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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/28/08

What Israeli Brutality in Gaza?

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What is the likelihood that any American sees the unfolding massacres on television and walks away with some commentary that will truthfully illuminate what is happening between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza right now?

Attacks that have been coming from Israel since Christmas Day reached critical mass yesterday as over 200 in Gaza were killed and 300 were injured. Israel claimed it was beginning an operation in response to Hamas attacks that had been occurring during a brokered ceasefire. The White House and President-elect Obama recognized Israel’s supposed right to defend Israel against Hamas and many reports added the idea that Hamas was supported by Iran. 

Inevitably, one could see why many Americans would not question the official story. There are many Americans who, according to Chris Hedges, are “dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information. They have, “severed [themselves] from the literate, print-based culture [and] cannot differentiate between lies and truth. [They are] informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés [and are] thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection.”

It’s not just that though. Americans hear Israeli’s assessment of Hamas---their characterization---and think terrorism. The Bushworld they have lived in for nearly a decade has many thinking that Hamas is another group of extremists like al Qaeda. Few know Hamas leaders have Palestinian support and Hamas was democratically elected to rule Palestine.

The United States supported democratic elections in Palestine but publicly declared it would “shun Hamas” if its leader won. A senior Israeli official, according to the NY Times, said “Hamastan, a militant state that would sponsor attacks on Israelis” could arise from Gaza as a result of the elections.

The U.S. clung to the fact that Hamas is listed on the U.S.’ list of terrorist organizations and so, therefore, the U.S. would not need to recognize Hamas like the U.S. might have recognized Saddam Hussein.

Following elections, the U.S. worked to rid Palestine of Hamas rule by propping up members of Fateh, another faction in Palestine vying for state power. Vanity Fair reported in its April edition this year that the U.S. was plotting to overthrow Hamas. According to The Guardian from the UK:

With the victory of Hamas, Rice moved swiftly to try to persuade Abbas to take steps to dissolve the Hamas authority in Gaza. When Abbas did not move quickly enough, the US consul general in Jerusalem, Jake Walles, was despatched to Ramallah to deliver a curt reminder…

… According to the magazine, Rice played a main role in trying to persuade Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to offer training and funding to the Fatah fighters. Israeli officials admitted in December 2006 that Egypt had sent weapons to the Fatah faction in Gaza.

The US effort did not end with the establishment of a Palestinian national unity government. Vanity Fair describes the administration's plan B, which called for adding 4,700 new Fatah troops with additional training in Jordan and Egypt.

A state department memo put the cost for salaries, training and weapons at $1.27bn (£640m) over five years.

How did Hamas end up on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations?

Hamas (and Hizbollah) have been on the list since 2001. But, the explanation given by the State Department for Hamas being on the list is quite imprecise and befuddling especially since the explanation shows there is doubt that Hamas even poses a threat to the U.S. If it poses no threat to the U.S., the question must be asked: Why is Hamas a terrorist threat to the U.S.?

The State Department says of Hamas:

The Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS)
a.k.a. Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya; Izz al-Din al Qassam Battalions; Izz al-Din al Qassam Brigades; Students of Ayyash; Students of the Engineer; Yahya Ayyash Units

HAMAS, which includes military and political wings, was formed at the onset of the first Palestinian uprising or Intifadah in late 1987, as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The armed element, called the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, conducts anti-Israeli attacks, including suicide bombings against civilian targets inside Israel. Social-political elements engage in "Dawa" or ministry activities, which include running charities and schools, fund-raising and political activities. A Shura council based in Damascus, Syria, sets overall policy. Since winning Palestinian Authority (PA) elections in 2006, HAMAS has taken control of significant PA ministries, including the Ministry of Interior. HAMAS formed an expanded, overt militia called the Executive Force, subordinate to the Ministry.

Prior to 2005, HAMAS conducted numerous anti-Israeli attacks including suicide bombings, rocket attacks, IED attacks, and shootings. The group curtailed terrorist attacks in February 2005 after agreeing to a temporary period of calm brokered by the PA, and ceased most violence after winning control of the PA legislature and cabinet in 2006. After HAMAS staged a June 25 attack on IDF soldiers near Kerem Shalom that resulted in two deaths and the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit, Israel took steps that severely limited the operation of the Rafah crossing. HAMAS maintained and expanded its military capabilities during this time. HAMAS has not directly targeted U.S. interests, although the group makes little or no effort to avoid targets frequented by foreigners. [emphasis added]

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for
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