April 26, 2019

The UN Should Investigate Hamas Violence Against Palestinians

It’s one thing when pro-Israel activists try to condemn Hamas leaders who neglect the welfare of their own people in favor of attacking the Jewish state—  as they have been doing for more than a decade since they took over the Gaza Strip.

It’s a lot more credible, though, when that condemnation comes from fellow Palestinians.

To take one of many examples, based on reporting by Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch, here is how Fatah spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi reacted to Hamas missiles fired recently on Israel: “Launching missiles in order to put down the uprising of the starving is an unacceptable act, and is overt and obvious to all.”

Al-Qawasmi was referring to the rising protests of Palestinians in Gaza who are living in misery and feel abandoned by their own leaders. The cynical ploy of distracting “the starving” by attacking the Jews is a tried and true Hamas tactic, and Palestinian leaders in Ramallah called them out on it.

Needless to say, attacking the Jews to distract from local misery has been a tried and true tactic throughout much of the Middle East for decades, as pro-Israel activists have repeated ad nauseum. That criticism is a lot more potent, though, when it comes from the inside.

Since Israel has a vigorous free press, brutal self-criticism has been par for the course in the Jewish state. But that’s hardly the case in Arab and Muslim societies, which has created the distorted picture that so many of the ills in the Middle East are rooted in Israel. When Arabs take on their own, as Al-Qawasmi did with Hamas, this overall picture starts to look a little more complete, a little more realistic.

It’s unarguable that most of the misery in the Middle East has little to do with Israel, and that includes the situation in Gaza. When Hamas took over the beachfront Gaza Strip in 2007, they had a chance to create a world-class tourist destination— a Gaza Riviera—  that would have brought jobs and well-being to their people. Instead, they created another terror state and blamed everything on Israel.

The animosity between Hamas and Fatah is an internal struggle that also has little to do with Israel, and everything to do with the power to control Palestinian society.

“Since the end of the Palestinian civil war in 2007,” Marcus writes in JPost, “when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, Fatah and Hamas have been sparring in an ongoing internal war for the hearts and minds of Palestinians.”

This internal war seems to be reaching a tipping point.

“In recent weeks,” writes Marcus, “the enmity and mutual incitement between Fatah and Hamas has increased, as many demonstrators are taking to the streets in the Gaza Strip to protest Hamas’s failed administration of Gaza.”

While so much of the world has condemned Israel’s reaction to the weekly and often violent Palestinian protests at the Gaza border, they have looked the other way when Hamas has brutally put down Palestinian protests against its regime.

Palestinians in the West Bank, however, have not looked the other way, using chilling language to condemn Hamas violence against its own people.

As Marcus notes, a regular columnist in the official PA daily referred to Hamas as “the face of treason… the supporters of Satan.” He called for the residents of Gaza Strip to rise up violently against Hamas: “Gaza, the time has come. Tighten the noose around them. Hang them with the ropes of their treason, for the shame and disgrace is theirs, and this is the end of the traitorous heretics.”

PLO Executive Committee member Tayseer Khaled also condemned Hamas’s treatment of the demonstrators: “What we are seeing before us is not security forces, but rather ‘Gestapo’ gangs.”

This Palestinian versus Palestinian condemnation needs to go right to the United Nations and lead to an investigation of Hamas violence against its own people.

Of course, the U.N. is so used to targeting Israel that it may have a hard time coming to terms with Palestinian violence against Palestinians. But if it really cares about the human rights of Palestinians, as it so often claims, it should target Hamas immediately.

And if they need more evidence, they should just go talk to Palestinians, in Gaza and Ramallah.