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Hamas cashes in on its Gaza 'victory'-(Jerusalem next...)
Telegraph ^ | 27/08/2005 | Patrick Bishop in Gaza

Posted on 08/26/2005 7:52:27 PM PDT by Flavius

It is not often that Palestinians here have something to cheer about. When they do, they make the most of it. With the last Jewish settlement evacuated and the Israeli army preparing to pack up, the reeking streets of the Gaza Strip are en fête.

Last week 30,000 gathered in Gaza City to sing, dance and wave flags. Political parties are organising carnivals and marches the length and breadth of this sliver of rubbish-strewn sand, crammed with 1.3 million people.

These are the Palestinians' VI celebrations: Victory over Israel. For that is how the episode is being presented, especially by Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement that claims that the more than 200 attacks it has launched in five years are the main reason the Israelis have quit.

A lot of Gazans seem to agree. When asked why the Israelis are leaving after 38 years, many reply "Qassams", a reference to the militarily ineffective but symbolically powerful home-made rockets that Hamas fires at soldiers, settlers and neighbouring Israeli towns.

Hamas spokesmen have outdone each other in inflating the "victory." One of them, Mahmoud al-Zahar, says the withdrawal is "the most significant event in the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1948".

Far from smoothing the way for negotiation and co-operation, they say, the struggle will continue, with the West Bank and Jerusalem next on the list for liberation. In the meantime attacks will continue on Israeli border posts. The Hamas rhetoric is aimed at ordinary Palestinians whose votes it needs. Hamas already has the largest number of seats in Gazan municipalities.

The organisation's eyes are now fixed on the January elections for the Palestinian legislative council, when it hopes to make further progress in its efforts to replace the Palestine Liberation Organisation as the voice of the Palestinians.

Tsunami factfile

"Hamas are admired," said Dr Fadel Abu Heim, a child psychiatrist. "Their militancy has brought them respect."

That is particularly marked among Gaza's teeming young people, who provide a rich source of military recruits.

Hamas officials win approval for their modest way of life, which contrasts with the excesses of some PLO fat cats. They were quick to declare that they would resist any attempt by Palestinian Authority officials to grab prime seaside sites left by the settlers. The land would be used "for development and reconstruction, for clinics, schools and houses, for the benefit of the Palestinian people", they said.

In a deeply conservative society, the Islamic foundations of Hamas exert a powerful attraction, a fact that beleaguered PLO officials concede. Khayed al-Ghoul, Gaza's deputy labour minister, said: "There is no doubt that they have benefited from the Islamic reawakening in the region."

Faced with that mixture of resistance, rectitude and religion, the PLO is in trouble. Mr al-Ghoul's formula for countering the Hamas threat is institutional reforms and an assault on the corruption and nepotism that taint the Palestinian Authority. Such action has been promised for years but has never materialised.

The Palestinian Authority can claim no credit for the evacuations. The decision to pull out was taken unilaterally by Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister. The history of the PLO's dealings with Israel since the start of the Oslo peace negotiations has persuaded many in Gaza that the Hamas approach is correct.

"Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time," it states in its founding covenant.

The already diminished standing of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, is likely to suffer further as the future of post-evacuation Gaza is worked out.

Israel is fighting to keep every advantage it can. For example, there is intense disagreement on the vital question of how Palestinians will come and go across Gaza's southern border with Egypt.

Israel says they can leave unchecked through the frontier town of Rafah but on their return must pass through Israeli territory and checks. It is threatening economic sanctions if the Palestinians do not agree.

A dose of relative prosperity might buy some quiet in Gaza but agreements on building a port and rebuilding the ruined airport are far distant. A period of peace would be even more welcome.

Although Israel is pulling out of its military bases, it reserves the right to return any time it feels threatened. Gazans are predicting that Hamas pride will be punished in the coming weeks by an Israeli strike against its military leadership.

For all its militant talk, there are signs that Hamas is evolving fast as a political party. It has already trimmed its principles by agreeing to contest elections to a parliament that it previously considered illegitimate.

It appears to be embarking on an IRA-style policy of rifle and ballot paper, changing tactical weight from violence to politics as circumstances dictate. But the Kalashnikov and Qassam are responsible for the latest fillip to its fortunes and, for the time being, that is where the emphasis seems likely to lie.

TOPICS: News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: cindysheehan; hamas; israel

1 posted on 08/26/2005 7:52:50 PM PDT by Flavius
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To: Flavius

Gaza will be an open sewer within 6 months.

2 posted on 08/26/2005 7:58:10 PM PDT by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
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To: Flavius

"Hamas are admired," said Dr Fadel Abu Heim, a child psychiatrist. "Their militancy has brought them respect."
Yes, very admirable, aren't they? These terrorist scum will get their due day. Isreal is wasting its time with these terror-shills of the Arab world.

3 posted on 08/26/2005 8:03:10 PM PDT by EagleUSA (w)
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To: ncountylee

"will be"? Why the future tense?

4 posted on 08/26/2005 8:06:23 PM PDT by GSlob
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To: GSlob

Not quite there yet, just a dump now.

5 posted on 08/26/2005 8:11:20 PM PDT by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
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To: Flavius

Isn't this just about appropriate. They're a bunch of ghouls.

I can't believe that the "international community", including my country want to give these murdering bastids a country.

Build a wall a thousand miles high around this place and let them wallow in the squalor they're going to make.

6 posted on 08/26/2005 8:34:07 PM PDT by America's Resolve (I've just become a 'single issue voter' for 06 and 08. My issue is illegal immigration!)
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To: Flavius
Israel is just "feeding the crocodile".
7 posted on 08/26/2005 8:36:37 PM PDT by RedMonqey
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To: RedMonqey

Maybe, but now they can drop bombs anywhere in Gaza and not worry about hitting a Jewish settlement. ;-)

8 posted on 08/26/2005 9:47:41 PM PDT by SubMareener (Become a monthly donor! Free from Quarterly FReepathons!)
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