|Right of Return|
Oil on Canvas, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
By: Gulamhusein A. Abba
Note: This is a flashback to 2006, eight years back. This article was written by me then and publshed in several media outlets, including printed media. I am republishing it here in its original form to emphasize how long this problem has been contnuing and how nothing has chaanged. If anything, matters have become worse, much more so.
August 21, 2006
Israel is on a rampage. It has been raining death and destruction in Gaza for weeks. It pounded Lebanon into rubble. It, with the help of the US , resisted calls for an immediate cease fire. After the UN passed a resolution calling for a cessation of hostilities, it went ahead and carried out a raid in Lebanon , in flagrant and clear violation of the cease-fire resolution, and Israel ’s Prime Minister has said such raids may well continue.
In the West Bank it carried out a raid in broad daylight as late as Sunday August 20 and grabbed from his Ramallah home Mahmoud-al-Ramahi, a senior Hamas member and secretary general of the Palestinian parliament. Just a day before Israeil soldiers swooped in on Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer and seized him from his home, also n Ramallah. Israel presently holds five Palestinian Cabinet ministers and more than two dozen lawmakers. Almost all of Hamas West Bank leadership is now in Israeli custody.
Israel today is the most violence and war-prone, war mongering state. Capitalizing on post-holocaust world sympathy for the Jews, Israel ’s Zionist leaders have transformed a nation of people who were once considered the world’s ultimate victims into a nation of aggressors, invaders, conquerors and occupiers.
The oppressed and the persecuted have become oppressors and persecutors. Refusing the offer of peace and full recognition by all the Arab nations in the region, Israel relentlessly
pursues territorial expansion, crushing those who resist.
It arrogantly invades other lands at will, tyrannizes its people and devastates their lands.
Pretending to fight terrorism, it has unleashed state terrorism on an unprecedented scale.
Demanding adherence to UN resolutions by others, it has thumbed its nose at countless UN resolutions and continues to do so.
Waging wars to get the release of a handful of Israelis held as prisoners by others, it continues to hold thousands of their citizens as prisoners, many of them women and children under 18, almost all without any charges against them.
Israel is a loose cannon ball. It is a dangerous force of instability. It will plunge the world into a catastrophic war unless restrained.
It is time for the US , in the name of justice and peace, and in its own interests as also that of Israel itself, to now distance itself from Israel .
It is time for the international community to rein in Israel, to treat it as it deserves – a rogue nation, a pariah state, till it decides to play by the rules and return to the comity of civilized, law abiding nations.
Friday, August 22, 2014
By Gulamhusein A. Abba
Note:The Israeli lobby has cells in every city and town, members of which receive talking points about current topics to use in responding to any article, letter to the editor, interview, editorial that may be published or aired that is critical of Israel. Members of the cell diligently do just that. So much misinformation is packed in these responses that, in answering those, counter responders get tied down to the issues raised therein thus preventing them from moving on to fresh topics. Thus the cells control the issues being discussed.
A case in point is an article of mine that is posted in this blog (see Israel’s ‘final solution’ to Gaza). A slightly shortened version of it was published in the News Times under the heading In the Middle East, Israel is getting away with murder. (see http://www.newstimes.com/opinion/article/By-Gulamhusein-A-Abba-Israel-s-final-solution-5661170.php )
A response to this by Mr. Bert Boyson was published by the News Times under the heading Hamas is a terrorist group using civilians (see http://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Hamas-is-a-terrorist-group-using-civilians-5698974.php )
This is a classic example of Israeli Hasbara (PR). Short. Avoids answering specific facts mentioned in my article. Very professionally crafted. Loaded with images calculated to influence readers subconsciously.
As this is the stance and language currently being taken by Israeli lobbyists/supporters, I have written this post to lay bare the tactic and serve as a sort of talking points for responding to these claims and allegations.
Mr.Boyson’s words appear in italics followed by my ‘response’.
