Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why War Now? The One Secret Hamas Prays You'll Never Find Out.

Israelis and Palestinians live peacefully within Israel. Though, there are many attempts to paint a racial picture as the source of the current violence; it is not the case. 1.6 million total Palestinians and Arabs live in Israel and they are represented by members of the Israeli Congress; the Knesset.

This conflict is between Hamas; on the United States Terrorist organization list, and the Israeli Defense Forces. This conflict is not with Palestinian civilians who are tragically caught in the middle. It is also not with the Palestinian Authority, or Abbas who are working for peace.

Though, there are attempts to paint this as some religious war; both groups come from peaceful religions. Simply opening the Qur'an, or a Jewish prayer book will show you the peaceful spirit of both religions. While there is a religious component to the conflict; this is not the core of the problem. As stated before Muslims, Christians, and Jews live together peacefully in Israel.

Then, there are your standard fall-backs.  It is the settlements!!! Many, will say. However, there are zero Jewish settlements in the Hamas run Gaza Strip. None. The settlements exist only in the West Bank; which is run by the Palestinian Authority; who has done everything they can to try and stop this conflict. The settlements exist across Israel in parcels of land that Hamas has no leadership over.

Then, there is the "It's the occupation!!!" Standard fall-back. Well, Hamas does consider all territory called Israel today "occupied territory," but the Gaza Strip? In 2005, Israel fully withdrew from Gaza and the military occupation of the strip ended. That is what actually allowed Hamas to take over the strip in the first place.

By 2007, through the Battle of Gaza, Hamas took over the strip. This was a fight between Palestinian factions as Israeli forces had left the region. 118 Palestinians were killed and more than 550 wounded. Once Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, it became a terrorist launch pad.

Does Israel want to kill all the Palestinians? Well, as far as I can tell; there are a few extremists that those who support Palestinians will point out quickly who would want that. One, a member of the Israeli Congress.; recently voted into the smallest and least powerful party. A few from the past. I find those people don't have that much power. I also find that in the Israeli Congress; every opinion is available.

Then, I look for evidence in the prosecution of the war. Is the goal annihilation of Palestinians? Consider that one Russian Separatist rocket took out a civilian airline that killed 298 people. Israel, who is known to have advanced targeting capabilities launches over 2000 aerial bombardments against Hamas targets and somehow, about the same number of people died.

That occurrence is a tragedy. It is gruesome and horrific. However, if the goal was to kill all Palestinians; with that number of sorties, I'd expect 20,000 or more deaths. Maybe, as many as 200,000. If Israel was attempting to kill all the Palestinians then they were doing a terrible job at their aim. It seems as if they are almost deliberately trying to miss!

Add in Israel's advance on the ground and the casualties go up. Some targets are hit that clearly should not have been fired upon. Again, this is all tragedy and may make forming peace in the future harder. When looking at the numbers though; if Palestinians were the target; and killing them the military aim; then with more than 3800 attacks, wouldn't the deaths be much much higher? Again, it just seems like Israel is deliberately trying to miss. In the Iraq war nearly 130,000 civilians died and the US military is supposed to be the most advanced  in the world.

Each death is a severe tragedy. They often take place at the hands of 21 year old tank drivers, or an artillery man. When I see a single civilian death I think of the reason we want to do the hard work of creating peace. The reason we fight so hard for lasting peace is that war is a mess and these things happen. If we do not want war and it's consequences, than we must have clear and defined peace.

Israel has formed peace with Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and many other Arab nations that were former sworn enemies. This shows solid proof that when Israel has a solid partner for peace; peace is formed and maintained. Religious and ethnic backgrounds in those countries compare to the backgrounds in the current conflict.

So, lets attempt to get past the shortcuts and even the broader historical context of this conflict.  We all know there is a long and tangled history that we can debate for the next 50 years. Lets talk about why now? Why not a month ago? Why not three months in the future? Why did this conflict happen right now?  

