Archive | May 2015

Age Of Wearable Computing Delivers BioStamp Electronic Skin

 

by Suzanne Tracy

MC10, a startup in Cambridge, MA, is developing a technology that will allow digital circuits to be embedded in bendable, stretchable materials, which allows exploration of entirely new form factors for electronics — including a form of “electronic skin.” MC10 has overcome the rigidity of normal electronic components by printing them in very small pieces and arranging them in wavy patterns.
The company states on its Web site: “We take conventional high-performance electronics and turn them into body-integrated form factors that stretch, bend and twist seamlessly with our bodies and the natural world… Our devices incorporate silicon devices thinned to a fraction of the width of a human hair. These chips, combined with stretchable metallic interconnects, are further combined with elastic rubberlike polymers to form complete powered systems that sense, measure, analyze and communicate information.”
BioStamp, a flexible computing prototype developed by John Rogers, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, can be worn constantly. The technical founder of MC10 and father of MC10’s conformal electronics technology, Rogers is passionate about doing cutting-edge research and seeing it applied in real products that have an impact on the world.
As the Lee J. Flory-Founder Chair Professor of Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign, with a primary appointment in Materials Science and Engineering, Rogers leads one of the largest and “most productive research groups on the planet,” with more than 45 Ph.D. and post-doc students working on different aspects of electronic materials. Prior to UIUC, he served as Director of Condensed Matter Physics Research at Bell Laboratories.
Flexible electronic circuits, aka “epidermal electronics,” containing a collection of sensors can be applied directly to the skin like a thin Band-Aid or a temporary tattoo. The latest MC10 prototype is applied directly to the skin using a rubber stamp and can be covered with spray-on bandage to make it more durable and waterproof enough to withstand sweating or washing with soapy water.
The thin electronic mesh stretches with the skin and can monitor data from the brain, muscles, heart, temperature, movement, hydration and strain. It lasts up to two weeks before the skin’s natural exfoliation causes it to come away.
“Our prototypes can provide a variety of monitoring and stimulation functions,” Rogers said in a conversation with CNN’s Kieron Monks. For example, “we can pick up coordinated firing of neurons, and run that activity through a computer spelling interface, so that brainwaves pick letters out of a virtual keyboard display and type messages.
“The history of electronics is about getting closer to the individual. At first, it was a computer down the hall, followed by a desktop, then a laptop, a phone in your pocket and a watch on your wrist. Now, it could be electronics integrated the skin, bioelectronics and fully implantable devices. To go fully into the realm of integrated electronics makes sense to me.”
BioStamp could be developed for use in healthcare to monitor patients. Monitoring in a natural environment during normal activity is especially beneficial for continuous monitoring of health and wellness, cognitive state, or behavioral patterns during sleep.
Not only would this be more convenient than tethering patients to large machines, but the results could be more accurate if obtained in patients’ normal environments doing usual activities. Another major advantage of skin-like circuits is that they don’t require conductive gel, tape, skin-penetrating pins or bulky wires, which can be uncomfortable for the patient and limit coupling efficiency. They are much more comfortable and less cumbersome than traditional electrodes and give the wearers complete freedom of movement.
The skin-mounted electronics could have many biomedical applications, including EEG and EMG sensors to monitor nerve and muscle activity. They could potentially help to reduce trips to the doctor and the rate of ER visits. Other applications could include a patch that alerts an athlete to when and how much to hydrate to achieve peak performance, or one that prompts you when it’s time to apply more sunscreen.
The patch uses a thin film battery technology that complements the thin electronics in the wearable patch. It is a rechargeable cell capable of powering the patch for many hours. Wireless is used to both interrogate and power the patch. MC10 also has said that it is working on the integration of wireless power sources and communication systems to relay the information gathered to a smartphone.

