20060618

Hamas Hypocrisy

I am going to discuss the killing of Palestinian civilians on the beach in Gaza. Instead of pointing the finger of blame at Israel, and there is some question as to whether Israel was even involved, I am going to point the finger of blame at Hamas.

I put forth this argument. Even if the beach deaths were the result of an Israeli artillery shell, Hamas is at least as much, if not more, to blame as Israel.

How can this be so? Israel has been enduring routine Qassam rocket attacks from Gaza. While a cease fire was agreed to by Hamas, Islamic Jihad has not been observing this cease fire. Some people point at the elections where Hamas won a stunning victory. Why will not this "majority government" then police the cease fire? Why didn't this "majority" force the "minority" unelected Islamic Jihad to comply with the cease fire? Oh that's right. Hamas claims they do not want to start a civil war!

Excuse me. Hamas seems to be all too willing to engage in a civil war with Fatah, but when it comes to Islamic Jihad they suddenly become meek and seek national unity. When it comes to Fatah they will resort to Rocket Propelled Grenades but when it comes to Islamic Jihad they suddenly become timid.

Israel retains the right to retaliate against Qassam rockets launched during the so called cease fire. If Hamas refuses to police their own country then Israel must resort to desperate measures. Hamas has proven they are capable of action by the "civil war" they are conducting with Fatah. That they refuse to use the same measures against Islamic Jihad proves (to me anyway) that while they might condemn the attacks publicly, behind the scenes they gave Islamic Jihad the wink and a nod.

Action (or lack of it) speaks louder then words. Hamas' actions scream hypocrisy.

If the elected government of Palestine refuses to police their own cease fire, then Israel must defend itself. I argue Israel retains the right to resort to retaliation in response to the Qassam rocket barrages. These rockets are being launched against Israeli civilian population centers. Israel has responded with artillery barrages. If Hamas wants the artillery barrages to stop, they must stop the Qassam barrages.

7 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

Why will not this "majority government" then police the cease fire? Why didn't this "majority" force the "minority" unelected Islamic Jihad to comply with the cease fire? Oh that's right. Hamas claims they do not want to start a civil war!

Yes why? If you haven't been sleepwalking as an Israeli apologist then you would realise that the Palestinian security forces are under the control of Fatah not Hamas.

This in fact, as been the bone of contention between Hamas and Fatah and why the two factions are close to civil war.

Israel is all too willing to punish Hamas for activities that it has absolutely no control over. Yet, it will deal with the "moderate" but incompetent Fatah, who are not the elected representatives of the Palestinian people, even to the degree of transferring arms for the purposes of "taking on" Hamas.

Open your eyes.

Regards,
Michael Tam

6/23/2006 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger Little David said...

Heh heh, this is not the first time I have been accused of being an Israeli apologist. But more often I have been accused of being an anti-Semite. I must be doing something right - grin.

Hamas is willing to conduct a civil war with Fatah because it suits them. They evidently do not need to control the security forces to engage in street warfare with Fatah. The militias under their control seem to be up to the job.

Hamas does not engage these militias against Islamic Jihad when Islamic Jihad violates the ceasefire. The reason (excuse) we are given is that Hamas does not want to start a civil war.

Mahmoud Abbas (Fatah) is the elected President of Palestine.

By the way, there were some indications that the Palestinian security forces did try and make at least minimal attempts to police against the firing of Qassams from Gaza. These efforts were largely ineffectual, and from what I observed they received no backing from Hamas.

6/24/2006 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Hamas has kept its side of the bargain for 18 months during the "truce". It is otherwise the single largest group involved in "terrorism" against Israel.

Israel during that period, has not kept its end of the bargain, launching multiple air strikes in Gaza.

Politicking aside, Hamas neither has the resources (or the political will) to act against small militia groups like Islamic Jihad. Neither for that matter does Fatah, though Fatah does control the Palestinian Security forces which basically are the police and internal intelligence.

Furthermore, there is an issue of proportionality to the attacks. At this point in time since the withdrawal of Gaza, it is a matter of Israel firing rockets into Gaza and the Palestinian militas firing rockets into border towns of Israel. The Israeli attacks have been an order of magnitude more deadly in killing both alleged militants but in particular civilians.

Here we reach an impasse in Israeli moral reasoning.

Israel states that it has a right to respond to attacks on its civilians equally with rocket attacks that it knows will kill Palestinian civilians.

On the principle of universality, the corollary of this is that the Palestinians also then have a right to respond to attacks on their civilians with like force within the frame of that conflict.

The Israelis and Palestinians as such are trapped in cycle of violence and the victims are disproportionately the Palestinian civilians.

Hamas made a brave (political) step a year and a half ago when it agreed to stop attacks on Israel. Israel, however, has not shown the patience and fortitude required to end the "cycle".

As I usually argue, both sides are as much as fault. However, Israeli being the overwhelmingly dominant and occupying force has a certain moral obligation.

Regards,
Michael Tam

6/24/2006 09:45:00 PM  
Blogger Little David said...

Bullshit.

Yes I agree Hamas honored the ceasefire. During the ceasefire Islamic Jihad did not honor it. Israel did not engage in targetted killings against Hamas during the ceasefire but did do so against Islamic Jihad.

Hamas claims they do not have the resources to tackle Islamic Jihad while Islamic Jihad violates the ceasefire. However Hamas exposes this argument when her militias prove Hamas is capable and willing to take on the more substantial forces enjoyed by Fatah.

I argue that Israel must not be expected to endure unreasonable levels of Qassam attacks without striking back. It is not like the Qassam attacks withered with time, in fact they were on the increase.

