Monday, 19 November 2012

Middle East

Is Gaza a distraction from Syria or are they inextricably linked?

23rd October was not the first time Israel allegedly attacked weapons caches in Sudanese territory that were destined for Gaza. In January 2009, Israel allegedly carried out an air strike against a weapons convoy northwest of Port Sudan heading to Gaza. Hamas took a major risk in smuggling the weapons to Gaza in the first place, perhaps thinking they could get away with it since they have been able to with less sophisticated weapons systems.

When attacks against Israel began picking up again around 10th November including an anti-tank attack on an Israeli military jeep claimed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and several dozen more rocket attacks claimed by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and smaller Salafist-jihadist groups, Hamas appeared more cautious, calling the main Gaza militant groups together on 12th November to seek out another truce.

A strong Hamas response would also boost Hamas' credibility among Palestinians. Hamas essentially tried to make the most out of an already difficult situation and will now likely work through Egypt to try to reach a truce to avoid an Israeli ground campaign in Gaza that could further undermine its authority in the territory.

In Tehran, Iranian officials are probably content with these developments. Iran needed a distraction from the conflict in Syria. It now has that, at least temporarily.

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