Tue 10 Aug, 2010 01:17 pm
Hamas, which runs Gaza, is very active and controversal considering the small territory that it administers. Here is an interesting piece by ynetnews.com on the organization.
Hamas on killing spree in Gaza
Distressed Hamas in midst of massive hunt for collaborators, spree of executions in Strip
Alex Fishman Published: 08.09.10, 18:49 / Israel News
News stories about bodies found at sea are occasionally published by Gaza newspapers. The number of such bodies isn't huge, yet not all those drowning victims chose to go swimming voluntarily. The Gazans who found their death at sea include mid-level officials at sensitive government ministries, the Interior Ministry for example, alongside police and security officers.
Some of them were shot in the head before being sent on their swim.
There is a common denominator to these deaths: All of the victims were designated as traitors by the secret service of Hamas' military wing in charge of counter-espionage and executed as collaborators.
And these are not just simple collaborators, but rather, people who penetrated deep into Hamas' government; so deep that Hamas leaders are embarrassed to expose the failure and prefer to make these people disappear, with or without a brief court-martial.
'Kids, turn in your parents'
Gaza's streets are teeming with rumors. Stories of people who disappeared at sea or elsewhere stay on the agenda. The whole of Gaza, as if amok-stricken, takes part in the hunt. Posters urging a war on collaborators hang in the streets; the issue is discussed on the radio and during sermons at mosques. In the upcoming school year, the topic will be added to the curriculum, with Gaza children learning about the dangers inherent in collaborators. Teachers will be asked to explain what good, suspicious children do: Turn in their parents.
This huge manhunt is not a sign of strength, says a senior Israeli security official – the opposite is true. These are clear signs of distress for Hamas' regime.
The more time passes from the Turkish flotilla and easing of the blockade, the more blurred Hamas' achievements become. Despite some success stories, the list of failures is much longer: The group failed to breach the naval blockade, failed to breach the obstacle of global recognition (Hamas flirts with the Norwegians and Swiss, who make great promises without the ability to deliver,) and failed to breach the obstacle of Arab recognition. In fact, the Arab League recently permitted Mahmoud Abbas to embark on peace talks with Israel.
Indeed, Gaza residents get 30-40% more goods than they did before the flotilla and the standard of living is rising. However, they continue to live in a cage. They may have a little more food and enjoy a little more luxury, but it's still a cage. Meanwhile, the religious pressure keeps building up inside the Strip. Religious laws are becoming stricter and expand: Beardless men feel unease, while women are not allowed to smoke nargilas and must don a burqa, and so on. Gaza's streets are becoming Iran-like, to the chagrin of many Strip residents.
Old Palestinian complex
In late May, three people were publically executed after spending long months in jail and being accused of collaboration with the Shin Bet. Shortly thereafter, Hamas announced "40 days of mercy" where all collaborators were urged to turn themselves in and win a pardon. Twenty people complied with the request. During these 40 days, Hams sent thousands of text messages, urging their recipients to come clean and promising that they will be granted amnesty.
The 40 days ended on July 10th. Hamas granted the undecided another 24 hours, and immediately after that – and up until now – embarked on a major campaign of arrests and manhunts for the people blacklisted by the counter-espionage unit. This unit, which reports directly and exclusively to Ahmed Jabari and Mohammad Deif, comprises professionals who were trained not only in Syria and Iran. The Gaza "students" undergo orderly courses on espionage and counter-espionage, learning among other things about coded communication systems. For example, they are being taught about the alleged breach of Lebanese phone networks by Israel.
The manhunt for collaborators follows the lessons drawn in the wake of Operation Cast Lead. Hamas was surprised to discover how deeply it was exposed to Israel's intelligence services and decided to address the problem. Israel would do well to understand that despite what we want to think, both Hamas and Hezbollah excel at drawing lessons. For example, any cell that is nabbed and jailed by Israel undergoes a debriefing with the help of more veteran prisoners: How were we nabbed? Who screwed us over? The conclusions are disseminated once they're reached.
Collaboration with Israel or with other foreign elements is an old Palestinian complex. The number of Palestinian collaborators throughout history is immense. The sociologists within the intelligence community attribute this phenomenon to the culture of survival. The next phase in the manhunt for collaborators will be public trials, to open simultaneously to more waves of arrests
It is impossible to estimate the extent of the damage to be suffered by Israel – if at all – as result of the campaign, yet it appears that Israel contributed quite a bit to the launch of the manhunt. Following Operation Cast Lead, security officials here boasted that each IDF division commander was escorted by a Shin Bet man who provided real-time intelligence information elicited from Palestinian sources. The stories about real-time alerts regarding snipers, roadside bombs, or ambushes infuriated Hamas.
In retrospect, the Israeli boastfulness came at the expense of live agents in the field. Meanwhile, these days too, when the Air Force strikes a building and kills a terror suspect, we can assume that someone pinpointed the location and the suspect. Sometimes, technology just isn't enough.
Hamas power struggle
Meanwhile, Hamas' frustration already comes with a price: The recent rockets fired at Ashkelon and Sderot were shot by Hamas' military wing, without notifying the group's political leadership. There is no doubt that this fire aimed to destroy the calm and reignite the conflict against Israel.
