In a July 24 op-ed in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Lebanese journalist Huda Al-Husseini criticized Hamas’ conduct in its fighting with Israel in the Gaza Strip. She said that Hamas’ military wing started the war at the time of its choosing, and did so after it was politically isolated and sidelined by the resistance axis comprising Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah. She added that by fighting Israel, Hamas was seeking to embarrass Egypt and other Arab countries by dragging them into the conflict – but that the Arabs had not taken the bait.

Hamas’ policy is inflicting great damage on the Palestinian population, she says, because of the catastrophic situation in Gaza, and she adds that the population is defenseless because Hamas has focused on excavating tunnels for attacking Israel instead of shelters to protect civilians.

The following are excerpts from her op-ed:

Hamas’ Policy Is Determined By Its Military Wing

20272Huda Al-Husseini (Image:“As long as men exist, wars will exist. As long as Israel, Hamas, the ‘Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam [Brigades] and Islamic Jihad exist, Gaza’s children will continue to die. [Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza] Isma’il Haniyeh said: ‘We have nothing to lose.’ Children’s body parts and corpses [are strewn throughout Gaza], but ‘we have nothing to lose.’ Women wave white flags, but ‘we have nothing to lose.’ Homes are demolished on top of their residents, but ‘we have nothing to lose.’ The humanitarian situation is catastrophic, but ‘we have nothing to lose.’

“In every interview, Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev says, ‘Let me be clear.’ But he does not clarify his stammering in light of the killing of children. Israel accuses Hamas of placing its rockets among civilians, and says that it humanely asks citizens to leave [their homes before bombing them] – but where can they go?…”

 Hamas’ Military Wing Sets Hamas Policy

“In the recent campaign, it has become clear that it is the ‘Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing led by Muhammad Deif, that decided when this war should begin and that it is they who are rejecting the [ceasefire] initiatives. It is they who are determining policy at every stage – not [Hamas Political Bureau head] Khaled Mash’al and not Isma’il Haniyeh. It is only the military wings, that is, [Hamas’] Al-Qassam Brigades and [Islamic Jihad’s] Al-Quds Brigades, that are the decision-makers.

“The one who took advantage of this situation was Benjamin Netanyahu, since in Israel, it is the political leadership that decides on military action. Thus, Netanyahu decided to comply with all attempts at a ceasefire, and as a result he has bought some time, and that is what Israel wants. [Ultimately,] what Israel needs in all its wars is time and foreign support.

“Netanyahu played his part seriously [as] the Hamas political leadership attempted to flee reality, rejecting the Egyptian initiative and pinning all its hopes on the Turkey-Qatar axis… At this stage, Netanyahu has played his part shrewdly – not just because Hamas rejected the ceasefire, [but] mainly [because] Netanyahu agreed to it… and herein lies the risk that Hamas’ military wing will be the one running the bloody game.

“The spark that actually started the current war was the Al-Qassam Brigades’ emotional reaction to Israel’s July 5 discovery of an attack tunnel that it had dug as part of its strategic plans. The discovery and destruction of that tunnel, along with the strategic plan that it represented, and in addition to the deaths of two [Hamas] fighters in it, drove the Al-Qassam Brigades to respond with a heavy and widespread barrage of rockets, including long-range ones. Thus, Hamas’ military wing chose when the war would start.

As for Israel, when it has an opportunity to hit Hamas’ military infrastructure, metaphorically referred to as ‘the bank of targets,’ the military ranks have plans made in advance; furthermore, this latest opportunity helps it to bring down the Palestinian reconciliation…

“The ground war began. The rocket fire continued, and Israel continued to destroy tunnels it uncovered. A number of Arab satellite TV channels persuaded Hamas that it had defeated Israel, while disregarding the fact that in this war, the Israeli people have begun to lean further right and support the Netanyahu government.”

The Reasons For The War: Hamas’ Isolation And Its Desire To Embarrass Egypt And Other Arab Countries

“The Israeli Labor Party lost [power] because of Yasser Arafat, and now, thanks to Hamas, support for the Netanyahu government is at an all-time high. The Al-Qassam Brigades timed this war to coincide with Hamas’ burning of all its bridges with its old allies. While once [Hamas] saw the Egypt of [president] Muhammad Mursi as an element that defended [it], the current [Egyptian] regime led by ‘Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi sees Hamas as one of its enemies responsible for problems in Sinai.

“Hamas’ status in the Arab and Islamic world has gone through a number of changes since the onset of the Arab Spring. The movement’s support for the Syrian rebels against the Bashar Al-Assad regime, and its decision to join the MB axis with Qatar, Turkey and (Mursi’s) Egypt, let to its expulsion from the resistance axis of Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah. In early 2012, Syria threw the Hamas leaders out [of Damascus], and to this day they have no permanent base…

“Iran expressed its displeasure with Hamas’ policy, and cut back on its financial support for the movement – which [now] faces a grave economic crisis. At the same time [in Iran], Islamic Jihad’s stock is rising. Iran refuses outright to receive Khaled Mash’al, and as a compromise, Mash’al met in Doha with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Abdollahian on May 22, 2014. Thus, Hamas has lost its credibility among both supporters and opponents of the resistance axis…

“Bolstered by the vocal support of Arab [TV] channels, Hamas presented its demands for a ceasefire: in the first stage, an opening of the crossings with Israel and Egypt and the renewal of the supply of building materials; in the longer term, a sea port for trade with Turkey and an airport. By the time all this is implemented, the Hamas state will already be established.

“Hamas knows it can do nothing without Egypt, and it chose war in order to embarrass Egypt and the rest of the Arab countries. But since the Arab Spring, those countries have overcome their so-called ‘self-consciousness,’ and every country wants to defend [its own] destiny…

The Tunnels Cost Hamas Tens Of Millions Of Dollars

“Emotions are running high, and have been for over 60 years… The excavations for the tunnels cost Hamas tens of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of cement. How much would shelters have cost, if Hamas had thought about protecting civilians?

“Beyond destroying the tunnels, Israel’s aims include a desire to embarrass Hamas and to make it understand that it is the weaker [side in its relationship with Israel]. [Additionally,] Israel will absolutely not occupy all of Gaza; instead it wants to carry out a limited operation that will cost Hamas dearly. [Israel also] wants control of a three-kilometer-wide buffer zone [along the Gaza] border, which will give it both a card to play in the negotiations for a ceasefire and for the arrangement that will follow, and depth that will allow it to create a security zone free of Al-Qassam Brigades activity – making it easier for Israel to prevent the tunnels from being rebuilt.

“The Arab news broadcasts support Hamas, but even though these enthusiastic voices are pro-Hamas, no one will let themselves be dragged into a war started by [Hamas’] military wing at a time of its choosing with the aim of entangling all the Arabs in it, at the expense of Palestinian blood.

“When decisions are left to military men, the latter bring catastrophe upon their peoples.”

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