GETTY THE BIG APPLE: An aerial view of Lower Manhattan at dusk in New York City
USGS RISK: A seismic hazard map of New York produced by USGS “New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances” Dr Simon Day, natural disaster researcher This is because the bedrock underneath parts of NYC, including Long Island and Staten Island, cannot effectively absorb the seismic waves produced by earthquakes. “An important feature of the central and eastern United States is, because the crust there is old and cold, and contains few recent fractures that can absorb seismic waves, the rate of seismic reduction is low. Central regions of NYC, including Manhattan, are built upon solid granite bedrock; therefore the amplification of seismic waves that can shake buildings is low. But more peripheral areas, such as Staten Island and Long Island, are formed by weak sediments, meaning seismic hazard in these areas is “very likely to be higher”, Dr Day said. “Thus, like other cities in the eastern US, New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances than is the case for cities on plate boundaries such as Tokyo or San Francisco, where the crustal rocks are more fractured and absorb seismic waves more efficiently over long distances,” Dr Day said. In the event of a large earthquake, dozens of skyscrapers, including Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street, could be at risk of shaking. “The felt shaking in New York from the Virginia earthquake in 2011 is one example,” Dr Day said. On that occasion, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered 340 miles south of New York sent thousands of people running out of swaying office buildings.
USGS FISSURES: Fault lines in New York City have low rates of activity, Dr Day said NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was “lucky to avoid any major harm” as a result of the quake, whose epicenter was near Louisa, Virginia, about 40 miles from Richmond. “But an even more impressive one is the felt shaking from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes in the central Mississippi valley, which was felt in many places across a region, including cities as far apart as Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, and in a few places even further afield including,” Dr Day added. “So, if one was to attempt to do a proper seismic hazard assessment for NYC, one would have to include potential earthquake sources over a wide region, including at least the Appalachian mountains to the southwest and the St Lawrence valley to the north and east.”
Saudi Arabia plans to develop its “huge” uranium resources with a view to supporting its nascent nuclear power program as well as selling onto the world market, energy minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said Jan. 12, as the world’s leading exporter of crude oil looks to diversify its power mix and economy away from hydrocarbons.
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“We do have a huge amount of uranium resource, which we would like to exploit and we will be doing it in the most transparent way,” Prince Abdulaziz told the Future Minerals Summit in Riyadh. The Future Minerals Summit is Saudi Arabia’s first mining conference, with the kingdom having identified the sector as a major component of its Vision 2030 economic diversification roadmap.
“We will be bringing partners and we will be exploiting that resource… and we will be developing all the way to the yellow cake and we will be commercially monetizing that resource,” he added.
Yellow cake refers to a uranium concentrate powder that is obtained from intermediate processing of the radioactive mineral’s ores. It is a critical step to enriching uranium for nuclear fission in reactors both for civilian use and for weapons.
There are no official figures published on Saudi uranium reserves. In 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman claimed in an interview that the kingdom held more than 5% of world reserves. In 2020, a report by UK-based newspaper the Guardian based on leaked internal documents put the kingdom’s “inferred deposits” at an estimated 90,000 mt, which would be equivalent to around 1.4% of current global reserves.
Saudi Arabia currently has no nuclear power generation but has said it will add around 17 GW of nuclear capacity by 2040 and has ambitions to bring two reactors with a combined capacity of 3.2 GW online within the next decade.
The kingdom has been in discussions with China to develop nuclear technology and has previously held talks with the US under former President Donald Trump’s administration to secure a so-called “123 agreement” that would allow it to obtain technology from the US. The agreement would limit the enrichment of uranium for arms purposes.
Prince Abdulaziz also expressed concerns that the world’s shift to renewables could pose a new set of energy security challenges as critical minerals could be concentrated in just a few countries.
“We should not forfeit energy security for the sake of a publicity stunt,” he told the summit, adding that the energy transition needed to be well thought through.
