Why Hamas has stayed out of the recent Gaza conflict


A cease-fire between Israel and the PIJ on Gaza took effect at 11:30 p.m. local time (4:30 p.m. ET) on Sunday, and will hold for about 24 hours. According to data from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the conflict has resulted in the deaths of at least 44 militants and civilians in Gaza. Fifteen of the deceased were children. Israel insists that most of those killed were militants and that several civilians were killed by failed militant rocket launches.
Hamas, the militant group that runs Gaza, expressed support for the PIJ’s actions. But this took its larger and more powerful arsenal of rockets out of the equation, while Israel’s military made it clear from the start that they were solely focused on PIJ targets.

That prevented the conflict from escalating into a larger, more dangerous confrontation and anything close to what happened during the 11-day war in May 2021.

So why not get involved? One reason is that 15 months have passed since the 2021 conflict that caused considerable damage and death in Gaza, according to analysts and Israeli officials. Palestinians there are still rebuilding their homes and Hamas is rebuilding its arsenal.

The Israeli government believes its economic stimulus campaign — increasing the number of permits granted to Gazans to cross into Israel for work — is succeeding.

Israel and Egypt have imposed a closure on Gaza since 2007, limiting access to the territory by land, air and sea, including tight restrictions on the movement of residents and the flow of goods.

If rockets are fired, Israel will close the border and thousands of Gazans with permits will not be able to work or get paid in Israel.

On Monday, a senior Israeli diplomatic official said Hamas “is not an enemy partner … but there is cooperation that we can do, mainly through Egypt, to improve the situation in Gaza.”

For showing restraint, Hamas expects to be rewarded.

Lapid’s first big security test

The weekend conflict was the first major military test for interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid. Unlike his predecessor Naftali Bennett, Lapid was not known for his military combat experience. But like his visit with US President Joe Biden last month, it was another moment where Lapid looked like a real prime minister — images Lapid hopes Israelis will remember as they go to the polls in November.

The conflict brought another breakthrough, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale: Former prime minister, now opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, met with Lapid on Sunday to receive a security briefing on the operation. It was his first security briefing since leaving office — even though it was standard practice by law. Until this weekend, Netanyahu had boycotted meetings.

After the meeting, Netanyahu said he supported the operation and “gave his full support to the government, the IDF and the security forces.”

Parts of Gaza are once again in ruins and mourning for the lives lost continues, but for everyday Israelis and Gazans, the conflict has not led to a substantial change in the political situation on the ground.

Digest

Russia’s ambassador to Iran nuclear talks says they are “moving in the right direction”.

Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s chief negotiator in Vienna for talks aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal, told the media on Sunday, “I don’t make guarantees. [anything]But the impression is that we are moving in the right direction.” He said there were “at least” unresolved issues, “only 3 [or] 4.”

  • Background: Tehran has increased uranium enrichment at a pace not seen since signing the 2015 nuclear deal. Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from that agreement in 2018. In June, Iran switched off surveillance cameras used by the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor activity at the country’s major nuclear facilities. Sunday marked the fourth day of this latest round — the ninth — of Iran nuclear talks.
  • Why is that important?: Talks broke down earlier this year over Tehran’s insistence that the US remove the Revolutionary Guards from its list of terrorist organizations, which the US refused to do. However, the US has sent a special envoy for Iran to Vienna for a new round of talks, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last Monday that the US was “ready to proceed on an agreed basis”. It is unclear whether Iran is ready to do the same.

Putin, Erdogan agree to begin partial payment in rubles for Russian gas

Bilateral talks in Sochi between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan partially included an agreement to pay Russia in rubles for gas supplies. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said the two presidents reached agreements to establish a financial banking bloc “for commercial companies, Russian citizens, tourists to pay and exchange money during trips”.

  • Background: Russia is trying to force its customers to pay for energy in rubles. President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in March that required buyers of natural gas from “unfriendly countries” to have accounts at Russia’s third-largest bank — Gazprombank — and to settle contracts in rubles.
  • Why is that important?: Russia is on a mission to prove that the US is not as isolated as it wants. Tightening ties between Putin and Erdogan could provide Russia with ways to ease the pressure of Western sanctions on the country. The ruble fell to a record low in the wake of the attack, but it has been the world’s best-performing currency this year, according to Reuters. Central bank policies are put in place to prevent investors and companies from selling the currency and other measures to force them to buy it.

The Iranian city reaches 53 degrees Celsius, the hottest temperature in the world this year

Abadan, Iran had a high temperature of 53.0°C (127.4°F) on Friday — the highest temperature recorded anywhere in the world in 2022, according to climate historian Maximiliano Herrera.

  • Background: Several places across Iran, Iraq and Kuwait soared above 50 degrees Celsius on Friday. Temperatures are expected to return to average after the weekend, with highs in the mid to upper 40s Celsius. The highest temperature ever recorded was 56.7 °C (134.1 °F) in Death Valley, California on July 10, 1913.
  • Why is that important?: Heat of this caliber raises major concerns of heat-related illness, especially for those without access to water and proper shelter, and is likely to increase arguments for action on climate change.

What is trending

Kuwait: #public_demand_increase_of_wage

Citizens of one of the richest Arab countries are demanding a pay rise.

Kuwaitis took to Twitter to express their frustration over the country’s economic situation, blaming official corruption and greed for inequality in wages.

According to the World Population Review, Kuwaiti citizens are a minority in a country of 4.2 million, making up only 30% of the population. Most of them depend on government jobs for their livelihood.

“It is unimaginable that a rich country like Kuwait has a small population and the world’s strongest currency. [wouldn’t raise wages],” tweeted Mohammed Al Huwaishel. “People’s demands must be met without conditions.”

Many Kuwaitis take government jobs — where wages can be up to 28% higher than in the private sector — because they either lack the skills necessary to work in the private sector or, according to the moderate, some of those jobs are seen as inferior to the former agency.
Because of the benefits offered in government jobs, the private sector has found it difficult to attract Kuwaitis. According to the International Monetary Fund, public wages and benefits account for one-third of the government’s budget. The government earmarked $72 billion in spending for its latest budget.

The World Bank warned in December that the government’s wage bill was unsustainable, saying the country’s financial reserves would be depleted if the situation continued. It said the nation had made the least progress among the oil-rich Gulf Arab nations to improve its wage bill and increase hiring.

Another hashtag on Twitter called on the government to waive off citizens’ loans, which is not without precedent. After the end of the Gulf War in 1991, the government waived almost all consumer debt.

By Mohammad Abdelbari

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