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Monstrous Lust for Petroleum Wealth behind Israeli Aggression

– Mohammed Atherulla Shariff

Apart from religious and land interests, the offshore petroleum gas in Gaza appears to be an important reason for the barbaric attacks on Gaza. It is a monstrous greed for the petroleum wealth lying beneath the Gaza Marine.

This strong reason for Israeli bombardments is well discussed in the media, especially in Israel and other Western countries. A summary of the reports that appeared in some of these papers and journals around July this year is presented here:

The New Arab reports: In 2000, British Gas and its partners discovered a gas field 36 kilometres west of Gaza City. Later in the same year, the company drilled two wells there, Gaza Marine 1 and Gaza Marine 2, and estimated potential gas reserves at around 1.4 trillion cubic feet.

Palestinian officials said these quantities would provide enough energy for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for 15 years, though it is possible some of it would be geared for export.

The negotiations involving non-state actor Hamas echo the US-brokered negotiations and eventual deal in Lebanon, where the Lebanese group Hezbollah had also to indirectly greenlight a deal between the Lebanese government and Israel.

While the parties’ signal, some progress has been made, a deal may be years away due to the complexity of security and political guarantees that need to be made both publicly and in secret.

Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian movement which runs the Gaza Strip, said it would allow in principle the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority to develop the natural gas field off the coastal enclave upon the successful conclusion of US-brokered negotiations involving Israel, Egypt and partner companies that would oversee the gas exploration and extraction, signalling a potential breakthrough in the complex and sometimes secret negotiations.

In return, Hamas would receive a share of the revenues, but it is not clear what guarantees Israel is demanding, which could complicate a deal.

“Hamas is waiting for the final procedures that would be adopted by the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and partner companies to start their implementation plan to develop the [Gaza] Marine field and extract natural gas,” a source close to Hamas, told The New Arab on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The indirect collaboration with the Palestinian Authority (PA) was the outcome of extensive and intricate negotiations with Egypt to address the humanitarian crises in Gaza caused by the illegal Israeli blockade and repeated attacks on the coastal enclave.

In an effort to alleviate the impact of Israeli wars and the blockade, the source said, “Our Egyptian brothers have proposed improving the economic situation in both Gaza and the West Bank… and exerted pressure on the Israeli occupation to grant us (Palestinians) the opportunity to develop our offshore gas resources”.

The source told TNA, “Based on the negotiations with Egyptians, the PA is the only Palestinian entity recognized internationally and it will receive the revenues from the gas marine in Gaza. This is why we decided to accept to allow it to develop marine in favour of developing the situation in Gaza.”

Negotiations are currently taking place under American auspices between Egypt, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority regarding the management of Gaza’s gas, which would be operated jointly between Cairo and Tel Aviv, with Hamas and the PA receiving part of its revenues, according to another source close to Hamas, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Ismail Radwan, a Gaza-based Hamas official authorised to speak to the media, declined to comment on the purported breakthrough but told TNA that “Gaza’s gas is owned by all Palestinians in Gaza and they alone have the right to invest in it. Israel occupation cannot impose its requirements and restrictions on our capabilities and natural wealth”.

Radwan stressed that Hamas as well as all other factions, including Fatah, have the right to decide how they would invest in their gas in a way to develop the economic and political situations for their people.

Announcing the move on the Gaza Marine project, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said progress would hinge on “preserving the State of Israel’s security and diplomatic needs.”

Israeli outlets said that the new Israeli decision came after intense and complicated negotiations between Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, after it allegedly received guarantees that Hamas will not use its share of the gas revenues to develop its weapons. Echoing this, the source close to Hamas told TNA that “Israel announced its decision once it received real guarantees from Egypt that Hamas is ready to sign a long-term truce with Israel.”

Israel’s Channel 13 reported that the approval was preliminary and the implementation of the project will require “coordination between the security agencies and direct dialogue with Egypt in coordination with the PA in a bid to develop the Palestinian economy and maintain security stability in the region.”

According to the Israeli channel, Hamas will not be allowed to benefit from the economic profits until resolving the issue of the four Israeli captives in Gaza since 2014.

Roping in the British PM

Morocco World News reports:
‘Chasing Dollars’: Rishi Sunak Under Scrutiny For Rejecting Gaza Ceasefire

Critics have slammed Sunak for his government’s blind pro-Israel stance and lack of moral clarity or leadership as a genocide unfolds in Gaza.

As Israel ramps up its bloody, criminal ethnic cleansing campaign in Gaza, pro-Palestine protesters and independent commentators in the UK have questioned the country’s prime minister’s rejection of a much-needed humanitarian ceasefire that would save countless lives.

