Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Breaking cease fires is only way Hamas gets PR, during cease fires Hamas is out of limelight, has 'diminshed leverage'.-NY Times

If Hamas stops causing deaths of its own civilians it will be seen as a failure, PR dries up unless it's killing, "sees little choice." Qatar aids Hamas says Israel.  
8/19/14, "Rockets From Gaza and Israeli Response Break Cease-Fire," NY Times,

The prospect of a negotiated and lasting peace had seemed distant from the start of the Cairo talks as each side set bottom-line goals that the other flatly rejected.

After weeks of intermittent negotiations and fighting, analysts said that Israel’s leadership might well have considered it preferable to let the conflict continue at a low simmer rather than give concessions that could be seen as rewarding militants who fired about 3,000 rockets into Israel, penetrated its territory through tunnels, and killed 64 soldiers over a month of bloody battle....

Buoyed in the Palestinian public for having achieved more militarily than in previous violent exchanges with Israel, Hamas is nonetheless under extreme pressure to deliver a tangible change to daily life in Gaza. During the war, the rising death toll put pressure on Israel. But during the cease-fire Hamas finds itself with diminished leverage, and so has resorted to threatening and provoking Israel.

It sent a flurry of rockets that reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and on Monday the group’s armed wing even invited a Reuters crew inside a tunnel like the ones through which it repeatedly attacked Israeli soldiers last month, showing off masked gunmen talking tough....

The Palestinian delegation had called for a complete lifting of what it calls Israel’s siege on Gaza, the reopening of border crossings into Egypt and Israel and the building of a seaport and revival of an old airport in the crowded coastal territory. Israel demanded the demilitarization of Gaza with strict international controls to prevent the rebuilding of tunnels its troops just destroyed.
As the temporary halt in hostilities was extended — from an original 72 hours last week, for five more days and then an additional 24 hours that was supposed to last until midnight Tuesday — people involved in the talks said these maximalist demands had been dropped, or at least postponed. 

The focus was instead on more incremental changes in Israeli rules on imports and exports and on an internationally monitored rehabilitation of Gaza. For the Palestinians, it was too little and too late....

Before the cease-fire broke down Tuesday evening, another Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, warned that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel “does not understand the message and the demands of Gaza through the political language of negotiations in Cairo, we know very well the way that will oblige him to understand it.

Hamas denied responsibility for the first round of rockets, fired before 4 p.m. local time. But by 11 p.m., it claimed credit for firing two toward Tel Aviv and two more toward Ben-Gurion International Airport, among others. The Israeli military said about 50 fell before midnight, including one on open ground in Jerusalem.

Israel responded with more than 25 airstrikes in Gaza, the military said, but it declined to specify targets. Witnesses said Israeli F-16 warplanes dropped at least four bombs on a Gaza City house around 9:30 p.m.; the Gaza-based Health Ministry said the strikes killed a man, a woman and a child, and injured 45 others....

It was unclear on Tuesday night whether the renewed exchange would lead to an escalation, given the exhaustion of the publics on both sides. Israel, which has been condemned by world leaders for the high number of civilian casualties, may be granted some leeway to respond to fire, but that would be likely to disappear if the death toll began to rise quickly. While Hamas may see little choice but to continue launching rockets, analysts said the Palestinians need a deal more than Israel does.

Azzam al-Ahmed, the head of the Palestinian negotiating team and an ally of President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, said in a late-night news conference that his delegation would also leave Cairo but that he did “not consider that we have withdrawn from the negotiations.” He blamed Israel for the failed talks, saying it did not respond to the Hamas demands.

Israelis has blamed Khaled Mashal, the exiled political leader of Hamas, and his Qatari sponsors for setting a hard line and thwarting progress....

“Israel prefers to end the war without committing itself to lifting the siege in writing,” said Mukhaimer Abusaada, a political scientist at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City. Accusing Israel of exploiting the rocket fire as “an excuse to sabotage the talks,” he added, “A unilateral decision by Israel to gradually lift the siege will deprive Hamas of a sense of victory after this destructive war.” Kobi Michael, a former head of the Palestinian desk at Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said Israel’s move “weakens Hamas — it kills it softly in front of its people.”

Israel prefers a de facto cease-fire and reconstruction in a controlled manner in coordination with the Egyptians,” said Mr. Michael, now at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “If Hamas is doomed to be a marginal player, it would prefer to be one without an agreement and not be marginal in an agreement.’

But Sami Abdel Shafi, a Gaza-based consultant and political commentator, said Israel’s unwillingness to make concessions, and the Palestinian leaders’ lack of leverage to force them, left the people of Gaza in “potentially explosive” despair.

“The only place to look, and the appropriate place to look, is toward the international community and the United Nations,” he said. “They have to seriously step up to the plate and defuse a situations they will be seen as responsible for if they don’t come forward and push the Israeli government to recognize that people cannot be treated this way.”"

"Fares Akram contributed reporting from Gaza, and Merna Thomas from Cairo." via Pamela Geller


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