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When it comes to condemning Hamas, Israel should look in the mirror Open in fullscreen

Muhammad Shehada

When it comes to condemning Hamas, Israel should look in the mirror

Gazans have been protesting the tax hikes that make life even more difficult [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 March, 2019

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Comment: Israel is capitalising on an opportunity to blame Hamas for Gaza's miseries, writes Muhammad Shehada.
Over the last few days, thousands of Gazans have taken to the streets as part of the "We Want to Live" campaign, in protest of the worsening living conditions in the besieged enclave. 

The politically neutral and decentralised movement has emphasised that it doesn't stand against any Palestinian party, but mainly aims to end all policies that make Gaza unlivable; including Hamas' increased taxation over consumer goods, the Palestinian Authority's economic sanctions on Gaza, the intra-Palestinian division and most importantly, Israel's blockade.

Unfortunately, and to the dismay of most Palestinians, the protests were violently suppressed by Hamas' security forces, fearing they would distract from the pressure that Gaza's Great Return March protests have been putting on Israel to ease its blockade.

Hamas leaders even 
went so far as to state that they believe Israeli and PA intelligence were trying to infiltrate and mislead the crowds to cause unrest in the Strip.

Confirming Hamas' concerns, Israeli propagandists were delighted by the scenes of Palestinians beating one another.

They hastened to engage in an unprecedented show of disingenuous sympathy with Gazans; such events are an opportunity for Israel to further demonise Hamas and blame the brutalities of the status quo solely on the Palestinian leadership.

Suddenly, Netanyahu's spokesperson, Ofir Gendelman, shamelessly acknowledged the misery of Gaza's slow death, blaming none of it on decades of Israeli occupation, or the blockade and regular military assaults that have rendered Gaza almost unlivable. Hamas, and Hamas alone - Gendelman claimed - was the reason for all of Gaza's pain.

For Regev, the protests dispersed by Hamas were 'real,' while the anti-blockade protests were Hamas orchestrated 'riots'

Even more outrageous, was Gendelman's admission that all Gazans really want is a "better life, freedom and social justice," and that "they deserve it". Suddenly, there was no more crying out that Gazans are "beasts" - solely dedicated to "destroying Israel".

Other infamous Netanyahu mouthpieces stated that Israel "supports" Gaza's freedom of expression and quest for emancipation. Freedom from what, if not from the blockade and occupation that squeezed the last breaths of life out of Gaza and caused its people to explode?

More ironically, Israel's ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, posted a video in which he juxtaposed the latest Gaza protests with the ongoing Great Return March at Gaza's separation fence. For Regev, the protests dispersed by Hamas were "real," while the anti-blockade protests were Hamas orchestrated "riots," as if Gazans have suffered nothing from the 12-year-long Israeli siege.

Indeed, Regev deliberately ignored that many of those "real" protesters were the same activists who marched at the front lines in Gaza's Return March, where Israel killed 259 unarmed protesters and wounded more than 30,000.

Similar to the Great Return March
, the "We Want to Live" protests also repeatedly, and
 desperately picked on Israel's aim to demonise the unarmed Palestinian masses

The narrative flipped from Palestinians burning tyres and hurling stones in "anti-Hamas protests," to it being a battle for freedom.

Israel holds no moral ground to ever criticise any inter-Palestinian affairs

If all this is to prove one thing, it's that for Israel's delusional denialists, there's no looking into the mirror.

Instead, there is essentially a conditional qualifier to acknowledge Gaza's slow death, and its people's call for freedom. Put simply: If Gazans protest Israel then it's terrorism, otherwise it's a struggle for freedom.

The audacity of this hypocritical selectivity and politicised sympathy with Gaza's suffering - which has been mainly caused by the miseries that Israel has visited upon Gaza's civilian population for decades - was compounded by the disgusting crocodile tears shed by every single Israeli propagandist that condemned Hamas' use of violence to disperse the protests.

However, Netanyahu's mouthpieces purposefully ignore that when it comes to extreme brutality, crimes against humanity, silencing critics and repressing freedoms, Israel instantly sticks out as one of the world's most glaring examples of state-sanctioned terrorism against a largely defenseless population.

Read more: Hamas cracks down on Gaza protests over cost of living

It may well be true that in one instance this week, Hamas security forces opened fire in the air to disperse the crowds; but in comparison with Israel's long-standing use of live-fire carefully-calibrated to inflict the severest of casualties on Palestinian protesters; there were no reports of injuries caused by Hamas' few shots in the air.

In response to the activists who were severely beaten by Hamas' security forces, almost all Palestinian political factions - including several Hamas leaders - have denounced the use of violence against Gazan protesters, and are calling for an investigation and an official apology.

Of course people have every right to criticize Hamas' shameful repression of the Gaza protests.

Of course people have every right to criticize Hamas' shameful repression of the Gaza protests

But Israel holds no moral ground to ever criticise any inter-Palestinian affairs when it has consistently chosen to bully, intimidate and abuse Gazans for more than a decade in order to turn them against each other.

The same Israeli government that is now capitalising on the Gazan opposition to Hamas' economic policies, is the very same government that's been sending cash to Hamas, in order to keep Palestinians divided and prevent the realisation of Palestinian statehood.

Finally, if Israel was really concerned with Gaza's wellbeing, at the very least, its government would not have paved the way to power of a widely-denounced supremacist terrorist group; Otzma Yehudit, which is solely dedicated to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.



Muhammad Shehada is a writer and civil society activist from the Gaza Strip and a student of Development Studies at Lund University, Sweden. He was the PR officer for the Gaza office of the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights.

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab. 

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