Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hamas spokesman questions if violence is Palestinian 'disease'

By Reuters

Ghazi Hamad, a senior figure in Hamas and spokesman for the Hamas-led government, published an article on Tuesday condemning internal violence and questioning whether it has become a "Palestinian disease".

Hamad he was disturbed by growing factionalism in the Palestinian territories, including recent deadly clashes between rival political movements.

"Has violence become a culture implanted in our bodies and our flesh?" he asked in the sharply worded article, published in the widely read Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam.

"We have surrendered to it until it has become the master and is obeyed everywhere - in the house, the neighborhood, the family, the clan, the faction, and the university."

It was the second time in recent months that Hamad, who is based in Gaza, had written an opinion piece in al-Ayyam critical of Palestinian in-fighting.

In August, he criticized Palestinian militant groups fighting Israel, saying they were not doing the cause of Palestinian independence any good by launching attacks at moments when it appeared progress was being made.

In the article published on Tuesday, Hamad said the presence of armed men on almost every street, and their attendance at every rally, whether political or not, had created an atmosphere of guns and violence that damaged prospects for calm.

It also meant that television pictures of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict broadcast around the world too often showed armed men and images of violence, casting the
Palestinian struggle in a poor light, he suggested.

He wrote that violence "has taken away the language of brotherhood and replaced it with arms ... It has stolen our unity and divided us into two camps, or three, or ten."

"Shouldn't we be ashamed of this ugly behavior which scandalizes us before our people and before the world?" he asked.

Hamad's article follows a period of intense in-fighting, with some of the worst intra-Palestinian violence since the formation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994.

Earlier this month, at least 15 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in clashes between armed members of Hamas and gunmen from the rival Fatah movement, prompting fear of an impending civil war.

Hamad wrote that 175 Palestinians had been killed by "Palestinian gunfire" since the beginning of the year.

Recently launched talks on forming a unity government have so far failed.

"Are we all responsible? Yes. Do we all participate in this great sin? Yes," wrote Hamad. "All of us have the desire not to see arms in the streets except with policemen."

"We want to disown this disease, this cancer, which has damaged our brains and paralysed our hearts," he said.

"Have mercy on your people. Let us walk in peace, sit in peace, have a dialogue in peace and sleep in calm," he added.


At 9:36 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Gert: do you think Hamad is saying what other Hamas/Fatah members feel or is he voicing his personal opinion which may not having anything to do with how the majority of Palestinian policy-makers feel?

At 3:51 PM, Blogger Gert said...


It's a mistake to see any social group as some kind of monolithic bloc of like-minded people: in any group, no matter how closely tied, there is a range of opinion and quite a bit of dissent.

Hamas is no different. Whilst broadly speaking a hawkish group, it actually contains both "hawkish hawks" and "hawkish doves". Those participating in government belong largely to the latter group. It would be a mistake to unnecessarily antagonise those who could bring the whole group into a more dovish mindset (or at least isolate those of more hawkish conviction).

Other Hamas members have made statements similar to Hamad's.

At 9:24 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Gert: Personally, I prefer the Hamas to the Fatah. I think Israel has a more realistic chance of making peace with a government that trully represents the interests of the Palestinian people. The Fatah/PLO has tried to hide behind the mask of a negotiator, while all along maintaining a policy of armed "uprising" to achieve their goals. The Hamas, on the other hand, has never hidden their true agenda. That makes them an easier opponent at least on the diplomatical level. This also makes it both easier and more realistic a goal for Israel to reach a peace settlement with the P.A.

I wonder why so few people seem to realize the potential of the Hamas government. Some ignorant right-wingers will claim the Hamas wants to anihilate Israel. To them I say: Yes, but don't you realize the Fatah has been trying just that for decades?

The majority of right-wingers in Israel, however, realize this concept.


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