Hamas is a terrorist group using civilians
Published 6:17 pm, Tuesday, August 19, 2014 on line edition Published Wedesday, August 20, 2014 print edition
, in his Aug. 1 Where I Stand piece, "In the Middle East, Israel getting away with murder," has shown himself to be a stout defender of Hamas, a terrorist organization that has ruled Gaza since Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority.
*01 ANSWER: The “Terrorist Organization” label is a deliberate tool created to enable damning the organization in the eyes of a a reader without one more word more being said. Many countries have NOT named Hamas as a terrorist organization.
Hamas “ousted” PA from Gaza only after it learnt of a plot by US and Israel against Hamas by using the notorious Muhammad Dahlan. This shady deal was exposed by Vanity Fair (http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/gaza200804)
He supports their use of rockets against civilian population centers in Israel. Hamas rockets supplied by Iran and North Korea are smuggled through tunnels into Gaza and it was only a matter of time before Hamas rockets would cause major civilian casualties in Israel.
*02 ANSWER: What is supported is the right of the Palestinians to resist the illegal occupation and the illegal siege and blockade – a right recognized under international law.
There is no way for Iran or North Korea to supply rockets to Hamas. Gaza is under siege and blockade. Nothing can enter or leave Gaza. Supplies did get smuggled through tunnels. No Iranian or Korean rockets came through. None have ever been reported by Israel. Had they been used, Israel would have trumpeted the news from rooftops. Dragging in the name of Iran and Korea is a cheap ploy to damn Haamas by associating it with countries that Americans love to hate.
The tunnels from Egypt have long been blocked by Egypt. The alleged tunnels from Gaza to Israel could not possibly have been used for smuggling in rockets into Gaza!!!
Fear of Hamas rockets causing major civilian casualties in Israel is just speculation of what might happen in the future. Super “major civilian casualties” being inflicted by Israel on Gazans is a fact happening right now in the present.
Israel had to act and to their surprise they found dozens of tunnels under Gaza's border that were to be used not for smuggling but for a major Jewish New Year ground attack on villages and kibbutzim in southern Israel. Judging from past performance Hamas would have left many dead civilians in their wake, consistent with Islamic Jihad thinking
*03 ANSWER: To their “surprise”? Netanyahu said the ground troops were sent specifically to ferret out the tunnels and destroy them. Obviously Israel KNEW of the tunnels.
Bert must be having a super intelligence service of hs own to know when and where the imagined attack would take place.
What “past performance” is Bert talking about? There is not a single instance where Hamas “left many dead civilians in their wake.”
“consistent with Islamic Jihad thinking” is another scurrilous attempt to exploit the current anger and outrage against “Islamic Jihad thinking”. By linking Hamas to “Islamic Jihad thinking” he seeks to paint their struggle against the illegal Israeli occupation of their lands as being “Islamic” (vs Judaism) and in line with the murderous thinking and actions of the current misnamed “Islamic Jihadists” (misnamed because there is no Jihad involved here as laid down in Islam.
Mr. Abba seems convinced that Hamas is no longer dedicated to destroying Israel. However, their leadership still calls for the end of Israel, and rules out negotiations to achieve their aims.
*04 ANSWER: This statement is like an attorney asking an accused if he had stopped beating his wife! The question itself is a condemnation, taking it for granted that the man was previously beating his wife. Bert’s sentence is cleverly crafted, intermingling “destroying Israel” with “end of Israel”. There is a BIG difference. “Destroying Israel” stirs up images of physically obliterating Israel along with all the Jews in it. Images immediately come to mind of the Holocaust and of “never again”, and, like Pavlovs dogs, readers react with “this can never be allowed to happen. Hamas must be put out of action”. Actually Hamas, like millions of others all over the world, want to bring to an end the existence on the State of Israel, and replace it with a unified government where ALL those now living in Israel, West Bank and East Jerusalem can live together in peace and friendship under the protection of law that applies to everyone equally. There was a time when a “Two State” solution was promoted vigorously. But Israel, by its expansionist policies and expanding ‘Israelis only’ settlements in West Bank and East Jerusalem have, with their own hands, rung the death knell of the two state solution. Even US has been warning Israel that the window on the two state solution is closing. It has in fact closed and the end of Israel is inevitable.
