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September 3, 2005
Hamas: Nobody Does Terror Like We Do

Now that the Israelis have pulled out of Gaza, the politics of the region will hinge on who gets the most credit for their withdrawal. Hamas has started the competition by revealing their once-secretive military wing and claiming credit for a long string of terrorist activity, apparently believing that this will bolster their popularity among the Palestinian people:

Hamas' secretive military wing emerged from hiding Saturday, naming commanders and detailing how they attacked Israelis as part of a competition with the Palestinian Authority over who will get credit for Israel's pullout from Gaza. ...

On Saturday, a defiant Hamas delivered a new challenge to Abbas, who has come under increasing international pressure to disarm the group after the Israeli pullout, but is reluctant to do so.

On its Web site, the Hamas military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, laid bare its command structure for the first time, posting names of seven top operatives, along with photos, biographies and interviews. One of the commanders said the group had more volunteers for suicide missions than he could dispatch.

Hamas is also printing tens of thousands of flyers with the content of the Web site, to be distributed in coming days in mosques and at rallies.

One of the leaders named in the new Hamas PR campaign, Mohammed Deif, presents no great surprise to anyone. Israel has made several attempts to kill him, but he proved an elusive foe. Now that he has come in from the cold, he told Gazans that his Hamas unit has no intention of disarming, for the Palestinian Authority or anyone else. In fact, Deif plans to continue the production of rockets that have primarly targeted Israel rather than PA security forces, at least until now.

None of this qualifies as state secrets, even from Hamas, which has tried to keep its leadership from being identified so that the Israelis can't kill them. Why make such a fuss through this kind of announcement? The Palestinians still must hold the postponed elections in the near future, and Hamas wants to get the political credit for forcing Israel to retreat. Hamas already has a political edge on Fatah, capturing two-thirds of open municipal seats in Gaza and the West Bank during the last election. If Hamas can duplicate that in parliamentary elections, Mahmoud Abbas will have to hit the road, probably in a hurry if he wants to remain alive. All indications so far show that Hamas will indeed push Fatah out of the parliamentary majority, which is why Abbas has delayed the elections.

Hamas sells violence because the Palestinians buy it in droves. They understand their market better than the US and the Europeans do. The Western media and intelligentsia want to convince themselves and us that the Palestinians want peace, not war, but when given the opportunity they have consistently voted for the radical terrorists of Hamas (as opposed to the "moderate" Fatah terrorists). The fact that no peaceful-coexistence political movement challenging Hamas or Fatah for electoral representation speaks volumes about the supposedly peaceful motivations of the Palestinians.

They want peace, all right -- the peace of the complete annihilation of their Israeli neighbors. That's what Hamas is selling today, and my prediction is that they will find a vast market for their violence and hate.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 3, 2005 8:15 AM

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