“Let’s not forfeit energy security, for moving away from the old classical concern of being over-reliant on the Middle East when it comes to oil to a different type of energy security challenge, which has to do with the availability of these minerals, and the concentration of the ownership of these minerals, and how the world may be exposed to any type of oligopoly when it comes to pricing these minerals,” he added.
Saudi Arabia last year unveiled plans ahead of the UN climate change conference in Glasgow to reach net-zero emissions by 2060. Its targets only apply to the country’s domestic emissions and do not cover greenhouse gases released from the use of its oil outside its territory.
State-run Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil-exporting company, is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Saudi energy minister also hinted at pilot projects for hydrogen that will be unveiled next week.
The kingdom has expressed interest in becoming a leader in blue and green hydrogen as it looks at alternative energy sources.
Saudi Arabia will adopt a partnership approach towards developing hydrogen, Prince Abdulaziz told the summit.
“We are working with our friends from the EU but we hope that we can aggregate for example, our EU partners to work with us on delivering hydrogen, either it is ammonia [that is] shipped or even piping it,” he said.
“We’re working with our friends from the east on blue,” he added.
Prince Abdulaziz has previously said Saudi Arabia could become “the next Germany” in renewables and has mooted the idea of shipping hydrogen to Europe via pipeline.
Saudi Aramco signed agreements last year to develop hydrogen manufactured from electrolysis powered by solar and wind. In 2020, the company shipped a cargo of blue ammonia to Japan, one of its biggest buyers of crude. Ammonia is the currently easiest way to store and transport hydrogen.
GAZA, Wednesday, January 12, 2022 (WAFA) – Israeli navy today evening opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat sailing offshore the city of Gaza, said sources.
According to one of the fishermen, Israeli boats surrounded the boat while sailing within six nautical miles offshore the city of Gaza and proceeded to open fire at the boat and used water cannons against it, forcing the fishermen to return to shore.
Israelis forces constantly harass fishermen and farmers at border areas and prevent them from earning a living.
Since October’s national elections Shiite rivals have grown more divided, threatening to prolong process for forming new government
Iraq’s powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr has pitted himself further against his Iran-backed Shiite rivals amid rising tension over forming a new government.
Since October’s national elections Shiite rivals have grown more divided, with the Sadrist Bloc emerging as the clear winner while Iran-backed factions suffered a significant drop in support.
These rifts deepened when Mr Al Sadr joined forces with Sunni and Kurdish parties to pick the parliament speaker and his deputies during the first session after the elections.
The move angered the pro-Iran camp, which includes influential Shiite militias who boycotted the session, and they issued threats against Sunnis and Kurds.
“We will not allow anyone, whomever he is, to threaten our partners and the social peace,” Mr Al Sadr said in a statement posted on his Twitter account late on Tuesday, referring to his Sunni and Kurdish allies.
“There will be no return to the sectarian violence and warfare,” he said, in a reference to the sectarian tit-for-tat attacks that engulfed the country in 2005 and 2006. His now-disbanded Mahdi Army militia were blamed for playing a major role in the civil conflict.
“The next government will be one of law and there will be no place for any violation from anyone,” he said.
Former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki, who heads the State of Law bloc, won 33 seats, and the Iran-backed Fatah Alliance won 17.
For months, Mr Al Sadr and the Iran-allied Co-ordination Framework have failed to reach a deal.
The long-running dispute between Mr Al Sadr and Mr Al Maliki is one of the main obstacles to any deal, as the Shiite cleric seeks to exclude his rival from the next government. Their enmity dates back to 2008, when Mr Al Maliki launched a military operation against the Mahdi Army.
In his statement, Mr Al Sadr struck a defiant tone.
“We are proceeding with the formation of the national majority government and our door is open for some of those we still think well of,” he said, referring to other members of the Co-ordination Framework he has been wooing.
