I find the hardest part about writing this column is choosing the topic. As for themes, “the world is mine” and the kind editors at Hamodia have generally permitted me great latitude of expression despite certain differences of political position. Sticking with a topic is not a simple matter because of the fluid and rapid change of the news front here. It is both frustrating and exhilarating. A perfect example is last night; I went to bed with a near-finished column to the sound of “bombs bursting in air” and I awoke to a ceasefire, albeit with fewer bombs bursting in air and a column whose shelf-life was rapidly approaching expiration. Proving my above point, as of 15:30 Tuesday here in Israel, the Israeli air force has begun strikes deep into Gaza in retaliation against the more than 50 missiles Hamas has fired since a ceasefire was supposed to take effect.
Hamas rejected the Egyptian ceasefire because, like a caged animal (no offense to caged animals intended), Hamas has dug in and will fight on. In the currency of life here in the Middle East where pride and reputation is everything, Hamas has too much to lose in terms of honor and prestige. If it accepts the ceasefire terms presented by Egypt, which, it should be noted, is almost as committed to the destruction of Hamas as Israel is, the capitulation would be a humiliating admission that it was thoroughly and completely defeated by its enemy; Israel. The terms include none of its major demands for a ceasefire such as the release of prisoners rearrested in recent weeks by Israeli forces in the West Bank during the search for our three kidnapped and ultimately murdered boys, nor significant changes to restrictions at port crossings. Basically, the ceasefire would be tantamount to an unconditional surrender though Islam does not permit a full blown surrender to “infidels.” Any signed agreement with Hamas is to be recognized as a “hudna,” a temporary cessation of conflict which they may violate (whenever they feel the time is propitious.)
Hamas exists solely as a nihilistic entity whose charter focuses on the annihilation of Israel rather than enumerating and enshrining rights to its citizenry. By attacking Israel, it is employing a tried and true trick from a terrorist playbook, diverting attention from its own failures by focusing on Israel. If there is no Israel, Gazans will turn their gaze upon those in charge and will start focusing on the kleptocratic, abusive nature of Hamas’ totalitarian rule which began almost immediately upon coming to power in democratically held elections in 2006.
A sight-seeing tour of Hamas: While Hamas leaders cry to the world of the depravations of the citizens of Gaza as a consequence of the so-called Israeli blockade of the area, Hamas leaders who portray themselves as “freedom fighters” and men of the people have been shown to be anything but. Over the last two weeks, images of its leaders living in luxury reveal an entirely different reality. They are living like monarchic elite in Qatar and elsewhere. It is claimed that Hamas leaders have personal assets exceeding $2 billion, all of which has come from the coffers of the populace it leaves destitute. Hamas’ financial organizational situation is such that it has not paid its more than 40,000 civil servants salaries in months, prompting them to attack Gazan banks. Not only has Hamas leadership bled the finances of the common man dry, but it uses them, their families, and individual civilians as human shields to protect itself from attack.
Hamas’ reign of terror among its own people is well documented. It tortures and kills domestic political opponents and those with whom it has personal vendettas under the pretext that they are collaborators with Israel. The government in Gaza permits no political or religious freedom, no freedom of speech, press, or assembly, and no independent judiciary. In a 2013 report on freedom in the world by Freedom House, Hamas received a 6 with 7 indicating the worst level. Hamas graded out at 6 consistently in evaluations of freedom, civil liberties, and political rights.
If the people of Gaza were able to fix their gaze on their actual oppressors, Hamas would be in danger of open revolt. Ironically, it seems Hamas needs Israel to survive almost as much as it wants it to be destroyed. Hamas sure has a strange way of showing how much they need us.
Meir Solomon is a writer, analyst, and commentator living in Alon Shvut, Israel, with his wife and two children. He can be contacted at msolomon@Hamodia.com.