Observers: Hamas diplomatic stance, military strategy indicate preparations for protracted conflict

 

The Jerusalem Post on Thursday conveyed updates from top Israeli officials, including from the country's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, indicating that Hamas was continuing to rebuff Western and especially American efforts aimed at securing an immediate ceasefire to ongoing hostilities between Jerusalem and the Palestinian terror group. The outlet quoted Netanyahu explaining that Hamas has doubled down on a range of long-demanded nonstarters - from Israel lifting its legal blockade of the Gaza Strip to Egypt opening up its own border with the Hamas-controlled territory - and that the Israeli army would therefore continue implementing what has become the ground phase of Israel's Operation Protective Edge. American officials for their part took the opportunity to tell Yediot Aharonot that ongoing efforts by Secretary of State John Kerry to secure a ceasefire would not continue "for an indefinite amount," statements that the outlet read alongside public statements from top Hamas official Khaled Mashaal reiterating Hamas's demands. Meanwhile Israeli military officials issued assessments suggesting that Hamas is seeking to conserve its rockets - firing fewer rockets per day - to enable continued barrages over the course of a protracted conflict. Similar assessments regarding the periodicity of rocket attacks had been in play in the early days of Operation Protective Edge, as analysts sought to gauge the likelihood of an Israeli ground invasion. Observers pointed to the convergence of three Hamas strategies - storing its rockets in underground defensive tunnels inaccessible by air, firing them at a pace that would enable months of barrages, and aiming them at strategic targets such as airports and nuclear reactors - to paint a scenario under which a ground phase would inevitably be launched to degrade Hamas's defensive tunnel infrastructure. The activation of Hamas's offensive tunnels, through which the terror group sought to infiltrate Israel and launch mass-casualty attacks against lightly guarded Israeli civilian centers, eventually superseded that debate and triggered an almost immediate ground action.

 

Boeing this week disclosed that it had reached an agreement with Iran to provide airplane parts to the state-owned Iran Air, according to reports published Thursday citing the company’s regulatory filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Both Boeing and General Electric had earlier this year received licenses from the Treasury Department to export parts to Iran. The Wall Street Journal in its coverage noted that “[a]lthough Boeing hasn't signed a final deal on specific sales to Iran, the agreement shows that major American companies are starting to benefit from a softening of relations between Iran and the West.” Analysts have for months speculated that scaling back sanctions on Tehran would spark a “feeding frenzy” that would further erode the sanctions regime. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had in February bragged that Iran was "open for business,” despite statements from numerous Obama administration officials – including Treasury Department Under Secretary David Cohen and State Department Under Secretary Wendy Sherman – to the contrary. Former administration officials have in recent weeks blasted the White House for allowing the sanctions regime to weaken – former Obama administration non-proliferation point man  and current president of United Against Nuclear Iran Gary Samore last week called on the administration to among other things assert that “the uncertainty surrounding these nuclear negotiations makes the business climate in Iran far too risky for responsible businesses to return” and “agree on decisive sanctions that would constitute a virtual economic blockade of Iran should Iran fail to agree to an acceptable deal over the term of the extended negotiation.” Meanwhile, Iran announced Wednesday that nuclear talks between the Islamic republic and the P5+1, which were extended four months past the July 20 expiry of the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA), would resume at the beginning of September.

 

The social media network has played a sometimes controversial role in Operation Protective Edge. It has helped keep friends and family in touch following rocket attacks, but it has also been the source of false and hurtful rumors about the status of IDF soldiers. Now, groups of concerned citizens are using WhatsApp and other social-media applications to connect in benefit drives for soldiers on the front. Many official organizations help civilians in Gaza-area communities and the men and women in uniform. But the real community feeling of Israel is shining through via social media, where hundreds of regular citizens have decided to organize clothing, toys, food and just-about-anything drives for their fellow compatriots. It started with a call by some IDF soldiers for more underwear and socks via WhatsApp that went viral and even across borders. Now, almost every neighborhood has a point person collecting something for the men, women and children on the frontlines. Social media channels are used to connect them with those who want to contribute. One of the moms at my children’s school put out a call for “undershirts, socks, underwear, deodorant, liquid sanitizer and lip balm” and listed a drop-off point in the neighborhood. My colleague’s sons trek up a hill near their home to hand out homemade cakes to the soldiers stationed there. Member of Knesset Dov Lipman handed out 1,000 ice-cream cups to soldiers at the Gaza border thanks to donations from friends in the US. (via Israel21c)


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