Friday, February 27, 2009

Hamas' Chutzpah

Sderot aftermath of a Qassam rocket.

By ETHAN BOMBER

GAZA – It has been over a month since the fatal strikes by Israel destroyed most of Gaza. Infrastructure is still mostly just ruins, rubble and pieces all blown in bits. Even with reports of a ceasefire being agreed to by both sides, the three-week campaign to destroy Hamas has left a deepening imprint on life for Gazans, as sporadic fire is traded near the border, threatening another spark for a bigger retort by Israel.

But this time, Hamas will be on the ready. According to a recent appearance by Hamas’s prime minister, Ismail Haniya, Hamas will not be fooled again and have a new tactic up their sleeve next time Israel chooses to wield its deterrence against the terrorists.

“Israel used the ceasefire as a trap to lure Hamas into thinking that Israel was serious about opening the borders. If they think it can do what they did again, they are wrong. Hamas is ready.” Haniya then hints at Hamas’s new secret weapon. “We will drop leaflets.”

Leaflets?

It has been a point of contention that when the IDF warns their enemy of the area that is being targeted for elimination, it will either drop leaflets or send text messages to anyone who could inhabit the intended target. By simple logic, anyone who remains behind is a legitimate target as they are there to fight. Now Hamas is going to use this moral compass that is unique to the IDF.

I visited a Hamas official who requested anonymity because the terrorist did not want to be liquidated. Upon entering his dilapidated quarters, I noticed that it was missing a roof. “I have been unable to fix this place since the IAF bombed the area.”

I wondered how a top-ranked Hamas member was living in such poor circumstance with all the aid and food that was going in the Strip via Israel. Then the explanation: underneath his stone-aged rubble was a tunnel filled with weapons. I adduced another factor into his destitute living: fifteen children with three different wives.

After being asked about Haniya’s latest comment, he informed me that this latest tactic was inspired by Israel’s massive offensive that left 1,300 civilians dead. He was under the impression that an intensive bombing campaign against a civilian population would ignite the civilians to revolt against the administration currently in power.

“We are weaker militarily and politically. But we must kill the Jews for this.” There were hints of great envy at Israel’s ability to leave such destruction while not being held accountable. He seemed to dismiss the fact that Israel has been condemned internationally for Operation Cast Lead, his point being that Hamas is “condemned” also but does not get to trade with the rest of the world like Israel does. Apparently he did not receive the warnings from Israel that consistent Qassam fire into Southern Israel would warrant a military response from Israel.

It was troubling that his many sons were in the weapons facility scraping off what seemed to be tags off of the munitions. After a query about the children’s activity, it appeared that they were removing the Farsi serial numbers so as to divert attention from their sole supplier of terror.

Further into Gaza City, conversations with several Hamas leaders all but confirmed the leaflet initiative with the main objective of inflicting as many casualties as possible on Israeli civilians. With greater review, it seems that their recent pragmatic stance has taken less of a stronghold and their radical wing is now closer to the fray and the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead has only reaffirmed the ridiculous belief that Israel is not serious about peace. Questions about Israel allowing in the little aid into Gaza were met with run-around answers about Israel refusing to let it food and medical supplies as well as injured Palestinians into Israel for hospital care.

I spoke to Captain Z., a military head commander of Hamas at his office, or what was left of it as Israel took out the main Hamas infrastructure. He delved into further as to why Hamas has adopted this new strategy.

“We are out to show that Hamas has morals too. We don’t want to kill civilians; we just don’t have the capability to decipher civilian from military. What do you expect us to do? Just sit here and let Israel do what they want to us?” Captain Z. started getting more contemptible the longer he spoke.

“If only we could inflict as much damage to Israel as Israel did to us? Imagine the possibilities?”

I contended that dropping leaflets would be ineffective as the Qassams were too indiscriminate to aim at a limited area and most Israelis may decide to leave the area for safer plains.

“We’re dropping them at Ashkelon and Sderot. That’s the range of our missiles right now. Anyone living there can leave if they want to but if you stay, you’re a legitimate target.” The fact that Ashkelon and Sderot were not military outposts did not deter Captain Z.’s zeal for death. In the midst of his histrionics about Israel targeting civilians with no gunmen nearby, he inferred that “Israel has a draft, they all end up being in the army.” He even dismissed that Israel takes every measure to distinguish a terrorist from a civilian and that if the terrorists didn’t used civilians as part of the battlefield there wouldn’t be any civilian casualties.

“In case you didn’t notice, we’re terrorists. What do you expect us to do? Play by the rules? Not kill civilians? Jews are responsible for all of this. My children are ready to be martyrs. We will fight until we free Palestine.”

The desperation amongst Hamas leaders to give birth to new ideas for a form of terrorism seems to be reaching new depths with this leaflet plan as it seeks to absolve itself from prosecution of the intent to do harm to Israel. The extent of how deep the grave Hamas is digging is shown on their T.V. sets as it was programmed on reruns of, not Hollywood movies about past U.S. military failures, but of the 90s show MacGyver. This was a strange occurrence but a Hamas leader seemed more than eager to answer my question as to why every Hamas military member was watching this obscure American show.

“MacGyver has the innate ability to create weapons out of ordinary household items. We Palestinians need to learn this trait in order to free Palestine.”

A short stroll through Gaza City’s main center has the factories totally leveled. Talks with the United Nations personnel concerning the cargoes that were stolen by Hamas were fruitful. The image given was that Hamas is rounding up the majority of food to gain some form of control over Gaza and that has led the United Nations to temporarily suspend the imports of certain goods. Upon further study of other Hamas hideouts, there were filled with U.N. shipments and equipment. Also present were numerous children removing more tags while being indoctrinated by imams about Jewish conspiracies to control all the money in the world.

Talking with a Hamas representative about the lack of funds and goods to poor Gazans, I posited a logistics of using the leaflet initiative, where they would find paper to use and how they would go about dropping it in southern Israel. “We get all the paper we need from the U.N,” He quipped. “And we’re just going to launch those leaflets like how we do the rockets.”

Further information about an operation like this led this Hamas representative to demonstrate a firing for me. Strolling nearby a learning institution, he pointed around 300 yards eastward and implied that he would hit it with precision. After eight attempts where rockets went wayward both south and west and some even falling quite short of the intended destination, he rejoiced at the success of the operation.

“Praise Allah! We’re ready for round two!”

I evinced at how there were many warnings that if the Qassams continued to land in Israel then Israel would have no choice but to inflict a bigger “shoah”. He remained not phased in his pride. “Our children are ready. Israel can kill them all and we will fight them all.”

“I just don’t get it.” Added another soldier in plain ragged clothes. “You know the extent of those Qassams and yet Israel doesn’t evacuate their citizens. Now you will have written evidence of where they will land. What are our choices?”

The tough choices for Hamas are more of an ideological problem than humanitarian. Instead of providing responsible governance, they just choose on sillier and more asinine ways to fight Israel who are the sole nation responsible for feeding Gazans. Whether this latest tactic would be successful is not conceivable. Terrorists only have a losing hand. Giving up is the best choice for Hamas.

Isabel Kershamner contributed reporting.

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