The iraqisation of Gaza has started: has the hour of Al-Qaida and/or The Hezbollah come?



A few days ago, we underlined the very particular aspects of the last taking of hostages in the Gaza Strip - that one that concerned Fox News American reporter Steve Centani and his New Zealand cameraman, Olaf Wiig. After having recalled that most of the taking of hostages of Westerners ended within a few hours or one day or two, we concluded that: "In this case, the unusual duration of this kidnapping and the fact that no faction appeared is likely to cause real concerns". Unfortunately, the facts have just given us reason: on August 23, an unknown group, the Brigades of the Holly Jihad, asserted the kidnapping by diffusing a video showing the two journalists. The claim is clear: all the "Moslem prisoners" in the United States must be released “within the 72 hours", meaning this Saturday evening at the latest. This will not happen and the continuation of the story will allow us to understand how serious is this threat, which is a new misadventure of the Palestinian terrorism.

Right now however, this terrible news gives substance to the fears expressed, mezzo voce, for more than two years by some Israeli, American and European experts who feared to see the al-Qa’eda network being established in the Gaza Strip.

The Brigades are completely unknown and one can even doubt that they have a real existence: it is much more likely a kind of new “brand” intended to hide an organization, quite real that one, like, for instance, the Popular Resistance Committees, one of the more extremist Palestinian fractions, which is considered to be related to al Qa’eda.

The claiming message which accompanied the video cassette evokes the traditional rhetoric of the extremists: Koranic references, apology for the sacrifice of the Mujahideen, critics of the action of the "forces of the evil" in Afghanistan and Iraq, call for conversion of "all the infidels". This message ended in a relatively elliptic way: "Release our prisoners and we will do the same", no allusion being made to the fate of the hostages if this claim were not met.

Several elements seem to indicate that the Brigades are probably an emanation of the al-Qa’eda network. Should it be the case, it would be an important strategic projection for the Salafists, who had never succeeded until now in being deeply established in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By investing this new ground, al-Qa’eda would get back to its own profit the most emblematic conflicts opposing (to mention again the Salafist phraseology) "the Moslem world" to "the Occident" or to the "Zionists". This true tender offer on the Palestinian "cause" could pay off and would give a new legitimacy to the Jihadist parties.

In addition, if the Brigades are a creation encouraged by the Hezbollah which always had a great influence on Hamas – in spite of its Shiite obedience - and other Palestinian extremists parties, it would not be either a good news: crowned with its quite relative "victory", the Hezbollah could afford the luxury of opening, by interposed Palestinians, a new front against "the Zionist entity ". In any cause, one thing is for sure - the Brigades moving in the Al Qa’eda circles or in the  Hezbollah circles -, the situation is obviously ripe, in the West Bank but especially in Gaza, to see an even more radical tendency than Hamas or the Islamic Jihad emerge. Fatah is discredited by years of bad management and of corruption, Hamas obviously struggles to be essential, but more especially, the al-Qa’eda network and/or the Hezbollah can estimate that the events of these last weeks showed the relative "weakness" of Israel and that the recourse to "hard" methods more would make it possible to gain points and to get much more than through negotiations. It is certainly extremely difficult to directly attack the Israelis - although a resumption of the attacks is possible – who are protected on the one hand by the security fence and on the other hand by draconian safety measures, but to strike the Westerners present at Gaza and their interests (or, if possible, the Israeli interests abroad) can be an interesting option in the eyes of the Jihadists who could thus hope to lead the international community to be more involved in the payment of the conflict.
The risk would be then to see this community still isolating more Israel. Another major risk is to see the Gaza Strip to rock definitively in a chaos with Iraqi who would destroy what is actually remaining of the Peace process and would have a destabilization effect on all the area. One last word  to regret that Israel, precisely, is not at the top for the moment - with a chief of staff who dabbled on the stock exchange, a weak Minister of Defence, an undecisive Prime Minister and other eminent members of his political elite implicated in regrettable scandals - to face this new threat with efficiency, resolution and intelligence. A few weeks ago, some inscriptions had flowered on the walls of Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv: "Sharon wake up, Olmert is in the coma". Sharon, unfortunately, has few chances to awake but the coma of Ehud Olmert seems to worsen.... The Jihad network and the Hezbollah are doing well. Thanks for them

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