Who cares about Hamas's 'reign of terror'?
As President Obama gets ready to send an additional 400 million dollars in aid to “ordinary Palestinians” (most of which will probably end up with a small inner circle of Hamas weapons enthusiasts) it’s worth remembering who is causing the most misery to the people of Gaza.
The Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh has written a blistering essay for the Hudson New York blog headlined, “What About Hamas’s Siege of Gaza?“. He reminds us that while the world bayed about Israel’s naval blockade, “Hamas [has continued] its reign of terror on the local population in general and its critics in particular.”
What is that reign like? Well, here are some snapshots of life in Gaza under Hamas: on June 6, “A senior United Nations official… expressed deep concern at reports that Hamas has broken into the offices of [NGOs] in the Gaza Strip… confiscated materials and equipment, and forced the offices to shut down.”
In late May, masked gunmen raided a UN children’s camp, tearing down tents and burning storage buildings. It’s not known who was behind those masks but earlier what the Irish Times called “a previously unknown militant group, The Free of the Homeland, issued a statement criticising [the UN] for, ‘teaching schoolgirls fitness, dancing and immorality.’” Hamas often uses proxies and has been attempting to impose strict sharia law. In April, as the same Irish Times article points out, Hamas sent “police to break up the Gaza Strip’s first major hip-hop concert [because, it said,] organisers failed to get a permit.”
Toameh was born in the West Bank city of Tulkarm 45 years ago. He was thus able to observe Yasser Arafat’s rise to power and the accompanying loss of freedoms and prosperity as the dictator (who had hopped over from Tunisia) whisked foreign aid money into his personal bank account and took control of media outlets. When Toameh was slightly older, and to avoid Arafat rule, his family moved to Israeli-controlled East Jerusalem and Toameh was educated at the Anglican Church School in West Jerusalem. He went on to get a college degree at an Israeli university; nevertheless his first job out of college was at a Palestinian Liberation Organization newspaper. People are free to move around like that in Israel. I can assure you that you don’t see that kind of fluidity in the Palestinian territories.
Because he speaks English, Arabic and Hebrew fluently, he is one of less than a handful of Middle East reporters who is able to attend Israeli, Hamas and Fatah press conferences without dependence on poltiically-motivated fixers for translation. What I’m trying to say is that he is as good a window into real life as you can find.
It’s a shame there aren’t more Palestinian journalists who can write freely, but if they haven’t, in effect, escaped to become Israeli citizens, they live a life of constant harassment, jailings and beatings by both the Fatah and Hamas regimes.
The point Toameh constantly makes in one way or another is that it is hypocritical to say you desire a better life for Palestinians and look the other way at Fatah and Hamas abuses. Keep that in mind as the world mobilizes to force Israel to end its weapons blockade.