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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hamas' gluttony - and Israel's complicity

An amazing article in a leading Arab newspaper, by its editor.
A few days ago, a striking statement was made by Palestinian sources in Damascus through Asharq Al-Awsat, suggesting that the Hamas Islamic movement is financially thriving.

At a time when the people of Gaza were left without a loaf of bread, Hamas was paying approximately 18,000 militants who are associated with the movement- what amounts to 16 million dollars a month.

This statement comes at a time when United Nations Special Humanitarian Envoy, Mr. Abdulaziz Arrukban, highlighted to the Kuwaiti "Alqabas" newspaper the tragic Palestinian humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, and how 60 percent of the population survives on 1.5 dollars per day, while 80 percent solely depend on aid for survival.

This is a puzzling matter; who should we believe? The UN special envoy speaking of a tragic situation in Gaza, or rival Palestinian sects accusing the brotherhood movement of financial gluttony?

Bewildered by the conflicting statements of Hamas's opponents and the international envoy, I came across a statement by the official spokesman of the Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas movement, which helped put things nicely into perspective.

Abu Obaida, spokesperson of the Al Qassam Brigades revealed that his group has developed into an army similar to major professional armies, in terms of the level of preparation and precision, which was achieved by the recruitment of many of Gaza's youths; the movement continues to recruit youth and develop its capabilities and its fighters.

So how can there be talk of lifting the Gaza siege and relieving the distress of its people, while Hamas concentrates all its efforts on recruiting and providing for its thousands of fighters. It is clear that Hamas's priority is to look after its militants, at the expense of Gaza's people and their suffering! Isn't this a deliberate exploitation of their humanitarian suffering, their poverty and need?

This also raises a pressing question regarding the ceasefire which Hamas committed to with Israel. Was it to relieve the suffering of Gaza's people and bring some order to their lives after a long period of agony? or was it a chance by Hamas to exploit and consolidate its coup against the Palestinian Authority, as well as suppressing their opponents in Gaza by firing them from their jobs in education, healthcare and other institutions in Gaza in an effort to impose its brotherhood's ideology?!

Aside from the movement's power reinforcement in Gaza, it is obvious that the Hamas truce (as I mentioned in a previous article) comes with the instructions of keeping a low profile in Lebanon, Gaza, and other places, while all considerations indicate that Hamas's Leaders last concern is the Gaza people's suffering.

Hamas has learned nothing from its past mistakes, and will reverse its coup and its dividing of the Palestinian front. Equally, it is not concerned with the suffering of Gaza's people, while their talk of dialogue and negotiations with Fatah is disingenuous and merely a time-stalling tactic.

However, Hamas and its policies are not to be blamed, but those who fund it, and support it politically. They are the beneficiaries of the Palestinian cause and partners in the suffering of Gaza's people.
Ironically, this leading Arab editor is more hawkish concerning Hamas than Israel is. An intriguing analysis of Jordan's newfound interest in Hamas from JCPA says that Israel is partially at fault:
According to leading Jordanian columnist Muhammad Hussein al-Mu'mini, writing in the mainstream Jordanian daily al-Ghad, "the problem began when Israel made the tahdiya [calm] agreement with Hamas after conducting negotiations with them through the Egyptians as if Hamas is a sovereign political entity."3 Al-Mu'mini also noted, "the tahdiya caused great embarrassment to the PA and the moderate Arab countries, even to the international community that put Hamas in siege." Israel, he said, "exploded the policy of isolating Hamas."

Israel's regional policies have thrown Jordan off balance. Mu'mini noted that in the prisoner deal with Hizbullah, Israel "sharpened Hizbullah's spear and gave it both international and Lebanese legitimacy. It would have been better to hand the prisoners to the Lebanese government." There was a Jordanian aspect to the deal with Hizbullah, as Israel also agreed to hand over to Hizbullah the bodies of Jordanians. According to Mu'mini, this was an "extreme provocation to Jordanian diplomacy." He explained that, "There is a peace accord with Jordan giving Jordan and Israel the legal cover for the exchange of the dead prisoners' bodies." If Israel, for pragmatic reasons, finds it appropriate to engage with Hamas, why shouldn't Jordan do the same?
Additionally, Gilad Shalit's family is also accusing Israel of coddling Hamas:
The parents of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit demanded Tuesday that Israel stop funneling funds to Gaza and convene a cabinet meeting which would discuss their son's abduction. Should their demand be turned down, they threatened, they would petition the High Court of Justice.

The demand was made in a letter sent by the lawyers of Aviva and Noam Shalit to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Noam Shalit told Ynet that "the ongoing funds transfer to Hamas constitutes a clearly unreasonable policy on the part of the State."

According to Shalit, "This is not about the funding of bread and milk, this is about funding given by the State to essentially keep Hamas in power."

.. According to Shalit, despite Israel's generous policy towards Hamas, the organization has halted the talks for Shalit's release, even during the ceasefire in Gaza.