It is true that Hamas scorns negotiations. It was created to offer Palestinians, who were fed up with ceaseless negotiations without an end to the occupation anywhere in sight, an alternative, and that alternative was a return to PLO’s original policy of RESISTENCE. Hamas remains convinced that Israel uses “negotiations” merely as a pretext to continue the occupation and grab more and more Palestinian land and build more and more Israeli settlements and Judaize more and more Palestinian Arab areas. Experience has proved Hamas right. Even the blind know what Israel is doing in the West Bank, from where no rockets fall into Israel and where the PA has been patiently and faithfully following for years the Quartet crafted Road Map of negotiations.
Only recently Iran's Ayatollah reiterated calls for Israel's destruction. Iran is the chief sponsor of Hamas terror and the U.S. and the have labeled Hamas as a terrorist group and will not have any direct talks with them.
*05 ANSWER: This is another despicable attempt to damn Hamas by association, by coupling it with a country Americans love to hate. There is no evidence of Iran being the chief sponsor of Hamas “terror”. And you cannot bomb Gaza because Iran’s Ayatollah allegedly recently reiterated calls for Israel’s destruction. Another thing. Why blame Hamas for refusing to negotiate with U.S. and Israel when according to Bert’s own admission the U.S. and Israel will not have any direct talks with them? Finally, why would Hamas want to play this game of “negotiations” when it sees that years of negotiations by Fatah has produced nothing except more loss of land, even though no rockets are being launched by Fatah towards Israel?
Israel's leadership undertook the ground assault with great trepidation since urban warfare is bound to cause significant casualties to the IDF and as we have witnessed Hamas infrastructure, launching platforms, weapon storage, and tunnel entrances have been placed in civilian locations and they urge their civilian populace to act as HUMAN SHIELDS during attacks.
*06 ANSWER: Really? If Israel was so concerned about not causing “significant casualties” it would have lifted the siege or at least started the process of lifting the siege. This was one of the terms of the last truce. But it did nothing. Even then Hamas held its fire. Only when, under the pretext of searching for the murderer of the three Israeli youngsters, Israel, without any evidence, declared that Hamas was responsible for the murders and, with that cover, broke into homes of Hamas supporters, arrested dozens of them and terrorized them in the West Bank.
As for civilians being used as human shields, there is no evidence that Hamas does so. As against this, there is video evidence of the IDF using Palestinians as human shields. Not to mention testimonies from the brave and conscientious vets of IDF who have chosen to speak out.
Bert’s accusation against Hamas is based on the allegation that Hamas weapons, including rockets etc, “have been placed in civilian locations.” Israel has imprisoned nearly 2 million people on a thin, small sliver of land. It is one of the most densely populated area in the world. ANYWHERE would be near a civil location.
Every photo of dead or injured civilians is used to demonstrate to the world the tragedy that ironically they have brought to their own PEOPLE.
*07 ANSWER: Israelis plaintively complain about rockets being launched by Hamas towards Israel and aggressively challenge anybody who questions their inhuman massacre of Gazans by asking “What would you have done?” The question should really be the other way around. What would you have done if a foreign country, who had been granted a “homeland” on your land, turned round, and instead of being grateful, imprisoned you on a small sliver of land, effected a complete blockade and effectively crippled and strangled you? All of it illegal. All of it under the plain gaze of the entire world. And no one did anything to get this illegality ended. And worse, allowed the aggressor, the culprit to make more demands to undo the wrong it has done. Demands like surrendering all arms, agreeing to be demilitarized, and recognizing the right of the aggressor’s right to have a state on your land! While it refuses to recognize your people’s right to a state on only 22% of the land that once belonged to you in entirety. And imports millions of dollars’ worth of heavy and sophisticated weaponry from the U.S. and other countries.
Claiming that Hamas itself has brought this unprecedented tragedy on its own people is like arguing that if only the murdered woman would not have resisted so violently while the murderer was trying to rape her, the murderer would not have been so enraged as to murder her. In other words she brought about her own death!
