by Mordechai Kedar
I will begin with a comment: This article is not based on information because I do not have such data. It is just an analysis based on media reports.
Every Israeli media outlet is giving extensive coverage –and rightly so – to the capture of the long-range missiles shipment from Iran to the Gaza Strip. According to the reports, these missiles were produced in Syria, flown to Iran and transported from there by sea in a roundabout route to Sudan to continue their way overland to the Gaza Strip. They were produced in Syria in order to divert suspicion from Iran, by the location of production as well as the route by which the missiles would have arrived to Gaza.
No doubt this was an amazing success on the part of the intelligence organizations and the Navy. The Iranians’ well known intentions were exposed once again, and we can only hope that additional such transports have not succeeded and will not arrive successfully in the Gaza Strip. All of the Israeli spokesmen speak about the strengthening of Hamas and its intention to acquire game-changing weapons that will present a strategic threat to the State of Israel. There are those who believe that Iran is interested in fortifying Hamas for the coming “judgment day” connected to the Iranian nuclear project, to attack Israel with missiles from the south in addition to those that will arrive from the North, sent by Hizb’Allah.
All of these assessments ignore one basic thing: Today there is total break in relations between Hamas on one side and Syria and Iran on the other, because the rulers of Syria and Iran are furious about Hamas’ behavior and lack of support for the Syrian regime in its war against the jihadists who are flooding the country, sowing death and terror. Hamas is considered by Iran and Syria as a movement that has betrayed its benefactors: Syria, which hosted the Hamas leadership for many years and Iran, which financed it with a great deal of money and armed it with piles of weapons. In light of this situation, Syria and Iran can not be counted on to aid Hamas with so much as a box of matches, much less strategic missiles. So how can the missile delivery be explained?
In my opinion, the only explanation is that this missile delivery was not intended for Hamas, but rather to other organizations, one in Sinai –Ansar Bayt al-Maqdas, apparently – the other being Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. These two organizations serve the current Syrian-Iranian plan today. This plan has three main objectives:
1. To present a strategic threat to Israel with missiles from Sinai and from Gaza to deter her from attacking Iran. This threat will be realized if an Israeli attack on Iran is actually carried out.
2. To spoil the close relations between Israel and Egypt.
3. To take revenge on Hamas for its betrayal of Syria and Iran.
The first objective is clear. The second one also does not require a thorough explanation because every missile that is launched from Sinai into Israel increases Israeli demands for Egypt to put an end to the chaos in that area, while the the Egyptian army has limited ability to meet these demands. If there is open warfare in Sinai the jihad organizations in this area can use missiles against Egypt itself, and this would not be counter to Iranian-Syrian interests.
The third objective – to take revenge on Hamas – does require an explanation. Israel sees Hamas, correctly to a great extent, as responsible for whatever is done in the Gaza Strip, and especially for attacks on Israel, even if these attacks are carried out by rogue organizations such as Islamic Jihad. In the past there have already been incidents in which this organization has fired on Israel, and Israel has responded with an attack on Hamas installations. The more painful the attack on Israel, the more intense was the attack on Hamas.
The Syrian-Iranian plan is to allow Islamic Jihad to launch strategic missiles toward Israel so that Israel will attack Hamas, thus Israel will take revenge on this organization, a revenge which Syria and Iran can enjoy vicariously. In this way, these countries will achieve a double objective: harming Israel so that she will then harm Hamas.
If this explanation is correct, Israel must take a strategic decision regarding its relationship to Hamas, and it is faced with two possibilities:
1. The Hamas movement is a terror organization exactly like Islamic Jihad, and a Jihad attack on Israel justifies an Israeli attack on Hamas, even if this organization took no part in Islamic Jihad’s operation. In the long range, Israel must find a way to take down the Hamas regime because of the strategic threat that this organization poses to Israel. The overthrow of the Hamas regime will allow the PLO to take over the Strip once again and unite it with the other half of the Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria. This policy is based on the assumption that the Palestine Liberation Organization indeed desires peace with Israel, including the willingness to be a good neighbor and the willingness for mutual recognition.
2. Israel does not see the Palestine Liberation Organization as a partner for peace, and indeed Israel has no interest in allowing this organization to take over Gaza once again. The Hamas movement has been serving Israeli interests since its takeover of Gaza in 2007, by splitting the Palestinian Authority into two parts and putting an end to the Palestinian dream of establishing one state. The Hamas regime in Gaza provides Israel with a logical reason, that the world can accept as well, to form a future arrangement in Judea and Samaria that will leave Israel with a way to prevent the establishment of another Hamas state, whether by retaining a military presence or by dividing the territory into a number of sections.
Despite the advantages of this ambiguous situation, it is advisable in my opinion for Israel to adopt a clearer policy, with a strategic objective: since the Palestine Liberation Organization has not abandoned its plan to eliminate Israel, Israel must put an end to the dream of establishing a state under this organization’s rule. The Hamas movement began the process in Gaza, and Israel must continue it in Judea and Samaria in order to establish seven emirates in this area in the seven cities, leaving the rural expanse in Israeli hands.
The Palestinian people exists in exactly the same way as a Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan or Sudanese people exists. Middle Eastern societal reality is rooted in a culture of the tribe, ethnic group (Arabs, Kurds, etc.), religious group (Muslim, Druze, Alawite, Christian, etc.) and sectarian group (Sunni, Shi’ite, etc.). Only a state that is based on one homogeneous group can survive in this region, and provide its citizens with a reasonable way of life.
Dr. Kedar is available for lectures
Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.
Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.
Additional articles by Dr. Kedar
Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the author.