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Behind Closed Doors: The Qatar-Israel Nexus and the Shifting Sands of Middle East Politics

"Delving into Mossad's dual role, from escorting Qatari officials to Gaza to intelligence lapses, in the intricate Israeli-Qatari entanglement."

Mohammed al-Emadi, a Qatari diplomat, left, and Hamas’s security chief Tawfiq Abu Naim, second left, during a visit in Gaza City in 2019.Credit...Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By: Ahmed Fathi

New York: Analytical Review of "Buying Quiet": Inside the Israeli Plan That Propped Up Hamas

In a recent exposé by The New York Times, journalists Mark Mazzetti and Ronen Bergman delve into the complex and controversial strategy employed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, involving financial support to Hamas from Qatar. The article sheds light on the clandestine dealings and calculated risks taken by the Israeli government, ultimately leading to unforeseen consequences.

The narrative unfolds with Prime Minister Netanyahu's high-stakes gamble: to foster a Hamas that is

strong enough to govern Gaza but not strong enough to pose a significant threat to Israel. The Qatari financial support to the tune of billions over a decade was seen as a tool to maintain a delicate balance, keeping the region relatively peaceful and diverting Hamas's focus towards governance rather than military activities.

The revelation that Mossad chief David Barnea confirmed Israel's desire for Qatari payments to continue during secret meetings in Doha unveils the extent of Israel's commitment to this strategy. Despite being ostensibly a secret, the payments have long been known in Israeli media, earning criticism from Netanyahu's detractors who label it a policy of "buying quiet."

The article highlights the flawed assessment within the Israeli leadership that Hamas posed a low-level threat, incapable of a large-scale attack. Even as intelligence suggested otherwise, the payments continued, with Israeli officials escorting Qatari representatives into Gaza, symbolically distributing money from suitcases filled with millions.

The Qatari funds were ostensibly directed towards humanitarian goals, such as paying government salaries and ensuring the operation of essential services. However, Israeli intelligence now suggests that this financial support played a role in the success of the Oct. 7 attacks, as it allowed Hamas to allocate its budget towards military operations.

The complexity of this geopolitical strategy becomes apparent as the article explores the political implications of Netanyahu's approach. Despite Hamas publicly expressing its commitment to the destruction of Israel, the Israeli government, through its payouts, treated the group as a mere nuisance and, at times, even a political asset.

The timeline of events, from Netanyahu's acknowledgment in 2012 of the importance of keeping Hamas strong to the subsequent reassessment after inconclusive military conflicts in Gaza, underscores the evolving nature of Israel's strategy. The article suggests that Netanyahu's overarching goal was to keep Gaza quiet, deflecting attention from the threat of Hamas and Palestinian discontent, ultimately enabling him to stay in power without addressing underlying issues.

The article delves into the internal controversies and dissent within the Israeli government, with figures like Avigdor Lieberman criticizing Netanyahu's policies as shortsighted and detrimental to long-term national security. Lieberman's resignation in 2018, citing Netanyahu's preference for short-term tranquility over addressing fundamental issues, is presented as a turning point leading to the Oct. 7 attacks.

The narrative skillfully weaves in the international dimension, highlighting Israel's lobbying efforts on behalf of Qatar in Washington and the broader support for Qatari funding from three successive U.S. administrations. This further complicates the analysis, as it suggests a broad consensus on involving Qatar in financing Gaza operations.

The concluding sections of the article bring attention to the changing dynamics under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who continued the Qatari payments but sought a more stable mechanism for their distribution. The tensions within the Israeli security apparatus regarding the diversion of funds to Hamas's military activities, as expressed by Mossad chief David Barnea, underscore the ongoing challenges and moral quandaries faced by Israel in its dealings with Gaza.

In essence, "Buying Quiet" provides a comprehensive and meticulously researched examination of Israel's controversial strategy, unraveling the layers of political, military, and intelligence decisions that culminated in unintended consequences. The article prompts readers to question the efficacy and ethical implications of such geopolitical maneuvers, leaving lingering concerns about the future stability of the region.


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