In recent days, columnists in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and a journalist on the reformist website www.metransparent.com have criticized Hamas, accusing it of bringing needless suffering upon the Palestinian people through its military and political incompetence and even stupidity - thus playing into Israel's hands.
The following are excerpts from the articles:
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Editor: Hamas Fails to Understand that the Role of a Leadership Is to Protect the People and Guarantee their Security and Livelihood
In response to statements addressed to Arab leaders by Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al on Al-Jazeera TV blaming them for the situation in Gaza, in which he said, "If you fail to help the Palestinians, Allah will not forgive you, your own people will not forgive you, and the Palestinian people will not forgive you." Al-Sharq Al-Awsat editor-in-chief Tariq Alhomayed wrote: "[Khaled Mash'al], did you make sure that Allah would forgive you before you elected the Palestinians to be the first people [in history] to carry out a coup under occupation, and [before you sent] your people to cast their brothers from [the roofs of] 15-story buildings?... What can the Arab [countries] do beyond what they have [already] done? Did you make sure that Allah would forgive you [before] asking the Saudi king to intervene once again in order to heal the rift within the Palestinian [people] - a rift created by you and your supporters?..."
Alhomayed added: "Khaled Mash'al's statements are proof of the depth of the crisis in which we are living in the Arab world. We repeat the same mistakes over and over again... The situation of the Palestinians in Gaza, and the barbaric oppression from which they suffer, are saddening. But it is equally saddening that they live under a leadership that does not understand that the role of a leadership is to protect the people and guarantee their security and livelihood... Today there is no choice but to tell the truth... instead of continuing to [exploit] the Palestinian cause..." 
Al-Arabiya TV Director 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed: Hamas Provided Israel with an Opportunity to Retaliate Forcefully to the Launching of a Few Scrap-Metal Rockets
Former Al-Sharq Al-awsat editor in chief and current Al-Arabiya TV director 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed accused Hamas of bringing great suffering upon the Palestinians while inflicting only negligible harm on Israel: "Hamas fired rockets into a peripheral region in Israel, and Israel's retaliation was brutal, as usual: [It] did not differentiate between Hamas and others, but [took the form of] collective punishment... Though there is no argument that Israel's reaction was criminal, Hamas is the one responsible for exposing 1.5 million people to this harm...
"What is the point of these [rocket attacks]... that increase the suffering of 1.5 million Palestinians, but do not cause Israel any military harm or induce it to make political concessions? Hamas' rocket [attacks] amount to a suicide operation that sacrifices the security of all the residents of Gaza. What is the point of all this spilt Palestinian blood and all this suffering? All those rockets [fired by] Hamas did no more than injure 10 Israelis. Where is the war that Hamas is talking about?...
"Hamas' stupidly [only] caused harm: it gave Israel the opportunity of [forcibly] retaliating against the launching of a few rockets that are nothing but pieces of scrap metal.
"Previously, [Hamas] committed another grave crime against the Palestinian people, by carrying out a coup against the Palestinian Authority.
"The people of Gaza have suffered greatly as a result of Hamas' behavior, which caused the Israelis to reenter Gaza after its liberation by the Palestinian forces." 
Columnist Ghassan Al-Imam: Resistance Has Become a Career Rather than a Means for Achieving Liberation and Freedom
Columnist Ghassan Al-Imam justified the Palestinian resistance, but argued that its methods were ineffective: "Is this effective resistance? According to surveys, two-thirds of Palestinians are dissatisfied with this resistance, and prefer to try negotiating a settlement [with Israel]. If the people of the West Bank and Gaza dare not speak out, why doesn't the Arab world do so? Why doesn't it honestly tell the jihad organizations the painful truth?
"The Arab regimes find it more convenient to condemn Israel than to criticize the resistance. Arab public opinion has been taken hostage and imprisoned. The Arab press, TV [channels], literature, and mentality all impose a culture of helplessness and despair on the nation. Not a single Arab dares express any criticism in these sad times, and if someone does dare, shrill accusations of treason, heresy, and collaboration with America and Israel are immediately heard, uttered by these very same helpless [people]...
