This Ongoing War
19 March '11
Independent Palestinian Arab commentator Khaled Abu Toameh says Hamas needs to carry out attacks on Israel like today's. Writing this evening under the headline "Hamas seeking to divert attention from challenges", Abu Toameh says:
"The mortar attacks on Israel over the weekend are designed to divert attention from Hamas’s growing problems inside the Gaza Strip. The Hamas leadership has been under heavy pressure as a result of mass demonstrations in the Gaza Strip demanding an end to the Hamas-Fatah dispute. After failing to prevent the demonstrations, Hamas authorities began cracking down on the organizers, political foes and journalists. Hamas believes that the demonstrations are being organized by Fatah as part of an attempt to undermine the Islamist movement... The first sign of Hamas’s increased nervousness was evident last week when dozens of the movement’s undercover police officers attacked thousands of demonstrators who were participating in a Facebook-initiated rally to demand Palestinian unity. At least 50 demonstrators were injured, including eight local journalists who complained that they had been severely beaten while doing their job. On Saturday [today], Hamas again targeted local journalists, raiding several press offices and confiscating cameras, laptops and other equipment [see above right and below, two-day old AP snapshots of uniformed Hamas street-gang thugs attacking a pro democracy rally on Gaza's streets.] Sources in Gaza City said that the Hamas policemen stormed the offices of CNN, Reuters and a Japanese TV station. Three Palestinian journalists were beaten with clubs, the sources said... The Hamas crackdown on journalists is seen as an attempt to prevent further coverage of daily protests throughout the Gaza Strip. Hamas’s actions indicate that the movement, which has been in control of the Gaza Strip since 2007, is afraid that the current wave of popular uprisings sweeping the Arab world would hit the Strip."
Read the whole analysis here.
The international news agencies are belatedly reporting tonight on those Hamas attacks on journalists. For instance "In Gaza, Hamas forces rough up protesters, reporters" from CNN, and echoed by UPI. Reuters has reported in the past hour that "armed men" entered their Gaza offices today (Saturday), threatened employees with their guns and
"took away a video camera, apparently after they spotted a reporter filming a demonstration from the building. The men struck one Reuters journalist on the arm with a metal bar and threatened to throw another out of the window of the high-rise block. The group, which numbered about 10 men, smashed a television set and other equipment before leaving... The men told Reuters journalists that they came from the internal security services of Hamas, the Islamist group which governs the Palestinian enclave, but they showed no documents. A senior official of Hamas condemned the violence and [of course] denied that the group was involved in the attack."
Hamas fears a threatened visit to Gaza by Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority will bring thousands of Palestinians to the streets demanding an end to the Hamas-Fatah power struggle, according to Abu Toameh. An IDF operation in the Gaza Strip, which is what today's mortar attacks are calculated to bring on, would ease the pressure on Hamas, allowing its leadership to divert unwanted public attention and rally the Gazan public behind it.
Sounds like a good enough reason to be firing rockets into Israel, no?
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