Weekend long read

1) The ITIC answers the question ‘What is the true reason for the shortcomings of the medical system in the Gaza Strip?’.

“The Hamas movement is accompanying its fight against COVID-19 with a campaign of blaming and threatening Israel. At the core of the campaign is blame for Israel for [allegedly] destroying the medical system in the Gaza Strip, preventing it from effectively coping with the virus and endangering the lives of the two million people living in Gaza. Senior Hamas figures, among them Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, threatened that if a shortage of ventilators and other medical equipment develops, Hamas will use force against Israel and “make six million Israeli settlers [sic] stop breathing.”

An analysis of how Hamas has conducted itself since it took control of the Gaza Strip shows that the difficulties of Gaza’s medical system and the Gazans’ economic hardships are not the result of Israeli policies. They are the direct consequence of Hamas’ order of strategic priorities, which gives preference to military buildup at the expense of civilian considerations and needs.”

2) At the Times of Israel David Horovitz charts the demise of Israel’s Labour party.

“What is striking about Labor’s demise is the speed of its final acceleration into the political grave. Having first lost power to Menachem Begin’s Likud in 1977, it was still strong enough to win back the national leadership under Yitzhak Rabin in 1992. Discredited by the Arafat-orchestrated suicide bombings of the Second Intifada, having legitimized the PLO leader with the Oslo Accords, and shattered by the assassination of Rabin, it nonetheless managed a final, brief spell at Israel’s helm under Ehud Barak in 1999-2001.

And as recently as the 2015 elections, under Isaac Herzog, it won 24 seats (under the Zionist Union rubric) to Likud’s 30, forcing Netanyahu to scramble to assemble a majority coalition. What a vote-winner the widely derided Herzog looks in hindsight, with Labor since reduced to six seats under Avi Gabbay a year ago, and then to five and finally three under Peretz in our last two elections.”

3) Michael Segall discusses Iranian flights to Venezuela at the JCPA.

Venezuela’s deputy minister for refineries and petrochemicals said Iran had transferred technical equipment and materials to the Cardòn refinery, which is near the airport, with the aim of reactivating it. Some Iranian technicians are also supposed to be flown in. With the collapse of its refineries, Venezuela is suffering a severe fuel shortage, and a rehabilitation of the Cardòn refinery, which can refine about 300,000 barrels of oil per day, can help it somewhat alleviate the country’s ongoing energy crisis after years of neglect and U.S. sanctions.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó warned of the resumption of the Mahan flights; the airline is under U.S. sanctions because of its ties to drug cartels. Mahan serves the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps by transferring weapons to the Houthis in Yemen and Syria, and also in ferrying IRGC personnel and foreign fighters between Iran’s Middle Eastern theaters of activity (Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon).”

4) At Quillette Benjamin Kerstein reviews ‘The War of Return’.

“In The War of Return, Wilf and Schwartz trace the convoluted history of the refugee issue and its centrality to Palestinian nationalist ideology, from its origins in 1948 through decades of war and peace efforts to the current stalemate between the two parties to the conflict. Along the way, they reveal much that has been misrepresented, deliberately concealed, and often consciously distorted throughout the long struggle over this tiny piece of emotionally fraught real estate. Presented with such evidence, and despite some innovative suggestions as to a solution, their conclusions, while often revelatory and convincing, are regrettably more than a little depressing.”

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