April 14, 2024
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Hamas Leaders in Gaza Scramble to Avoid Israeli Attack

NOTE: Because we at the Jewish Link be­lieve that our readers are a discerning and so­phisticated group that appreciates a full picture of the Middle East and a fuller understanding of what the Arab and other recognized media sources are publishing, we have printed below an article that will likely not be found in main­stream Jewish media but we have found to be enlightening. We recognize that some of our readers will not be pleased with how Israel, the IDF, and Israel’s leaders and citizens are some­times characterized in these articles and we do not endorse those characterizations.

Going into the third week since the dis­appearance of the three Israeli settlers from the West Bank, Hamas, which Israel accused of the kidnapping, feels that an attack against it in the Gaza Strip is imminent. The con­cern has become even more pressing with reports that three bodies were found near Hebron, the home city of the two Hamas-linked suspects identified by Israel last week as Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha.

Al-Monitor has learned that Hamas leaders in Gaza have virtually disappeared from sight, with journalists facing great challenges in reaching them. Hamas has implemented strict security measures to thwart any Israeli attack against its leaders, who resurfaced only to at­tend the funeral of five Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades militants who died on the evening of June 20, when a tunnel collapsed on them in eastern Gaza.

The funeral procession was led by Is­mail Haniyeh, the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau; Ahmad Bahr, the acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Coun­cil; and Mahmoud al-Zahar and Khalil al- Hayeh, two senior Hamas members.

The public daytime appearance of Hamas’ political leadership in this way caused concern for security officials in the Gaza Strip, who told Al-Monitor about their fear of Israel’s ability to track the leaders’ movements and possibly assassinate them.

In addition to preventive security meas­ures, Hamas has raised the level of its threats against Israel should it attack Gaza. On June 24, Zahar said, “The Qassam Brigades have up­graded their rocket capabilities and are now able to target any Israeli city in any upcoming battle,” while warning against waging an attack on the Gaza Strip. Hamas’ concern of an immi­nent Israeli attack was evidenced by the evacu­ation of its security headquarters, for fear that it might be targeted by the Israeli air force.

The security measures carried out by Ha­mas in Gaza were bolstered by diplomatic and political efforts on the part of the movement abroad, whereby intensive contacts were con­ducted with Arab and international capitals to restrain Israel from dealing a severe blow to Gaza.

In this regard, Izzat al-Rishq, a Hamas offi­cial, affirmed in a telephone interview with Al- Monitor that between June 21 and June 25. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal contacted the chairman of the Arab Summit, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad, as well as the Yemeni and Sudanese presidents and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. According to Rishq, this was to “inform them of the latest Palestin­ian developments, and discuss with them the Israeli threats against the West Bank and Gaza, in addition to the responsibility borne by Arab countries to back the Palestinian people.”

Rishq, who lives in Qatar, said, “Meshaal conducted other telephone conversations with the Qatari and Omani foreign ministers, Khalid al-Attiyah and Youssef bin Alawi; and Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby to discuss the position vis-a-vis the Is­raeli threat against the Palestinian people. He invited them to act, on an Arab and interna­tional level, to pressure Israel into halting its military operations.”

“Meshaal also telephoned Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on June 26 to brief him on the developments of the situation in the occupied territories. Meshaal also sent a letter on the morning of June 27 to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, asking him to support the steadfastness and resistance of the Palestinian people in confronting Israel. Furthermore, he contacted Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Abdul Latif al-Zay­ani and the secretary-general of the Organiza­tion of Islamic Cooperation, Iyad Madani,” Rishq said.

Meshaal has also held talks with the Rus­sian president’s envoy to the Middle East and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, which indicated Hamas’ desire to bolster its re­lations with Moscow.

Meshaal’s diplomatic outreach was ac­companied by his Al Jazeera announce­ment on June 23 that he had “met with a number of foreign delegations from foreign countries, some of which classify Hamas as a terrorist organization, and which, behind closed doors, curse Israel and demand that it is internationally sanctioned for the violations it perpetrates against the Palestinian people.”

On the other hand, Osama Hamdan, the head of Hamas’ international relations depart­ment, said it was likely that “Hamas would con­duct a series of visits to a number of Arab coun­tries soon.” He also revealed that the “substance of Meshaal’s contacts with those countries’ leaders revolved around Israel’s escalating mil­itary operations against the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the need to intervene and put an end to them.”

Al-Monitor asked an official within Hamas’ foreign affairs department about the benefit of the diplomatic efforts that have been recent­ly made by Meshaal, after Israel identified the two suspects. “Undoubtedly [these efforts will be beneficial], Israel wanted through this accu­sation to cut the way to any international and regional condemnation of its expected offen­sive on Gaza, and this is what Meshaal has sought to achieve through his current po­litical contacts. … It is not unprompted, but rather it is intentional that the Israeli accusa­tion of kidnapping the settlers coincides with the movements in terms of diplomatic ef­forts,” the official said.

Al-Monitor has learned from a Hamas of­ficial that the movement was in the process of “preparing a political memorandum ad­dressed to influential capitals of the region and the world as well as a number of inter­national organizations, warning against an Is­raeli operation in the Gaza Strip. In the mem­orandum, Hamas disputed justifying the attack by accusing it of kidnapping the set­tlers and explained how Gaza was suffering from difficult living and economic conditions, rendering it unable to endure a new war.”

The official said, “The movement is in a race against time to disseminate the mem­orandum before any Israeli attack on Gaza. Yet, despite the fact that such a memo can­not prevent an attack, the two previous wars of 2008 and 2012 have confirmed that Israel came out a loser in the international war for public opinion, which the Palestinians began to win. And this is what we continue to work toward.”

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/ pulse/

Author Adnan Abu Amer Translator: Kamal Fayad

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