So. Hamas by resisting the illegal, strangling and crippling siege and blockade, has enraged the aggressor so much as to make the aggressor launch this inhuman attack and has thus brought about this tragedy on its own people! What could be more Orwellian?
What Bert, and Israel is saying is tht if only the Gazans had laid on their backs and meekly submitted in total to all that their occupiers did, none of this would have happened. Typical Zionist thinking. Typical example of Israeli Hasbara.
By Gulamhusein A. Abba
The thud of Hamas rockets landing in Israel is the voice
of Palestinian resistance. The current war by Israel on Gaza
is its desperate attempt to silence this voice.
Hamas is resisting the long drawn, nearly half a century long
brutal occupation. And Israel, the occupier has been trying
to snuff out this sole source of resistance. Its present carnage
in Gaza is its desperate attempt to realize this goal once and for all.
August 3, 2014
In justifying Israel’s current war on Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims that Gazan terrorists led by Hamas are raining thousands of rockets on Israel in an attempt destroy it, to wipe it off the map, in accordance with their charter. This poses an ‘existential threat’ to Israel and it is the duty of the government to protect its people and defend Israel. It is with this goal in mind Israel has launched the current operation to find and destroy the tunnels Gazans use to infiltrate into Israel and kill its soldiers, and, to locate and destroy the manufacturing, storage and launching sites of the rockets, the training centers and ‘command centers’ of Hamas. (Israel includes homes of Hamas militants and leaders under the term .command centers’)
On the face of it, this seems a perfectly valid explanation.The problem is that each and every component of this claim is false.
The rockets falling in Israel are being fired not by ‘terrorists’ but by the democratically elected representatives of ALL Palestinians, including those living in the West Bank.
In the Palestinian parliamentary elections for the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem held on January 25, 2006, Hamas won a plurality of 42.9% of the total vote and 74 out of 132 total seats (56%). These elections were certified as being free and fair by international observers. When Hamas assumed power the next month, the Israeli government, the United States and the EU, refused to recognize its right to govern the Palestinian Authority.
As for Hamas trying to destroy Israel and wipe it off the map, it is true that its charter, drawn up way back in 1988, mentions eliminating Israel and replacing it with a single unified state embracing all of Palestine. It nowhere speaks of ‘driving all the Jews into the sea’.
In any event, Hamas has changed its stance on this issue. Hamas leaders have repeatedly stated that Hamas is ready and willing to accept Israel within 1967 borders that were established after the 1967 war which Israel initiated. It should be noted that the 1967 borders encompass for Israel about 78% of Palestine as it existed in 1947/48 instead of about 55% allotted to it by the UN resolution creating Israel.
Limitations of space prevent me from listing all the statements made to this effect by Hamas leaders. Suffice it to record that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal indicated to Robert Pastor, senior adviser to the Carter Center, that the Charter is "a piece of history and no longer relevant …………” and Pastor has stated that that those who quote the charter rather than more recent Hamas statements may be using the Charter as an excuse to ignore Hamas.
Given that Hamas has no army, no tanks, no planes, no gunships, no drones, no guided missiles, Hamas cannot even imagine wiping Israel off the map with its primitive, unguided and hopelessly ineffective rockets! These rockets are being fired to send a message to the world and especially to Israel that Palestinians will never lie down on their backs and allow Israel to ride roughshod over them, that Palestinians will never surrender and submit meekly to Israel, that Israel will never have peace and tranquility as long as it keeps Palestinians under its boots.
The thud of Hamas rockets landing in Israel is the voice of Palestinian resistance. The current war by Israel on Gaza is its desperate attempt to silence this voice.
After all Hamas was formed by Palestinians who believed that the Road Map of peace negotiations crafted by the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations) with the US as an “honest broker”, and agreed to by PLO and the PA, was not the right path to follow. They felt that history had shown that Israel was using it just to delay the creation of a Palestinian state and use the time gained to grab more and more Palestinian land, build Israeli only settlements and roads on them and transfer thousands of Israelis from Israel to these settlements. They felt that resisting the occupation and persistently demanding its end was the only way to get the yoke of occupation off the backs of Palestinians and get for them an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.
