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Old 01-09-2010   #261
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Smile Insight awaited

Rex,

I look forward to your insight into wider matters than drill in the Gaza Strip upon your return. Aside from the continuing low intensity conflict along the border, with Israeli air strikes on tunnels and lately Egyptian actions too on hindering tunnels - there is very little media coverage.

Just read SWJ Daily News Summary and the last item is on Gaza: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-a...,3690866.story
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Old 01-09-2010   #262
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Default random reflections from Gaza

The overwhelming impression (on a short and rather limited visit) is a profound sense of dysfunctional stasis.

The economy is in tatters. Only a handful of goods (about 3 dozen) are allowed in by Israel, under strictly limited conditions. Almost everything else—car parts, shoes, cigarettes, livestock, chocolate bars, stationary, bathroom fittings, you name it, for 1.5 million people—comes in through the tunnels. The tunnels, coupled with UN emergency relief, prevents serious malnutrition, effectively providing a sort of safety net for what is in effect a massive case of collective punishment.

As for Hamas, it is certainly deterred from attacking Israel, but is firmly entrenched in power. It does face lively internal debates between Islamist softliners (who believe that Gazans should be largely free to choose more religious or secular lifestyles as a matter of personal choice) and hardliners (who believe that, having won power, the movement should now use that power to assertively transform society). It certainly isn't Iran or Saudi Arabia (yet).

Hamas militants chafe at Israeli deterrent threats, but the movement also feels it has a strong hand in negotiations for the release of prisoners/Shalit.

There are some dangers of the movement being corrupted by the attractions of wealth and power, but to date I've seen little evidence that this has happened in a major way, and certainly not on the scale that it once afflicted Fateh here.

There are also small groups of al-Qaida wannabes, and the danger that disaffected Hamas elements, unhappy with the movement's lack of Islamist radicalism, will join hardline jihadist splinters. On the other hand, Hamas clearly views this as a threat, and responds to the danger with quite forceful suppression of such groups. For much the same reason, we also have a little contingent of Hamas guards outside where I'm staying.

Finally, having come here for years, I am struck by the strikingly inverse correlation between the sophistication of the Israeli side of the Erez crossing point and the state of the "peace process." In the mid-1990s, not long after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority and when political optimism was high, there was almost no crossing at all. (Indeed, my confused taxi driver once turned into an IDF military post by mistake, surprising several sleepy sentries who compensated by pointing rifles at us and shouting in alarm). As the peace process encountered difficulties, a trailer-like portacabin was installed... then, as things grew worse, a few potted plants and signposts. Then it became a slightly larger (but still temporary-looking) structure, at a time when it was becoming harder and harder to enter and exit. Now, it is something akin to a glassy airport terminal.. except that it stands almost empty, since almost no one can use it.

This time, while I was waiting for my preclearance to be cleared (the Israeli end can also be a testament to universality of bureaucracy), I noticed that the handle of the border police officer's exit stamp itself was adorned with a Winnie-the-Pooh sticker. Far from being out of place, this somehow seemed as appropriate as any other recent analysis I knew of the peace process. To quote E. E. Milne:

"I don't see much sense in that," said Rabbit.

"No," said Pooh humbly, "there isn't. But there was going to be when I began it. It's just that something happened to it along the way."
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Old 01-28-2010   #263
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Berghof Center, 27 Jan 09: Mediating Identity Conflicts: Potential and Challenges of Engaging with Hamas
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....this paper offers some astute insights into the dynamics of one of the most protracted conflicts of the past century, namely the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, from the specific perspective of its most controversial, but also most crucial stakeholder, whose voice is very often excluded or demonised, that of the Hamas movement. Through her so-called “scenario interviews” with several Hamas members in Syria, the author offers some valuable clues into the movement’s understanding of resistance, identity, radicalism, but also its readiness to accept third-party mediation efforts in order to explore possible resolution options. Most crucially, it shows that while demands for de-radicalisation as a pre-condition to talks can be futile and counter-productive, engaging with Hamas through the toolbox of mediation might well turn out to be the most effective strategy to encourage its path towards strategic moderation....
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Old 01-28-2010   #264
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I'm not opposed to engaging Hamas, actually—I think there is significant evidence that a portion of both its cadres and supporters would accept a two state peace agreement with Israel, and I think that's a trend that should be encouraged. It is also clear that current policies of complete isolation aren't helping much.

