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Fmr. Mideast Envoy Dennis Ross: Focus on Disarmament for Reconstruction in Gaza

A former Middle East negotiator, who served both Democratic and Republican administrations, said the latest flare-up in Gaza was a threat against U.S. interests and those of its allies – orchestrated by the Islamist terrorist group, Hamas and its Iranian patrons – in the face of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” against the regime in Tehran.

In a conference call organized by The Israel Project, which publishes The Tower, Dennis Ross said on Wednesday that Hamas, which exercises complete political and military control over the Gaza Strip, was responsible for the latest escalation triggered by sniper fire from Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Ross warned that an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza, which he said was “ultimately the only way to stop the rocket fire,” would likely result in the deaths of a “significant number of Israeli soldiers” because Palestinian terrorist organizations use the civilian population as human shields for their fighters and weapons.

This, he observed, creates a moral and strategic “dilemma” for Israel, which Hamas and other Iranian-sponsored proxies exploit. The question, Ross said, is what can be done to “change this dynamic.”

Although there are no simple answers, Ross noted “one interesting new factor in the equation” – street demonstrations in Gaza, which took place last month against the terror group and the dire economic conditions in the enclave. Therefore, Ross asserted, Hamas attacked Israel out of a position of weakness to divert attention from the internal situation in Gaza.

Unfortunately, the anti-Hamas demonstrations didn’t garner the same international attention as the violent Hamas-orchestrated riots along the Gaza-Israeli border, Ross lamented. This, he said, worked in favor of Hamas.

Moving forward, the former ambassador said the international community should offer an extensive reconstruction plan for Gaza, which would put Hamas on the “defensive.” In return, the plan would allow Israel to “reframe the issue” by “putting the focus more on what Hamas is doing” to deprive Gaza’s civilian population of food, medicine, fuel, and basic services.

Full audio of the call can be found here.

[Photo: Nrbelex / Wikimedia Commons]