Hamas Strategy: Manipulate Human Rights Groups Written by: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh delivered a speech at the Rashad a-Shawa Center in Gaza on October 19, 2013, detailing Hamas’ positions on various issues, including adhering to the armed struggle to liberate all of Palestine and pleading for a third intifada (armed insurrection), as well as discussing inter-Palestinian relations and Hamas’ ties with Arab states, especially Egypt and Syria. In his address, Haniyeh expounded the strategy of Hamas, the largest Palestinian terrorist organization and offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Hamas has established a political entity in the Gaza Strip, and supports a long list of terrorist groups, among them those ideologically identified with al-Qaeda. One of the significant means for attaining Hamas’ goals, according to Haniyeh, is a reliance on human rights organizations and Western left-wing groups whom he termed “liberals,” which, in his view, help the Palestinian people tackle the State of Israel in the political, legal, and public affairs arenas. “We place our confidence on the support of the liberals in the world who oppose the occupation and iniquity caused by the Zionists to our people….Blessings to all the commissions, individuals, civil society groups, and human rights organizations that worked to break the siege on Gaza and who fought against the fence and the settlements. Moreover, we bear in mind those liberals of the world who stood by our cause and against the Zionist war on our land, and this reflects the consciousness of the nations regarding our just cause and the level of transgression and racism undertaken by the Zionist entity against our people,” Haniyeh said. This reliance of a terrorist organization on human rights and left-wing groups as well as other international elements is but a stage in a general strategy by terrorists to employ diplomatic tools to serve as a complementary means to achieve the ultimate goals of Hamas’ Islamic ideology.
Armed Struggle and Diplomacy According to Haniyeh, “It is well known that realizing the project of national liberation on the basis of the experience of peoples and nations requires the combination of (armed) struggle and diplomatic and political action, and diplomatic activity is no less important than armed conflict, and each aspect complements the other. Yet for this to succeed there must be no conflict between these policies and the struggle, the diplomatic action cannot be taken in isolation, neither can it be executed in a careless manner or at a distance from the basic tenets of this issue.”
On the basis of these principles, Haniyeh expanded on Hamas’ strategy, which is committed to conducting an all-out campaign against the State of Israel, which, in addition to Jihad (holy war), also has diplomatic, legal, media, and popular aspects. These measures, with boycott being one of the operative aspects most favored by Haniyeh in this context, are intended to wear down the State of Israel, eroding its staying power and resilience, and thus assisting in bringing about Israel’s ultimate elimination. Or in Haniyeh’s words: “We call upon all forces, organizations, and Palestinian individuals to join forces at the national level to confront the dangers of negotiations with the enemy and any possible agreement with it, and establish a Palestinian national strategy comprising the following modes of operation and possible measures: the armed struggle, the popular struggle, the diplomatic and political struggle, public affairs, public and legal and academic and diplomatic boycotts, and it must take place at all levels – regional and international.” At the conclusion of his address the Hamas prime minister referred to the dire consequences of the “firm hand” policy employed by the military regime in Egypt vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip, manifested by curtailing the passage of people and goods through the Rafah crossing and the destruction of hundreds of tunnels that enabled uninterrupted imports from Egypt at a level above $1 billion annually, constituting an important source of revenue for the Hamas government. Haniyeh noted that the “continued destruction of the tunnels recently by Egypt has led to a severe shortage of food products, fuel and construction materials, and this situation recalls the siege and augments the shortage of medicine, food, and other things needed in daily life which have been in short supply in Gaza since 2007. The Rafah crossing is opened irregularly, leading to situations whereby convoys carrying food and medicine from opponents of the siege around the world were denied entrance to the Gaza Strip, causing suffering to thousands of Gaza residents.” The Gaza Strip borders Egypt to the south, and the State of Israel has no control or influence over this border. The military regime in Egypt that toppled President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood regime, the main ally of Hamas, is exerting pressure on the Hamas government by stepping up control at official and unofficial border crossing points and constricting Egyptian exports to the Gaza Strip to deter Hamas from aiding the Muslim Brotherhood or other radical Islamic organizations active in the Sinai.
Hamas Backs Global Boycott of Israel, Yet Demands Supply of Israeli Products for Gaza The Hamas prime minister acknowledged openly that the Egyptian “siege” policy hampers the supply of food, medicine, and other goods into Gaza, yet immediately chose to lay the blame for the “siege” of Gaza on Israel.
“In light of this negative development we emphasize the following,” Haniyeh stated. “We place full responsibility for this siege on the Israeli occupation and its consequences and we register a violation of international law, which is tantamount to crimes against humanity, and we appeal to reopen all crossing points and allow all goods into the Gaza Strip, especially construction materials and raw materials according to international law.” Thus, Hamas, which supports an all-out struggle against Israel and backs a boycott of Israel, demands that the State of Israel supply the Gaza Strip with Israeli products. Haniyeh also saw fit once again to plead with left-wing Western organizations to help Hamas on this point, not versus Egypt, which has curtailed exports to Gaza, but with regard to Israel, which he portrayed as the enemy Hamas strives to annihilate. “We call upon our people and our nation and liberals around the world, in Europe and in other places that support our cause, to continue their activity to break the siege and expand them (these activities),” Haniyeh stated. He called on “human rights organizations, civil society groups and the liberals of the world to condemn the Zionist siege of Gaza,” noting that “we call on anyone who can to press legal charges in the International Criminal Court against the Israeli occupation on grounds of war crimes against our helpless Palestinian people.” Regarding the genocide of the Syrian population and the wide-scale massacres taking place in the Arab world in recent years (in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, etc.), the Hamas prime minister did not request the assistance of left-wing groups and human rights organizations. To him, these are merely “internal issues” of these states. “We do not interfere in the affairs of any nation, and we shall not take a position regarding events, disputes or conflicts within them, as these are internal affairs of each state. We hold by this principle with regard to events in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and all the other Arab and Muslim states, and history shall not remember Hamas or this government (the Hamas government) as one that interfered in the internal affairs of any country.”
About Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He is a co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd. and is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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