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Hamas Indifferent to Palestinian Wellbeing

by Hugh Fitzgerald

The indifference of Hamas to the wellbeing of those it claims to represent and care about – the Palestinians – is well known. After all, the terror group’s modus operandi is designed to put the Palestinian civilians in maximum peril. In Gaza, Hamas hides its vast store of weapons inside homes, schools, hospitals; it places its command-and-control centers in apartment high-rises; it launches its rockets into Israel from in or near those same civilian buildings – homes, schools, hospitals. Then, when Israel responds to a barrage of Hamas rockets, it necessarily aims at those places from where the rockets are launched, where the weapons are stored, where the Hamas senior command hides and schemes. The IDF makes great efforts to warn civilians of impending attacks. It uses leafletting, telephone calls, emails, and its “knock-on-the-roof” technique, all to minimize civilian casualties. Hamas, of course, hopes for the opposite; it wants more Palestinian civilians to be killed; such deaths make the Jewish state look bad, and for Hamas that, and not the wellbeing of those civilians, is what counts.

A report on the latest evidence of Hamas’—and the PIJ’s — callousness toward the Palestinians is here: “Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s True Concern for Palestinians Exposed Following Gantz-Abbas Meeting,” by Rachel O’Donoghue, Algemeiner, September 2, 2021:

If any additional evidence was needed that Gaza’s Hamas rulers are committed to the destruction of Israel — and do not care about enhancing the living conditions of Palestinians (see, for example, here and here) — the latest proof came in a statement released following a meeting on August 29 between Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. 

Gantz and Abbas’ tete-a-tete was widely reported on, and resulted in an apparent agreement on economic measures designed to help Palestinians in the West Bank, including a loan of 500 million shekels ($155 million) against taxes and tariffs that Jerusalem collects on behalf of and remits to the PA — but that are being withheld in accordance with an Israeli law that counters Ramallah’s “Pay-for-Slay” policy of providing monthly “salaries” to terrorists and their families. 

There was also an agreement on an initiative that gives an additional 16,000 Palestinians the right to work in Israel, as well as the approval of Palestinian construction projects in Area C of the West Bank….

 Both the $155 million loan that Israel has agreed to lend the PA and the Jewish state’s offer of allowing another 16,000 Palestinians — both from the West Bank and Gaza — and to work in Israel, will ameliorate conditions for the desperate Palestinians in Gaza.

Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanou described the Gantz-Abbas meeting as a “stab in the back of the Palestinian people and what they have sacrificed,” adding it was a “betrayal of the blood of martyrs.” 

Apparently it is a “stab in the back of the Palestinian people” to be able to provide work in Israel for 16,000 more Palestinians.. It is a “stab in the back” for Mahmoud Abbas to have accepted a much-needed loan of $155 million from Israel. No doubt it is also a “stab in the back” by the PA for helping persuade Israel to enlarge the fishing zone accessible to Palestinian fishermen to 15 miles, and to permit more goods to be allowed into Gaza, including some dual-use products such as cement. Most Palestinians would welcome more such “stabs in the back.”

Another spokesman for the US-designated terrorist group accused Abbas of “encouraging Arab countries to normalize [relations] with Israel.” This condemnation is rich, given that PA officials slammed several Arab nations when they recently established diplomatic ties with the Jewish state under the auspices of the Abraham Accords. 

Abbas and his cronies in the PA have never encouraged the Abraham Accords, according to which four Arab states have chosen, in pursuit of their national interest, to normalize relations with Israel. The PA has consistently attacked them, as Hamas knows perfectly well. The terror group is hoping its audience will have forgotten what the PA has been saying all along about the Accords. In any case, Hamas knows there is no harm in misrepresenting the truth — that is to say, in lying. It’s been doing so, with great success, ever since it was founded in 1987.

Echoing Hamas’ sentiments, a representative of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Tariq Silmi, crowed: “The blood of children killed by the army on Gantz’s orders has not yet dried, even as President Abbas meets him in Ramallah.”…

The Gantz-Abbas meeting in Ramallah was clearly a net gain for the PA. Abbas came away with a large loan of $155 million for the P.A., along with permits for 16,000 additional Palestinians to work in Israel. And soon after that meeting, and in its spirit, Israel announced there would be an enlarged fishing zone — to 15 miles — for Gazan fishermen, and more goods would be allowed into Gaza, including some “dual-use” cement, through the Ein Kerem crossing controlled by Israel.

