The Conversation

A Second Palestinian Civil War?

Avi Issacharoff of the Times of Israel makes a very interesting observation about the Israeli navy's seizure of an Iranian shipment of Syrian M-302 missiles destined for Gaza. The missiles, he writes, were almost certainly intended for a Palestinian terror group--not Hamas, which rules Gaza, but for Palestinian Islamic Jihad:

Had the missiles on the Panama-flagged ship reached the Gaza Strip and fallen into the hands of the Islamic Jihad, the organization would have had new game-changing weaponry, not only against Israel, but also against Hamas.

Iran had long funded and supported Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It also developed ties to Hamas, but those may have begun to unwind during the Syrian civil war, when Sunni Hamas began to feel pressure from its supporters to oppose the Iranian-backed Assad regime and  Shiite-Alawite alliance devastating Syria's civilian population. 

Angry at Hamas for switching sides in Syria, Iran may now be pumping up its local rival. The M-302 missiles presented a huge risk of war with Israel, but could have helped establish Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a greater force than Hamas--which has the additional burden of having lost its Muslim Brotherhood backers in Egypt.

So now there may be two Palestinian civil wars, not one--between Fatah and Hamas on the one hand, and now between Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad on the other. With whom is Israel supposed to make peace?


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