Saturday, August 9, 2014

Gaza Is a Tragedy Because of Hamas

Who wants peace? Apparently not Hamas.

The violence and death in the Gaza Strip is sickening. The more I read, though, the more I find that Hamas lives off this violence. It's easy to demonize the Israelis -- they often seem to not help their case, internationally -- but how culpable are they? It's complicated, but this piece by Dennis Ross, who knows the region and its history firsthand, lays the blame where it falls, and that's on Hamas:
Unfortunately, we know the path Hamas chose. Even as Israel was completing the process of withdrawing all its settlers and soldiers from Gaza, Hamas carried out a bus-station bombing in Israel. Then, from late 2005 to early 2006, Hamas conducted multiple attacks on the very crossing points that allowed people and goods to move into and out of Gaza. For Hamas, it was more important to continue “resistance” than to allow Gazans to constructively test their new freedom — or to give Israelis a reason to think that withdrawal could work. Some argue that Israel withdrew but imposed a siege on Gaza. In reality, Hamas produced the siege. Israel’s tight embargo on Gaza came only after ongoing Hamas attacks.
The embargo on Gaza might have hurt the Palestinians who live there, but it did not stop Hamas from building a labyrinth of underground tunnels, bunkers, command posts and shelters for its leaders, fighters and rockets. The tunnels are under houses, schools, hospitals and mosques; they allow Hamas fighters to go down one shaft and depart from another. According to the Israeli army, an estimated 600,000 tons of cement — some of it smuggled through tunnels from Egypt, some diverted from construction materials allowed into Gaza — was used for Hamas’s underground network.
Israel offered peace, and Hamas rejected it. That rejection continues today. Until Hamas -- or the Palestinians as a whole -- accept peace as an answer, then war is what they will get. It's not easy sympathizing with the Israelis as images of children being pulled from the rubble dominate the news. But who keeps violating the truces, who keeps rejecting each new peace offer? Hamas.

This nightmare ends when Hamas says it ends or, more likely, when Hamas is no more. Until then, it's slow-rolling war with all its consequences.

It's hard to like Bibi, but Israel has the leadership Hamas requires it to have.

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