Creating new perspectives since 2009

The battle of wills over Gaza is just the beginning

January 24, 2014 at 9:11 am

If media leaks about Egypt’s generals informing the Israeli government about the coup three days before it was executed are true, then the matter is more than a coup with domestic ramifications. The diversity of the interested parties suggests a multiple of motives. It would also mean that the overthrow of democratic legitimacy derived from the January 25 Revolution is linked to Cairo’s subordination to the Israelis and provision of valuable intelligence against the Islamic Resistance Movement in Palestine. The result for the Palestinians could be worse than the effects of Mubarak’s regime.

The measures taken to intensify the blockade on Gaza, which coincided with the coup and continue to escalate, carry serious implications for the future of Gaza and the manner in which it will be handled by the “interim” regime. The besieged territory appears to be reverting to being a “security and political” concern for the Egyptians once more rather than a humanitarian issue. The Palestinians will again face serious restrictions on travel and the import of essential goods, including fuel.

In the summer of 2008, when the pressure and siege on the Gaza Strip reached its pinnacle, angry Palestinians stormed the Rafah border crossing and flocked to El-Arish to buy basic necessities. The then Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mubarak Ahmed Aboul Gheit, threatened to break the legs of any Palestinian crossing the border. A few months later, the Israeli army launched a major attack on the Gaza Strip with the goal of toppling the Hamas government; Gaza persevered and faced the aggression despite the crippling blockade.

Today, Israel’s intensification of the siege is being repeated, but this time it is joined by the grip of the Egyptian security services. Moreover, incitement against Gaza and the Palestinians has risen once again to occupy a prominent place in the Egyptian media on a daily basis, especially following the growing number of suspicious incidents in the Sinai Peninsula.

Israel plays its part by stoking up the atmosphere in what seems to be an effort to prepare public opinion for another attack against the civilians of Gaza. If and when it happens, Israel’s assault will be an extension of the bloody military coup in Egypt because Tel Aviv will be assured that the government in Cairo will not side with the Palestinians. It will also take place in light of the unexpected setback for the Arab Spring, from which the Palestinians were waiting to reap the benefits.

During the 2008 attack it was said that Gaza’s back was up against the wall and that the resistance movement would fight until the last breath. Today we say the same thing with the addition that times have changed and the resistance has become stronger and more deeply rooted. The ways in which its fighters can challenge the Israeli occupation are more diverse than they were. As for those who the Israelis will rely on for help, either Egyptian or Palestinian, they are still unstable. The battle of wills is just the beginning.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.