Transhumanism Marches On As “Human Chipping” Becomes Trendy

 

by Daniel Barker

Undergoing a somewhat painful injection to have a microchip implanted into your hand might not be something most sane individuals would ever consider doing voluntarily, but for a growing number of people, it has actually become a fashionable trend.
As I reported in an earlier article, some companies are now encouraging their employees to have RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips implanted under their skin.
Presumably, these implants are given to employees so that they can use them to open office doors and operate copy machines, but it would seem obvious that there is a deeper agenda at hand: getting people used to the idea of having tracking devices implanted into their bodies.
The implications are profoundly disturbing, and it’s hard to believe that anyone would go along with such a program. Nevertheless, not only do many individuals seem to accept the idea, there are actually a growing number of people who wholeheartedly embrace it.
In an age where tattoos, piercings and other types of body modification are common, it’s perhaps not too surprising that young people, in an attempt to appear “cool” and ahead of the times, might see chip implants as an attractive idea.
There are also those who support the idea of “transhumanism,” which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology.”
Whether or not there is any merit in the concept of transhumanism is a subject open to debate, but the bottom line is that those who go along with the idea of having a chip implanted are not what I would consider an “evolution” of the human race, but rather the opposite.
This is essentially allowing ourselves to be treated like cattle or migratory animals involved in an experiment.
In my earlier article, I mentioned the growing popularity of what are being called “implant parties,” where participants allow the insertion of RFID chips into their hands. The implants are inserted in the fleshy area between the thumb and the forefinger.
These implant parties appear to be growing in popularity, according to reports in the media. Hannes Sjoblad, the organizer of a recent implant party in Sweden who also happens to be the co-founder of a “biohacking” group called BioNyfiken, said that more than 300 people in Copenhagen have had chips implanted since September of last year.
The supplier of the chips used in Sweden is located in the United States. Amal Graafstra, who founded the website DangerousThings.com, where the chips are sold, says that the popularity of these devices is a worldwide phenomenon: “I sold about 4,000 of these chips over the past year, most of them in the U.S., the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Belgium. And even a few in France.”
At least Graafstra seems to be concerned about the possible health risks involved. He said, “I realized when I was talking to suppliers that people were implanting themselves with chips created for livestock or industries, which sometimes contain toxic substances and metals!”
Graafstra claims that the chips he sells are made with “safe material and procedures.”
“Unlike RFID chips for livestock, mine are made so that human flesh doesn’t stick to it, which means they can easily be removed,” he says.
Health risks aside, I find it somewhat ironic that many of the very people who are embracing this technology would presumably be among the first to protest the use of these types of devices by governments to track and monitor citizens.
You can bet that is exactly what Big Brother has in mind.
Chips, anyone?

Chrislam Infiltrates Westminster Abbey

 

 

 