The questions come as British PM Rishi Sunak continues to dismiss calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and instead pledges unwavering support to Israel’s “right to defend itself against terrorist attacks.”

Refusing to understand the background of Palestinians’ decades-long oppression by Israel and ignoring red flags by the UN and NGOs regarding the unfolding genocide in Gaza, Sunak has instead reiterated his support for Israel and its right to “self-defense.”

The British PM has even fired a government aid for demanding a “permanent” ceasefire amid Israel’s merciless shelling of civilian infrastructure and residential areas in Gaza.

“Paul Bristow has been asked to leave his post in government following comments that were not consistent with the principles of collective responsibility,” a Downing Street spokesperson said following the official’s sacking by Sunak.

The persistence of the UK’s government in rejecting a ceasefire has put Sunak under the radar of critics, with many in the media and on social media slamming him for his government’s unstinting support of Israel and moral bankruptcy amid the unfolding genocide in the Gaza Strip.

Many, including netizens, have been looking for answers to explore why the British PM would disagree with a ceasefire, undertaking efforts also to know more about his family background in the search for reasons behind his cabinet’s blatant complicity in the war crimes being perpetrated on a daily basis by Israel against the Palestinian people.

Some have suggested that one of the reasons could be the financial interests of Sunak’s family, recalling Israel’s October 30 decision to award gas exploration licenses to two companies, including BP, a multinational oil and gas company headquartered in London.

The announcement came amid Israeli shelling against Gaza.

Months before the Israeli announcement, news reports in May reported on Infosys, an Indian IT firm owned by Rishi Sunak’s in-laws, which signed a $1.5 billion deal with BP in May.

Infosys is a large technology company co-founded by Sunak’s father-in-law.

News outlet The National said on August 2 that “just two months before Rishi Sunak opened hundreds of new licences for oil and gas extraction in the North Sea, an IT firm founded by his father-in-law signed a $1.5 billion deal with energy giant BP.”

Sunak’s support for gas drilling also caught the attention of many netizens, who directly accused him of prioritizing his family’s financial interest over peace.

“UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has Palestinian blood on his hands,” one commentator said on X, previously known as Twitter.

“Turns out Rishi’s wife is getting MEGA rich off this war. Her dad is co-founder of Infosys. Zionists just awarded gas exploration licenses to several gas companies, one of them was BP. Rishi’s wife just signed a deal worth 1.5 billion dollars with BP via her company Infosys, because BP was awarded a license by Israel,” the commentator added.

Many are reposting the same information, stressing that reason is enough for Sunak to “never” ask for a ceasefire. “A conflict of interest. Sunak must resign,” one X user said.

‘The Times of Israel’ reports:

Israel announced that 12 licenses have been awarded to six companies, including British multinational oil and gas firm BP and Italian energy giant Eni, to explore and discover additional offshore natural gas fields.

Energy Minister Israel Katz said that the investment commitment by large natural gas exploration companies during this period as Israel is at war with the Hamas is a sign of confidence in Israel’s resilience.

The announcement comes after Israel decided to temporarily shut down the Tamar offshore natural gas field on October 9, two days after the Hamas attack.

“The winning companies have committed to unprecedented investments in natural gas exploration over the coming three years, in the hope of discovering new natural gas reserves,” said Katz.

‘Offshore Technology’ writes:

The Israeli Government has issued preliminary approval for the development of the Gaza Marine project 30km off the coast of the Gaza Strip in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The field is located offshore Gaza, a Palestinian enclave that is controlled by Hamas, reported Xinhua via China.org.cn.

A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office read: “As part of the ongoing processes between the State of Israel and Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, with an emphasis on the development of the Palestinian economy and maintaining security stability in the region, it was decided to advance the development of the gas field in front of Gaza (Gaza Marine).” Netanyahu’s office said the project implementation would require security coordination with neighbouring Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.

The development of the Gaza Marine field, which was discovered by British Gas (BG) in 2000, has been delayed due to conflict between Israel and Palestine, economic factors and political disputes.

As per the estimates, the Gaza Marine field holds more than one trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Hamas official Ismail Rudwan was quoted by the news agency as saying: “We reaffirm that our people in Gaza have the rights to their natural resources.”

Thus, it is clear from all the above reports that when the deal did not materialize, the monstrous greed in the international players led them to forcefully clear the obstacles in their way and Oct. 7 was just an excuse. The bloody, criminal ethnic cleansing campaign in Gaza is going on.

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