Israel’s unwilling Arab collaborators

No country (other than the PA) will be dragged into the unforgiving trap of Gaza

Egypt, Qatar, and the UAE united in rejecting Israel’s impertinent call for them to put together a joint administrative structure to run the Gaza Strip under Israeli security and military control after it finishes destroying Hamas and its government.

Benjamin Netanyahu treats the three countries with the arrogance and disdain of a master issuing orders to his underlings, as though they have no sovereignty or opinion of their own and must only obey without argument. That probably explains the angry statement issued by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdallah bin-Zayed in response.

Bin-Zayed rebuked Netanyahu in a tone unheard since he signed the UAE-Israel normalisation agreement, declaring: “The UAE stresses that the Israeli prime minister does not have any legal capacity to take this step, and the UAE refuses to be drawn into any plan aimed at providing cover for the Israeli presence in the Gaza Strip,”

This official refusal by the three Arab states to comply with Israel’s plan is a good move. But it is insufficient.

After the Israeli army invaded the Gaza Strip and unleashed a genocidal war on its population, all the Arab normalising states were expected to sever relations with Israel and close its embassies — as non-Arab and non-Muslim countries in Africa and Latin America did. But, appallingly, they did not.

After seven months of mercilessly assaulting Gaza, Netanyahu has not won the war or managed to achieve any of his declared objectives (destroying Hamas, freeing hostages). He does not have the credibility or authority to issue instructions to Arab states to provide cover for his failure and defeat, and entangle them in the unforgiving trap of Gaza.

These states are aware how dangerous this trap is. They want to avoid falling into it because they are conscious of the consequences. But not the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA). It is all too willing to comply with the directives of its Israeli master.

According to Western reports, PA security chief Majed Faraj is preparing to send 5,00 troops, currently being trained in Egypt and Jordan, to oversee security in Gaza as a replacement for Hamas and a facade for Israel. That would replicate the role they already play in the West Bank.
Despite being head of PA intelligence, Faraj seems strangely unaware of the fact that Hamas’ security forces have restored their control over most parts of the Gaza Strip, most recently the city of Khan Yonis and its adjoining villages after Israeli occupation forces fled the area.
Having failed to gain control over the Gaza Strip, Israel is scarcely in a position to dictate how it should be run. Even after its latest land incursions and massive aerial bombardments, its army is being dealt heavy blows by resistance fighters in many parts of the north, centre, and south. That resistance, with support on the Galilee front from Hezbollah and on the high seas from Yemeni naval forces, will persist and intensify.
I was born in Rafah refugee camp. Unlike Netanyahu, I know the history of that city and how brave and resilient its people are. I advise him to consult the memoirs of his predecessor and mentor Ariel Sharon when he was military governor of the Gaza Strip after it was occupied in 1967, about how after nightfall the territory would come under the control of resistance fighters — who were immeasurably less well armed, trained, prepared, and supported than today’s resistance.
An old friend told me in a brief phone call (during a rare internet connection) that he received a call giving him and his family and 100 people taking shelter with them 12 hours to evacuate their home in eastern Rafah or it would be flattened over their heads. Hundreds of families living nearby were told the same. They all evacuated — some his guest for the third or fourth time — and the buildings were flattened. Nevertheless, he assured me, their morale is high and they are confident of victory.

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