by Ruth Gledhill

Westminster Abbey has been accused of “denial of the Lordship of Jesus Christ” after the prophet Muhammad was described as “the chosen one” in a prayer at a First World War service.
The Abbey, which is a Royal Peculiar under the personal jurisdiction of the Queen and outside the Church of England’s diocesan structures, included a Turkish prayer in the recent service of commemoration and thanksgiving marking the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign.
The Archbishop Cranmer noted that God was thanked in the Abbey, and referred to as Allah, and there was no problem with that because Allah is simply Arabic for ‘The God’.
“We may quibble over conflicting doctrines and cavil over contradictory revelations, but if St Paul can address a meeting of the Areopagus and exhort the incipient virtue in the ignorance of Athenian religiosity, whether you call the Creator of the universe ‘God’, ‘Jehovah’, ‘YHWH’, ‘I Am’ or ‘Allah’, you are acknowledging (in mirrors darkly) the One who does not live in temples built by human hands, and the One who gives everyone life and breath and everything else,” he wrote.
But Cranmer said there was a problem with the prayer the congregation heard, which began “Bizleri yaratan” and included the phrase: “Muhammed Mustafa”.
He wrote: “It’s hard to be offended by something one cannot understand. And there can be no offence at all caused by any exhortation of God in Turkish, for God is not an Englishman.”
The problem came in the translated succession of prophets which he described as “a comprehensible assertion of Islamic theology”.
The succession of prophets “from Adam, Noah and Abraham to Moses, Jesus and Mohammed Mustafa” is chronological, with the first four common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Jesus as a prophet is common to Christianity and Islam and Mohammed is a prophet of Islam alone.
Cranmer continues: “Mustafa is an epithet ascribed by Muslims to Mohammed: it means The Chosen One.”
He notes that the Abbey did not offer a translation of this term and says that had it been rendered in English during a Christian service, it “would have caused undoubted offence”.
Rev Dominic Stockford, pastor of Christ Church, Teddington and chairman of the Protestant Truth Society said: “The recent use of a prayer equating Muhammad with Jesus, used in Westminster Abbey, was the latest in a string of shocking steps taken by the Church of England recently. And for it to be read out in Turkish, contrary to Article XXIV, being as it was ‘a tongue not understanded of the people’ compounds the matter.”
He continued: “How any Christian can think that Jesus and Muhammad can be put together as prophets is beyond me. For one thing, Jesus is no mere prophet, but is Saviour and Lord. The Bible is clear as can be that there is only one God, and that there is only one way to God – and they are Jesus own words which clarify this: ‘Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”‘ (John 14:6).
And for another, the religion of Islam is contrary to that of Christianity, denying as it does the divinity of Jesus Christ, and even denying that God has a Son (Surah 19:35-36), a Divinity and a Sonship without which Jesus could be no Saviour.”
He described the prayer as a “heresy” that “besmirched the truth of the Gospel” and added: “What is really disappointing to me is that I find myself unsurprised by this latest unbiblical foolishness perpetrated by the Church of England.”
Andrea Minichiello Williams of Christian Concern said: “This is an overt denial of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and is an attack on the central tenants of the Christian faith. It is from Jesus that all blessings flow. Westminster Abbey would do well to remember that.”
Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream said: “Archbishop Cranmer has done us all a service in this well-researched blog pointing out that, in an attempt to show welcome and understanding to other faiths, the Church of England has once again allowed Muslims to declare the supremacy of their religion in a Christian church.”
Other recent episodes include a Muslim speaker beginning his address to General Synod in February with words in Arabic which mean “there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet”. There was also controversy over a prayer service led by Muslims at St John’s Waterloo.
Symes said: “There are very effective ways of building bridges between communities and faith groups which do not involve making seriously controversial and divisive theological statements as part of misguided attempts at ‘multi-faith worship’. While there may be some debate about whether the UK is still a Christian country, we should certainly be confident enough to assert that the C of E is a Christian church. Can the Cathedral Dean and the Bishop of London please publicly make this assertion and apologize for the serious offence caused?”

The Abbey, which is a Royal Peculiar under the personal jurisdiction of the Queen and outside the Church of England’s diocesan structures.

The uninformed may not think there to be any major significance in this particular church hosting such heretical activities. But the connection between the British Crown and the coming Antichrist is undeniable. As is his connection to the False Prophet.

Read my book, and be informed!

No Army in the Middle East is Challenging ISIS

isis flag

Hassan Nasrallah Saturday, May 23, called his Lebanese Shiite Hizballah movement to the flag, because “we are faced with an existential crisis” from the rising belligerence of the Islamist State of Iraq and the Levant.

