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Friday, January 16, 2009

Why "moderate" PalArabs are unhappy with Hamas

Al-Arabiya (Arabic only) talks about how West Bank Palestinian Arabs are criticizing Hamas:
After the atmosphere of national unity that prevailed during the first days of the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, the voices of officials of the Palestinian Authority are now publicly criticizing Hamas policy, especially in terms of abuse with the political initiatives to stop the war. A minister of prisoner affairs, Ashraf El Ajrami, says that Hamas and Israel aim to keep the catastrophic situation in Gaza as it is, to abort the idea of an independent Palestinian state.

In turn, the President of the Fatah parliamentary bloc, Azzam al-Ahmad said he had contacted the Vice-President of the political bureau of Hamas, Moussa Abu Marzouk, two days ago and asked him to agree to begin dialogue according to the Egyptian initiative, "but they refused."

Al-Ahmed said: "I think that Hamas is now aiming from behind to take the hard-line position to recognize it as a fait accompli leadership in the Gaza Strip, regardless of the number of victims who fall."

Palestinian writer and political analyst Samih Shabib mentions a "high level of media criticism in the Palestinian movement over Hamas' handling of the war in Gaza." The analyst, who is close to the Fatah movement, added, "I think that when the war began, Hamas presented itself as capable of causing surprises, and promised to create these surprises, but since then Hamas did not achieve the promised surprises, and Hamas' credibility was damaged."

He continued, "Khaled Meshaal and Ismail Haniyeh two days ago talked about an outright victory, while we notice the ground is a large Israeli incursion in Gaza, on the outskirts of cities to the extent that the citizen is aware of the inequality between the resistance and the Israeli army."

He added, "that in my every day that passes, Hamas loses more credibility, loss of lives of more than 5 thousand between the martyrs and wounded, in addition to the billions of dollars lost a result of the demolition of buildings."

The editor of newspaper al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Hafez al-Barghouti, said, mocking the statements from Hamas officials that "from some of the requirements of the Hamas movement for a the cease-fire it would seem that our forces are moving in the Tel Aviv district and not in their own home."

For his part, Pharaohs Hamada wrote in al-Ayyam that "Hamas has succeeded in absorbing a first strike and attacks, despite the exposure of the destruction and loss of the extensive stockpiles of arms and the death of some leaders of field", he said, "but Hamas this time, unfortunately (.. .) failed, and failed to strike painful blows quality or about the Israeli enemy, despite all the threats and warnings by the leaders of Hamas martyrs and the surprises waiting for the occupation forces in the invasion. "
These opinions, by "moderate" Palestinian Arab opinion makers and leaders, are striking. Not because they are unhappy with Hamas, which we have known for a while, but because of their source of unhappiness.

These leaders are not only saying that Hamas is (partially) responsible for the suffering of Gazans, but they seem more upset that Hamas promised to strike hard at Israel - and has failed.

Hezbollah promised to hurt Israel and managed to kill dozens of people with Katyushas, forcing the entire north of the country to flee. This was Hezbollah's "victory," not merely survival. They managed to take at least a partial offensive and hurt Israel.

Palestinian Arab anger is apparently at least as much as Hamas' failure to launch a "quality" attack on Israel as it is on Hamas bringing death and destruction on Gazans.

This is critically important to understand. Just as a huge majority of Palestinian Arabs rejoiced over the Mercaz Harav massacre of schoolchildren, their ambivalence towards Hamas will turn to love if Hamas manages to hit a school or apartment building in Israel that causes dozens or more casualties.

Once we see this we can understand Hamas' single-minded war strategy - try not to be killed by Israel but put all of your resources into anything that would cause Israelis pain, whether it would be another soldier kidnapping or a successful Grad attack at a populated area, killing many. A single deadly attack will make the so-called moderate Palestinian Arabs into unqualified supporters of the terrorists.

Right now, Hamas is perceived as losing because it hasn't managed to pull off that attack, not because of a thousand dead Gazans. To Palestinian Arabs - to Israel's "peace partners" - a few dead Jews would be worth the price of hundreds of civilians.

This also partially explains Hamas' reluctance for a cease fire and the concomitant increase of rockets today. Hamas is banking on getting "lucky" enough to rocket a school bus or an old-age home. And such an attack will enable Hamas to crown itself as the undisputed leader of Palestinian Arabs.

Because, deep down, even the PalArab "doves" want to see such attacks succeed as well.