Hamas was formed to give the Palestinians an alternative to the path the PA had chosen to travel. And they chose the path Hamas offered by electing it to power in the parliamentary elections for the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem held on January 25, 2006 – the only fair, free and democratic elections held for that region till now.
It needs to be emphasized, and understood by the world, that Gaza (as also West Bank and East Jerusalem) is OCCUPIED territory, and people living in occupied territory have an internationally recognized right to resist the occupation. Hamas is resisting the long drawn nearly half a century long brutal occupation. And Israel, the occupier has been trying to snuff out this sole source of resistance. Its present carnage in Gaza is its desperate attempt to realize this goal once and for all.
What is being bombed and destroyed are not just the tunnels and the manufacturing, storage and launching sites of the rockets, the training centers and ‘command centers’ of Hamas. What is being bombed is all of Gaza’s infrastructure, including its sole power generator. What is being bombed are homes of innocent civilians, schools (including UN schools where Palestinians seek refuge), hospitals and mosques. Entire neighborhoods are being reduced to rubble. And those being killed are not only Hamas militants but innocent mn, women and children, in several cases entire families. More than a thousand Palestinians have been killed and more than 85% of them are innocent civilians.
Had it been any other country than Israel committing this monstrosity, hell would have broken loose by now. In the case of Iraq, we got its occupation of Kuwait vacated by force in record time.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Friday, August 8, 2014
By Gulamhusein A. Abba
Note: A report on U.N. Secretary General’s speech can be seen at http://www.news.net/article/1724215/un-chief-gaza-deaths-and-destruction-shame-world?referid&sid=1tq68agbi1q5a10bhcjig63i54
U.N Secretary General is to be commended for some plain speaking on Gaza. Regrettably, the “solutions” he suggests make no sense and are self-defeating. In essence the UN is evading its responsibilities to the Palestinian people once again.
When Israel, after the 1967 war which it initiated, refused to vacate the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, all of which it had occupied, the UN evaded its responsibility to get the illegal occupation
vacated and instead the Palestinians were pressured to “negotiate” with the occupier, Israel. Now the UN is evading its responsibility again by its Secretary General saying that Hamas and Israel should go
back to the negotiating table to work out a truce deal providing for lifting of the crippling siege of Gaza by Israel
There are four distinct components of the problem.
Ending the carnage being perpetuated by Israel with its current military action.
Freeing Gazans from the crippling, strangling and illegal siege and blockade of Gaza.
Dealing with the rockets being fired by Hamas into Israel.
Establishing a truce.
The UN can and must call on Israel to end its current military operations in Gaza and lift the siege and blockade of Gaza. It is the bounden duty of the UN to call on Israel, a child of its own creation, to abide by international laws.
Indeed, seeing that the “peace negotiations process” has merely been used by Israel to grab more land allotted to a Palestinian state by the UN, construct more illegal Israeli settlements thereon and inflict unbearable and cruel suffering on the Palestinians, it is time for the UN to go further and discharge its responsibilities and take all necessary steps to end the illegal occupation of West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
The UN cannot ask Gazans to desist from exercising the internationally recognized right of occupied people to resist the occupation, by force if necessary.
There is no obligation on Hamas to end the firing of rockets into Israel even if Israel ends its current military operations in Gaza and lifts the siege and blockade of Gaza. Gazans are, first and foremost, Palestinians and Gaza is an integral part of the Palestinian state mandated by the UN. Hamas demands include the ending of the continuing illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in addition to ending its occupation of Gaza and its illegal siege and blockade of it.
For the immediate present, a truce is desperately needed. But it is as ridiculous and unjust to the Palestinians to ask both the parties to “go back to the negotiating table”, as Ban Ki.moon has done, as it was to ask Palestinians to negotiate with the occupier the terms and conditions for ending the occupation. The UN evaded its responsibilities then and it is doing it once again.