Perhaps if the Israelis were Christians we could preach the New Testament at them. Preach they at least, for an additional period of time, they should "turn the other cheek". However they are not Christians. And even Christians, after they turn their cheek and both cheeks are bloody and some teeth are missing, are going to decide "enough is enough".

I think the "moral" obligation of the Israeli side, as the dominant power, is met by the Israeli side being willing to conduct "disengagement" such as the withdrawal from Gaza. However this withdrawal has not been met with a cessation of violence in Gaza. Israel's experience has been quite the contrary.

6/25/2006 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Look at the number of Israelis killed and injured by Palestinian attacks vs the number of Palestinians killed by Israelis. They are grossly disproportionate.

Though they are playing with rockets and missiles, during the period of the "Hamas truce", only a handful of Israelis were actually killed by Palestinian militants. There is an exaggeration here on what is happening on the ground.

Yes, Israel has a right to respond, but the response should be proportionate. When someone throws stones, you do not have the moral right to shoot them in the head and kill their neighbours as well.

In addition, read the articles from the past twelve months. Every time Islamic Jihad launches another feckless rocket attack, Israel ramps up its anti-Hamas rhetoric. As before, it wasn't even Hamas role to police the militants, it was the role of the Palestinian security forces under the control of Fatah (which by the way, have not been paid their salaries for months since the monetary freeze).

Israel at present has decided to give up some of the occupied territories but plans to keep the "choice" parts. Its policy is clearly defined by the land grab that is the "wall". It can justify its position of unilateralism if Palestine decends into the chaos of civil war. I have no doubt the Israel at present is trying to provoke just that.

Regards,
Michael Tam

6/25/2006 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Little David said...

I am aware of the disproportionate numbers in the casualties.

But Israel does retain the right to retaliate. Everything Israel tries to do to retaliate is met with criticism.

For example, targetted killings. Criticism: Israel should not use missiles but arrest the guilty. Response: If Israel tries to engage in "police action" and arrest the guilty, it often results in things spiraling out of control, such as at Jenin, while the Palestinian militias resist. This results in even larger numbers of "innocents" being killed and helps to explain the disproportionate casualties.

I am not without criticism of Israeli actions. That I have engaged in some criticism of Israel in the past has resulted in my being dismissed as an anti-Semite by some with a right wing viewpoint. It was easier for them to dismiss me with a label then it was to engage me in debate.

However, some of the arguments put forth by even these "extremists" is not without merit.

Personally, while I am still critical of where PM Olmert's "opening position" would be in regards to any negotiations, I have seen evidence that his position is in many ways more reasonable than any "opening position" previously put forth by an Israeli leader.

I do not think it is unreasonable for the Israeli side to insist Hamas must recognize the right of Israel to exist, accept the results of previous negotiations that were agreed to by Palestinian leaders etc. If the purpose of negotiations is not to reach a PERMANENT, LASTING peace, then why bother to negotiate at all? The only thing that could then be achieved would be to agree to define the borders of where the conflict will continue on into eternity.

As for what I hope would be the results of such negotiations? Something better then what was offered to Yasser Arafat at Taba. Perhaps something like the Geneva Accord.

But for negotiations to commence Hamas is going to have to signal they would be satisfied with something like this. Evidence is that they will not. The most they will agree to is a hudna that might last for a few years before they relaunch hostilities in an effort to "liberate" all that which they think of as Palestine.

I will not condemn you for being skeptical of Israeli intentions. However I wish you would then treat the Palestinian side with the same degree of skepticism. BOTH SIDES have unreasonable right wing extremists.

Evidence is that moderates now wield power within Israel. Moderates that signal some willingness to be "reasonable" in an effort to resolve the conflict. Evidence is that the label "moderate" can not be applied to Hamas, and that they are not "reasonable".

But all of this is just my opinion, but it is not an uninformed opinion.

6/26/2006 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I do not think it is unreasonable for the Israeli side to insist Hamas must recognize the right of Israel to exist...

I agree. However, I think that pragmatism is more important than symbolism.

Hamas (through unendorsed statements of senior members) had gotten as close to "recognising" Israel as it can get. It was willing to talk to Israel and cut a deal with regards to the flow of aid as well as its share of tarrifs. Pragmatically for Hamas to work with Israel, hold a self imposed "truce" and negotiate at a government departmental level it is for all intents and purposes "recognising" the right/existance of the the Israeli government.

Israel, however, did not pick up on this initiative. If you force Hamas to restate its policy on Israel while pointing a gun, the usual drivel results.

Everything Israel tries to do to retaliate is met with criticism.

The criticism would be a whole lot less if whatever action it took did not kill or injure vastly more Palestinian civilians than Israelis.

In the period of the Hamas truce when the only attack (mostly) that the militants did have access to were rocket attacks (by large ineffectual and rarely lethal) into the town bordering Gaza, my personal opinion was that Israel should have "ridden it out". Yes, domestically unpopular but the current escalation probably would not have occurred.

Moderates that signal some willingness to be "reasonable" in an effort to resolve the conflict. Evidence is that the label "moderate" can not be applied to Hamas, and that they are not "reasonable".

I agree that Hamas cannot be be labelled as moderate. However, for a long time, they were willing to be practical - to stop Hamas driven militant activities and play the diplomatic game. That initiative is now lost and until the wind goes out of the latest push to violence, I doubt very much that this will change.

As for "targeted killings", they are dubbed "extrajudicial" and hence illegal for a reason. The flip side would be Hamas assasins targeting senior Israeli members of parliarment and military officials (i.e., those that "arrange" and "plan" violence against the Palestinians). That would universally be condemned.

Regards,
Michael Tam

6/27/2006 03:32:00 AM  

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