Hamas leaders Khaled Mashal, left, and Ismail Haniyeh
Hamas leaders Khaled Mashal, left, and Ismail Haniyeh
Photo: AP
Members of the Hamas military wing in Gaza

Hamas’ lost identity

Opinion: The Palestinian organization is rife with contradiction: when a truce with Israel was convenient, it reprimanded Islamic Jihad for firing rockets, and while over 70% of Gazans are poor, its leader uses private planes and lives life of wealth

Abeer Darwish, The Media Line |
Published: 10.10.20 , 09:12
Hamas presents itself as a Palestinian resistance movement against the Israeli occupation. It repeatedly declares its refusal to recognize Israel and has always criticized the Palestine Liberation Organization for signing the Oslo Accords.
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  • Despite its rejection of Oslo, however, and after Israel assassinated both its leaders, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Dr. Abdel Aziz Al-Rantisi, the movement decided to participate in the 2006 legislative elections and won in a landslide it had not expected.
    Members of the Hamas military wing in Gaza Members of the Hamas military wing in Gaza
    Members of the Hamas military wing in Gaza
    (Photo: EPA)
    Subsequently, in 2007, it staged a bloody coup against the Palestinian Authority and seized the Gaza Strip by force, ushering in an era of Palestinian division that is still hanging over the heads and hearts of the Palestinian people.
    Hamas refuses to recognize the Oslo Accords and Israel, but by participating in the 2006 elections, which were mandated by the Oslo Accords, it de facto recognized Israel.
    Indeed, Ismail Haniyeh formed the “second reconciliation government,” which maintained security coordination and direct communication with the Israelis. When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas criticized the launching of Hamas rockets at Israeli civilians, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar criticized the Palestinian Authority.
    Hamas supporters in Gaza celebrate the group's 25th anniversary Hamas supporters in Gaza celebrate the group's 25th anniversary
    Hamas supporters in Gaza celebrate the group's 25th anniversary
    (Photo: Reuters)
    However, when it was convenient for Hamas to reach a ceasefire with Israel, the same al-Zahar reprimanded smaller organizations, like the Islamic Jihad, for launching rockets toward Israel.
    Hamas, which rules Gaza, is demanding an end to the division in Palestinian society while it appears to be the biggest beneficiary.
    Hamas leaders Khaled Mashal, left, and Ismail Haniyeh Hamas leaders Khaled Mashal, left, and Ismail Haniyeh
    Hamas leaders Khaled Mashal, left, and Ismail Haniyeh
    (Photo: AP)
    More than 70% of the population of Gaza is poor, living life without electricity and potable water while Haniyeh travels on a private plane and lives the life of wealthy heads of state in Doha and Istanbul.
    Both of his children have turned into wealthy businessmen who hold Turkish passports. While they go about their travels claiming to represent the Palestinian people, they are the ones who have launched rivalry and chaos within Palestine – much more, in fact, than Israel did.
    Palestinian group Hamas' top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, is carried during his visit at Ain el Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon, Lebanon Palestinian group Hamas' top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, is carried during his visit at Ain el Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon, Lebanon
    Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is carried aloft during a visit to the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Hamas emerged as a resistance force to the Israeli occupation but came to see the preservation of Palestinian suffering as its only way forward. Hamas leaders talk a lot about Palestinian reconciliation but spend their careers increasing divisions and hatred in Palestinian society.
    Hamas does not want elections because it knows it won’t win them. When will the Palestinian Spring, which will put an end to all of this, finally come?

    This piece first appeared in Al-Arabiya. It was translated into English by Asaf Zilberfarb and reprinted with permission from The Media Line
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