World Bulletin/News Desk
Israel's stated reasons for its latest incursion into Gaza are misleading, according to leading international security journalist and academic Nafeez Ahmed.
Israel is less interested in hitting Hamas than in securing the territory's gas reserves – and keeping Palestinians poor so that revenue from selling the gas does not fall into the "wrong hands", he says.
Israel claims it is trying to prevent Hamas launching rockets into Israel and destroy tunnels used by the group to move around.
However, 1.4 trillion cubic feet of gas worth some $4bn lie beneath the Palestinian territories and according to Ahmed, Israel is terrified that revenue from sales of the gas used by Hamas.
According to the Ecologist report, Israel's defence minister is on record confirmed that military plans to uproot Hamas' are about securing control of Gaza's gas reserves:
"But in 2007, a year before Operation Cast Lead, Ya'alon's concerns focused on the 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas discovered in 2000 off the Gaza coast, valued at $4 billion.
Ya'alon dismissed the notion that "Gaza gas can be a key driver of an economically more viable Palestinian state" as "misguided".
The problem, he said is that "Proceeds of a Palestinian gas sale to Israel would likely not trickle down to help an impoverished Palestinian public. Rather, based on Israel's past experience, the proceeds will likely serve to fund further terror attacks against Israel."
Ya'alon's comments illustrate that, Ahmed argues, "the Israeli cabinet is not just concerned about Hamas- but concerned that if Palestinians develop their own gas resources, the resulting economic transformation could in turn fundamentally increase Palestinian clout."
Since the discovery of oil and gas in the Occupied Territories, resource competition has increasingly been at the heart of the conflict, motivated largely by Israel's increasing domestic energy woes.
According to Ahmed, Israel is facing an energy shortage. In 2012 Israeli scientists warned in Ha'aretz that the country might exhaust its offshore reserves within 40 years. Although there are huge reserves in the Levant Basin Province they are in contested waters also claimed by Syria, Cyprus and Lebanon – as well as Gaza.
The report points out to the role of PA and Tony Blair in order to exclude Hamas from any possible gas deal:
"...even after a new round of negotiations was kick-started between the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and Israel in September 2012, Hamas was excluded from these talks, and thus rejected the legitimacy of any deal.
Earlier this year, Hamas condemned a PA deal to purchase $1.2 billion worth of gas from Israel Leviathan field over a 20 year period once the field starts producing.
Simultaneously, the PA has held several meetings with the British Gas Group to develop the Gaza gas field, albeit with a view to exclude Hamas - and thus Gazans - from access to the proceeds. That plan had been the brainchild of Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair.
But the PA was also courting Russia's Gazprom to develop the Gaza marine gas field, and talks have been going on between Russia, Israel and Cyprus, though so far it is unclear what the outcome of these have been. Also missing was any clarification on how the PA would exert control over Gaza, which is governed by Hamas."Last Mod: 12 Aralık 2014, 11:34