It never fails. No sooner did Israel announce in late April that it was sending a team of 260 rescue workers and medical staff to Nepal in response to that country’s catastrophic earthquake than the sniping began: How dare Israel divert attention from the terrible hardships of Gaza where it has imposed a blockade since 2007?
“Easier to address a far-away humanitarian disaster than the nearby one of Israel’s making in Gaza,” tweeted Ken Roth, director of Human Rights Watch.
On the subject of Gaza’s humanitarian crisis being “one of Israel’s making,” how does it escape Roth, among other “human rights defenders” that, as reigning authority in Gaza – despite its “unity” agreement last year with the PA – it is Hamas that bears overwhelming responsibility for the state of misery it’s brought upon its own people?
Then again, given Human Rights Watch’s record of anti-Israel bias, it’s simply too appealing for Roth to ignore Hamas’ repressive and callous policies toward its citizens and instead place all blame for their plight on Israel.
Roth’s attitude is outrageous. After all, it’s Hamas that has chosen the self-destructive path of pursuing a campaign to eliminate Israel from what Hamas deems to be sacred Islamic land. This is the “occupation” Hamas “resists” no matter what the cost to its 1.8 million civilians.
Last summer, in the latest iteration of its “resistance,” Hamas initiated another war against Israel by, among other things, launching scores of missiles, many from dense urban areas, indiscriminately into Israel. In an effort to stop the missiles, Israel targeted the launch sites and their command and control centres. Despite unprecedented precautions by Israel to avoid civilian casualties, hundreds of Gazans were killed and extensive damage caused to homes and apartments — damage Hamas sought to showcase to the international community via the hundreds of foreign correspondents allowed into Gaza, by Israel, to cover the 50-day conflict.
Hamas’ cynical, criminal tactics, including using its civilians as human shields, paid off handsomely: the longer the war went on, the greater the international reaction against Israel for “causing” a humanitarian crisis. Since not one of the hundreds of journalists reporting from Gaza showed a single missile being fired from there (even though according to an August, 2014 Amnesty International report, between July 8 and August 26, 4881 rockets and 1,753 mortars were fired from that small territory), many in the West lost sight of the actual cause of the war, Hamas’ missiles, and focused only on the effect, Israel’s reaction.
In response to the approximately 100,000 Gazans left homeless, what has Hamas done? Instead of plans re-build destroyed homes for its people, Hamas brags only about building, with Iranian financial support and encouragement, new attack tunnels, 32 of which were discovered and destroyed by Israel during the war.
Con Coughlin, the defence editor of Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, reported last month that Iran was supplying Hamas with “tens of millions of dollars” to help rebuild its tunnel network and is also funding Hamas with new missile supplies. That Shia Iran is again supporting Sunni Hamas in its efforts against Israel at a time that, in the wider region, the battle lines are being drawn between Iranian-led Shia forces and Saudi-led Sunni forces, shows just how dominant is the anti-Israel determination of both Hamas and Iran, to say nothing of Iran’s major Shia proxy, Hezbollah, on Israel’s northern border.
If Iran, reportedly suffering under economic sanctions because of its illicit nuclear program, can fund Hamas and Hezbollah and, according to other sources, prop up Syrian president Bashar Assad with a billion dollars a month, just imagine how much more emboldened it will be this summer if it receives tens – possibly hundreds – of billions in sanctions relief following the signing of a U.S.-led nuclear agreement.
As this column goes to press, unconfirmed reports are circulating about indirect Israeli-Hamas contacts aimed at securing a 3-5 year ceasefire. We should soon find out if there’s any validity to them.