During the first session of parliament on Sunday, which was chaired by the eldest member of the legislative body, Mahmoud Al Mashhadani, both rival Shiite groups claimed to be the largest bloc.
According to the constitution, the largest bloc will be asked to form the government.
Mr Al Mashhadani asked to check the names and the signatures on both lists with a committee, causing chaos inside the hall and leading to a heated discussion between him and some Shiite politicians who gathered around him.
He then appeared to faint and was taken out of the parliament building for treatment, disrupting the session. But proceedings later resumed with the second oldest member, Khalid Al Daraji, and the Parliament Speaker and his two deputies were elected, resulting in MPs from the Co-ordination Framework walking out in a protest against the move.
On Monday, Alia Nussayif, a senior member of the State of Law, held Sunnis and Kurds accountable for creating “a rift among the Shiites.”
In an interview with a local TV station affiliated to a powerful pro-Tehran Shiite militia, Ms Nussayif went further, warning them that the “fire will catch them” if confrontations among Shiites erupted.
Hours later, Abu Ali Al Askari, a spokesman for the Iran-backed Kataeb Hezbollah armed group, issued a warning that “Iraq could see tough days and all will lose”.
The elections last October were the fifth parliamentary vote for a full-term government since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
They were held months earlier than scheduled to try to appease the pro-reform protest movement that surfaced in 2019.
The orbital bombardment system featuring a hypersonic glide vehicle that China allegedly tested in July included the release of an unspecified projectile from the vehicle during flight, according to an article in the Financial Times.
China announced in November that a new wind tunnel for testing hypersonic aircraft is nearly operational. (Photo by China Central Television)The newspaper, citing U.S. intelligence sources, first reported in October about the alleged July 27 test in which a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle, carried on a rocket, flew through low-orbit space and circled the globe before striking within two dozen miles of its target. (See ACT, November 2021.) On Nov. 21, it reported that the vehicle fired a separate projectile, which had “no obvious target of its own,” in the middle of its flight “in the atmosphere over the South China Sea.” The projectile fell into the water, the article said.
Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, commented that the embassy was “not aware” of the test. “We are not at all interested in having an arms race with other countries,” he added.
The Biden administration declined to comment on the most recent report, although the White House noted that the test “builds on our concern about many military capabilities that the People’s Republic of China continues to pursue.”
Experts acknowledged that, if the report is true, the test would signify a technological achievement and a leap in capability for Beijing. But many experts emphasized the continued lack of clarity regarding the July test, particularly with respect to the nature of the supposed projectile, and urged caution before jumping to conclusions.
“Was it a missile at all? Or a spent rocket stage? Or a jettisoned service module?” tweeted Marco Langbroek, a military satellite tracker and an academic researcher at Leiden University in the Netherlands, about the projectile on Nov. 21.
The Financial Times report “generated more questions in my mind,” tweeted Laura Grego from the Union of Concerned Scientists on Nov. 22. “Better information about the launch site, landing site, what was at the landing site (a runway?), where the deorbit burn took place (ok probably will never get that), would help.”
In a potentially related development, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China announced on Nov. 21 that a new wind tunnel that can simulate speeds between Mach 4 and 8 is nearly operational.
The wind tunnel “can meet the test requirements of hypersonic aircraft,” including, notably, “weapon separation and release,” said the corporation said in a statement.
Further potential information and speculation about the July test came after the Pentagon on Nov. 3 released its annual China military power report, which said that Beijing is in the midst of a concerning nuclear buildup that includes efforts to amass 1,000 strategic nuclear warheads by 2030 and expand the number of nuclear delivery systems. (See ACT, December 2021.)
In the final months of 2021, India conducted two major missile tests. The first was the Shaurya hypersonic weapon test, which was conducted in October. The second was the Agni-P missile test conducted on Christmas Eve. Both missile tests indicate that India is on course to fielding a more sophisticated nuclear arsenal with greater diversity of delivery systems. These developments have triggered a flurry of analyses ranging from satisfaction over improvements in the Indian arsenal’s level of readiness to dangerous prognostications about what these missile developments might mean for strategic stability, especially between India and Pakistan.
