[News] A New Front in Gaza's Conflict

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Apr 24 16:00:03 EDT 2009


http://www.counterpunch.org/baroud04242009.html

April 24-26, 2009


A New Front in Gaza's Conflict


Middle East Spies

By RAMZY BAROUD

The reverberations of the Israeli war on Gaza are still felt 
throughout the Middle East. One could in fact speak of a silent war 
being waged in the region.

Now that Israel's clear intentions in Gaza - discrediting Hamas and 
ultimately ousting them from their democratically elected position - 
resulted in utter failure, Israelis are hoping to exploit regional 
conflicts to rein in Hamas and other such organizations through 
alternative means.

In the past several years, Israel has suffered what may seem like 
insurmountable losses in their barrage of military conquests. In July 
and August of 2006, Israel unleashed its military fury against 
Lebanon for several weeks, with one major objective: to permanently 
"extract" Hezbollah as a fighting force from South Lebanon and 
undermine it as a rising political movement capable of disrupting, if 
not overshadowing, the "friendly" and "moderate" political regime in Beirut.

While the Lebanese suffered blows from which it may take years to 
recover, the Israeli war in South Lebanon was recognized largely as 
an astounding military failure, defeat even for Israel, as several 
thousand fairly ill-equipped Hezbollah fighters forced Israel's 
multi-billion dollar military machine to retreat.

While at the time, Hezbollah had strong backing by the poor and 
destitute population of Lebanon, including Palestinian refugees, 
support from official Lebanese institutions was, at best, lacking. 
But the war changed all of that. Today, Hezbollah is regarded by many 
as the guardians of Lebanon and enjoy an unprecedented level of moral 
and popular support.

Israel repeated its costly mistake in Gaza late last year and earlier 
this year. True, Palestinians in the Strip haven't suffered the human 
casualties of the recent Gaza massacre since 1948. Thousands lost 
their lives, limbs, homes, entire families, entire neighborhoods. 
Concurrently, Israel and her backers were convinced that such vicious 
blows would certainly press a desperate population to turn on their 
elected government, whom Israel and the US claimed, got them into 
this mess in the first place.

And what a painful lesson it was. One would think that after 60 years 
of constant interaction with the Palestinian people, Israel would 
know them better. By now on might think that their durability and 
integrity would have been taken into strong consideration before 
taking such rash actions. In spite of the overwhelming death toll 
resulting from Israel's butchery, Hamas garnered even stronger 
support and loyalty from the people of Gaza, but more, from 
Palestinians everywhere, the Arab and Muslim world, indeed from many 
places throughout the world that could no longer remain silent. Words 
of encouragement, admiration and backing echoed from Latin America to 
South Africa to even the United States itself.

But Israel and its allies are changing tactics. And they are getting 
a lot of help from their neighbors. This time, they are concentrating 
their efforts outside of these strongholds of resistance, and going 
after Hezbollah and Hamas members from remote positions. Out of the 
blue, this week the news was inundated with reports of "spies" being 
apprehended in various Arab countries and other tales.

On April 10, Agencies reported that Egyptian security forces had 
detained 15 people over accusations that they had helped in smuggling 
rockets into the Gaza Strip via border tunnels, security sources claimed.

On April 12, Palestinian security officials claimed that they had 
uncovered a bomb-making factory underneath a mosque in the West Bank. 
An interior minister claimed, "Many of the bombs were ready to use 
and many of them were of industrial grade."

The same day, it was reported that an Egyptian man was caught and 
apprehended in Sinai who was smuggling $2 million to the Hamas 
leadership in Gaza.

On April 13, Israeli news interviewed Shimon Peres, who commended 
Egypt's efforts at apprehending individuals active in the Iran-backed 
Hezbollah infrastructure in Egypt. Peres was quoted as saying, 
"Sooner or later, the world will realize that Iran wishes to take 
over the Middle East, and that it has colonial ambitions."

Imagine that; such comments coming from a leader of a nation who up 
until this point, refuses to define its borders with designs on 
swallowing up all of historic Palestine. Colonial ambitions indeed.

The following day, on April 14, Egyptian officials accused Hezbollah 
Leader, Hassan Nasrallah of fomenting sedition and state media 
branded him an "Iranian agent."

One has to wonder if these sudden discoveries are related to attempts 
aimed at undermining various Islamic opposition groups in the region. 
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement, for example, is already on the 
defensive, trying to shield itself from what is considered 
Iran-Hezbollah's designs to 'destabilize' Egypt. Speaking to Al 
Jazeera, Abdul Munaim Abu al-Futuh, a member of the Muslim 
Brotherhood group's guidance bureau stated, "We have no relations 
with any of those (arrested)." One can only expect the situation to 
worsen, and could only hope such regime-induced panic doesn't destroy 
the small semblance of democracy that these nations still possess.

In Jordan, similar discoveries are also being made, Hamas members 
sentenced, others apprehended.

The timing of these crackdowns, the nature of the accusations and the 
war of words that ensued as a result makes one question the nature of 
these arrests, whether they are genuine security measures, or 
political dealings, a new symptom of the ongoing cold war in the region.

Following the war in Gaza, and earlier in Lebanon, the Middle East's 
new conflict has been that of defining the new discourse which will 
ultimately dominate the region's politics: that of resistance or 'moderation'.

The US, Israel and their 'moderate' allies in the region have clearly 
drawn lines in the sand, a notion that when reviewing recent 
developments simply cannot be denied.

Ramzy Baroud is an author and editor of 
<http://www.PalestineChronicle.com>PalestineChronicle.com. His work 
has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His 
latest book is 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0745325475/counterpunchmaga>The 
Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle 
(Pluto Press, London).




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