Third Intifada in sight
With political negotiations going nowhere, Hamas is preparing to unleash mass popular action to end the Gaza siege and reconfigure the strategic balance with Israel, writes Saleh Al-Naami
It is sometimes difficult for Ghazi Hamad, former spokesperson of the dismissed Ismail Haniyeh government, to recall all the international parties that have taken an interest in mediating between Palestinian factions -- and also between Hamas and Israel -- in order to reach an agreement resulting in a ceasefire and a lifting of the siege on Gaza. The Norwegians, Germans, British, Turks and South Africans, in addition to traditional Arab parties, are all enthusiastic about landing such an agreement, though Egypt seems the most committed. This level of interest, however, has not yet succeeded in breaking the political deadlock or mitigating the humanitarian disaster created by Israel.
"The Hamas movement conveyed its vision of a comprehensive agreement to several foreign diplomats so that they could convey this vision to Israel. Yet all indicators show that Israel has not exhibited any enthusiasm for treating this vision in a positive manner," Hamad told Al-Ahram Weekly. Undeterred, Hamas is intensifying its initiative efforts in order to embarrass Israel and is exposing it as a party intent on maintaining tension. At the same time, protest activity within the movement against the siege is growing, climaxing recently in the organisation of a global day for breaking the siege observed in 90 countries and the organisation of the world's longest human chain, at 40 kilometres long, stretching from the north to the south of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas sources stress that the combination of political initiatives and protest activities is a necessary precursor to "dramatic steps" Hamas is planning to take should the siege continue. They point out that Hamas realises all too well that the chances of Israel agreeing to its proposals are near zero, and that Hamas is planning to lead the Gazan people to the border with Israel and cross it. The idea is that this would shake the foundations on which Israeli propaganda rests, especially regarding its siege on Gaza.
Sources have further indicated that among the political steps taken, Hamas has submitted proposals for a comprehensive agreement to one British diplomat and to Omar Suleiman, chief of Egyptian General Intelligence. This proposal contains the following points:
- A mutual ceasefire in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, on which basis Israel must halt assassinations, invasions and arrests, and resistance movements must halt firing rockets on Israeli settlements near the Gaza Strip.
- A lifting of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip since mid-June of last year, including a re- opening of border and commercial crossings, and foremost the Rafah border crossing.
- Completion of the prisoner swap deal by which Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit would be released in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners named by Hamas.
Hamas sources have confirmed that in order to give its proposal more weight, Hamas met with representatives of all other resistance movements active in the Gaza Strip and reached an agreement to halt the launching of rockets on Israeli settlements should Israel agree to stop assassinations and lift the siege. In particular, Hamas rushed to inform the Egyptian government about this agreement.
1) Third Intifada in sight