Let us begin with what Shaurya and Agni-P imply for the state of readiness of India’s arsenal. These two missiles highlight the importance of expanding the repertoire of our nuclear-capable missile forces. India also tested a hypersonic weapon that is estimated to travel at a speed of Mach 5 and designed to dodge missile defences. Hypersonic weapons such as Shaurya are likely to be highly effective in taking out enemy early radars, static military installations such as airbases and command and control (C&C) facilities, although Shaurya may require a few additional tests to establish the credibility of its operational capabilities.
The Agni-P missile is believed to be capable of delivering multiple independent re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) or multiple warheads against a single target. This creates an opportunity for India to strengthen nuclear deterrence through ambiguity. Several analysts have inferred that Agni-P and Shaurya together represent a shift in India’s no-first-use policy. However, officially there is no evidence to suggest a change; India’s declaratory doctrine has remained steadfastly committed to no-first-use even as the country’s operational posture in the form of higher readiness levels undergoes a shift. The latter part is increasingly manifesting itself in the form of the ‘canisterization’ of India’s missiles, not only for longer range missiles such as intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs), but also for the Agni-P, which is a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM).
Canistering missiles enables more rapid deployment, as warheads could already be mated with missiles and placed in climate-controlled tubes, preventing damage, for launch on short notice. Further, canisterized missile capabilities give India counter-force strike options, especially against Pakistan, according to some analysts who fear an intensification of strategic instability emerging from India’s missile progress.
Thus, because of India’s putative MIRV-based and canisterized ballistic missile forces, one school of thought holds that India could launch a pre-emptive strike against Pakistan’s nuclear facilities in the heat of a crisis. This view conveniently overlooks the fact that Pakistan has a larger nuclear arsenal than India’s and Rawalpindi’s refusal to adopt a no-first-use policy, despite past entreaties to do so. Pakistan also pursues an asymmetric escalation posture that involves the development and deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, but most critically early use of atomic weapons in a conflict with India, leaving us exposed to stand-off missile attacks. Moreover, it is misleading to argue that India’s canisterized and MIRV capabilities sow “strategic instability” when it is more the result of Pakistan’s pursuit of an offensive posture that involves the tactical use of nuclear weapons against a potential Indian conventional attack.
Indeed, the Pakistani presumption that the tactical and strategic use of atomic weapons can be kept separate is the primary source of instability. New Delhi has generally rejected the notion that decoupling the tactical and strategic use of atomic weapons is possible or sustainable because there can be no real distinction between counter-value and counter-force strikes involving such weapons, at least against Pakistan. Also, India’s pursuit of higher readiness levels in the form of Agni-P and Shaurya is only par for the course in that it is a justifiable insurance against a risk-prone adversary such as Pakistan. Although India has a stated no-first-use policy, combining it with a higher degree of operational readiness of its nuclear tipped-missile forces is also about pursuing nuclear deterrence, though through ambiguity, as it sows uncertainty and induces caution in India’s two nuclear adversaries, China and Pakistan. If anything, it complicates the first strike options of Beijing and Rawalpindi.
Beyond Pakistan, the advances in India’s missile capabilities are geared to deterring the People’s Republic of China. The latter has significantly superior capabilities than India. Beijing has deployed its Dong-Feng (DF)-26 IRBMs in the Xinjiang region of Western China. India’s Shaurya hypersonic weapon is equally a response China’s DF-17 Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV) with a range of 1,800-2,500km, which Beijing is believed to have been fielding since at least 2019. Notwithstanding the caveat that New Delhi has generally rejected distinctions between counter-value and counter-force targets and tactical and strategic capabilities, Indian counter-force strike options are more plausible against China than Pakistan simply because a large number of the former’s land-based nuclear forces are more distant from population centres. Pakistan is acutely vulnerable to strategic interdiction due to its narrow geography as opposed to the geographic and strategic depth China enjoys. In any case, Beijing’s’s submarine-based nuclear capabilities give it a near invulnerable second-strike capacity, making India’s counter-force strikes against Chinese nuclear targets difficult. Thus, India’s hypersonic and canisterized Agni SRBM and IRBM capabilities are equally about preserving strategic deterrence and enhancing regional strategic stability.