 

His deputy, Sheik Naim Qssem, sounded even more desperate:

“The Middle East is at the risk of partition” in a war with no end in sight, he said. “Solutions for Syria are suspended. We must now see what happens in Iraq.”
The price Iran’s Lebanese proxy has paid for fighting alongside Bashar Assad’s army for four years is cruel: some 1,000 dead and many times that number of wounded. Its leaders now understood that their sacrifice was in vain. ISIS has brought the Syrian civil war to a new dead end.
This week, a 15-year old boy was eulogized by Hizballah’s leaders for performing his “jihadist duty” in Syria.
Clearly,for their last throw in Syria, the group, having run out of adult combatants, is calling up young boys to reinforce the 7,000 fighting there.
The Syrian president Bashar Assad is in no better shape. He too has run dangerously short of fresh fighting manpower. Even his own Alawite community has let him down. Scarcely one-tenth of the 1.8 million Alawites have remained in Syria. Their birthrate is low, and those who stayed behind are hiding their young sons to keep them from being sent to the front lines.
Assad also failed to enlist the Syrian Druze minority to fight for his regime, just as Hizballah’s Nasrallah was rebuffed when he sought to mobilize the Lebanese army to their cause. This has left Hizballah and the Syrian ruler alone in the battlefield with dwindling strength against two rival foes:

ISIS and the radical Syrian opposition coalition calling itself Jaish al-Fatah – the Army of Conquest – which is spearheaded by Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and backed to topple Assad by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.

Nasrallah tried to paint a brave picture of full mobilization to expand the war to all parts of Syria. However, Sunday, May 24, a key adviser to Assad admitted that his regime and its allies were being forced to regroup.
Their forces were withdrawing from the effort to shift the Islamists from the land they have conquered – about three-quarters of Syrian territory – and concentrating on defending the cities, Damascus, Homs and Latakia, home to the bulk of the population, as well as the strategic Damascus highway to the coast and Beirut. Hizballah needed to build up the Lebanese border against hostile access.
But Syrian cities, the Lebanese border and the highway are still under threat – from Syrian rebel forces.
The Iraqi army, for its part, has been virtually wiped out, along with the many billions of dollars the US spent on training and weapons. There is no longer any military force in Iraq, whether Sunni or Shiite, able to take on ISIS and loosen its grip on the central and western regions.
The Kurdish peshmerga army, to whom President Barack refused to provide armaments for combating the Islamists, has run out of steam. An new offensive would expose the two main towns of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Republic – the capital Irbil and the oil city of Kirkuk – to the depredations of the Islamist belligerents.
A quick scan of Shiite resources reveals that in the space between the Jordan River and the Euphrates and Tigris, Iran commands the only force still intact in Iraq – namely, the Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani Shiite militias, who are trained and armed by the Revolutionary Guards.
This last remaining fighting force faces its acid test in the battle ongoing to recover Baiji, Iraq’s main oil refinery town. For the first time, Iranian troops are fighting in Iraq, not just their surrogates, but in the Baiji campaign they have made little headway in three weeks of combat. All they have managed to do is break through to the 100 Iraqi troops stranded in the town, but ISIS fighting strength is still not dislodged from the refinery.
The Obama administration can no longer pretend that the pro-Iranian Shiite militias are the panacea for the ISIS peril. Like Assad, Tehran too is being forced to regroup. It is abandoning the effort to uproot the Islamists from central and western Iraq and mustering all its Shiite military assets, such as the Badr Brigade, to defend the Shiite south – the shrine towns of Najef and Karbala, Babil (ancient Babylon) and Qadisiya – as well as planting an obstacle in the path of the Islamists to Iraq’s biggest oil fields and only port of Basra.
The Shiite militias flown in by Tehran from Pakistan and Afghanistan have demonstrated in Syria and Iraq alike that they are neither capable nor willing to jump into any battlefields.
The upshot of this cursory scan is that not a single competent army capable of launching all-out war on ISIS is to be found in the Middle East heartland – in the space between the 1,000km long Jordan and the Euphrates and Tigris to the east, or between Ramadi and the Saudi capital of Riyadh to the south.
By Sunday, May 24, this perception had seeped through to the West. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, remarked: “What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight.” The former British army chief Lord Dannatt was more down to earth.

