Gary Epstein
And now for something completely different . . .

Just In Case You Still Don’t Get It

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Arutz 7 reports on a MEMRI video of an October 24 show on LBC TV (Lebanon): A spokesman for the Hamas government in Gaza has promised that the terror organization will repeat the October 7 massacre until Israel ceases to exist. In a video published on X, formerly Twitter, Hamas’ Ghazi Hamad says, “We will repeat the October 7 attack time and again until Israel is annihilated.” He also claimed, “We are victims – everything we do is justified.”

This is actually a fallback position for the estimable Mr. Hamad. In an interview with BBC, he said, “I can tell you we did not have any intention or decision to kill civilians.”  This was a bit much, even for a BBC interviewer. “How do you justify killing people as they sleep, families?” he asked. Ghazi had a ready answer: “I want to stop this interview.” He removed the microphone from his lapel and stormed off.

“We are victims – everything we do is justified.”

Ghazi Hamad was chairman of the border crossing authority in the Gaza Strip and a Deputy Foreign Minister of the Hamas Government. Yes, that’s right. The Hamas Government, that now claims no responsibility for the civilians in Gaza, has been the civil authority there since 2007. They built shelters (for themselves), stockpiled fuel, water, and food (for themselves), and ripped out water pipes designed to provide for the needs of civilians to build tubes for rockets. They used hundreds of millions of donor dollars, dollars earmarked for the welfare of Gaza civilians, to build a terror tunnel network and a war machine.

“We are victims – everything we do is justified.”

Hamad, now the spokesman for Hamas, was formerly the editor of Al Risala, the Hamas weekly newspaper in Gaza City. In 2006, he wrote an article in Al Ayyam, a Palestinian newspaper associated with Fatah. It got a lot of attention and was translated into English for Middle East Policy. It is long and makes for some interesting reading. It has, as you might expect, nothing good to say about “the occupation.” But, counter to expectations, it also speaks what must have been unwelcome truths (forgive the extended quotation):

 I remember the day the Israeli occupation forces left the Gaza Strip [in September 2005]. People from all Palestinian factions, each with his own color and flag, jammed the streets in celebration, joyously proclaiming the departure of the defeated enemy. Soon after, we took to bickering . . . but neither nuances of language nor our moments of joy helped in answering the most pressing question: Where do we go from here? We heard a lot about the coming of a “prosperous future,” the transformation of Gaza into an industrial and commercial hub. In those days we were optimistic . . . Nonetheless, that ‘culture of life’ now feels distant, and in its place we find adolescent slogans . . . Life has become a sorrow, a nightmare, and an unbearable burden . . . I want us to look in the mirror and face up to our own mistakes. We always fear speaking out clearly about our errors, and we’ve gotten accustomed to hiding them under the same pat answers. Still, what does the current chaos, lawlessness, random killings, infringements on public land, clashes between families, strewn pedestrian walkways  . . . what does all this have to do with the occupation?  We’ve gotten in the habit of blaming others for our own failures . . . the Israeli occupation left behind layers of crisis and complexities  . . . But shouldn’t we be asking ourselves whether we ourselves added to the burden of our near-exhausted people?  And whether our people’s resources are being squandered by deleterious practices for which no party and no faction is above blame? . . . Why didn’t we safeguard our ‘free’ Gaza? . . . Here we are having . . . 365 square kilometers . . . in our hands . . . and we managed to waste it . . .Our Gaza has been turned into a garbage dump . . . the government is helpless to do anything . . . as a consequence, we have been reduced to the level of blind wanderers.  Life, as we live it now in Gaza is, without exaggeration, the embodiment of misery . . . We talked of a national consensus, but sectarian divisions have swept aside that notion like a feather in the wind. The resistance movement . . . has become fragmented . . . So, when great efforts are being expended to reopen a border crossing so as to ease the pressure on our citizens, we’re surprised to find that others among us are at the same time firing rockets at that very crossing point.  And while some parties are proclaiming the high importance of achieving a state of calm, someone else defies that effort and launches another rocket at Israel! . . .Isn’t building the homeland a part of the resistance? Are not hygiene, public order and respect for the law parts of the resistance?  . . . The abduction of foreign journalists has become an acceptable practice in the pursuit of petty aims . . . We do a lot of talking; we tread water and steal our people’s blood and deny them a moment of rest . .  Evading accountability will only add to our pain and wound us further. . .  Let us have the courage to say that we got it right in some instances and wrong in others.  Then you will find the face of the homeland, radiate new hope for our future. [emphasis added]

Scarcely two decades later, that hater can say, “We are victims – everything we do is justified.”

What changed? 18 years of autonomy, free of any Israeli presence, and no progress. 16 years of Hamas rule and nothing but despair and hatred as a consequence. With such an unrelenting record of failure, what else to do but . . . blame someone else? This was a man with access to power and the means to build a better society. Instead, they chose endless war. One can (almost) understand the frustration of a 60-year old man who squandered his opportunities to improve the condition of his people in order to become a mouthpiece for murderers, kidnappers, terrorists, rapists.

“We are victims – everything we do is justified.”

Mr. Hamad was born and has spent his life in Gaza. He is a fourth-generation “refugee” (only Palestinians preserve their refugee status ad infinitum–God forbid that they should ever lose their privileged victim status), though he has never been from anywhere else. Like his fellow refugees, he received a free education and free sustenance. Until Hamas started this war, fuel, food, and medical equipment were never blockaded, even during the periodic outbreaks of violence (always initiated by Hamas or its fellow terrorists). Before the war, 500 truckloads of supplies entered Gaza from Israel and Egypt–every single day. If they are indeed victims, these are the most privileged victims in the world, living off the largesse of the UN, US taxpayers, Qatar, and Iran, and–of course–endlessly complaining that it is insufficient. Mr. Hamad whines that he had expected stronger intervention from Hezbollah in the war with Israel. It appears that he is victimized even by other terrorists; it must be hard to be at the bottom of that festering, fetid totem pole.

Since everything Mr. Hamad does is justified, he does not need to explain why his Hamas government did not provide for the requirements of the general population when it commenced the war. Tunnels for Hamas, but no shelters for the civilians. Food and fuel for Hamas; starvation for civilians. (Perhaps it never even occurred to them that the civilized Israelis would turn off the spigot just because their “army” of terrorists started raping and dismembering children; after all, everything they do is justified.) Hamad’s colleague, Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk explains that the tunnels built by Hamas, and the supplies within, are for them alone, and not civilians. With explanations like that, it is not hard to see why Mr. Hamad would prefer to eschew them altogether: we are victims – everything we do is justified.

The world needs to understand. They will never stop hating. If they are afforded the opportunity, they will never stop killing. That is what terrorists do. And because they have  convinced themselves that they are victims whose every outrage is justified, they will never stop.

They. Will. Never. Stop.

Unless someone stops them.

About the Author
Gary Epstein is a retired teacher and lawyer residing in Modi'in, Israel. He was formerly the Head of the Global Corporate and Securities Department of Greenberg Traurig, a global law firm with an office in Tel Aviv, which he founded and of which he was the first Managing Partner. He and his wife Ahuva are blessed with18 grandchildren, ka"h, all of whom he believes are well above average. He currently does nothing. He believes he does it well.
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