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Gaza: Trouble Brewing with Hizballah Support

As UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has been asked to name a mediator to serve as a third-party conduit between the Israelis and Hizballah, trouble brews in Gaza as the flow of arms and personnel is reportedly at an unprecedented level.

Annan is to appoint a secret mediator for indirect negotiations between Israel and Hizballah seeking the release of the two IDF soldiers whose abduction sparked the month-long Israeli campaign against Hizballah in southern Lebanon.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert looked south and east rather than north however, saying Israel has “no more urgent problem than that of the Palestinians.” For their part, the Palestinians would likely tend to agree.

The harsh realities of freely electing the terrorist organization Hamas into power are having devastating effects on the Palestinian people, especially in the Gaza Strip. A general strike has been underway in the Palestinian Authority as workers insist on receiving their salaries for services rendered. Said to be instigated by Fatah-member-led workers unions, Hamas officials decried the paralyzing strike as a conspiracy to destroy the Hamas-led government. Said Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad, “This is an illegal strike that won’t help lift the sanctions imposed on our people. This move won’t accelerate the payment of the salaries and will only increase the suffering of our people.”

Perhaps sensing a rapid decline of public support for Hamas, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is hinting once again at early parliamentary elections, this time to include a vote for his own presidential seat in the Palestinian government. Abbas’ last call for early elections sparked violent clashes between Hamas militias – some formed just prior to the fighting – and Abbas’ Fatah-controlled official PA security forces, including police. The in-fighting only subsided with Israel’s incursion with Operation Summer Rains, brought on by a Hamas-led Palestinian tunnel raid in which IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit was abducted.

But while the political in-fighting continues in the Palestinian Territories, the leader of Israel’s intelligence agencies warns of a dark cloud forming in Gaza. Yuval Diskin sounded the alarm that an unprecedented level of weaponry is being smuggled into Gaza along the southern Palestinian-Egyptian border Israel no longer controls. Diskin reported to a closed-door meeting with the Knessett’s foreign affairs and defense committee leaders that “Katyusha rockets with a 10-mile range, dozens of anti-tank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, 15 tons of explosives, 15,000 guns and four million rounds of ammunition” are known to have been smuggled through a 20-tunnel system underneath the border. Yuval Diskin has warned of the Palestinian buildup before.

Seeing Hizballah’s tactical successes against the IDF in Lebanon, particularly with their anti-tank weapons and tactics, Hamas terrorists seek to emulate this and according to Diskin, are receiving direct aid and assistance from Iran-sponsored Hizballah. Said Diskin directly, “If we don’t move to counter this smuggling, it will continue and create a situation in Gaza similar to the one in southern Lebanon.”

Trouble brews beneath the earth’s surface in the Gaza Strip.

It is within this context that former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami’s statement that Iran ‘accepts two-state answer’ in the Arab-Israeli conflict must be considered. No longer holding elected office within the Iranian government, his statement that Hamas “is ready to live alongside Israel” if Palestinians are granted the right of return to Israel – and thereby eventually overpowering the Israeli democracy through a resultant Arab/Muslim population majority – can be seen as the ‘long view’ approach to “wipe Israel off the map.”

As can be seen through the actions of Hizballah and Hamas – let alone Hamas’ own charter calling for the destruction of Israel - there are other means.

Though Khatami couched this support for a two-state solution saying, “Of course whatever Palestinians think is respected by us,” perhaps it is no mystery what Iran hopes the Palestinians think, considering Hizballah’s direct support for the Hamas weapons buildup in Gaza – not to mention the Palestinian terrorists’ admission of Hizballah, al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad coordinating attacks on Israel.