On the face of it, there appears to be an insoluble dilemma.
Here is where the UN can come in. Though it cannot ask Hamas to desist from exercising its right to resist the illegal occupation by firing rockets into Israel, it can call on both parties to agree to a truce formulated by the UN, which would include:
Israel and Hamas to forthwith cease violence against each other.
Israel to start lifting its siege and blockade of Gaza and complete the process within 90 days.
If Israel and the UN want Israeli citizens to live in peace and security after the 90 day period, it is for Israel, and the UN, to see that Israel vacates its illegal occupation of West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and recognizes an independent and sovereign state of Palestine within the 1967 borders which the Palestinians (both Hamas and Fatah) have already agreed to.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
"Ethnic cleansing and “reclaiming” biblical lands go hand in hand for the Zionists and has been going on from a little before the creation of Israel to date. What is going on now in Gaza is a continuation of this project, a work in progress."
In the Orwellian world that we live in today, everything is upside down.
Take the case of what is happening in Israel and Palestine
The narrative, repeated ad nauseam in the Western media and by US political leaders is that militant Palestinian terrorists are firing thousands of rockets into Israel, frightening innocent Israeli men, women and children and disrupting their lives by forcing them to run time and again into air raid shelters when the sirens sound to warn them of incoming rockets. This leaves the peace loving Israeli government with no alternative but to take military action to wipe out the rocket manufacturing, launching and storage sites and the tunnels Hamas uses to infiltrate into Israel.
US President and various Congressmen have spoken forcefully about this.
Digging deeper reveals a different story. It becomes clear that the present slaughter being carried out by Israel in Gaza has very little, if anything, to do with Hamas raining down rockets on Israel, but has more, much more to do with an innocent sounding, eye catching, heart tugging, emotion lade little phrase coined a very long time back: “A land without people for a people without land.” It was common among Zionists at the end of the nineteenth, and the beginning of the twentieth century and was associated with the movement to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine
Jewish leaders have openly stated that their goal is to reclaim the biblical lands and establish Eretz Yisraeel in the whole of Palestine complete with Judea and Samaria. Originally the goal was to extend the boundaries of Greater Israel to include Jordan but for some years this is not mentioned.
It was also understood by the Zionists that to establish a Jewish state they would have to expel those already residing there. And this they started doing as soon as the boundaries of the Israeli state the UN proposed became known.
As recorded by Jewish historians themselves, aided by the opening of many historical and military documents archived by the Israel, and British governments, have provided a disturbing and troubling picture.
About a month before the creation of Israel, on April 19, 1948, the Stern Gang and Irgun and other Jewish para military forces started their ethnic cleansing in Dir Yasein. 240 men, women and children of this peaceful village were slaughtered. It included rapes and mutilations.
By the end of the 1948 War, hundreds of Arab villages had been completely depopulated. Their house and buildings were bulldozed or blown up primarily for the purpose of preventing the return of their owners. Benny Morris lists 369 Palestinian villages and towns destroyed, while Professor Walid Khalidi, leading a team of field researchers, in an exhaustive study, describes the destruction of each of 418 villages or hamlets which are listed on an index of Palestinian cities of 1945.
There were other massacres and perhaps two to three thousands, essentially defenseless, Palestinians, were massacred, according to Haifa University historian Ilan Pappe.
Israel came into existence on May 15, 1948
Ethnic cleansing and “reclaiming” biblical lands go hand in hand for the Zionists and has been going on from a little before the creation of Israel to date. What is going on now in Gaza is a continuation of this project, a work in progress.
Just a little bit of information about Gaza and Hamas.
Gaza was not included within the boundaries drawn up for an Israeli state by the UN.
After the war that followed Israel's declaration of independence in 1948, the Israel-Egypt Armistice Agreement of 24 February 1949 established the separation line between Egyptian and Israeli forces, and established what became the present boundary between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Parts of Gaza now fell within the jurisdiction and control of Israel. The truncated Gaza strip came under the control of Egypt.
