Weekend long read

1) At Ynet, Elior Levy reports on the departure of terrorist group leaders from the Gaza Strip.

“They are the top leadership of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, those who lead the armed resistance to Israel, whose words can rile up the enclave’s populace into a war fervor, despite the difficult conditions.

But at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words and right under everyone’s nose, several of these top officials booked it out of Gaza and have not returned since.

The group consists of eight figures with prominent media presence, all of which hold great sway within their respective organizations.

Over the past year, they all moved out of the decrepit and crowded streets of Gaza for safer locations around the globe, with some living in luxury and pampered by their hosts.”

2) Jonathan Spyer provides Four Mid-East Trendlines to Watch in 2022.

“As 2022 begins, the Mid-East strategic picture is in a state of flux and change.  Stable and long held assumptions about the region, its dynamics, its main players and its power structures are being challenged.  So what are the main points of friction?  Here are four emergent trendlines worth watching.”

3) Eyal Zisser explains how ‘Demography Still Plays a Critical Role in the Middle East’.

“Over the past decade, the discourse in the Middle East has reverted to demographics and counting births, deaths and emigration. This time, though, it no longer revolves around the Israel-Palestinian conflict, rather the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict and the clash between Iran and Arab countries, which has become a central component of the regional agenda. Demography plays a critical role in this fight, and when the need arises, the Iranians and their allies don’t shy from “engineering” the demographics to serve their hegemonic regional interests.”

4) At the JCPA, Pinhas Inbari takes a look at recent events in Jordan.

“This is an opportunity to examine what is happening in Jordan. Developments there should be troubling King Abdullah II. Although Jordan is currently calm domestically, and there are no violent events like in Jenin, the Jordanian parliament is giving the king stress. According to comments from journalists close to the palace, the king views the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas’ umbrella organization) as the source of the unrest.”

5) MEMRI documents reports by some Lebanese journalists concerning recent attacks on UNIFIL forces in south Lebanon.

“In the last few weeks, there were two incidents in which residents of South Lebanon attacked UNIFIL forces that are deployed in the area in keeping with UN Security Council Resolution 1701. On December 22, 2021, locals in the town of Shaqra clashed with a UNIFIL patrol that was photographing buildings in the town. Several UNIFIL troops were injured and some of their vehicles were damaged before Lebanese army forces managed to extricate them from the town. This incident occurred one day after UN Secretary-General António Guterres made a visit to Lebanon, on which he called to guarantee UNIFIL’s freedom of movement and urged Hizbullah to become ” a purely political party, like any other political force in the country,” i.e., to surrender its weapons. Some two weeks later, on January 4, 2022, a similar incident occurred when residents of the village of Bint Jbeil attacked UNIFIL troops, again on the grounds that they were taking pictures of their homes.”

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