A friend of mine sent me this timeline of recent events in Israel and Gaza and I offer it to you along with the following question: Does it seem to you that Israel really cares about the Palestinian people, Christian or Muslim, or achieving a two-state solution?
– On April 23, Hamas and Fateh agreed on a unity government in order to mend inter-factional ties and strengthen the Palestinian negotiating position vis-à-vis Israel. According to Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti at the time, the deal would “end to the division between the Palestinian people… Palestinians are in a unified camp, and Israel cannot claim that Palestinians cannot negotiate on behalf of all Palestinians” (CNN, April 23).
– The Hamas-Fateh unity government was set to “recognize Israel and renounce violence, meeting the conditions set by the ‘Quartet’ of Middle East peacemakers” (NYT, April 24). According to senior Fateh official Jibril Rajoub, “The government of national consent that will be established, headed by Abu Mazen, will declare clearly and unequivocally that it accepts the Quartet’s conditions” (NYT April 24).
– The Israeli government reacted by instantly suspending negotiations with the Palestinians. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu stated at the time that, “Whoever chooses the terrorism of Hamas does not want peace” and that the unity agreement “is the direct continuation of the Palestinians’ refusal to advance the negotiations.” (NYT, April 24)
– On the day of the announcement of the Hamas-Fateh unity agreement, Israel conducted an airstrike in northern Gaza that injured 12 people, including children and teenagers, referring to it as a “counter-terror operation, but provided no other details” (CNN, April 23). Hamas did not retaliate.
–Hamas did not kill the three Israeli teenagers on June 12 (The Jewish Daily Forward, July 10, NY Magazine, July 25). Salah al-Arouri, who claimed responsibility for the murders, is linked to the Hebron branch of Hamas, rather than the leadership in exile and in Gaza (Washinton Post, July 10). The Hebron branch of Hamas, run by the Qawasmeh tribe, has repeatedly gone rogue in order to undermine peace efforts by the leadership. “Each time Hamas had reached an understanding with Israel about a cease-fire or tahadiyeh (period of calm), at least one member of the [Qawasmeh] family has been responsible for planning or initiating a suicide attack, and any understandings with Israel, achieved after considerable effort, were suddenly laid waste. If there is a single family throughout the PA territories whose actions can be blamed for Israel’s assassination of the political leadership of Hamas, it is the Qawasmeh family of Hebron” (Al Monitor, June 29)
– The Israeli government knew that the boys were dead from the beginning (Jerusalem Post, July 2, The Jewish Daily Forward, July 10).
– On June 15, despite this knowledge, “the IDF confirmed that Hamas terrorists were responsible for last week’s abduction” and began “working around the clock, on all fronts, to find Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frenkel…” (IDFBlog, June 17).
– Also on June 15, Netanyahu drew a direct connection between the motives for the kidnapping and the Hamas-Fateh unity talks: “Israel warned the international community about the dangers of endorsing the Fatah-Hamas unity pact… The dangers of that pact should now be abundantly clear to all” (NYT, June 15).
– In the ensuing quest to “bring the boys home”—Operation Brothers’ Keeper—Israel proceeded to arrest around 800 Palestinians without charge or trial, kill nine civilians, raid almost 1,300 residential, commercial and public buildings, and target Hamas members released during the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap (The Nation, July 25).
– According to Israeli security officials, Hamas’ rocket volley from Gaza on June 30 was the first time the group had shot rockets into Israel since Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. (The Times of Israel, June 30). It came after two weeks of efforts by Israel to cripple Hamas during Operation Brother’s Keeper.
– Israeli security sources had previously attested to Hamas’ aggressive anti-rocket efforts, including the establishment in 2013 of a police unit in Gaza dedicated to stopping rocket attacks (International Crisis Group, MEB39, July 14).
– Israeli officials had conceded that, prior to June 30, “smaller groups, such as Islamic Jihad, are usually behind the rocket attacks, while Hamas squads generally attempt to thwart the rocket fire” (The Times of Israel, June 30).