Gaza, as it exists today, is a small strip pf land situated at the southernmost corner of Israel on the eastern coast. It is about 41 km in length, 8-12 km in width, with a land mass of 363 square km. (140 square miles).On this small strip live about 2 million people, making it one of the most densely populated area in the world.
In 1967 Gaza was OCCUPIED by Israel in a war initiated by Israel. It remains OCCUPIED by Israel.
After the Oslo accords, officially signed at a public ceremony in Washington, D.C., on 13 September 1993, the civil administration of Gaza came under the newly created Palestinian National Authority (PNA) but remained under the tight control of Israel.
It was founded in 1987
An offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is a socio economic, religious and political entity.
It was formed essentially to oppose Fatah and offer Palestinians an alternative.
It differed fundamentally from Fatah. The latter chose to adopt peace negotiations crafted by the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations) with the US as an “honest broker”. Hamas on the other believed that to Israel the peace process was just a cover which Israel was using to stall ending the occupation, grab more Palestinian land, build more Israeli settlements on Palestinian land and transfer Israelis from Israel to the occupied territories.
According to its charter, it was founded to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. (This has changed. See Hamas Changes its Charter Stance further into the article)
Hamas became popular among Palestinians because of its social services to Palestinians in the occupied territories. Such services are not generally provided by the Palestinian Authority. Israeli scholar Reuven Paz estimates that 90% of Hamas activities revolve around "social, welfare, cultural, and educational activities". Social services include running relief programs and funding schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues.
Paradoxically, Israel and US initially helped Hamas to grow. They wanted to use it as a counter to the secular Fatah, weaken it. The old tried and tested strategy of divide and rule. But Hamas succeeded far beyond what they had imagined.
In 2005 Israel deployed its armed forces from within Gaza to other areas. Israel also evacuated all Israeli citizens, some forcibly, from within Gaza and resettled them elsewhere. This ended Israel’s physical presence in Gaza but Israel retained full control over the territory, turning it into a tightly controlled open air prison for Gazans. Nothing and no person came into Gaza nor anything or any person left Gaza without Israel’s permission.
In the Palestinian parliamentary elections held on January 25, 2006, Hamas won a plurality of 42.9% of the total vote and 74 out of 132 total seats (56%).When Hamas assumed power the next month, the Israeli government, the United States and the EU, refused to recognize its right to govern the Palestinian Authority. Even though the elections were held under inernational observers wo pronounced it to be a fair election.
After the Gaza election, Hamas leader sent a letter addressed to George W. Bush where he among other things declared that Hamas would accept a state on the 1967 borders including a truce. However, the Bush administration did not reply.
Instead, the Quartet on the Middle East (the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations) stated that assistance to the Palestinian Authority would only continue if Hamas renounced violence, recognized Israel, and accepted previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements, which Hamas refused to do. The Quartet then imposed a freeze on all international aid to the Palestinian territories.
Buckling under this pressure, PA declared a state of emergency, dissolved the unity government and formed a new government without Hamas participation. PNA security forces in the West Bank arrested a number of Hamas members.
The relationship between Hamas and the PA unraveled.
Hamas shifted its attention to Gaza and, by the middle of June, Hamas fully controlled the Gaza Strip.
Since then Israel has progressively squeezed Gaza tighter and tighter.
HAMAS CHANGES ITS CHARTER STANCE
Notwithstanding what is stated in its Charter, Hamas no longer has as its goal the ending of Israel as a State and is prepared to accept its existence (even though it continues to deny that Israel has any inherent right to exist, much a right to exist as a Jewish state.)
In its election manifesto for the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, Hamas omitted a call for an end to Israel, though it did still call for armed struggle against the occupation.
After the elections in 2006, Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar did not rule out the possibility of accepting a "temporary two-state solution"
Xinhua has reported that Al-Zahar "did not rule out the possibility of having Jews, Muslims and Christians living under the sovereignty of an Islamic state"
In late 2006, Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, said that if a Palestinian state was formed within the 1967 lines, Hamas was willing to declare a truce that could last as long as 20 years, and stated that Hamas will never recognize the "usurper Zionist government" and will continue "jihad-like movement until the liberation of Jerusalem".
