In the wake of the UN General Assembly rejection of the US-drafted resolution condemning the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement and some of the other Palestinian factions, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN resorted to the usual lies and propaganda about Hamas and resistance to Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
“There is no difference between Hamas, Al-Qaida and Boko Haram,” claimed Danny Danon as he described acts of legitimate resistance to Israel’s military occupation as “acts of evil”. He even sought the moral high ground by claiming that Israel is always thinking of the Palestinians and the better life that they deserve. Of course, Danon and other Israeli officials know very well that there is a vast difference between Hamas and the groups he cited; and a huge difference between legitimate Palestinian resistance and “acts of evil”.
For a start, unlike Al-Qaeda, Hamas is a genuine Palestinian resistance movement from within the Palestinian people themselves; it does not recruit non-Palestinians. Its founders and members are Palestinians who were driven from their homes by the Israelis. All lost loved ones during the ethnic cleansing of their land, and their struggle is to exercise their right to return to their land as enshrined in international law.
Furthermore, Boko Haram is a movement steeped in apparently random violence which ignores international law and pays no heed to agreements and democracy. Hamas, first and foremost, seeks the betterment of Palestinian society which has been under occupation since 1948. Its social and education work was initially encouraged by Israel as a counterweight to the secular Fatah-run Palestine Liberation Organisation.
The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement has, as its name suggests, always maintained its right to resist the Israeli occupation of Palestine, especially in the West Bank and Gaza Strip which has been occupied by Israel since 1967. It gave the Oslo Accords a chance to prove their worth but in the light of the Israelis continuing to expand their colonial-settlements in the occupied territories, and the ongoing Judaisation of Jerusalem, Hamas and Islamic Jihad resorted to suicide attacks.
The Oslo-created Palestinian Authority dominated by Fatah cracked down on the resistance groups. Nevertheless, Hamas and the others kept up the armed struggle in the face of Israel’s brutal military occupation and oppression.
When, in 2005, the Israelis withdrew their troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip — while maintaining control over the enclave’s air, land and sea borders — pressure was applied on Hamas to take part in the Palestinian elections scheduled for the following year. According to the former Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, he was asked by the US to advise Hamas to take part in the polls. Washington, he explained, pledged to allow Hamas to run the Palestinian Authority if it won. Hamas duly did win — much to everyone’s surprise, including its own — but Israel, the US, the EU and some of the Arab states, as well as the Fatah-controlled PA, refused to accept the result and would not allow a democratic transition of power.
This is what Danon and his ilk ignore. Hamas laid down its arms and played the democratic game but wasn’t allowed to govern by Israel and its allies, who fostered a split between Fatah and Hamas in order to undermine the democratic process in Palestine. Israel arrested Hamas MPs in the West Bank and Fatah sabotaged the PA facilities. An attempted coup by some Fatah loyalists backed by the US and Israel was pre-empted by Hamas in Gaza; the violence claimed hundreds of Palestinian lives. From June 2007, Hamas has basically governed the Gaza Strip with the Fatah-PA, supporting and protected by Israel, controlling the West Bank.
From the day that Hamas won the elections in 2006, an Israeli-led siege of the Gaza Strip has been enforced, with the backing of the US, Egypt, the EU and others; the blockade is still in place. In the same period, Israel has launched numerous military incursions as well as three major offensives — in 2008/9, 2012 and 2014 — killing thousands of Palestinian men, women and children, and wounding tens of thousands more. Hospitals are desperately short of medicines and medical supplies; fuel shortages mean lengthy, daily power cuts, and the infrastructure destroyed by the Israelis — including the Gaza Strip’s only power station — has not been repaired due to import restrictions imposed by the siege.
Despite all of this, Danny Danon, Israel’s chief propagandist at the UN, tells us that Israeli officials give due consideration to the Palestinians and believe that they deserve a brighter future. He is a liar.
Danon denounces Hamas as a terrorist organisation because it has launched “13,000” rockets at Israel. He believes that the latest weaponry and munitions deployed by Israel against the largely civilian Palestinian population in Gaza is done so in “self-defence” against these home-made projectiles. But what came first, Mr Danon? The Israeli occupation or Hamas resistance to that occupation? Look at cause and effect. There was — obviously — no resistance before the occupation.
In the name of “diplomacy”, Danon ignores the death and destruction rained down on Gaza by Israel. He ignores the destruction of more than 80 per cent of Gaza’s civil infrastructure and thousands of houses; he ignores the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians made homeless by Israel’s “self-defence”; he ignores the killing and wounding of peaceful protesters demanding their right to return to their land; he ignores the shooting by Israeli snipers of unarmed medical staff and journalists; he ignores the killing and wounding of women and children; and he ignores the total wiping out of dozens of families erased from the face of the earth during Israel’s military onslaughts between 2008 and 2014.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Danon claimed that Hamas uses civilians as human shields. He could have mentioned that the Israeli army is known for using Palestinian civilians, mainly children, as human shields. He could also have reminded the world that the then well-respected BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen, who was in Gaza when Israel made the human shield allegation for the first time, reported that, “I saw no evidence of Hamas using Palestinians as human shields.”
The Israeli ambassador cried at the UN about the four Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza, but he forgot to mention that they were not kidnapped from their beds during the dead of night, unlike the hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, many of whom were arrested in night raids on their homes. There are more than 5,500 Palestinians in Israel’s jails, including 350 children and 57 women. Perhaps he can ask former Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit, who spent five years in Hamas custody, how he was treated in Gaza. At the same time, he can tell the UN about the dire conditions in which Israel captures, interrogates (and tortures) the Palestinians that it is holding.
When Danon questions why Hamas has built a network of defensive tunnels and basic missiles, does he also ask himself why his country — his nuclear-armed country — continues to develop and sell the most high-tech and deadly weapons the world has ever seen? If Israel has the right to self-defence, then surely that right has to be extended to the Palestinians whose land has been usurped by Israel? Do they not have the right to defend themselves against Israel’s aggressive colonialism?
Tell me Ambassador Danon, how many times has Hamas broken a truce or a ceasefire? Now ask yourself how many times Israel has done so. Now tell the truth to the UN.
Israel was built on terrorism, ethnic cleansing and massacres committed against the Palestinians. That remains its modus operandi to this day. Danon must have heard former Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ehud Barak explaining with pride that he killed more than 300 Palestinian police officers in just five minutes in Gaza at the beginning of the Israeli military offensive in 2008? Just six months prior to that offensive, he failed to persuade his army to target densely populated areas in Gaza to respond to a launch of a primitive rockets from Gaza even if that led to killing 100 civilians.
An objective reading of the facts over many decades makes it very clear that Danny Danon should never have told the countries which voted against that infamous US Resolution that they should be “ashamed” for doing so. It is Israel which should be ashamed of its bloody, violent history of attacks against the people of Palestine. It is Israel which should be ashamed of its aggressive colonialism. It is Israel — your country, Ambassador Danon — which should hang its head in shame for its contempt for international laws and conventions. Hamas and the other Palestinian resistance groups have the law and justice on their side. No matter how much you try to spin it Danon that is not something that Israel and its supporters can ever claim; your country has neither the legal nor the moral high ground, whichever way you look at it.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.