This is asymmetrical warfare. The approaches to war must be viewed through that lens. There are several questions that must be asked in all combat situations.  What are the political aims of the conflict? What are the military aims of the conflict.  

Hamas has been firing multiple rockets per day at Israel for years, but there was a recent and dramatic increase in firing of rockets.This escalation triggered the full scale air campaign to take out rockets. No matter what side you are on; if you agree with Hamas, or Israel, the questions above apply.

Given the asymmetrical warfare context Hamas knows that firing missiles will not achieve definitive military objectives. Two years ago, those rockets did major damage. Today, the Iron Dome missile shield stops these rockets that are fired directly at civilian targets. If they cannot hit their targets; why are they firing?

Strategy  What are Hamas's political and military aims? What do they hope to achieve?

President Clinton summed it up very clearly. 

Hamas's military objective is to fire so many rockets at Israeli civilians that the millions of people in harms way would call for the Government to respond. The political objective as Bill Clinton says is to force Israel to kill civilians during the retaliation and attempts to stop the rocket fire. Hamas fired enough rockets that Israel did respond in force.

Backing up Bill Clinton's remarks; here is what it looks like.
 The Israeli military watches from drones and surveillance aircraft when rockets are launched. They see this occurrence regularly. Hamas launches rockets from civilian areas and then makes certain civilians are around to deal with the aftermath.

On the other end, what is happening with Israeli civilians when the more than 1900 rockets were fired cross into Israel? Here's what is on the mind of every Israeli when just a few years ago; those rockets usually hit.
While the Iron Dome is knocking down many of those rockets now; so the panic is less, the rockets have longer ranges and now reach almost all Israelis. So, a less panicked, but larger quantity of people, around 5 million, are frequently diving into bomb shelters.

Why are they doing this? Why are they launching rockets directly at Israel that are no longer likely to hit? Why is Hamas placing civilians directly in the line of fire? What do they aim to achieve?

The context of the scene generates the words and the actions. The full context. Every factor plays a role. It is all part of the calculations. In this conflict, there is a picture-within-a-picture that nobody is talking about. We know about the violence. We know about the deaths on both sides preceding the escalation. But, why? Why did this all kick up exactly when it did?

Hamas has lost many of their largest financial backers all at once; for different reasons.  Iran, Syria, the Arab Bank, Egypt and more.  For several months they have not been able to properly pay some 44,000 employees. Hamas's financial backs are against a wall.

Source: Accuracy in Media: Caroline Glick http://www.aim.org/guest-column/hamass-and-irans-fail-safe-strategy/

Here's what appears to be the domino effect. Hamas (Sunni) supports the Syrian resistance (Sunni). Loses Syrian Government support and then Iran; allied with Syria removes it's support as a result.

The most important funding source that dried up is money smuggled through tunnels on the Egyptian border and the tax revenue generated from that money.  Egypt destroyed those tunnels.  Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4439/congress-israel-hamas

Money from Iran was arriving in suitcases through the tunnels. Now, raw materials for factory production don't make it in. Then, tax revenue from factory production falls off.

Economists in Gaza and Hamas call tunnel revenue 40% - 70% of Government funding.  That is now sealed off.  June to October 2013 Hamas losses about 460 million of 700 million budget.  http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/09/us-palestinian-hamas-crisis-idUSBRE99804P20131009

Compounding this, those who sympathize with Hamas seems to be Qatar and Turkey.  Funds to cover the shortfall were blocked at the Arab Bank by the United States Government.  Source: http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-blocked-qatari-funds-intended-for-hamas-employees/

Hamas, unable to pay it's workers then formed a Unity Government with the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority then refused to pay for fear of losing it's backers.

So, a core political aim of Hamas is to raise money and the timeline of their money issues and the escalation to conflict; where Hamas was firing rockets directly at Israel, matches up cleanly.

