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While many European commentators, along with Arab and Muslim colleagues in Iran and other bastions of progressive thought rushed to defend the "innocent" Hamas leadership and Palestinian people, a distinctively different note was heard in some surprising quarters.

Arab commentary: So why do the Palestinians continue to fire, now that Israel has left Gaza?...Continued shooting at Israel proves that there is no reason.

In Asharq al Awsat, Abdul Rahman Al Rashed notes that the Palestinians ask for Arab help, but did not bother to consult the Arab states before launching their worthless rockets and kidnapping the soldier. The Hamas have refused to join the Arab peace initiative, so it is not clear what they can expect the Arab world to do, he writes:

ďWhere are the Arabs? Where are Arab governments? Where are Arab rulers?Ē It has become customary for every side looking for a way out of a major crisis to send out such distress calls, just as they are now doing in the occupied Palestinian territories, where civilians are being killed indiscriminately, houses are being demolished and basic services, such as electricity and roads, being destroyed.

The groups making these calls ought to ask themselves: Who consulted Arab people or governments before kidnapping the Israeli soldier or before carrying out military operations that only lead to enormous damage being inflicted on the people, as we are now witnessing in Gaza? Did the Palestinian government inform Arab leaders about the operation or seek their advice? Why then are they entitled to ask for help?

Regretfully, Hamas has only paid attention to its own views. It has openly rejected the united Arab stance and announced it was determined to pursue the what it believed was the only method, while being fully aware that most Arab governments called for calm and not for carrying out small acts that could lead to huge damage, as was the case in the instance...

What can Arab governments do in this case? Nothing, except condemn and denounce Israeli aggression. No Arab government or people want to be pulled into a battle they know they will lose. The history of the four countries, which border Palestine, is ample proof of this. Why should they destroy their countries? Is it for the sake of defending the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier? What victory is worth all this bloodshed and destruction?

The Palestinian president and experience[d] Palestinian groups warned Hamas and other factions of the consequences of firing missiles devoid of any military value and of entering into unequal battles that will destroy everything the Palestinians have built so far and lead to a political, military and moral failure.

The author, Abdul Rahman Al Rashed is General Manager of Al Arabiya television and former editor-in-chief of Asharq al Awsat. Presumably he does not exactly speak only for himself.

In the Kuwaiti newspaper al Siyassa, Saudi journalist Yusuf Nasir Al-Suweidan wrote:

... The tunnel dug by the terrorists from the Gaza Strip to the Kerem Shalom crossing took them outside the Palestinian border, and they used it to penetrate into Israel - an independent, sovereign, U.N. member state. There [in Israel] they perpetrated the crime of murdering two Israelis, kidnapping a third, and wounding others, with all the dangerous consequences that [such a] despicable attack has caused and will cause to the Palestinian side. As Palestinian Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina put it: 'Things are back to square one'..."...
"The main mistake lies in the fact that the Palestinian organizations did not respond correctly to the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza... and its consequences. Instead of beating their swords into plowshares, pens, and other things that are needed for the development of Palestinian society - in terms of the economy, society, culture, and so on - most of them read the developments incorrectly and immaturely. This was exploited by the terrorist networks, that are funded and run by the regimes of the ayatollahs in Tehran and the Ba'th [party] in Syria, and [people] have been taken in by delusions and empty slogans like 'liberation from the river to the sea' [that are heard] among the poor, hungry, and desperate Palestinian masses. At present, what [these masses] need most is food, medicines, clothing, and other essentials - not explosive belts, car bombs, and the slogan, 'Congratulations, oh Martyr, the black-eyed virgin awaits you.'"

An editorial by Fuad El Hashen in the Kuwaiti daily al Watan was even more outspoken, calling on Hamas to stop the rocket fire and tend to reconstruction of Gaza, so that the "Summer Rain" (a reference to the Israeli incursion) will stop falling.

An Israeli Arab editor wrote:

Fact: The continued firing of primitive Qassam rockets has brought massive, possibly irreversible, damage to the Palestinian people groaning under the crush of Israeli occupation...

Palestinian behavior in this context proves better than anything that the political and security chaos in the Strip continues to rage out of control.

Politicians, led by Mahmoud Abbas and the Haniyeh government, have not managed to enforce a temporary calm on armed groups
So why do the Palestinians continue to fire, now that Israel has left Gaza?
Continued shooting at Israel proves that there is no reason. Quite the opposite: Every Qassam fired at Israel is an own-goal against the Palestinians...

In the Daily Star, Ammar Abdulhammid opines that the kidnapping is part of efforts by the Assad regime to destabilize the region:

...after a period of lying low, the Assads are re-emerging as one of the Middle East's chief backers of radical groups - Islamist or ultra-nationalist. The recent showdown with Israel over the fate of an abducted Israeli soldier is a case in point, as the kidnapping seems to have been instigated, if not orchestrated, by Hamas leaders residing in Damascus, where they live under the protection of the Assads.

Of course, us Middle Eastern people are primitive and ignorant, and therefore European opinion tends to ignore all this and perpetuate the story of the agressive Israeli goliath targeting the poor innocent Palestinian, who presumably just wants to exercise his "right" to "resistance."

Ami Isseroff

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Replies: 3 Comments

Why do militant groups continue to fire now tht Israel ahs left Gaza? For one thing, because Israel still occupies the West Bank. YOu quote Adul Rahman Al-Rashed, but where is his Jewish counterpart? Where is the Jewish self-criticsm as scores of civilians die?

, Sunday, July 23rd

The fundamental problem is that neither Hamas, nor its predecessor Fatah, were ever effective governments. So long as they remain subservient to their armed forces, then the war will continue at some level.
There appear to be many thousands of Palestinians who are dependent upon the income they receive as fighters. Like most middle eastern economies, Palestine is not capable at present of providing realistic alternative employment for these men. In large part this is to do with the age imbalance within most middle east states where there simply too mnay young people, and society has not kept pace with changing circumstances.
War also provides a means to divert attention away from internal problems.
Having allowed various groups to arm, Hamas cannot easily disarm them and thus they are able to direct political activity towards war and the creation of demand for their services.
Sadly I suspect the Palestinian passion for war will only cease when the price they have to pay becomes too high. Consider that the Europeans only began to really doubt war when 60,000 men were killed at the battle of the Somme in 1916. I only hope that the Palestinians do not have to learn this lesson for themselves on the same scale.

Rod Davies, Tuesday, July 11th

My own view is that Hamas provoked the crisis to get out of the harder political decisions that it faced. Now the blame will fall on Israel, and Hamas governance of Gaza will be forgotten. It is easier for Hamas to play the victim card, than for them to resolve the underlying problems facing the Palestinians.

You have a great blog !

http://modernityblog.blogspot.com/, Monday, July 10th

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