Hamas gains open border with Egypt
Hamas, which rules Gaza, now has an open border with Egypt. That can only make war more likely.
The Rafah Crossing opens
The Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt is now open during daytime on most days, after Egypt decided to open it. Five years ago, Israel closed it after Hamas people started firing rockets and mortars at nearby Israeli communities, and after Hamas captured a Tzahal soldier, one Gilead Shalit. Shalit is still a prisoner, and the rocket and mortar attacks continue. (Last April, a Hamas crew fired an anti-tank missile at a loaded school bus.) The Rafar Crossing was open only to limited numbers of students and professors. Now it is open to anyone, at least from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm local time. (Israeli and Palestinian time are two hours ahead of British time, and seven hours ahead of New York time.)
That Egypt would reopen the crossing without consulting Israel means that Egypt has changed after throwing Hosni Mubarak out of power. Mubarak not only agreed to the closing but also tried to stop Hamas from running in money and weapons. Israel is afraid that money and weapons will now flow freely. (The Jerusalem Post gives a detailed history of the crossing and its openings and closings.)
Who is Hamas?
The name Hamas means zeal. It also stands for Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamat al-Islāmiyyah, or Islamic Resistance Movement. They have existed since 1987. They vow to destroy Israel and set up a global caliphate, or ruling Muslim state. (Hat tip: Middle East Media Research Institute.)
The Hamas covenant, or charter, quotes many chapters and verses from the Koran. Those passages swear vengeance against Jew and Christian alike.
The charter also identifies Hamas as the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood. This same movement is now in command in Egypt. That alone explains the border crossing. The new Egypt has also allowed an Iranian frigate to pass through the Suez Canal, something Mubarak never allowed.
What does Hamas say about Palestine?
The covenant recognizes no law but the Islamic to justify its title to Palestine. Tellingly, it says exactly what Islamic law means. Under Islamic law, any land that Muslims have once “conquered by force” is consecrated as a religious endowment to future generations of Muslims. It is the most brazen declaration that any thief ever made. A Western proverb says that possession is nine points of the law. Hamas says that possession is the whole law.
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The Palestinian Authority, in the West Bank, recently signed a reconciliation agreement with Hamas. The PA now say that they will go to the United Nations to seek admission of a West Bank/Gaza country as an independent State.
Binyamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, has said flatly that he will never negotiate with Hamas. President Obama is ambivalent. He did say that Hamas can never expect to negotiate with Israel until it recognizes Israel’s right to exist. But he also said that Israel must retreat to the 1949 armistice line, or to a line too close to it to make any difference.
This is a contradiction. The only way to resolve it would be for Hamas to renounce its charter. But Hamas cannot do that and stay true to Islam at the same time—not as they see it.
Now Hamas will get more money and weapons than ever before. They might try to start a war with that money and those weapons.
A famous American broadcaster is encouraging people to get their flight tickets and tour bookings to Israel for a week near the end of August. That broadcaster will host his event from the Temple Mount, a site fraught with meaning on all sides. Surely Hamas knows all this. They could try to shoot down one of the planes bringing in all those American tourists and rally-goers. (That would be very difficult, because those planes can defend themselves directly against that kind of thing.) Or they could start a war in the Negev, or a naval blockade of Haifa.
Anything can happen. All we can do is watch.