Following all three of the previous Hamas-Israel conflicts, aid money to repair damage in Gaza was sent to Hamas. Some of that aid money was pocketed by Hamas leaders for themselves (just two of them, Khaled Meshaal and Mousa Abu Marzouk, have each managed to amass fortunes of at least $2.5 billion); some of the aid money went to replenish Hamas’ supply of weapons, and to help build its network of terror tunnels. What was left over then went to “reconstruction.” Israel was determined that this time the aid money offered by Qatar — $10 million every month — would not go to Hamas, but instead would be made accessible directly to the 100,000 poorest families in Gaza, bypassing the terror group. Israel cares about the wellbeing of Palestinians in Gaza; Hamas, itching to get its hands on all that Qatari aid money — money which Israel helped to raise — does not.

For Hamas, it’s any port in a storm. The 52nd anniversary of the attack on Al-Aqsa by a lunatic Australian will serve as well as anything else as an excuse to foment riots by Palestinians at Israel’s security fence. And once the riots started in August, they have been continued every night by Hamas, and as of this writing, show no signs of stopping.

Hamas in mid-August recommenced its earlier (2018-2019) Great March of Return, in which thousands of Palestinians marched every Friday as close as they could to Israel’s security fence, and tried to breach it. Hamas has now been sending the Palestinians not weekly, but every night, to march up close to the fence and once there, to throw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli soldiers on the other side; in one case, a Palestinian with a gun shot point-blank at a Border Policeman, who has since died. Israel uses tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun guns to keep the rioters from breaching the fence; it uses live fire only in the most dangerous situations, and tries then to aim at the legs of those whom it wishes to stop. Israel wishes to minimize serious injuries and deaths among Palestinian civilians.

Hamas, on the other hand, wants more of those marchers to be wounded or killed. It makes sure, too, that children are pressed into service, placed at or near the head of the marchers, so that they have a better chance of being hurt. Who in Hamas cares if some of those marchers are wounded or worse? Hamas is well-pleased when marchers are seriously wounded or killed; this provides more grist for the terror group’s propaganda mill.

If Hamas had a real interest in the welfare of the Palestinians in Gaza, it would stop hiding its weaponry inside, or under, or next fo, homes, schools, hospitals, and high-rises in the Strip.. It would not be launching rockets at Israel from inside, or under, or beside, those same homes, schools, hospitals, and high-rises. It would not be exposing Palestinian civilians to the dangers of Israeli reprisals. It would not be using Palestinian civilians as its sacrificial Great-March-of-Return marchers, deliberately placing them in harm’s way, and encouraging them to try to breach the fence. Since 2018 36,000 Palestinian marchers have been wounded — most very lightly — at or near the security fence because, despite Israel’s best efforts to use less harmful means (tear gas, rubber bullets, stun guns) to stop the marchers, such woundings have been unavoidable. Tear gas, and the canisters that contain it, can cause injuries, so can rubber bullets — though rarely are the wounds that result serious.

Israel has been doing its best, despite every conceivable provocation by Hamas, to make the lives of Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza less burdensome. That is why Defense Minister Benny Gantz promised Mahmoud Abbas the loan of $155 million, and to provide permits for an additional 16,000 Palestinians to work in Israel. It’s why Israel has extended the zone made accessible to Palestinian fisherman in Gaza, and decided to allow into Gaza more goods, including even some that have “dual-use.” Hamas, on the other hand, started a war with Israel, the fourth in a series, only in order to show that it, and not the P.A., was the true “resistance” to the Jewish state. Like the previous three wars, this one, too, ended in much of Gaza’s infrastructure being left in ruins. Why should Hamas care? It declared it had won, and waited for the money to come flowing in. Only this time, the aid — from Qatar, the only Arab state still willing to fund the Palestinians — will bypass Hamas and go directly to its intended recipients, the most impoverished people in Gaza. This was done at the insistence of Israel which, unlike Hamas, does indeed care about the wellbeing of the Palestinians.

First published in Jihad Watch.

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