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memri
August 1, 2016 No.
6551

Hamas Official Criticizes Palestinian Elements: Stop Boasting About Future Wars; In The Struggle With Israel, Resistance Operations Are Better Than All-Out War

On the occasion of the second anniversary of the 2014 Gaza War, Hamas's deputy foreign minister and former spokesman Ghazi Hamad wrote an article in the online Gazan daily Alwatanvoice.com, in which he criticized Palestinian elements that constantly talk of the next war with Israel and boast in advance about their victory in it. He said that such talk reflected hastiness and shallowness, for war was a serious and frightening business, not a matter for muscle-flexing and for adventurism.


Ghazi Hamad (Image: Amad.ps)

Hamad called on the Palestinians to base their future struggle against Israel on quick surprise attacks rather than all-out war. He noted that in the three Gaza wars (of 2008/2009, 2012 and 2014) the Palestinians sustained heavy losses in lives and property, whereas Israel barely sustained any damage at all. On the other hand, "small stabs to all parts of [Israel's] body hurt it, exhaust it and place it under intense public pressure, while the price that the Palestinian side must pay [for such operations] is less harmful and painful."

It should be mentioned that Hamad's article was also published in Hamas's daily Filastin but was removed from its website a short while later. The article was also removed from Alwatanvoice.com itself only a few days after its posting - which suggests that it sparked intense criticism in Gaza. It should also be noted that this is not the first time Hamad has criticized Hamas. In 2009 he wrote an article in which he urged the Palestinians not to delude themselves that they had won the 2008 Gaza war, and in 2006 he urged them to acknowledge mistakes they had made.[1]

'Issam Shawar, a columnist for Hamas dailies, wrote an article in which he rejected Hamad's claim that the wars with Israel have not been effective. He noted that the war with Israel caused it to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and that Hamas has managed to create deterrence vis-à-vis Israel. He added that resistance operations of the kind Hamad advocated also tended to lead to war with Israel.

The following are excerpts from the two articles: 

Ghazi Hamad: Some Of Us Boast Of Victory In A Future War With Israel - This Is A Big, Shallow, Rash Mistake

"There is a lot of talk about war, as though this is the option or path to which events will necessarily lead us, [even if] we do not want it. Then, people get carried away talking about expectations and scenarios... and about the chances for victory or defeat. Some [of us] are quick to decide in advance that they will win, no matter the price. This attests to great shallowness and rashness. First they say that a coming war is inevitable, then they backtrack from their exaggerations [and say], 'we are not working to bring war closer'... Some have attempted to hasten the war['s arrival] and threatened anyone who approaches the Gaza border. [But] wars do not require words, speeches, or predictions - rather, they require observation, understanding, and judgement...

"Those who speak often of war are making serious mistakes that should be avoided. [War] is not a matter for muscle-flexing, boastfulness, or chauvinistic speeches. War is serious and frightening. It means bloodshed, killing, the destruction of everything relating to life, terrifying sights, and land that devours a man's flesh. War can be ignited, but [we] do not always know how to extinguish it. It should be approached very seriously, with rationality, thought, and reason. It is not a field trip - neither here [in Gaza] nor there [in Israel]...

"We must answer several questions. In the Palestinian arena, there is no long-term strategic thought, and its temporary substitute is always the tactic of the routine preparation and readiness [for war] without taking it upon ourselves to seek answers to urgent strategic questions: Is war the only preferable option? Is Gaza, with its geographic and demographic makeup, fit to wage open war, and should Gaza always bear alone the brunt and consequences of war? Are there no more effective, less harmful options? Does the national public have an encompassing and mature view of the concept and methods of resistance, so that it achieves real ends, in order for us not to become caught up in a dispute over assessing the achievements and damages of the war?

"Before anyone [hastens] to formulate exaggerated slogans about me, let me reiterate that resistance is a legitimate and undisputed right. But the question remains: What is the preferred model for resistance against a barbaric, aggressive country that is armed to the teeth and that is defended by the international laws of the jungle? We must respond to this, so that we can achieve as many positive cumulative outcomes as possible, and not settle for modest results that are not worth the sacrifices made for them..."

 Israel's Arsenal Is Among The Strongest In The Region, We Must Be Creative In Our Struggle Against It

"Anyone who wants to wage a war must study it from start to finish and examine its outcome - as this relates to our people's reality.... future, life, and stability. Wars are measured not just by number of victims or acts of heroism, but by their outcome. Anyone who ignores outcomes and thinks they are of no value, or adapts them to his own desires, stands against life's rules and laws. Outcomes, especially political ones, need to be examined according to professional and non-emotional standards. There is no room for gambling, adventures, or mistakes in such crucial decisions...

