Monday, July 28, 2014

Why Does Hamas Keep Firing Rockets

Someone asked. “Why do they keep firing rockets when their children are dying?

In the first place, their children are not just dying. They are being killed; blown  up and shot down. They are running, screaming, being carried into medical treatment centers which long ago ran out of medicines and anesthesia. They wake up frightened to learn that their father, mother or both have been killed, wondering who in the world will protect and care for them. That is the reality in Gaza.  Dr. Mads Gilbert, Swedish volunteer in  the Shifa Hospital describes his feelings.

And as I write these words to you alone, on a bed, my tears flow, the warm but useless tears of pain and grief and fear This is not happening. And then, just now, the orchestra of the Israeli war-machine starts its gruesome symphony again, just now salvos of artillery from the navy boats just down the shore, the roaring F-16, the sickening drowns, and the cluttering Apaches. So much made in and paid for by the US,
Mr. Obama – do you have a heart?
I invite you – spend one night – just one night – with us in Shifa, disguised as a cleaner, maybe. I am convinced, 100%, it would change history.
Nobody with a heart and power could ever walk away from a night in Shifa without being determined to end the slaughter of the Palestinian people.
But the heartless and merciless have done their calculations and planned another “dahyia” onslaught on Gaza.
The river of blood will keep running the coming night.  Please do what you can. This, THIS cannot continue.

So, why does Hamas keep firing rockets?  Well, it’s not to push Israel into the sea as is the so often announced motive in the US media.  They fire rockets as the only way to say “NO” to the oppression of their people in such a way that the outside world may hear them. When the only power you have is the power to say “no”, it is very difficult to give it up.

The last time Israel massively bombed Gaza, (2008-2009), killing over 1400 people, mostly civilians and many children, Hamas gave in to the promises that everything would get better.  However, in fact, nothing got better. It became worse;  The increased blockade at the border, daily control over their lives by restricting food, medicines, fuel and even toys from being brought into Gaza, attacks on humanitarian ships bringing aid, water and electricity shut offs for hours at a time by Israel’s destruction.  Hamas learned that to bow down and say, “Yes Master,” means a continuing of the status quo and to Israel. Status quo is even better than a peace process.  Just keep it going, for another 45 years. Who cares?

Now fast forward to July, 2014.  What has changed since the last time?  Netanyahu continues to cry, “rockets, rockets.”  He never raises the question of WHY? 

Hamas has learned, there have been no calls for justice from the outside. The Western world has turned a deaf ear to their appeal for International law. The Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory, forbids the violation of basic human rights and the occupation of land captured by force. Even when it is pictured on the front page of the world’s media, and flashed across TV screens around the world, nothing is done. The US even supports Israel’s right to brutalize the people of Gaza by redefining the term “occupation of Palestine,” to “disputed territory, thus castrating all UN resolutions aimed at putting some control over Israel.

Hamas has learned not to expect help from the US. which has never been an honest broker. Our government continues to support Israel with billions of dollars every year, and justifying its actions by 100 to 0 votes in the Senate, 42 UN vetoes blocking even a verbal concern for what is happening to the Palestinians. It raises the question, what does Hamas have to gain by giving in?

Of course, the other question is, what does Hamas have to gain by not submitting?  Very little. But, at least the people of the United States are talking about Israel/Palestine. A casual glance at the evening news and we are catching on to the fact that the West Bank is, in fact, occupied and Gaza is a prison camp.  By refusing to submit, Hamas is saying to Israel, you may take our land and water, you may destroy our economy, you may put us in prison and even kill our children, but the one thing you cannot do by force is wipe out our struggle for human dignity and freedom.

Jeff Halper, Jewish author who lives in Israel,  explains the Palestinian resistance:

You can impose upon us an apartheid system, blame us for the violence while ignoring Israeli State Terror, pursue your programs of American Empire, or your notions of a “clash of civilization.” We will not submit. We will not cooperate. We will not play your rigged game.
The conflict will continue until the Israelis realize they cannot prevail by force, by their massive “facts on the ground,” even by skillful international diplomacy. In the end, the cost of maintaining the occupation will become unacceptable, if not to Israel, to the Western powers who support it at the cost of global instability and polarization. [1]

He quotes Mahatma Gandhi:

How can one be compelled to accept slavery? I simply refuse to do the master’s bidding. He may torture me. Break my bones to atoms and even kill me. He will then have my dead body, not my obedience.  Ultimately, therefore, it is I who am the victor and not he, for he has failed in getting me to do what he wanted done. Non-cooperation is directed not against… the Governors, but against the system they administer. The root of non-cooperation lie not in hatred but in justice.

I remember in school celebrating the heroism of Patrick Henry who said back in 1775, “Give me liberty or give me death.”  Of course, Henry was dealing with a more civilized foe. He risked only his own life. It’s a more difficult choice for Hamas. They are trying to negotiate with a ruthless oppressive regime which has demonstrated very little concern for the lives of Palestinian children.

It is still hard to understand why Hamas would keep firing rockets when the people of Gaza pay such a painful price for it. I am at least trying to understand. And with Dr. Gilbert, it is hard to keep from just crying.

                                                                                                Thomas Are
                                                                                                July 28, 2014

[1] This entire blog has been inspired and fueled by a speech I heard last month by Jeff Halper and his book, An Israeli in Palestine. (Pluto Press, New York, 2010) Especially pages 207 – 212. 

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