Since the coalition air force campaign had failed to stop ISIS’s advance, he said “it was time to think the previously unthinkable” and send 5,000 ground troops to fight the Islamists in Syria and Iraq.
The next day, Monday, Tehran pointed the finger of blame for the latest debacles in Iraq at Washington. Al Qods Brigades chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani was quoted by the English language Revolutionary Guards mouthpiece Javan as commenting: “The US didn’t do a damn thing to stop the extremists’ advance on Ramadi.”

The Islamist enemies of Israel, whether Shiite or Sunni, all declare “Allahu Akbar” (our god is greater) when they make war. That claim of a greater god is in relation to the God of Israel – the one true God of the universe.

Just like in Biblical times. We once again see who is the greatest God, as he sets the enemies of Israel against each other.

Israel’s military launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip

Image

Israel’s military launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in retaliation for a rocket attack on Israel.
The airstrikes targeted four “terror infrastructures” in southern Gaza early Wednesday morning, the Israel Defence Forces spokesperson’s unit said in a statement. Hits were confirmed, according to the IDF.
The rockets struck installations belonging to terrorist groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committees located near the Gaza airport, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.
“These strikes are a direct response to Hamas and the aggression against Israeli civilians originating from the Gaza Strip. The reality that Hamas’ territory is used as a staging ground to attack Israel is unacceptable and intolerable and will bear consequences. Israelis cannot be expected to live in the perpetual fear of rocket attacks; the IDF will continue to operate in order to seek out those that wish to undermine Israeli sovereignty with acts of terrorism,” said IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.
Sirens sounded in several areas of southern Israel on Tuesday night, indicating that more than one rocket was fired at Israel, though only one reportedly landed in Israeli territory. The rocket landed in an open area near the town of Gan Yavne, outside the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, but did not cause casualties or damage.
Tuesday night’s attack was the third rocket fired at Israel since the end of last summer’s Gaza conflict. Two mortars also have been fired at Israel since the end of Operation Protective Edge.
The Israeli military reportedly believes Islamic Jihad was responsible for firing the rockets.
Ynet reported that Hamas early Wednesday arrested those responsible for firing the rockets at Israel. “What happened yesterday goes against the interests of the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and against our national interests,” an unnamed Hamas source told Ynet. “We consider the rocket fire to be a dangerous thing.”
Hamas sources told Ynet and other Israeli news outlets that Hamas has reached out to Israel through an unnamed third party in an attempt to de-escalate the situation, saying it does not wish to have a confrontation with Israel.

 

Typical Hamas tactics… Attack Israeli civilians, then immediately beg for a ceasefire.

Daniel’s “Covenant With Many” – Waiting To Be Implemented?

 

