Emboldening the Enemy

December 30, 2008 at 10:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

In the Washington Post, Daoud Kuttab explains Palestinian politics prior to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and speculates that the bombing has been a ‘bonanza for Hamas’, increasing its standing both internally and within the region.

The lack of international support since the 2006 elections, followed by this rebuff to Gaza’s only Arab neighbor, Egypt, compounded the deterioration of Hamas’s internal support. By November, the survey showed, only 16.6 percent of Palestinians supported Hamas, compared with nearly 40 percent favoring Fatah. The decline in support for Hamas has been steady: A year earlier, the same pollster showed that Hamas’s support was at 19.7 percent; in August 2007, it was at 21.6 percent; in March 2007, it was at 25.2 percent; and in September 2006, backing for the Islamists stood at 29.7 percent.

That’s why, as the six-month cease-fire with Israel came to an end, Hamas calculated — it seems correctly — that it had nothing to gain by continuing the truce; if it had, its credentials as a resistance movement would have been no different from those of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah. Unable to secure an open border and an end to the Israeli siege, while refusing to share or give up power to Abbas, Hamas could have had no route to renewed public favor.

For different reasons, Hamas and Israel both gave up on the cease-fire, preferring instead to climb over corpses to reach their political goals. One side wants to resuscitate its public support by appearing to be a heroic resister, while the other, on the eve of elections, wants to show toughness to a public unhappy with the nuisance of the Qassam rockets.

The disproportionate and heavy-handed Israeli attacks on Gaza have been a bonanza for Hamas. The movement has renewed its standing in the Arab world, secured international favor further afield and succeeded in scuttling indirect Israeli-Syrian talks and direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. It has also greatly embarrassed Israel’s strongest Arab neighbors, Egypt and Jordan.

Elsewhere, Rami Almeghari writes from the ground in Gaza:

Some food shops and bakeries are open, but just for a few hours a day. They take whatever opportunity they can to make bread for the people. This morning I went to a bakery in the nearby Nusseirat refugee camp to try to by bread for my children and family. They said, “There is no bread right now, maybe after 8pm.” They are waiting for the electricity to come back so they can bake.

Over the past two days there have been some food shipments into the Gaza Strip, but in very limited quantities — much much less than can meet the needs of 1.5 million people. The average household here has seven or eight persons, so the need is very great.

You cannot find any presence of the government here now. Most of the government buildings have been destroyed by Israeli warplanes. For example the whole compound of ministerial buildings in Gaza City — including the ministries of finance, interior, education and others — has been completely destroyed.

These are not “terrorist” or military sites. These were civilian buildings that served the population in civil matters. They had nothing to do with any military purposes as Israel always claims. Even the police stations they have been targeting over the past few days, were just civil police stations, guarding security of the people, dealing with traffic and so on. The people working in those police stations were just previously unemployed youths who took the opportunity to make a living and feed their families.

Israel bombed the Hamas-run al-Aqsa TV station, but just one hour ago on al-Aqsa TV a masked spokesman from the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, spoke live from a hidden location. And despite the repeated attacks by the Israelis, the firing of rockets is still going on into Israel. So Israel has not hit Hamas. It has hit the civilian population.

But Hamas, you suspect, will be the beneficiaries of all this.

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  1. […] the conflict from escalating and pointed out to Israel that their actions would breathe life into a grasping, politically hobbled […]

  2. […] the conflict from escalating and pointed out to Israel that their actions would breathe life into a grasping, politically hobbled […]


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