to render into English some of the published Arabic-language material that would otherwise go ignored in the West, and thank goodness for its work. Quoting a March 14, 2015 report on the Hamas-controlled Alqassam.ps website, the MEMRI report says the Al-Qassam Brigades, an arm of Hamas, are 
preparing for the next conflict with Israel by establishing military camps. Recently, the Al-Qassam Brigades' preparation and training division began constructing two camps, named Al-Yarmouk and Filastin, near the Israel-Gaza border. A department official said: "The brigades will continue to train, with no fear of Israel." He added, "The training is also meant to assure the residents that the resistance is in good shape, that it has not ceased operations as the occupation claims, and that it is on the frontlines to defend the people.
MEMRI quotes other Gazan sources (via Felesteen.ps, and almajd.ps) from March 8, 2015, saying 
joint training was conducted for the first time by the military wings of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (the Al-Quds Brigades) and Hamas (the Al-Qassam Brigades). The Hamas website Al-Majd explained: "The training is a deterring message to the occupation from the resistance, as well as a message of strength for the domestic Palestinian front."
Sadly, it's premature for the swords on our side of the fence to start being beaten into plough-shares.

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