Harsh V. Pant & Kartik Bommakanti are, respectively, professor of international relations, King’s College London and a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation
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Hamas has not budged an inch from its Charter: it seeks not a smaller Jewish state, but the destruction of the Jewish state, to be replaced by the Arab state of Palestine, “from the river to the sea.” That is something much of the world, urging Israel to “make peace” with Hamas, still fails to grasp. Writes Hugh Fitzgerald
Mark Regev, a former adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, considers the likelihood of another war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza: “Is another Gaza war inevitable? – opinion,” by Mark Regev, Jerusalem Post, January 6, 2022:
…Since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 there have been four significant military escalations: Operations Cast Lead (2008-09), Pillar of Defense (2012), Protective Edge (2014), and Guardian of the Walls (2021). Bitter experience would seem to indicate that another round is only a matter of time.
The knee-jerk reaction of many across the world is to suggest finding a political solution. Yet Hamas remains stuck in a radical Islamist ideology that precludes peace with Israel. Its 1988 charter, never repudiated, specifically renounces any negotiated settlement while proclaiming the goal to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.”
Hamas has not budged an inch from its Charter: it seeks not a smaller Jewish state, but the destruction of the Jewish state, to be replaced by the Arab state of Palestine, “from the river to the sea.” That is something much of the world, urging Israel to “make peace” with Hamas, still fails to grasp.
In 2006, UN secretary-general Kofi Annan offered Hamas a possible opening, presenting three benchmarks for the organization to be acknowledged as a legitimate political interlocutor: rejection of terrorism, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previously signed peace agreements. Sixteen years on, Hamas has failed to meet even one of these requirements.
Instead of being viewed as a partner in talks, Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization in Britain, Canada, the European Union, Japan, and the United States, as well as, of course, by Israel. More countries, including Australia and New Zealand, classify the Hamas military wing as terrorist (although experts agree that the distinction between the movement’s wings is artificial).
Of course, many in the international community insist that a genuine political solution between Israelis and Palestinians demands removing settlements and withdrawing to the 1967 lines. But Israel already put those ideas into practice in Ariel Sharon’s 2005 disengagement plan, and there have been four Gaza wars since.
Those who want Israel to withdraw “to the 1967 lines” are in fact obscuring, by sleight of word, what should be brutally, and honestly, put to the world by Bennett or Lapid: “what you are in fact demanding is that Israel agree to be squeezed back within the 1949 armistice lines, with a nine-mile waist at Qalqilya. It would take an invader from the east less than an hour to slice Israel in two. No sane Israeli will agree to that.”
In 2005 Israel pulled entirely out of Gaza, removing 8500 Israeli settlers and pulling down their settlements. But Israel left intact the greenhouses the settlers had built and had used to raise flowers and fruit for export to Europe. This thriving business was turned over to the Palestinians as a turnkey operation; the Israelis expected them to continue the business but, to their surprise, the Palestinians in Gaza promptly destroyed them. Did peace between Gaza and Israel then ensue, as some had rosily predicted would happen after Israel’s withdrawal? No, Hamas answered Israel’s disengagement from Gaza only with terrorism, resulting in four wars, and the need for Israel to conduct what it called the “wars between the wars,” in order to discourage terrorism, an exercise that Israelis mordantly call “mowing the grass.”
