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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/3/13

Partners in Crime -- Gaza: Crushed Between Israel and Egypt

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Hamas' political rival, Fatah -- and the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank -- are reported to be behind the new protest movement.

The prolonged efforts by Fatah and Hamas to strike a unity deal are now a distant memory. In late August the PA annnounced it would soon be taking "painful decisions" about Hamas, assumed to be a reference to declaring it a "rogue entity" and thereby cutting off funding.

The PA sees in Hamas' isolation and its own renewed ties to the Egyptian leadership a chance to take back Gaza.

As ever, Israel is far from an innocent bystander.

After the unsettling period of Muslim Brotherhood rule, the Egyptian and Israeli armies -- their strategic interests always closely aligned -- have restored security cooperation. According to media reports, Israel even lobbied Washington following the July coup to ensure Egypt continued to receive generous US aid handouts -- as with Israel, mostly in the form of military assistance.

Israel has turned a blind eye to Egypt pouring troops, as well as tanks and helicopters, into Sinai in violation of the 1979 peace treaty. Israel would rather Egypt mop up the Islamist threat on their shared doorstep.

The destruction of the tunnels, meanwhile, has sealed off the main conduit by which Hamas armed itself against future Israeli attacks.

Israel is also delighted to see Fatah and Hamas sapping their energies in manoeuvring against each other. Political unity would have strengthened the Palestinians' case with the international community; divided, they can be easily played off against the other.

That cynical game is in full swing. A week ago Israel agreed for the first time in six years to allow building materials into Gaza for private construction, and to let in more fuel. A newly approved pipe will double the water supply to Gaza.

These measures are designed to bolster the PA's image in Gaza, as payback for returning to the current futile negotiations, and undermine support for Hamas.

With Egypt joining the blockade, Israel now has much firmer control over what goes in and out, allowing it to punish Hamas while improving its image abroad by being generous with "humanitarian" items for the wider population.

Gaza is dependent again on Israel's good favour. But even Israeli analysts admit the situation is far from stable. Sooner or later, something must give. And Hamas may not be the only ones caught in the storm.

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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