Israel To Allow Missiles Into Gaza Via Aircraft, Artillery
Kerem Shalom Crossing, Israel (AP) – Several weeks after a cease-fire was declared between Israel and the Hamas movement that governs the Gaza Strip, negotiations are continuing over the terms of that cease-fire. Through Egyptian mediators, Israel has conveyed its agreement to allow certain military goods into the Gaza Strip, with certain conditions.
Among those conditions, say the Egyptians, is a provision that the armaments be delivered by Israeli aircraft, artillery, tanks and infantry, and that the drop-off points be restricted to missile-launching, armament storage and military training facilities used by Hamas. An Israel Defense Force spokesman said the army was ready to make delivery of these payloads repeatedly if necessary, and follow up with further deliveries if the materials did not adequately reach their destinations.
Last week the Israeli military began enforcing a more generous limit on Palestinian fishing boats, and offered to supply the hulls of boats venturing beyond the six-mile limit with hundreds of explosive shells, provided in the space of a few seconds at twice the speed of sound. But in what analysts say is a sign of the complex economic picture that is the Gaza Strip, few fisherman have voluntarily taken up the Israeli Navy on its offer.
Similarly, Israel has allowed Palestinian farmers access to lands abutting the border fence, and has made available many hundreds of bullets for the farm workers to carry embedded in their flesh. Several Palestinians accepted such a deal in the immediate aftermath of the fighting, but since then, none have stepped forward.
Before the 2007 takeover of the coastal strip by Hamas, Israel was a major market for the area’s exports, especially agricultural goods and manual labor. But after Hamas routed forces loyal to the more moderate Fatah faction that still governs the West Bank, Israel imposed a blockade. During that time, the flow of war materiel all but dried up, except for Palestinian attempts by individuals and small groups to deliver explosives through the air to Israeli communities, and by IDF deliveries of missiles to militants. Sporadic Israeli deliveries of bullets to the hearts and heads of militant leaders also took place.
The Gaza Strip economy took a beating; the internal trade of explosives and bullets persisted, with almost weekly deliveries of bullets to the bodies of individuals suspected of collaborating with Israel, but the number of available customers remains inadequate to meet the producers’ minimum requirements for sustainability. Last month Hamas made repeated attempts to export rockets to the surrounding Israeli communities, with some deliveries reaching as far north as Tel Aviv and as far east as the southern outskirts of Jerusalem. But Israel’s Iron Dome system imposed strict conditions on the import of such goods, and few deliveries made it through the screening process.
Hamas and its supporters in Iran and Lebanon have decried such Israeli barriers, accusing the Jewish state of imposing unfair restrictions on Palestinian rockets. But the American-funded system, say Israeli trade representatives, is intended to protect Israel’s economic interests from over-the-border threats. Israel questions the necessity of delivering these goods specifically to its population, noting that countries such as Syria, Iraq, Mali, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan have managed to develop a thriving internal system of armaments exchanges, with various groups competing in each for ascendancy in the high-speed delivery of bullets and shrapnel.
Ismail Haniyeh, a veteran Hamas member, recalls the early days of his movement’s once-thriving provision of explosives to Israeli bus passengers. That avenue of export was cut off more than ten years ago after the IDF effectively cut off Hamas’s delivery routes. Before then, the movement relied on delivery personnel to individually accompany each package of explosives to its final destination. That system is no longer practicable, says Haniyeh. He remains cautiously optimistic that a resumption of Israeli deliveries will allow his movement to distribute the effects of those materials as broadly as possible across the Gaza Strip population, as Hamas did in Pillar of Defense and in the 2009 Operation Cast Lead.
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