Opinion |

Self-inflicted Suffering in Gaza

Such wounds to be displayed to the world are no recipe for a national movement. Lucky are the Palestinians living in Israel, Jordan, Judea and Samaria

Moshe Arens
Moshe Arens
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People react as they evacuate deaf Palestinian Tahreer Abu Sabala, 17, who was shot in the head during clashes with Israeli troops at the Gaza border, April 1, 2018.
People react as they evacuate deaf Palestinian Tahreer Abu Sabala, 17, who was shot in the head during clashes with Israeli troops at the Gaza border, April 1, 2018.Credit: braheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters
Moshe Arens
Moshe Arens

The strategy of the Hamas rulers of Gaza is transparent. It’s a cruel and heartless strategy. Make the Palestinians in Gaza suffer and display their wounds for the world to see in the hope of arousing sympathy for the Palestinians and rage against Israel.

The “march of a million to Jerusalem” at the Gaza fence was intended to bring death to thousands of Palestinians and wave their suffering as a Palestinian flag. Hamas knew that with such a mass of people assaulting the fence, events there would become uncontrollable. And should that stratagem fail, the Hamas militants would make sure that mayhem ensued and many people would lose their lives.

Hamas did not manage to assemble a million at the fence. Nor a hundred thousand. But even with 30,000 unfortunates brought to the fence, it was an explosive mixture and people were killed. Enough for inciting attacks against Israel at the United Nations; some Israeli commentators suggested that Hamas had finally hit upon a successful strategy against Israel. A giant step forward for the Palestinian cause, one Haaretz commentator called it.

It was no more than one more escalation of a strategy Hamas has chosen since it took control of Gaza and the 2 million hapless Palestinians there. Cause the Palestinians there suffering and expose their wounds to the world.

For some years this strategy was based on shooting rockets at Israel’s population centers, knowing full well that an Israeli response in self-defense would inflict suffering on the local population – dead and wounded and property damage. Three times since Hamas took control of Gaza the group attacked the Israeli civilian population knowing the suffering it would bring to the Gaza Palestinians. But they assumed that the resulting condemnation of Israel in parts of the international community was well worth it. That strategy seems to have run out of steam. There is little in Gaza left to destroy.

Then came the tunnels. Millions that should have been spent on rebuilding Gaza were invested in digging tunnels that would reach into Israel. That doesn’t seem to work either. Now they are prepared for an overland assault by Gaza civilians – men, women and children – against Israel, in the hope that there will be many Palestinian casualties. So far they’re probably disappointed. Hamas had planned on many more people being killed.

Instead of calling on Hamas to stop this cruel venture intended to bring suffering to the Palestinians in Gaza, Hamas supporters are calling for such actions to continue. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah has no choice but to voice his support for these suicidal demonstrations. Other well-meaning people in the world are mouthing the usual refrain that all sides should show restraint. Don’t expect any restraint from the leaders of Hamas.

The perpetuation of the refugee problem that resulted from the Arab attack on Israel after the November 1947 UN partition resolution has been the basis for continuing this attack on Israel by other means. Throughout the world many millions of displaced people, refugees from the fighting during World War II and the partition of India, have found new homes, but the Palestinian refugees, which now include the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the original refugees, have been purposely left without permanent homes as a weapon against Israel. Much of the international community has lent its support to this malicious strategy. Hamas is taking it to its limit.

The Palestinians have had the misfortune of having the worst kind of leaders – from Haj Amin al-Husseini to Yasser Arafat and now Hamas. Self-inflicted wounds to be displayed to the world are no recipe for a national movement. Lucky are the Palestinians living in Israel and Jordan. Better off than the Palestinians in Gaza are the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. The Gaza Palestinians have the misfortune to have fallen under the control of Hamas.

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