by Smadar Perry

The Saudi peace initiative first saw light some 13 years ago, and apparently there are still many key figures in the Arab world who would like to see it revived.
“Now that Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu has formed his new government, I call on him to say yes to the Saudi peace initiative. It’s alive and well and didn’t disappear with the regime change in Saudi Arabia,” says Dr. Anwar Eshki, the director of the Jeddah-based Middle East Institute for Strategic Studies.
“King Salman and his senior advisers support it. It’s time for Israel to accept it too. There is no alternative peace plan.”
A former military general who has also filled various key roles in the Riyadh administration in the past, Eshki, 72, is believed to have very close ties with the Saudi royal family; and he had no qualms about giving an interview to an Israeli newspaper, noting: “The issue is an important one, and we need to convey the message to Netanyahu, the cabinet ministers and the Israeli public that there is a peace plan awaiting their approval.”
Eshki gave an exclusive interview to Ynet’s sister publication, Yedioth Ahronoth, in Qatar, where he was attending the Doha Forum’s economic conference over the weekend.
“If Israel accepts the peace plan and makes a commitment to implement it, 22 Arab states and another 20 Muslim counties will commit to normalizing relations with you,” Eshki says. “You need to internalize the fact that we want coexistence between the Arab states and Israel.”
And Eshki also had a message for the skeptics who lack faith in his vision: “Saudi Arabia always fulfills the commitments it takes on,” he says. “And you will see, when the time comes for normalization, we and another 22 Arab states will establish diplomatic relations with Israel, including commercial cooperation and cultural ties.”
According to the Saudi initiative, the brainchild in 2002 of then-crown prince Abdullah, the Israeli-Arab conflict will come to an end in return for an Israeli undertaking to withdraw to the pre-Six-Day War 1967 borders.
Despite being adopted unanimously at the Arab League Summit in Beirut in 2002, the plan, now known as the Arab Peace Initiative, has yet to elicit an official Israeli response. The reason: It includes the division of Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees, both of which spark opposition among government officials in Jerusalem.
But now, with a new government in Israel and the crowning of King Salman in January, there are those who believe that it’s time to revive the initiative.
“People say that Netanyahu has put together a government of extremists,” Eshki says. “That doesn’t bother me. On the contrary, perhaps it’s best for achieving peace – because if Netanyahu and his ministers accept the plan, there’ll be no one to stand in their way.”
If Netanyahu does decide to adopt the initiative, Eshki adds, he must do so officially – in an address at the UN or in Jerusalem, for example.
Eshki is well aware of the Israeli reservations. “The peace plan provides for the evacuation of the settlements and their resettling by Palestinians; but there could be land exchanges, in keeping with security requirements and mutual understandings,” he says. “And the Palestinians who choose not to return will get financial compensation.”
Eshki believes that if Israel were to give a thumbs-up to the initiative in principle, talks over “the problematic issues” would then go ahead under the patronage of Saudi Arabia, the US, Egypt and Jordan.
“The sides, including Israel, will determine where the negotiations will be conducted,” he says, adding that the initiative constitutes the “most suitable” political solution because it is based on UN resolutions.

This, coupled with the Saudis’ desire for Israel to knock out the Iranians brings to mind that old story about the frog and the scorpion.

Hamas Using Truce To Prepare For Next Clash With Israel

 