That being said, this paper seems to focus on mediation for mediation's sake, and says strikingly little about who exactly would be targeted for what purposes. It not only says little about mediation and negotiation theory, but it also fails completely to contextualize Hamas, or its current political position. Most strikingly, it seems to ignore a decade of detailed attitudinal survey data from the West Bank and Gaza on what Hamas supporters think, what issues are important for them, attitudes to violence and Israel, etc.
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Old 01-28-2010   #265
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
That being said, this paper seems to focus on mediation for mediation's sake, and says strikingly little about who exactly would be targeted for what purposes. It not only says little about mediation and negotiation theory, but it also fails completely to contextualize Hamas, or its current political position. Most strikingly, it seems to ignore a decade of detailed attitudinal survey data from the West Bank and Gaza on what Hamas supporters think, what issues are important for them, attitudes to violence and Israel, etc.
I concur.
I also wonder who the paper is aimed at?
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Old 03-15-2010   #266
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Default Heavy reading

The Israeli think tank on terrorism Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center have released a large (10 Mb), 300 pg. plus report 'Hamas and the Terrorist Threat from the Gaza Strip', which is a response to the Goldstone Report.

Link: http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/site/home/default.asp
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Old 06-16-2010   #267
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Default entertaining games vs Islamist indoctrination

And it would appear that, again this year, the UN's "summer camps of debauchery" are proving much more popular than Hamas' own summer camps (to the latter's annoyance):

Hamas, UNRWA compete over entertaining Gaza children
Xinhua
12:13, June 16, 2010

Quote:
Mohamed Atallah, a teacher and one of the mentors in a major summer camp run by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) on Gaza beachside insisted that mentors are not teaching school children any politics, but only entertaining them.

On Sunday, UNRWA inaugurated its own summer camps in the Gaza Strip to entertain refugees' schoolchildren. Streets of Gaza City saw UNRWA vehicles and hundreds of UNRWA children holding summer camps flame.

UNRWA summer camps were inaugurated a day before Gaza-ruling Islamic Hamas movement started its own camps. Hamas said in a banner that its camps "are religious and cultural and not summer camps of debauchery," in reference to UNRWA camps.

"Here, it's not allowed to think or talk about politics, we differ from other summer camps run by other organizations," Atallah said, adding "we are not linked to any political group, but we try our best to help the children to get out of the horrible situation they had passed over the past several years."

Attallah was speaking to Xinhua as dozens of UN blue flags, placed on top of a huge square blue tent, were fluttering, and hundreds of Gaza refugees' schoolchildren were enjoying a good time on the white-sand beach.

...
Last year the kids at the UNRWA Gaza summer camps set the world record for the most kites flown simultaneously. This year they're trying for the world record for the most basketballs bounced at once. Clever stuff by some very dedicated UN staff, for some kids who could certainly do with the chance to enjoy themselves.
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Old 03-25-2011   #268
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ICG, 24 Mar 11: Gaza: The Next Israeli-Palestinian War?
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Will the next Middle East conflagration involve Israelis and Palestinians? After the serious escalation of the past week in which eight Gazans, including children, were killed in a single day, and the 23 March 2011 bombing in Jerusalem, that took the life of one and wounded dozens, there is real reason to worry. The sharp deterioration on this front is not directly related, nor is it in any way similar to the events that have engulfed the Middle East and North Africa. But the overall context of instability and uncertainty undoubtedly has made a volatile situation even more so. Israelis’ anxiety is rising and with it the fear that outside parties might seek to provoke hostilities to divert attention from domestic problems and shift the focus back to Israel. Hamas has been emboldened by regional events and is therefore less likely to back down from a challenge. The combination, as recent days have shown, has proven combustible....
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Old 03-29-2011   #269
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ICG, 29 Mar 11: Radical Islam in Gaza
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The recent Israel-Hamas escalation returns a spotlight to Gaza and the Islamist movement’s relationship with more militant organisations. Gaza arouses multiple concerns: does Hamas seeks to impose religious law; has its purported Islamisation stimulated growth of Salafi-Jihadi groups; and will al-Qaeda offshoots find a foothold there? Hamas faces competition from more radical Islamist groups, though their numbers are few, organisation poor, achievements against Israel so far minor and chances of threatening Gaza’s government slight. The significance of Gaza’s Salafi-Jihadis is less military capability than constraints they impose on Hamas: they are an ideological challenge; they appeal to members of its military wing, a powerful constituency; through attacks within and from Gaza, they threaten security; by criticising Hamas for not fighting Israel or implementing Sharia, they exert pressure for more militancy and Islamisation. The policy of isolating Gaza and ignoring Hamas exacerbates this problem. As the international community seeks new ways to address political Islam in the Arab upheaval’s wake, Gaza is not the worst place to start....
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Old 12-28-2011   #270
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Default Hamas is changing?

