What is Hamas thinking?

Gazan intellectuals speak out. Many Canadians will be surprised by what they say

A caravan of Israeli tanks

Hamas rejected the July 15th Egyptian ceasefire proposal out of hand. Many Canadians couldn’t understand why Hamas preferred to continue to fight given the huge civilian loss of life and injury. But that proposal only aimed to restore the “status quo”. Israel’s blockade of Gaza would remain.  A remarkable letter from civil society leaders in Gaza explain why support for the Hamas position is quite broad.

Most Canadians are stumped by Hamas’ current strategy. The rockets don’t really harm Israel in any serious way. But they do constitute a war crime. As a result, they make it harder for the friends of Palestinians to defend them.

So what is Hamas thinking?

Here is a quote from a letter I got which sums up what a lot of people are thinking:

Peter, My question is about Hamas. Why do they keep using the same inefficient strategy? It seems that they send these inefficient rockets on Israel to raise awareness about their desperate situation, knowing that so many of their own people, including women and children will get killed. And they do not get much support from anybody, as they manage to get very limited weapons. It is almost suicidal. I would like to read you about that.- Louise

Dear Louise,

Of course I have no way to know what Hamas is thinking, but a remarkable, and courageous letter from Gaza gives us a fascinating insight.

In a letter reprinted this week in The Electronic Intifada as an editorial, 92 leading Palestinian citizens of Gaza – doctors, professors, dentists, lawyers, scientists, women’s advocates and artists, explain their support for Hamas’ decision to continue to fight back.

They claim that Hamas’ decision to reject the Egyptian proposed ceasefire was widely approved by the population in Gaza because it gave them nothing. The signatories say that they are against a ceasefire which goes back to the status quo which was, in their words, “a living death.”

“No ceasefire without justice”

The letter explains they will support continued resistance until Israel accepts 4 conditions:

  • Freedom of movement into and out of Gaza
  • Unlimited import and export of supplies and goods, including by land, sea and air.
  • Unrestricted use of the Gaza seaport
  • Monitoring and enforcement of these agreements by a body appointed by the United Nations, with appropriate security measures.

Read the entire letter here.

Signing this letter is in itself a remarkable act of individual courage. All these people are well known in Gaza and they understand very well that Israel has the ability to target any one of them and their families.

So far, their letter has not been picked up by any of the mainstream media.

So, what is Hamas thinking?

Hamas may have a lot more support inside Gaza than has been assumed by western observers. In addition, Hamas’ militant stand appears to be gaining it support across the whole of the Palestinian people.

As recently as a couple of days ago, Palestinian President Abbas seemed to more or less blame both Israel and Hamas equally for the lack of a truce agreement. On Monday, Abbas issued a new statement, along with 5 other Palestinian political parties, indicating that the PLO now backs Hamas’ conditions for a ceasefire.

It appears that Hamas feels that their defiant stand will force Israel to make a choice: either keep killing civilians and risk rising international condemnation, or accede to some of Hamas’ demands.

Of course, that the population of Gaza understand all too well the danger facing them. But it would appear that many prefer Hamas’ defiant stand, risking death by Israeli bombs, to the ‘living death” of the blockade and starvation of the last 7 years.

One comment

  1. Thanks for your good work, Peter. Here’s my response to the current situation.

    The World’s Biggest Crime Scene

    Other than the odd letter to the editor, I have yet to see or hear any mainstream account that adequately expresses the moral depravity of what we are witnessing in Gaza at the world’s biggest crime scene. Where are the voices, professional or lay, that will describe and assess in so many words, and in truth, the vile subjection of a people to horrific punishment for daring to raise their heads? Who will call out the oppressor for their grotesque blaming of the victim? Who will stop censoring themselves for fear of the charge of anti-Semitism? Who’s left in this country with any guts whatsoever?
    The responsibility is the more onerous for us because our great leader and his sidekick proudly proclaim that we are Israel’s best friend. We can’t do enough to support them. Our arms industry sells them weapons. It’s not that we pull the trigger, you understand, we just help load the gun. But if Gaza is the world’s biggest crime scene and we help load the guns, that makes us accessories to murder.
    The ones who care most for their own innocence are all the statesmen and politicians at every level, military heads and security and police chiefs, corporate CEOs and national media owners, university presidents and professors, news broadcasters, writers and editors who blithely ignore Israel’s war crimes in Gaza’s killing fields in service to power and profit or what journalists call “balance.”
    The thing is, Gazans’ suffering could be over in a second with a phone call from Washington. Just call off the hounds. Trouble is, WE care more for our innocence than for law and order, truth and justice.

    Peter Eglin
    45 Strange Street
    Kitchener, ON N2G 1P8
    519 570 3624

    Professor of Sociology
    Wilfrid Laurier University

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