by  Yaakov Lappin

In the nine months since Hamas fought a 50-day war with Israel, the terrorist group has exploited the months of recent quiet to prepare itself for the next clash, which it assumes will inevitably come.
Hamas is in the midst of a full-scale rocket rearmament and tunnel reconstruction drive. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is also preparing its responses for the next time the Gazan regime attacks.
Despite its extremist ideology, Hamas does not appear interested in sparking another costly and damaging war now – and yet, a large number of potential triggers are in place that could start one anyway.
The Hamas military wing, the Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigades, has restarted its domestic rocket and mortar production program, and built, in all likelihood, more than 1,000 rockets since the August 26 ceasefire went into effect.
The new rockets include dozens of projectiles with a range of more than 75 kilometers, putting central Israeli cities in reach. By the end of Operation Protective Edge last year, Hamas was left with about 3,000 rockets – a third of its original stockpile.
Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries proved more than capable of shooting down volleys of incoming Gazan rockets that threatened populated areas in the last conflict, intercepting 580 incoming threats.
Despite Israel’s effective air defenses, Hamas is pushing to produce more rockets, since they still have the ability to disrupt Israeli civilian life with air raid sirens, force millions to take cover, and harm Israel’s economy.
Due to Egypt’s stringent policy of destroying smuggling tunnels, Hamas is not able to smuggle weapons in from outside, and uses metal workshops in Gaza to make rocket tubes and fins instead. It uses dual use materials like farming chemicals and mixes them together to create explosive warheads.
The IDF destroyed 32 cross-border attack tunnels last summer, which Hamas dug with the intention of injecting murder squads into southern Israel to kill and kidnap Israelis civilians and soldiers.
Hamas had employed around 1,000 diggers at relatively low cost, and worked them in shifts to create the underground network. It linked the cross-border tunnels to a series of subterranean passages within Gaza itself. Such tunnels were used for the transport of arms and terrorists, out of view of Israel’s air force and intelligence services.
Should a new Hamas tunnel be found to cross the border into Israel again, violating Israeli sovereignty, another round of fighting could soon follow.
Meanwhile, the Gazan economy remains stagnant. A small percentage of the $5.4 billion pledged by international donors towards Gaza’s reconstruction has reached the Strip.
The hold-up in transferring the funds is rooted in an ongoing dispute between Gaza’s rulers and the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs Palestinians in the West Bank.
A failure by the PA and Hamas to agree to a joint mechanism to receive the funds means that reconstruction is proceeding slower than a snail’s pace. Tens of thousands of Gazan buildings that were damaged or destroyed in the 2014 conflict remain unrepaired.
Hamas, for its part, uses the resources it does have to rebuild its offensive military assets, largely ignoring the plight of Gazan civilians.
The longer reconstruction is held up, the more the chances of a renewed conflict grow.
Israel, being well aware of this possibility, is making efforts to facilitate the entry of reconstruction material. In April alone, according to figures from the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, 63,468 tons of construction materials entered Gaza via Israeli crossings. Since October, 167,673 tons of construction material entered Gaza.
Gazan civilian pressure on Hamas could grow, and the military wing could find an excuse to initiate a new conflict: to force the international community to facilitate reconstruction. Such a move would be designed to deflect domestic pressure away from Hamas.
When Hamas initiated war with Israel last June, it did so because Hamas leaders felt regionally barricaded, and their regime was on the brink of economic collapse.
Hamas hoped that a conflict would to strengthen its position, and used its military bases, hidden in the heart of residential areas, to attack Israel regardless of the suffering this decision ended up causing to the residents of Gaza.
Today, all of the same factors that caused Hamas to turn towards conflict remain in place. To the south, in Egypt, Hamas’s sister movement, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, is hunted and repressed by the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, contributing to Hamas’s isolation.
Egypt views Gaza as one large terrorist base, where Salafi-jihadist organizations freely arm themselves and move through tunnels into Egyptian territory to carry out attacks.
Egypt identifies Hamas a branch of its Islamist domestic foe, the Muslim Brotherhood, and a direct threat to its national security, leading to a ban on the military wing this year.
Egypt created a kilometer-wide buffer zone with Gaza, destroying homes on the Sinai-Gaza border, and blocking off hundreds of smuggling tunnels in the process.
Hamas has few regional allies, though it does enjoy some backing from Turkey, Qatar, and an old-new friend has reappeared: Iran.
Hamas and Tehran reestablished ties this year despite mutual mistrust, and Iran started bankrolling Hamas’s rearmament program to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.
In addition, tensions exist between various ruling factions within Hamas, a fact that could lead to future instability. Disagreement exists between Hamas’s military wing and the political wing in Gaza.
The military wing is privately disappointed by the performance of the political wing during last summer’s war, and feels aggrieved over a perceived lack of support. The political wing, has, behind closed doors, questioned the military wing’s ‘achievements’ during the war.
The emergence of ISIS-inspired groups in Gaza creates another potential trigger for destabilization. Hamas recently arrested dozens of hardline Salafi jihadists in Gaza who pose a threat to its regime, and destroyed a mosque at the start of May belonging to a pro-ISIS group.
Such groups accuse Hamas of being too soft on Israel, and have sporadically fired rockets at Israel, prompting Israeli retribution strikes as well as Hamas arrest raids.
Despite the tension, Hamas is likely to maintain links with global jihad organizations operating in the Sinai Peninsula.
These ties might enable Hamas to reserve the option of ordering attacks on Israel, away from its home turf of Gaza.
Hamas can be expected to try to set up terrorist infrastructure to activate at a later time in other areas too, particularly in the West Bank, and in southern Lebanon.
Ultimately, as long as Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and drop its openly declared goal of destroying it through a jihadist war punctuated by temporary ceasefires, it will continue to pose a significant risk to Israeli security, and an even larger risk to the civilian population of Gaza over which it rules.