I expect the role of Hamas has cropped up before and there appear to be several related threads. This week Kings of War have a commentary 'What to make of Hamas?', which opens with:
Quote:
Hamas this week announced a shift in its ‘emphasis from armed struggle to non-violent resistance‘.
Link, with several links to sources:http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2011/12/what-to-make-of-hamas/

Quote:
After all, Hamas emerged as a radical splinter from a more moderate movement; who is to say it cannot evolve in the opposite direction. But is this what is happening?

Clearly, it will depend on who you ask: much like everything else in the Middle East, or in politics in general,
And ends with:let’s find opportunities to deal with the challenges.

Nowhere is static, some will argue the 'Arab Spring' has shown that all too vividly and why should a movement like Hamas not change?
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Old 11-24-2012   #271
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Default The politics, tactics and strategy of Hamas

A KoW podcast by Nina Musgrave, a Ph.D. student:http://warstudies.podomatic.com/entr...02_56_47-08_00

Her thesis is:
Quote:
An analysis of the politics, tactics and strategy of Hamas since January 2006, when it became a democratically elected political party. It aims to analyse the political trajectory and internal dynamics of Hamas in light of its electoral success, and explore the extent to which Hamas’s new role as an elected entity has expanded its strategic options or constrained its movement.
Link:http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/department.../musgrave.aspx
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Old 05-31-2014   #272
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Default A must read

Hat tip to Lawfare for an excellent article, which the editor introduces with:
Quote:
The United States rightly regards the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Palestinian organization Hamas as a terrorist group, but Hamas is also the de facto government of the Gaza Strip. There it juggles the responsibilities of governing Gaza and the associated need to mollify Israel with its self-image as an Islamic “resistance” movement. Making this difficult act even harder, Hamas faces a terrorism problem of its own. Gaza is home to a range of groups that see Hamas as too accommodating toward Israel and too lenient when it comes to imposing Islamic law at home. Beverley Milton-Edwards, a professor at Queen’s University Belfast and renowned expert on Hamas, assesses these Islamist rivals and the risks for Hamas of being too confrontational or too passive in dealing with them.
The author concludes:
Quote:
Although the challenge Hamas faces from its Islamist foes at present is limited, it is unlikely that this Islamist opposition will wither away, and in the current regional climate, the criticism they lay at Hamas’s feet may be ignored at their peril. As with neighboring North Sinai, Gaza could eventually succumb to proliferating takfiri jihadist forces, further undermining the delicate security balance currently prevailing in that part of the Middle East region.
Link:http://www.lawfareblog.com/2014/05/t...islamist-foes/

Interesting interplay outside Gaza with Egypt too, which has its own problems in the Sinai.
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Old 07-08-2014   #273
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Default Gaza invasion again: some thoughts

As the tension rises between Hamas in Gaza and Israel, with rockets fired into Israel and IDF missile strikes on 'militants' this review popped up via Twitter. There's also the murders in the West Bank and reprisals alongside the street rioting:
Quote:
Given the current crisis, it is worth thinking through what a new Gaza war would look like based on evidence drawn from the 2008 war. In what follows then I conduct a type of thought experiment. I offer a summary of the Gaza War/Op. Cast Lead. I then provide some preliminary thoughts on the contours/outcome of a new IDF invasion into Gaza.
Link:http://zurilinetsky.wordpress.com/20...-to-repeat-it/
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Old 07-09-2014   #274
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Default Gaza invasion again: some thoughts Part 2

A concise 2012 blog article by Professor John Schindler 'Gaza and the Utility of Force'. He starts with:
Quote:
The recent winding down of the latest round of fighting over Gaza, the week of stand-off strikes which the Israelis have termed Operation Pillar of Defense, ought to raise questions for all Western militaries about what exactly force is for these days.

(It ends with) If Israel wants to find a happier fate it needs to think hard, and fast, about solutions to the Palestinian problem which do not center on the IDF.
Link:http://20committee.com/2012/11/23/ga...lity-of-force/
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Old 07-10-2014   #275
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Default Roof knocking

An intriguing report in the WaPo, a tactic that sometimes does not work for the IDF nor the local people and residents:http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...about-to-bomb/
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