"Hamas and the [Islamic] Jihad dealt with helplessness with more helplessness. We launch poorly-aimed tin rockets, and Israel responds with fighter jets, tanks, cannons, and missiles, savagely injuring and killing civilians and resistance [fighters alike]. Israel is using a 'needle thrust' strategy in Gaza: [It carries out] brief ground invasions and then quickly withdraws after causing maximal losses [to the Palestinians], while suffering negligible losses [to its own forces]...
"Why doesn't Hamas examine itself and [learn] from experience? Why doesn't it reassess its resistance strategy from a political and military point of view? [The answer is] that Hamas, [like the rest of the Palestinians] is a victim of its catastrophic mistakes and a hostage of the culture of despair, addicted to helplessness...
"Hamas' helplessness exposes the truth about the plans of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab world. The old sheikhs of the Muslim Brotherhood never managed to reconcile their Islamism with democracy. Gaza is a concrete example of the Muslim Brotherhood's [brand of] democracy, which is incapable of coexisting with other independent organizations... The Muslim Brotherhood has become more important [to Hamas] than [the principles of] national unity, and takes precedence over joint resistance against the occupation...
"Who will tell the Arab societies that resistance has become a career rather than a mission, and a job rather than a means to achieve the noble goals of liberation and freedom?... The Arabs have [already] shattered [Israel's] dream for a 'Greater Israel.' Sooner or later, Israel will realize that it is impossible to go on living in a ghetto surrounded by a turbulent ocean of [Arabs]. [Then] this alien entity will dissolve in this ocean... It will either blend in and [learn] to coexist [with the Arabs], or else vanish [from the face of the earth]." 
Palestinian Journalist: Hamas Is Leading the Palestinians to Mass Suicide against Their Will
In an article posted on the reformist website www.metransparent.com, titled "How Long Will the Gazans Pay the Price of Hamas' Stupidity," Palestinian journalist Nadia 'Ilabouni, who resides in Vienna, accused Hamas of "trading in blood" and of carrying out the agendas of external forces:
"There is no argument... regarding the criminal and barbaric behavior of the [Israeli] occupation forces in the Palestinian territories... But that certainly does not [mean] that we should disregard [the fact] that it is Hamas that is politically responsible for causing Israel to torture the Palestinians and to make their lives unbearable in numerous ways... which is a crime no less grave than those perpetrated by the occupation.
"Hamas' ongoing rocket [attacks] on the [Israeli] settlement of Sderot... were and still are an irresponsible [tactic] that brings the [Palestinians] nothing but evil and bitter consequences... The Palestinians have paid for this [tactic] with thousands of [people] killed, wounded, crippled, and arrested - while the political gain has been negligible...
"To continue this impolitic strategy means to continue on a path that will lead, sooner or later, to collective suicide. It is Hamas that is leading the Palestinians to this suicide, against their will... Hamas has turned the Palestinians... in the eyes of the world, from a people with a just cause to a bunch of desperate paupers begging for help.
"What Hamas needs is a little dignity and a little shame. [It must] understand that its path is leading only to the humiliation of the Palestinians and to the [trampling] of their honor. What the Palestinians need is for Hamas to show some responsibility - even a little - and realize that the Palestinians are not mythological beings from outer space but human beings, who need what all other human beings need in order to stay alive...
"Before begging for compassion from the world, we had better have some compassion for ourselves, [and protect ourselves] from the tyranny and control of those who trade in blood - [those] who are not committed to the Palestinian cause, but are serving the agendas of external forces that have nothing to do with the Palestinian interests. That is the truth, and we must say it loud and clear - since it is the people of Gaza, and only they, who are now paying, with their blood and with the blood of their children, for the stupid policies of Hamas. It is high time to put a stop to this abuse of the Palestinian destiny." 
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 23, 2008.
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 21, 2008.
 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 22, 2008.