Mercury – October 31, 2019
“Oh, you seven million Palestinians abroad, enough warming up! There are Jews everywhere! We must attack every Jew on planet Earth — we must slaughter and kill them, with Allah’s help.”
These chilling words by veteran Hamas official Fathi Hammad at a rally in Gaza last July urging Palestinians to kill Jews, not Israelis, is easily found on YouTube.
I don’t know if these words appear in the Palestinian Film Festival that Greg Barns encouraged readers to attend in his recent piece blaming Israel for poverty in Gaza.
But they do expose as baseless his claim Gaza “is being punished because in 2006 its desperate people dared to vote in a government run by Hamas,” rather than the truth that it’s the warped priorities of the Hamas Government that prevents Gaza from reaching its potential. Hammad embodies Hamas’s 1988 charter, which promotes genocide of Jews and is the message Hamas plays all day, every day.
Barns simply lists Gaza’s problems without identifying root causes. Here are some of the key scenes that Barns left on the cutting room floor.
In 2005, Israel withdrew totally from Gaza. In anticipation of the Palestinian Authority, run by Hamas’s secular rival Fatah, pursuing state-building, Israel built a US$60 million terminal at the Erez crossing from Gaza into Israel, capable of handling 45,000 people a day. It was completed the same year Hamas and Fatah fell out.
Fatah refused to concede after Hamas won the 2006 parliamentary elections and in June 2007, the two sides fought for control over Gaza.
Fatah fighters were thrown from multistorey buildings by their Hamas rivals. Others had to beg Israel to let them flee to the Fatah-controlled West Bank. For 12 years Hamas has squandered billions in international aid intended for reconstruction after wars it cynically precipitated — building rocket factories, bunkers and dozens of terror tunnels into Israel. Since 2007, there have been more than 15,000 rockets and mortars fired from Gaza at Israeli civilian towns by Hamas or other groups — each one a war crime.
Hamas has exploited its people as human shields by firing rockets into Israel while positioned near schools and hospitals, storing weapons in UN facilities and sending terrorists to attack Israel while ‘peaceful’ protests are held near the border with Israel.
These tactics dare Israel to respond and cause civilian deaths that benefit Hamas’s global propaganda war.
Given Hamas’s aggression, is it any wonder Israel and Gaza’s other neighbour, Egypt, regulate what enters Gaza across their borders to limit Hamas’s access to military material and dual-use items?
Hamas prevents repairs to infrastructure, encourages arson attacks on the Kerem Shalom border crossing through which pass medicines and the fuel to run Gaza’s power plants or just refuses to accept aid point-blank. That is why Gaza “is poor”.
Even with progress, such as the field hospital Hamas has agreed can be built in Gaza near the Erez crossing, Fatah condemned it as a “deliberate step to finally and completely separate the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.”
Israel has been smeared with the apartheid slur which Nelson Mandela, who visited Israel in 1999, never made and for good reason. Under apartheid, black South Africans suffered racial segregation, no voting rights, were limited in education and employment, the state regulating all aspect of their lives. Arab Israelis are judges, doctors, teachers, generals, diplomats, and media professionals, working and mixing every day with Jews. In Israel’s September election, the predominantly Arab Joint List won the third-highest number of parliament seats.
Apartheid is a red herring used to distract from the real villains of the story. Since 2000, the Palestinian Authority has rejected three Israeli offers of a state. Palestinian Authority President Abbas rejected “out of hand”, in his own words, a 2008 plan with the equivalent of 100 per cent of West Bank and Gaza and shared sovereignty in Jerusalem. Since 2014, he has refused to negotiate, period. This impasse empowers Israel’s critics to say ‘aha, see Israel is controlling the Palestinians like in apartheid South Africa’. The truth is that for 25 years, 95 per cent of Palestinians on the West Bank have been ruled by democratically elected leaders, while Gazans, completely free of Israeli rule since 2005, could flourish if they were not ruled by a genocidal terrorist organisation determined to engage in constant war.
It is not Israel but Fatah and Hamas that keep this horror film endlessly playing, instead of giving Palestinians the happy ending they seek.