Have a look at the timeline. Consider for yourself if the civilian tragedies and other military occurrences were part of the equation; the entire equation, or there is a set of other factors that had not been considered; which led to this escalation.

Timeline Analysis: Note the secondary political and financial timeline.

June 2nd - The Palestinian Unity Government is formed. When Hamas starts to work on getting funding to pay it's employees.

June 12th - Kidnapping of three Israeli teens.

June 30th - Bodies found

July 2nd - the Unity Government officially refuses to pay the Hamas salaries.

The same day a 16 year old Palestinian is found dead.

July 5th - his cousin was beaten by Israeli police.

July 8th - Hamas's military escalation has occurs and they fire 40 rockets into Israel and we are off to the races.

By July 11th - 1000 Israeli airstrikes and 700 rockets fired from Hamas.

While there is death involved in this period of time... this does not provide the military rationale for a large scale escalation against a military that is much larger and can defend against all of your attacks.

The military aim of retribution by annihilating the Israelis is completely unattainable.

Also, if Palestinian death toll tends to be higher when Hamas and Israel are fighting; then why would they launch a war knowing that any number of deaths would exceed the one, or two, who died.

My theory is that the deaths of the two Palestinian boys; which were absolute tragedies, were used as cover. Enough energy and anger boiled up in the Palestinian street; and rightfully so, that an escalation appeared to have a reason.

Yet... just days before Hamas militants had promised blood in the street when it's striking workers took over the banks trying to extort money to cover the payroll of their financially collapsing organization.

A glaring piece of evidence supporting payroll and other financial considerations being key to this issue; is that as part of cease fire deals Hamas, who should have no leverage to negotiate, is asking for the Egyptian border to be opened. If their conflict is with Israel and they are firing rockets at Israel; then why is Hamas making demands of Egypt?

Qatar has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars for Hamas that was blocked by the United States in partnership with the Arab Bank. In the past, that money would travel by bank, or in suitcases through smuggling tunnels; which Egypt has now destroyed. The moment the Egyptian border opened; this is what would flow through. The overall motives of the conflict have been revealed by this demand made during their presentation of an exit strategy.

Return to one piece of military context that came to light during Israel's ground incursion into the Gaza Strip. There was a ten year plan by Hamas to use terror tunnels to get deep into Israeli civilian areas to kill as many as possible; while kidnapping many. This was planned for September 24th 2014 on Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish new year.

Captured militants are reporting that this vast tunnel network and the plan took about ten years to produce. Escalating a military conflict that would carry the risk of revealing these tunnels, that took so many of Hamas's resources to build; would not have occurred, if they thought they would still be in power at that time.

Financially destitute, with their back against the wall, all support for Hamas pulled away and cut off, polls showing reveal that the Palestinians in Gaza have very low favorability towards Hamas and want the Palestinian Authority to take over... Hamas was in the worst financial and political crisis in it's history.

If the Palestinian Authority took over; all the rockets and stockpiles of weapons would never be fired. The PA wants peace.

If Hamas did what it was doing for another month; their employees; who had already gone on strike, would have gone further. They were watching their entire team slowly dissolve and drift away as they were unpaid.

Hamas was flat against the wall. In it's weakest possible position. Psychologically; when people feel weak they usually behave precisely the opposite. Out of options; they showed their teeth.

So, they had their last hurrah.  They fired off all their weapons.  They escalated a war. With crashing political power and empty bank accounts; their aims were to gain sympathy worldwide, with the hopes that those sympathizers would send money.

Without this conflict, Hamas was likely to completely collapse. With this conflict; their infrastructure and assets are crushed and their weapons spent. We'll find out in a few months if this conflict helped them make payroll; if Hamas is still around.

UPDATE: Currently, finding that Hamas was missing payroll ahead of previous conflict also.

UPDATE: Collecting other strong sources now backing my claims.
Same report different format http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/239/0/8072.htm

UPDATE: During ceasefire talks Hamas top demand was for external sources to cover payroll.