The Israeli public is in a different place [from those who counsel it to “make peace with Hamas: Polling done by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) last June following Operation Guardian of the Walls showed that 27% of Israelis believed in strengthening deterrence through additional harsh IDF strikes against Hamas. Another 21% supported an incursion deep inside Gaza that physically dismantles Hamas’s military capabilities. 13% of Israelis favored a solution through humanitarian relief and economic development, while just 10% thought Israel should reconcile itself to Hamas rule and negotiate a ceasefire.
Only 10% of Israelis believe the Jewish state should resign itself to permanent rule in Gaza by the terror group Hamas. The other 90% are realists.
Last September, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid suggested testing a policy involving both economic carrots and military sticks, the goal being to “cause the residents of Gaza to pressure Hamas because they understand what they are missing out on as a result of terrorism and understand how much they stand to gain if that terrorism stops.”
Official Palestinian statistics show third quarter 2021 GDP per capita in Gaza at only $297, less than a third of the $1,097 in the West Bank. Half of Gaza’s workforce is unemployed, the young being disproportionately among the jobless.
Economic carrots could encompass extending Gaza’s fishing boundary and issuing more work permits for Gazans in Israel. It has also been suggested that the newly completed Israel-Gaza barrier allows for land on the Palestinian side, previously left barren for security reasons, now to be used for agricultural cultivation.
With a 50% rate of unemployment, Palestinians in Gaza would welcome more permits for Gazans to work in Israel. At the moment a total of 140,000 Palestinians from both the West Bank and Gaza work in Israel or the settlements; fewer than 20,000 of those are from Gaza. Along with many thousands more of work permits for Palestinians in Gaza, Israel can extend the fishing boundary so that more Gazans can make a living as fishermen. Another possibility is that with Israel’s security barrier now completed, it can afford to allow land on the Gazan side, which it has until now insisted be left barren for security reasons, to be cultivated. Israel could also loosen restrictions on the import of “dual-use” goods, such as cement and steel, into the Strip.
Although infrastructure development is a longer-term endeavor, it can still provide construction jobs in the interim. The basket of possible projects includes establishing a new power station, building a desalination plant, connecting Gaza to Mediterranean gas, and even the creation of an artificial offshore island port.
All these ideas share a common hope that, in providing economic tangibles for the people of Gaza, it is possible to strengthen the incentive to keep the peace and thereby defer the next round of fighting.
These are the many, and various, economic carrots that Israel has to offer the Palestinians in Gaza. It’s up to them to choose peace, that brings with it all these benefits, or to choose more war, that will keep the impoverished Gazans immiserated.
HOWEVER, SERIOUS obstacles remain.
First, it is unclear to what degree Hamas is willing prioritize the well-being of ordinary Gazans over its ideological commitment to “resistance.” Skeptics can rightly point to the millions that Hamas invested in its subterranean military projects at a time when the civilian population was in desperate need of assistance.
Hamas’ reason for being is terrorism and war to destroy the Jewish state, not the wellbeing of the people in Gaza. The terror group has already shown how little it cares for the Gazans by dragging them into four disastrous wars with Israel. And its priorities in peacetime are also telling: even as the Gazans sank deeper into poverty, Hamas decided to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in building a vast underground network of tunnels – what the Israelis call “the Metro,” in order to move both fighters and weapons throughout the Strip without their being detected – or so Hamas thought – by Israel.
Second, even if Hamas agrees to keep the Israel-Gaza frontier quiet, it is unlikely to abstain from encouraging and orchestrating deadly violence on the West Bank. A “ceasefire” in which Hamas continues terror attacks from Hebron, Jenin, and Tulkarm would be unsustainable….
Hamas may agree, to obtain those carrots, to keep the Gaza border quiet. But Mark Regev thinks that in the West Bank Hamas operatives will want to score points against their arch-rival, the Palestinian Authority. And the way to do that is to continue terror attacks on Israelis, in sharp contrast to the P.A., which will be seen to sit on its hands.
