Collective punishment won’t weaken Hamas


Hamas is not a building that can be knocked out by a laser-guided missile or demolished by a huge army bulldozer, nor is it a tree that can be uprooted anytime. Hamas is an idea thoroughly encapsulated in the hearts of millions of people who won’t give in to oppression and brute force.

Ever since the formal appearance of the Palestinian Islamic liberation group, known by its Arabic acronym as Hamas, Israeli leaders have been making recalcitrant threats against the Islamic movement.

In 1991, in one cold night, former Israeli Prime Minister Isaac Rabin deported 415 Palestinian intellectuals, college professors, mosque preachers and other Islamic activists to Marj az-Zuhur in Southern Lebanon.

The draconian measure, taken following the death of a Jewish settler at the hands of Palestinian resistance guerillas, was meant to eradicate Hamas and deal a stunning blow to the Palestinian society.

However, a year later, the deportees returned home and Hamas, consequently, grew phenomenally stronger in terms of its popularity in the eyes of the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim public opinion.

Indeed, every time Israel threatens Hamas with eradication and annihilation, Palestinians rally around it and resiliently absorb wave after wave of Israeli terror inflicted on mainly innocent people.

This time is not going to be any different.

Israel destroyed tens of thousands of Palestinian homes for a variety of reasons. But the criminal practice utterly failed to make the people accept the fait accompli.

But Hamas itself grew stronger and more popular whereas its Palestinian political foes and opponents suffered by losing public support.

Palestinians simply admire those who resist the Nazi-like Israeli occupation. Similarly, they immensely contempt and look down on those who compromise national dignity even for the purpose of reaching precarious political accommodations with the decades-old occupation regime.

In the course of its unrelenting attempts to subjugate Palestinians and liquidate their enduring just cause, Israel resorted and continues to resort to every conceivable act of repression and collective punishment.

Indeed, in addition to the sinister practice of blowing up homes, Israel routinely resorted and continues to resort to cold-blooded murder of Arab children, bombing civilian neighborhoods, using state-of-the-art of the American technology of death, and imposing hermetic blockades on towns and entire regions for the express purpose of starving people.

In the past decade alone, Israel murdered more than 380 Palestinian children, knowingly and deliberately. This was done by the very country that leaves no stone unturned whenever a Jewish settler living on a land that doesn’t belong to him is killed.

This is a country whose religious leaders declare rather unashamedly that the lives of non-Jews have no sanctity whatsoever.

One of the most criminal forms of repression meted out to the Palestinians in the occupied territories is the manifestly unjustified detention of Palestinians, occasionally for 10 years or more, without charge or trial.

The harsh practice, widely condemned by human rights groups around the world, is intended to break the Palestinian people’s will to reject and resist the entrenched occupation.

None the less, it is amply clear that no matter how hard Israel is trying to emulate the most nefarious regimes in the world, past and present, the cause of Palestinian resistance remains alive.

The reason is very simple: In the final analysis, the resistance is an “effect” not a “cause,” (the cause is the enduring dehumanizing Nazi-like occupation) and all Israel’s efforts to eradicate the “effect” while leaving the “cause” intact have failed and are bound to fail in the future.

Today, Israeli leaders are making all sorts of hysterical threats against the Palestinians, regurgitating past threats which failed to make Palestinians reconsider their rejection of the occupation.

As usual, Israel’s brutal terrorism transcends reality. It is intended to inflict maximum physical and emotional pain.

But this repression, which is directed mainly against innocent people, is not going to subjugate the Palestinians. Another home will be built in place of a demolished one. But the immense hatred for Israel and its diabolical policies and practices will have a lasting place in the heart of every man, woman and child.

I listened to Um Amer Abu Eisha, whose home was blown up by the Israeli army yesterday on the mere suspicion that her son may have been involved in the abduction and subsequent death of the three Israeli settlers.

She said her family would rebuild their home adding that she would make sure to inculcate the spirit of Jihad and resistance in all her children and grandchildren.

The woman’s words are more eloquent than all the Israeli leaders’ ranting and raving about terror.

As to Hamas, it will get stronger and stronger mainly because Israeli oppression of Palestinians continues unabated.

Hamas is not a building that can be knocked out by a laser-guided missile or demolished by a huge menacing army bulldozer, nor is it a tree that can be uprooted. Hamas is an idea thoroughly encapsulated in the hearts of millions of people who won’t give in to oppression and brute force

Israel can destroy homes and buildings as it has always been doing; Israel can always swell its jails and concentration camps with innocent people like the Nazis did 70 years ago.

But neither Israel nor her guardian ally, the U.S., can possibly control people’s hearts. This is the reason Hamas can’t be destroyed.