Hamas' military wing, headed by Ahmed Jabari, is embroiled in a dispute over the proper struggle strategy with the political leadership, headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The political, pragmatic leadership prefers a PR struggle in the international arena. The Turkish flotilla boosted this camp considerably, but two months have passed since then and the military arm is pressing for an end to the impasse, arguing that time plays in Israel favor.
The Air Force's response to the latest rocket attacks was harsh enough to make it clear to Hamas' political branch that Israel has no interest in the stories about Haniyeh's inability to contain the military wing. The Hamas leader realizes that the response to the next rocket attack would exact an even higher price. For now it appears that the message was received and that the calm shall prevail. If it doesn't, the IDF is preparing an even more painful blow.
However, Hamas suffered a greater embarrassment following the delusional rocket attack on Eilat, which ended up killing and wounding people in Jordan's Aqaba of all places. Last time Jabari and his men carried out such attack, in April, nobody claimed responsibility. It took Egypt a few days to admit the attacks originated in its territory, and now it faces a problem: How to explain to Hamas that one does not play games with Egypt or pushes it into a corner?
The immediate slap to the face was sustained by Hamas' military leadership, which seeks ways to resume its dialogue with Egypt. Mubarak will not forgive the embarrassment he suffered, and Jabari's gamble may cost Hamas dearly.
Will the Next Intafida be From Within Israel
By KENNETH BANDLER
Building healthy Jewish-Arab relations is essential to strengthening Israel’s democratic society.
Haneen Zoabi, the firebrand Arab MK, recently warned of a third Palestinian intifada, declaring that this time the uprising will come from within Israel.
Zoabi is about 10 years late. Jewish-Arab relations hit a dangerous nadir in October 2000, when Arab citizens across the country took to the streets, some violently, in solidarity with the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza. The second intifada was launched by Yasser Arafat just weeks after he rebuffed a generous offer from prime minister Ehud Barak to resolve the conflict when they met at Camp David with US president Bill Clinton.
The sudden outpouring of rage caught the government and police off guard.
Arab citizens threw stones and Molotov cocktails, blocked roads and threatened Jews – all tactics used by Palestinians across the Green Line. Yet, it was the killing of 12 Arab citizens by police that sent shock waves throughout the country.
Recognizing the severity of the situation, and its impact on the always delicate Jewish-Arab relationship, the Barak government created the Or Commission to examine the causes of the uprising and how the government and police responded. The Or Commission report is an historical accounting of the discriminatory treatment of the Arab minority. It stressed the government should make investing in improving the conditions of Arab communities a priority.
The commission also looked at interactions between police and Arab citizens. While it suggested that the government and police improve how they handle protests, it also underscored the responsibility of Israeli Arab leaders to act and speak in ways that do not instigate violence.
To be sure, Israel still has to address more fully social and economic conditions for the Arab minority. But, importantly, there has not been a replay of the 2000 tragedy, though incidents have occurred that under other conditions could have escalated quickly.
In September 2008, on Yom Kippur, Arabs rioted in the mixed city of Acre. Community leaders and police came together to coordinate on resolving the situation. There were concerns that the rage in Acre would spread to other communities, and foreign minister Tzipi Livni was dispatched from Jerusalem to meet with Arab leaders in the city.
Later, in January 2009, some Israeli Arabs protested the IDF incursion into Gaza as Israel sought to stop Hamas’s constant rocket fire.
Although Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh voiced an expectation that Israeli Arabs would rise up, the protests did not escalate.
Most recently, Israeli Arabs protested the clash between the navy and the flotilla that attempted on May 31 to break the blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. The presence of several Israeli Arabs, notably MK Zoabi, on the Turkish vessel boarded by commandos further spurred outcry in several Arab communities.
STILL, THIS record of relative calm did not dissuade Zoabi from warning of an Israeli Arab intifada in her interview with The Guardian and in speeches to Palestinian groups during a recent visit to London.
Interestingly, that trip came soon after the Knesset stripped her of certain parliamentary privileges, punishment for her participation in the Turkish flotilla.
Zoabi’s confrontational rhetoric may appeal to the PLO or Hamas, or even Hizbullah, but most Israeli Arabs would concur that these groups do not represent their interests. Indeed, Arabs in the Galilee learned in 2006 that they are equal to Jews in the view of Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah who commanded Hizbullah to fire thousands of rockets at the North, killing Arabs and Jews alike.
Building healthy Jewish-Arab relations is essential to strengthening Israel’s democratic society.
Jews should not impulsively view all Arabs as potential enemies and, likewise, Arab citizens should not instinctively regard all police with suspicion.
In this effort nongovernmental organizations have been instrumental. With strong and trusting relationships in both the Arab and Jewish communities, the Abraham Fund, for example, has helped to design a program that every cadet attends at the police academy.
The right to protest is just as integral to Israel as to other democratic societies. But those who come out to demonstrate also have a duty to not resort to violence.
Threatening the state or encouraging insurrection, as Zoabi and her Balad party do, can only lead Israeli Arabs up exactly the blind alley that the Or Commission warned against.