Believing Hamas

Veteran Israeli journalist B. Michael, pushes the willingness to believe the Hamas spokesperson, who claimed that 50 of the 62 killed in the Gaza protests were members of Hamas, to its a logical conclusion…

Ismail Haniyeh Photo: Mohammed Salem

When a Hamas Spokesperson Is a Man of Truth

When it was announced that 50 of the 62 killed in the Gaza protests were members of Hamas, Israelis rejoiced. Could a Hamas spokesman have been telling lies?

B. Michael, Ha’aretz
28 May 2018

See also It’s Not a ‘Hamas March’ in Gaza. It’s Tens of Thousands Willing to Die | Analysis by Amira Hass

Fifty of the 62 Palestinians who were shot by sniper fire on the border of the Gaza Strip on May 14 were members of Hamas. These were the words of a Hamas spokesman. He and no other.There was immediately great rejoicing from our leaders, which has continued unabated for nearly two weeks. The people are delighted, too. And the media? They are practically overcome with joy. A loud, collective sigh of relief was heard: Thank God, we won this one!

Could a Hamas spokesman possibly have been telling lies? Perish the thought. A Hamas spokesman has always – since last week, anyway – been a man of his word. Sure, next week he will go back to being a pathological liar who cannot possibly be believed. But until then? His every utterance is the gospel truth.It was no surprise that the first to accept this message from Hamas was the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, one spokesman to another.So why suspect the motives of spokespeople? Let’s assume one of them was actually telling the truth this time, and that 50 of the dead really were Hamas members. And let’s overlook the small fact that they were unarmed and not endangering the snipers, or Israel, or the Jewish people.And in an act of polemical generosity, we will also ignore the fact that Hamas is not only an underground terrorist organization but also a political party. A legitimate party. A party that, in Israel’s view, participated in and won the last election in the Gaza Strip. A party whose platform, ideas and path are absolutely despicable. But is every member of a despicable party to be marked for death? Does this make them fair game?

By that twisted and murderous logic, would the killing of 50 members of the Likud Central Committee or Habayit Hayehudi activists be legitimate? Would it be acceptable to shoot them as they demonstrate? After all, there are some (myself included) who think at least one of these parties is a far greater danger to regional peace than Hamas is.

Yet even if we bow our heads in surrender and say, contrary to every moral and humane standard, “OK, fine, Hamas gave us credit for 50 dead. Praise God and the Hamas spokesman.” But what about all of the others?

For on that bitter and bloody day, while the state’s leaders and their minions were prancing before the American emperor in Jerusalem, those energetic snipers managed to hit 1,250 people (not including the 62 dead). Think about it: Let’s say the snipers worked for 10 hours that busy day. In other words, they hit 125 protesters per hour, or about two per minute. That’s quite the rate.

And all of this from just one day of demonstrations. Over 100 Palestinians have been killed and more than 7,000 wounded by live fire since the protests began at the end of March. What about all of them? How can we trumpet our vindication regarding them, too? Did the shooting of those 50 or so Hamas members buy us absolution for all of the rest? That’s a bit of a stretch.

So it looks like we’ll have to get the IDF spokesperson to contact his Hamas counterpart and coordinate another message: An announcement to confirm that, among the thousands of wounded, hundreds of disabled, dozens of amputees and others killed, there were a half dozen card-carrying members of Hamas. Nothing should rain on our parade. The rejoicing must continue, so the perpetrator can go on being as innocent, pure and just as usual.