How Hamas Thrives
By: P. David Hornik
Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Less than a year after taking office, the terror movement is a success story.

Monday morning in Gaza City masked gunmen waiting outside a school fired automatic rifles into a car and killed three brothers, Salam, Ahmed, and Osama Ba’lousheh, aged four, seven, and nine. Their driver was also killed and their bodyguard was wounded.

As for why three young boys on their way to school would need a bodyguard, their father, Baha Ba’lousheh, is a senior Fatah operative in Gaza who apparently took part in a crackdown on Hamas in 1996. The gunmen are assumed to have been from Hamas, which had reportedly been sending Ba’lousheh death threats and tried to assassinate him a few months ago.   

In the preceding move in the Hamas-Fatah feud, on Sunday there was an assassination attempt in Gaza on Hamas interior minister Said Siam. Hamas appears to have the upper hand: the Aksa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah, which called the killing of Ba’lousheh’s sons an “ugly massacre,” also charged Hamas with killing 78 Fatah members in the last few years.

Indeed, the whole Fatah establishment erupted in horror and seemed suddenly to discover the heinousness of child murder. Former security minister Muhammad Dahlan—believed to have been behind an attack on an Israeli school bus in Gaza in November 2000 that killed two teachers and severely wounded many children, including three siblings who needed leg amputations—said the attack on the Ba’lousheh children was a “despicable crime” that reminded him of massacres by Algerian Islamists during the 1990s.

And Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas—who was Yasser Arafat’s henchman for decades, and has been coronated a “moderate” because of utilitarian criticisms of Palestinian terror while almost never condemning it morally—reacted to the incident by declaring Tuesday a day of mourning throughout the PA. This contrasts with the PA’s many spontaneous celebrations after massacres of Israeli civilians—or, for that matter, American ones on September 11, 2001.

Meanwhile, Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh capped off a successful four-day visit to Tehran with an Iranian pledge of $250 million in aid to the PA. The Authority, widely described as “cash-strapped” and “desperate” under the Hamas regime, is staying afloat with help from Iran and various other friends.

As the International Monetary Fund noted in a report last October, in April-September this year Arab and EU funding to the PA came to $420 million compared to $230 million in the same period last year. The EU, formally “boycotting” the Hamas government, keeps funneling funds to the PA through “bypass” mechanisms—thereby not only absolving the PA populace for electing Hamas last year but continuing to reward it with aid levels that few peoples enjoy.

Another source of Hamas monies is the smuggling of large sums from various sources through the Rafah crossing from Sinai to Gaza, where “monitors” from the same EU—installed there a year ago amid much pomp and praise and the blessing of Condoleezza Rice—can’t seem to get up the energy to do anything about it.

For his part, the head of Israel’s Shin Bet counterintelligence agency, Yuval Diskin, told the Israeli cabinet on Sunday that Hamas faces no substantial opposition in the PA and that Abbas and Fatah are too weak to stop its gradual takeover of the PA security forces. Yossi Baidatz of Military Intelligence added that Hamas is greatly benefiting from the ceasefire agreed to by the Olmert government three weeks ago, continuing to smuggle weapons from Sinai while building up its forces.   

So, less than a year after being elected and taking office, Hamas is enjoying the best of all worlds. It can commit acts of extreme savagery—even against Palestinians, even Palestinian children—knowing that the same Kofi Annan, European ministers, and so on who get outraged by an Israeli accident will yawn if they notice at all. A Sunni fundamentalist movement, it can get adopted by the same Shiite fundamentalist regime that is helping foment severe Sunni-Shiite strife elsewhere in the Middle East.

While being purportedly “boycotted” by the EU for which Hamas’s genocidal covenant and open calls for Israel’s destruction are supposedly going too far, Hamas can keep enjoying aid infusions to its fiefdom that—even if they don’t actually pass through its own hands—obviously have the same effect of propping up its populace while leaving Hamas itself free to keep pouring its own funds into weapons and troops. And Hamas has been granted the huge luxury of an—in effect—totally open Sinai-Gaza border through which all that it could desire—money, munitions, operatives, Syrian and Iranian military advisers, et al.—can enter freely.

Hamas can also keep raining rockets on Israel and then, whenever Israel fights back to some substantial degree, sue for a ceasefire and invariably obtain it, reinforcing itself for the next ever-more-lethal round.

“All that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” said Edmund Burke. In Hamas’s case, that can be revised to: All that is needed for evil to triumph is for enough fellow Arabs and Muslims to aid it and enough cynical or stupid Westerners to join in aiding it or do nothing.

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P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.