The Real Palestinian Catastrophe

gaza strip

Few would deny that the living conditions in the Gaza strip are miserable. With limited access to the outside world and the threat of violence around every corner, the people of Gaza are suffering. Every situation of unrest prompts new discussions on the true source of the living conditions in the region. Despite arguments seeking to place all blame on the shoulders of Israel, the fact remains that the innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip have been living under Hamas rule since 2007 and Israel’s actions are a direct result. Experts such as Mark Dubowitz of FDD, believe that Hamas should accept the blame for Gaza’s suffering.

The Israeli government has no practical alternative but to treat the region as hostile territory. Hamas specifically seeks the end of the Jewish state. And they haven’t just shown their mission through their words. Multiple rocket launches along with many attempted commando-style raids have all been lobbied against Israel.

Despite the aggressive actions, Israel has far from deprived Gaza from necessities. The coastal enclave is heavily guarded with a strong military presence on the border to limit Hamas’ reach, but Israel still works with its enemies to prevent famine and economic collapse within the region. Qatar and Turkey have been allowed to provide Gaza citizens with the assistance they need to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

Since 2014 the Israelis have overseen the shipment of more than 7.5 million tons of aid materials to Gaza, all while Hamas has ramped up its military action against Israel with assistance from Iran. Withdrawl from the Iran nuclear deal reflects the level of disunity on how to deal with the regional power. Israeli intelligence has expressed concern that much of the humanitarian aid entering the region is redirected by the Hamas government to build tunnels for weapons smuggling. This past year the Israeli military discovered one such tunnel and evidence of many more. These tunnels have been used to increase Hamas’ supply of rockets. Hamas’ weapons stockpiles pose a far greater Palestinian catastrophe than any threat presented by Israeli forces.

Palestinian Nationalism is at its lowest point in recent history. Many of the civilian riots are believed to be influenced by Hamas’ forces. Angry hordes threaten Israel’s borders under the guise of civilians pleading for humanitarian assistance. Hamas paid many of the protestors to go to the fence, canceled school so children could participate and provided prisoners with the opportunity to leave jail on the condition of their cooperation in the protests. The protesters were coordinated to go to multiple points of the fence so as to spread Israeli forces thin with some protestors going so far as to throw rocks at officials.

Analysts stress the importance of the fact that the Israeli military utilized non-lethal means to deter protestors and prevent fence breaches. Tear gas and loudspeakers were employed before live ammunition was utilized. Meanwhile, over 20 fires were started in Israel by kites lit on fire by Gaza protesters. Of the 62 “civilians” reported killed, at least 50 were Hamas terrorists.

Israeli officials at the highest levels of government take the concerns of the Gaza people seriously and are desperate to find a solution to the end the suffering, but they are also fearful for the safety of their own citizens that face a dangerous threat from Hamas terrorists.

Subject matter experts warn that any Israeli disruption of Hamas’ governing status quo could result in fracturing the Hamas leadership into many smaller organizations. As it currently stands Hamas holds 2 million Gaza citizens hostage with their tactics and dangerous rhetoric and until they are removed from power the Israeli government has no choice but to defend itself from attacks in whatever form they take.

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Hamas – The Real Palestinian Catastrophe

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Palestinian nationalism is at its lowest point ever. According to members of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) the dream of an independent Palestinian state appears increasingly distant.

Divided leadership, with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is largely to blame. Recently Palestinians commemorated their 70th “Catastrophe Day” (referencing the anniversary of the United Nations recognition of Israel). However, the real Palestinian catastrophe was the regression of their cause into dictatorship, corruption, violence, and extremism.

Last week Hamas organized masses of protesters-some armed with pipe bombs and grenades-to storm the border fences. To increase the crowd size, Hamas paid school children and released prisoners. Their stated goal was to protest the illegitimacy of Israel’s borders, but the real reason was to cover for their failure to govern Gaza properly. The region is overwhelmed by poverty, water and electricity shortages, and record high unemployment opportunities for its 1.8 million people. The terrorist organization has shown little interest in governance and instead devotes resources to staging these “protests.” It’s clear all blame for Gaza’s suffering should go to Hamas.

Unfortunately, things are not much better in the rest of the region. On April 30th Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech to the Palestine National Council (PNC), during which he blamed the “social behavior” of Jewish people for the Holocaust. Abbas is known for his history of making anti-semitic comments, but this most recent speech only reaffirms his administration’s lack of willingness to cooperate with the Israeli government. At this gathering, Abbas skipped any voting procedures and re-elected himself by applause. For all other legislative positions, the election depended purely on loyalty to Abbas. Government positions have grown quite competitive in recent years due to the poor conditions of the private sector and many higher up positions seem to go to the highest bidder. The apparent violation of democracy left many Palestinian observers in despair.

Corruption in the West Bank grows day-by-day. Judicial independence is limited. The leaders of civil liberty organizations face jail time for “challenging national unity.” The best-known public Palestinian research organization is on the verge of financial collapse. In 2015 Abbas closed down an NGO founded by former prime minister Salam Fayyad by seizing its funds and closing its bank accounts. Like Hamas in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority arrests and detains journalists who criticize its leaders. In one surprisingly blatant example of financial corruption, released documents showed that money was spent on non-existent entities such as salaries to employees of an airline company that no longer exists. The suspected recipients of the paychecks are Abbas loyalists.

The tension in the region couldn’t be higher; the vast array of responses from members of The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran-nuclear deal reflects the GCC’s disunity. It may well be that the window for a sovereign Palestinian state closed in 2008. Certainly, there is no prospect of an early deal with Israel, and in Arab capitals, enthusiasm for the Palestinian cause is on a rapid decline.