Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The New Face of Hamas. Even worse than the old one.

What is ignored by people advocating a two-state solution is the clear and present danger of Hamas in the West Bank.

It is an inconvenient truth for international diplomats pressuring Israel to withdraw from the West Bank that Hamas has a growing presence there.

Evidence of that has been seen at Bir Zeit University where Hamas-affiliated students overwhelmingly won the student body election in February 2017.  [1]

Bir Zeit happens to be not in Gaza but just eight kilometers north of the once stronghold of Fatah in Ramallah where the Palestinian Authority holds tentative sway.

The Palestinian Authority is busy arresting Hamas members [2] and the Israeli security forces are constantly intercepting Hamas terror cells and arresting their budding terrorists in the West Bank. [3]

A much discussed issue in Israeli national security and strategic think tanks is what happens when, by the ballot or by the bullet, Hamas usurps power in a future Palestinian state.

Israel demands that any Palestinian state must be demilitarized. This request will be as futile as was the Jewish state’s appeal that UN forces keep militant Hezbollah terrorists from southern Lebanon following Israel’s withdrawal in 2000. Today, Hezbollah has an estimated 120,000 missiles ready to launch at Israel stored in homes and bunkers along Israel’s northern border. They have constructed a network of interconnecting terror tunnels that make Hamas’s tunnel system in Gaza look like a rabbit warren by comparison.

The same applied to the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Despite the destruction inflicted on them in their 2014 war against Israel, Hamas has replenished much of their armory and missiles, trained a new army of radical terrorists and are feverishly constructing new stronger terror tunnels with cement provided to them from Israel.

Now, Hamas has elected one of the most extreme radical terrorists they can choose to lead them in Gaza and their affiliates in the West Bank.

55 year old unrepentant Yahya Sinwar served 22 years in an Israeli prison on serious terrorism charges. He was released as part of a huge scale prisoner release for the return of imprisoned Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. Among Sinwar’s offences was the killing of Palestinians who he called “collaborators.”  
He ordered the killing of a senior Hamas commander without trial because he perceived him to be a potential rival and traitor.

He comes to political power from the military wing of Hamas, the Izz a-Di al-Kassam terror group with links to the extreme Islamic Salafist movement.  He is close to Muhamad Deif, the chief of Hamas operations in Gaza considered to be the Chief of Staff of the Hamas terror army.

It is apparent that the radical terrorist arm of Hamas now controls the political wing. Sinwar opposes any compromise with Israel.

This arch-terrorist in Gaza may be matched by a similar hard line Fatah candidate in Ramallah.

One of the leading candidates to replace Mahmoud Abbas as President of the Palestinian Authority is Jibril Rajoub.  He is the chairman of the Palestinian Olympic Committee and the head of the Palestinian Football Association.

These are not benign activities for Rajoub. He uses sport as a political football to try and expel Israel from FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, by bringing allegations against Israel to FIFA forums, as does the PA  at the UN. But behind this diplomatic posture lies the real face of Rajoub who promotes and glorifies terror through Palestinian sports competitions, inculcating the youth to look on murders as heroes to be emulated.

One example is Muhannad Halabi who stabbed a father to death in Jerusalem in October 2015, stabbed the mother and a two year old child and killed an Israeli man who tried to help the family before he was shot and killed by police.

One month after this attack Jibril Rajoub, in his capacity as chairman of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, named a table tennis tournament in honor of this terrorist murderer. Rajoub has little wriggle room to escape his culpability in this crime. The tournament was promoted under his patronage.

After Halabi’s murderous attack against an Israeli family Rajoub appeared on official Palestinian TV encouraging and glorifying his deadly act saying, “I say whoever carries out acts of heroism we in the Fatah movement bless and encourage them. We consider them heroes and a crown on the head of every Palestinian beginning with our brother, Muhannad Halabi.”

Rajoub regularly uses his official sporting titles to patronize sporting venues and events that honor deadly Palestinian terrorists.

The warning of collaboration with Hamas should Jibril Rajoub be elected as leader of the Palestinian Authority has been clear in his many statements. Following the capture of Gilad Shalit by Hamas, Rajoub said, “If Hamas wants to kidnap Israeli soldiers let them. When they kidnapped Shalit we congratulated them.”

Regarding using his overarching position in sport for normalization with Israel in advance of peace Rajoub said live on official PA television, “Under no circumstances will there be normalization. We will bring the Executive Committee in helicopters so they will see no Jews, no Satan, no Zionist sons of bitches!”

This then is the leading candidate to head the Palestinian Authority and potentially a new State of Palestine if the two-staters get their way.

The other leading candidate is Marwan Barghouti who is serving five life sentences for murdering Israelis. While in prison he has been calling for further terror attacks against the Jewish state. Yet, he is considered a folk hero to Palestinians.

The two headed pincer movement of a terror-loving Palestine will not become nut crackers given statehood.  They will continue their stated ambition to annihilate Israel by stages.

Anyone who thinks that an Israeli withdrawal from essential territory and this type of Palestine will bring peace and harmony is delusional.

This is the new face of Hamas. This is the hidden face of the Palestinian Authority. 

This is the future face of Palestine should the two-staters get their way.

Anyone hiding these deadly truths is being deliberately deceptive.

Barry Shaw is the Senior Associate for Public Diplomacy at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.
He is the author of ‘Fighting Hams, BDS and Anti-Semitism’ and the new best-selling book ‘1917 From Palestine to the Land of Israel.’

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