Egypt is the target of the escalation in Gaza

Only Egypt can intervene to lift the siege of Gaza and prepare as much as possible for normal life in the strip.

The situation in Gaza clearly reflects the depth of the crisis and the sheer incompetence of most of those with influence among the Palestinian authorities in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. To the great satisfaction of Israel, they are incapable of moving forward with a Palestinian national project and turn it into reality.

The prevailing stalemate, which could easily turn into war, is the greatest service the Palestinian authorities can offer Israel. A war is what Israel is looking for so it can argue there is no Palestinian with whom to negotiate and that the Palestinians are only interested in stirring up unrest and brandishing slogans far removed from reality.

What’s the point of providing targets for Israeli snipers to shoot at just because those unfortunate victims had moved close to the Gaza border?

Almost every day, young Palestinians are dying for a lost cause. Every day, burning kites are sent to the Israeli side to cause fires in agricultural fields. That does not answer the question of whether the victims on the Palestinian side and the fires on the Israeli side will achieve any kind of result, let alone lift the unjust siege on Gaza.

Straight talk is useful now and then. If Hamas was ever capable of scoring any kind of victory over Israel, there wouldn’t be this criminal siege of Gaza since 2007 and there wouldn’t be any Palestinian homes destroyed in Gaza in 2008 and 2009. The Palestinian families who were living in those homes still live in tents today.

Put aside, for the moment, Palestinian-Palestinian reconciliation, which is difficult to achieve for a variety of reasons, some of them because of the Palestinian Authority’s unwillingness to enter a bargain that it can’t control or foresee the outcome of.

Hamas does not want to clarify its positions in general. There are several wings in Hamas that sing different tunes. There is a wing that wants to reach a deal with Israel, the same one that the Palestinian Authority was prevented by Hamas from reaching in the past. Another wing says the future of Hamas is linked to the role it plays in the service of the Iranian project in the region and other plans backed by Arab parties that have nothing on their minds but to antagonise Egypt and cause it problems as punishment for booting the Muslim Brothers and their backwardness in June 2013.

It was never a secret that several Arab countries helped Egypt during that delicate phase. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait were at the forefront of the countries that wanted to prevent Egypt from collapsing.

What is happening in Gaza is stoking the fires of an escalation whose primary target is Egypt. Behind this escalation, we find Egypt’s enemies, those who wish to prevent Egypt from regaining its role in Gaza and on the Palestinian level in general and who are keen on thwarting any Palestinian reconciliation.

The only goals for the escalation are to prevent any lifting of the siege on Gaza on the one hand, and on the other, to embarrass Egypt by making it look like it failed in its reconciliation mission.

It is known which Arab and non-Arab parties are backing the Muslim Brotherhood. It is also known that Iran is using them for its purposes, such as hurting Egypt. So, more than at any other time, there is a need to understand that the escalation in Gaza and the war for which Israel is preparing will bring nothing to the Palestinians.

There is also a need to understand that there is a clear desire on the part of more than one party to use Gazans as fuel for a new war that will make Iran look like it possesses a playing card called the Gaza Strip. Those stirring Gazans for a new war will bring them nothing but death, destruction and misery.

Frankly, there would be nothing wrong with Hamas concluding a deal with Israel under Egyptian auspices. There would be nothing wrong ending this continuous poker game being played by Iran and others using Gaza as a chip. There would be nothing wrong with preventing resentful Arab countries from settling scores with Egypt by sacrificing Gaza and its inhabitants.

As the Americans would say, there is only one game in town. That game is called Egypt’s role in Gaza. For Gaza and Gazans, there is no alternative to Egyptian mediation. Only Egypt can intervene to lift the siege of Gaza and prepare as much as possible for normal life in the strip.

Hamas can correct its huge mistakes in Gaza. So, will leaders be found in the movement who understand what is at stake or will the several of Hamas wings continue to pursue their own agendas? One of those wings is quite powerful and specialises in fighting Egypt, its role and its mediation.

Khairallah Khairallah is a Lebanese writer.

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.