The cynical strategy of the Hamas
Rabbi Gustavo Surazski
Kehillat Netzach Israel, Ashkelon
There is an old anecdote about the celebrated Pablo Picasso, who exhibited “Guernica” – one of his eminent pieces of art – in an important Paris museum, during the German occupation.
In the eyes of many, Guernica is nothing more than a disorganized mass of suffering faces, tearful eyes and bleeding humanities. But we know that it is much more than this. Guernica was inspired by the German bombardment of the town of Guernica, during the Spanish civil war. While Picasso was exhibiting his work, incidentally, a contingent of German soldiers visited the museum. One of them approached the artist and, with no little cynicism, said to him: “Tell me, did you make this?” Picasso forcefully responded: “No, it was you who did this”.
It may sound outrageous, but it would appear that the Hamas attacks on Israel are an excellent deal for the Hamas leadership. The equation is very simple; Gaza is literally suffocated and isolated from the rest of the world. Not only Israel is responsible for this; Egypt is too. Both have very good reasons. However, the primary responsibility for its isolation rests on Hamas.
It is the cynicism of Hamas that brings suffering upon its people. They are painting the canvas, and drawing the sad picture that exists today in Gaza.
It is known that Hamas has a dying lean economy. A high percentage of the labor force in Gaza receives ‘state’ salaries from the terrorist organization. For almost three months no one has seen a shekel of their salaries. Anyway, for more than forty percent of the population of Gaza -according to unofficial data it could be more- this is not new; they have not seen one shekel for much longer, given that Hamas failed to generate jobs for them except for missile production and participation in the paid ranks of the organization.
However there is another important point here. Egypt has blocked the tunnels which supplied the Gaza Strip inputs for contraband. Israel allows the passage of goods across its border crossing of Kerem Shalom. Across that crossing pass basic supplies, like food and fuel. Also, it must be said, pass also less basic goods, such as refrigerators, cars or just soft drinks.
The Hamas leadership has benefited greatly from the tunnel industry. Not only to increase its rocket stock coming via Iran-Sudan- but because it gave them a monopoly over the smuggling industry. The Arab Spring and specifically the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt was the starting point for the immoral enrichment of the Hamas leadership. Also for the birth of an economic elite in Gaza. People that not only consume flour, sugar and canned goods, but can enjoy some bourgeois pleasures such as the installation of a jacuzzi tub in their bathrooms, or the acquisition of an LCD screen to watch the FIFA World Cup from Brazil.
Ismail Haniya, former prime minister of the Gaza Strip, has bought land and built mansions of millions of dollars in the Rimal neighborhood, possibly one of the most affluent areas of the Gaza Strip. Also Khaled Mashaal, head of the organization abroad, has invested billions of dollars in trade center and Real State projects in Saudi Arabia or Dubai. No one that entered by those tunnels could provide any goods without a generous-and not-voluntary donation to the bank account of Haniya, Mashal and his henchmen.
How to make the dollars return to the Gaza Strip? To provide a loan does not seem to be a good idea … who will lend money to the Hamas? But they are doing something simpler and rather cynical: provoke an escalation that generates significant enough damage to open the hearts of the architects of the reconstruction. Many of them will open their wallets as soon as the guns stop roaring. So there will be fresh dollars in Gaza, work for its citizens and time to plan the next provocation. All this with a great added value: Israel will be held responsible for the destruction. We would be able to respond to them in the manner of Picasso: “No, it was you who did this”.
The leadership of Hamas doesn’t need to be afraid. Surely they are hiding in the maternity ward of the Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Anyway, the lives of Palestinians living outdoors never seemed to worry them much.
* Gustavo Surazski is the Rabbi at Kehillat Netzach Israel, a Masorti (Conservative) synagogue located in Ashkelon, a few kilometers north of the Gaza Strip.