In early February 2006, Hamas offered Israel a 10-year truce "in return for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories: the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem," and recognition of Palestinian rights including the "right of return"
In March 2006, Hamas released its official legislative program. The document clearly signaled that Hamas could refer the issue of recognizing Israel to a national referendum. Under the heading "Recognition of Israel," it stated simply: "The question of recognizing Israel is not the jurisdiction of one faction, nor the government, but a decision for the Palestinian people."
This was a major shift away from their 1988 charter.
A few months later, via Maryland's Jerome Segal, the group sent a letter to U.S. President George Bush stating they "don't mind having a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders", and asked for direct negotiations. Segal emphasized that a state within the 1967 borders and a truce for many years could be considered Hamas' de facto recognition of Israel.
In an April 2008 meeting between Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, an understanding was reached in which Hamas agreed it would respect the creation of a Palestinian state in the territory seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, provided this is ratified by the Palestinian people in a referendum. Hamas later publicly offered a long-term truce with Israel if Israel agreed to return to its 1967 borders and grant the "right of return" to all Palestinian refugees.
In November 2008, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh re-stated that Hamas was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, and offered Israel a long-term truce "if Israel recognized the Palestinians' national rights"
In 2009, in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Haniyeh repeated his group's support for a two-state settlement based on 1967 borders: "We would never thwart efforts to create an independent Palestinian state with borders [from] June 4, 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital."
In July 2009, Khaled Meshal, Hamas's political bureau chief, said the organization was willing to cooperate with "a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict which included a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders", provided that Palestinian refugees hold the right to return to Israel and that East Jerusalem be the new nation's capital.
British diplomat and former British ambassador to the United Nations Sir Jeremy Greenstock stated in early 2009 that the Hamas charter was "drawn up by a Hamas-linked imam some [twenty] years ago and has never been adopted since Hamas was elected as the Palestinian government in 2006".
On December 1, 2010, Ismail Haniyeh again repeated, "We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees," and "Hamas will respect the results [of a referendum] regardless of whether it differs with its ideology and principles."
In February 2012, according to the Palestinian authority, Hamas forswore the use of violence. Evidence for this was provided by an eruption of violence from Islamic Jihad in March 2012 after an Israeli assassination of a Jihad leader, during which Hamas refrained from attacking Israel. "Israel—despite its mantra that because Hamas is sovereign in Gaza it is responsible for what goes on there—almost seems to understand," wrote Israeli journalists Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, "and has not bombed Hamas offices or installations"
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal indicated to Robert Pastor, senior adviser to the Carter Center, that the Charter is "a piece of history and no longer relevant, but cannot be changed for internal reasons". Hamas do not use the Charter on their website and prefer to use their election manifesto to put forth their agenda.
Pastor states that those who quote the charter rather than more recent Hamas statements may be using the Charter as an excuse to ignore Hamas.
Ahmed Yousef, an adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, has questioned the use of the charter by Israel and its supporters to brand Hamas as a fundamentalist, terrorist, racist, anti-Semitic organization and claims that they have taken parts of the charter out of context for propaganda purposes. He claims that they dwell on the charter and ignore that Hamas has changed its views with time.
ISRAEL’S UNFOUNDED CLAIM OF ‘EXISTENTIAL THREAT’
All this is ignored by Israel. It continues to claim that the firing of rockets by Hamas, coupled to what is stated in Hamas charter, poses an existential threat to its existence and it is imperative for Israel to protect its citizens by destroying in Gaza the rocket manufacturing units, the cache of weapons, the storage sites, and command centers. Under the latter it includes homes of prominent activists.
Using this unfounded argument Israel has been playing havoc with the lives of the Gazans.
(What Israel has done in and to Gaza and its citizens, why any cease fire without conditions is worse than useless and how lasting and genuine peace can be brought to that once blessed and now cursed land – all this in part II of the article)