There is no way – other than re-occupying Gaza – for Israel to keep Hamas from smuggling in more, and better, weapons into Gaza from Iran.. It will also use any ceasefire to improve its own, homegrown weaponry.
Fourth, two live Israeli civilians and the bodies of two IDF soldiers are being held in Gaza. Lapid stated that “bringing back our boys must be part of any plan.” Yet it is doubtful that Hamas will agree to their return outside a deal which includes the release of Palestinian security prisoners. An exchange of this sort is always a highly complex exercise.
In the last disastrous “prisoner exchange,” Israel freed 1,027 Palestinians in exchange for exactly one soldier, Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas. Among those 1,027, some had been imprisoned for terrorism, and went back to their previous murderous occupation. Dozens of Israelis were killed as a result. Israelis vowed that never again would they engage in such a lopsided exchange, and no “security prisoners” would be released. But Israel is also very eager to get back the bodies of two soldiers, and two mentally-disturbed Israelis who had wandered into Gaza several years ago and been held ever since. Regev thinks Hamas will insist on the release of “security prisoners” while Israel will insist it will not do so; somehow this circle has to be squared. Who will yield?
Fifth, because Israel and much of the international community refuse to work directly with Hamas, it is necessary for the Palestinian Authority to fill the vacuum. Official rhetoric aside, it is far from certain that the PA is at all interested in enabling Hamas to create a better reality in Gaza. Experts have suggested that the PA may see advantages for itself in the continuation of a negative situation in Gaza that reflects badly on its political rival.
Given that Israel (and many other states) will not deal directly with Hamas, the P.A. has to be the necessary interlocutor between Hamas and Israel. But it likely will not want to bring the two – Hamas and Israel — to any kind of understanding that would improve the lot of people in Gaza, and increase Hamas’ popularity as a result. Regev suggests the P.A. will do what it can to keep Israel and Hamas at loggerheads.
Sixth, Islamic Jihad will always seek to outdo Hamas. This week it threatened a wave of violence if administrative detainee Hisham Abu Hawash died in prison from his hunger strike. Hamas will not want to be seen as passing the mantle of “resistance” over to its smaller brother. It is one thing for Hamas to restrain itself temporarily; it is quite another for it to forcibly reign in others. This gives Iran’s Gazan proxy [the PIJ} the ability to play spoiler.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a smaller rival of Hamas, but consistently more violent and unyielding. After the Hamas-Israel ceasefire was declared on May 21, the PIJ continued to fire rockets into Israel. If Hamas appears to be too pliable in its dealings with Israel, it can expect PIJ to accuse it of “going soft.” Then, If Hamas attacks the PIJ, to keep it from again breaking the ceasefire with Israel, Palestinians in Gaza will see it as having abandoned the “resistance” in order to make deals with the Jewish state.
Yet, notwithstanding these and other challenges, a pessimistic belief in the inevitability of an imminent Gaza war is unwarranted. On Benjamin Netanyahu’s watch, seven years of relative quiet separated Operation Protective Edge from Operation Guardian of the Walls. Through an astute strategy of deterrence and incentives it is not impossible to postpone a future round of fighting…
Regev considers the carrots that might persuade Hamas to come an understanding with Israel, and he lays out all the possible obstacles, and downsides, to such an agreement for Israel – but that can buy, he says, possibly even the Biblical seven years of peace. Not a permanent peace – Israel can’t count on that – but a hudna, a “truce treaty.” For Mark Regev, that’s quite enough. Meanwhile, with the Gaza theatre’s quiet assured, Israel will be able to focus its attention on its mortal enemy, Iran.
Will Israel, having increased the number of permits for Gazans to work in Israel, extended the fishing boundaries for Gaza’s fishermen, loosened the rules on importing into Gaza such “dual-use” products as cement and steel rods, making it easier for Gazans to rebuild their infrastructure, be the recipient of greater understanding, even sympathy, from the international community?