"Israel's arsenal is effectively among the strongest in the Middle East. It has substantial intelligence and security capabilities, and an unrestrained capacity for mass destruction and killing and for carrying out massacres with no one to deter it. It is guaranteed the silence of the countries in the region, and the international community, to the point of conspiracy. The worst part is that it covers the expenses of the war by requiring the other side to buy all materials necessary for rebuilding [after it]. This does not mean we should be helpless or surrender, but rather that we must think creatively about how to deal with Israel and break its arrogance. On the other hand, the resistance in Gaza has modest options in a small and exposed tract of land, with no backing or help in the region - though, first and foremost, it has steely willpower and determination to fight...

"Despite the resistance's steadfastness and fighting spirit, and despite the extraordinary achievements and blows it has dealt against the enemy in the [last] three wars, Israel has heavily damaged the Gaza Strip with regard to life and property, and has brought [Gaza's] economy back to square one: Unemployment increased, and the rebuilding of Gaza is very expensive; some elements might exploit [this] for political blackmail against Gaza."

 The Option Of Resistance Is Preferable To Open War With Israel

"The Palestinians are in a situation of resistance, and they must not exceed that. Throughout history, and according to experience, rules and principles dictate how the resistance movement operates, and it does so based on sporadic attacks and retreat, striking at the underbelly, and avoiding direct conflict as much as possible - meaning that we must conduct 'guerrilla warfare.'

"We are not a regular army, and we do not have to design and establish the resistance on such a basis, as doing so would contradict reality as well as the philosophy and methods of the resistance. Unfortunately, there are those who exaggerate greatly, deluding themselves that the 'resistance groups' should become a 'regular army' ready for any war or conflict...

"This is an exaggeration that we cannot accept; it reflects rashness, and ignorance of a realistic view of the situation. Open conflict with the occupation creates a complex reality for the resistance and for [Gaza] Strip residents that is not easy to control in light of the insane attacks and widespread waves of destruction, and in light of the fact that [during war] the resistance runs out of ammunition and capabilities. The ability to achieve swift and real goals in [such] a war is doubtful.

"It is true that the resistance's heroism and steadfastness have impacted the [Israeli] army's view as well as its strategic and tactical plans, and have created a situation of fear and instability in Israeli society. More importantly, it has been proven that [Israel's use of] the military option, powerful as it may be, will not bring the outcome that Israel desires. However, we must understand that so far, three wars have not compelled it to change its policy on issues like the political solution, the siege, and the construction of settlements. [Israel] has also not, as some have argued, changed its hostile security and military doctrine.

"Israel has waged many wars with Arab countries, Hizbullah, and the Palestinian resistance. Politicians, generals, analysts, and experts in the [Israeli] political and military elite have begun to agree that [for Israel,] the option of open war is preferable for striking strong and devastating decisive blows. On the other hand, Israel is deterred by swift attacks and operations against its soldiers, settlers, and citizens, as happened in the 1990s. Small stabs to all parts of [Israel's] body hurt it, exhaust it and place it under intense public pressure, while the price that the Palestinian side must pay [for such operations] is less harmful and painful. The difference between the two options indicates that the option of resistance in the classic sense is better than that of open war."

 Boasting Of Factions Does Operational Damage To The Resistance

"Some factions exaggerate their ability and strength. Moreover, they show their cards and advantages. Some repeatedly republish what is published by the Israeli papers [about Hamas's capabilities], as a sort of boasting, and see this as part of 'raising morale.' [But] in my humble opinion, this achieves the opposite result: It enables the enemy to open its eyes, find preventative defensive countermeasures, and shape its thinking regarding the resistance factions and their modus operandi. For instance, don't you see that the recurring talk of the tunnels and the tunnel men has encouraged Israel, with its political, security, military, and even social elements, to seek practical solutions and devote billions of shekels to thwarting this danger?? There are many ways of raising morale, spurring and encouraging people, and recruiting all our energies, without getting involved in showing our hand and attracting the enemy's attention. We have a chance to think logically, and to achieve better results that will harm our enemies even more.

"Let us say clearly that the option of war, whether we want it or it is forced on us, is not the best option. We should avoid it as much as possible - not to avoid conflict, but rather to achieve better results in fighting the enemy. There are plenty of alternatives, and there are many options and opportunities."[2]

Gaza Journalist Responds To Hamad: The Resistance Managed To Created Deterrence

In response to Hamad's article, 'Issam Shawar, a columnist for Hamas websites, wrote on the online daily Alwatanvoice.com: "One of the mistakes made by Dr. Ghazi Hamad is that he believes that the history of jihad wars against the occupation began with the first Gaza war [in December 2008-January 2009]. So, Dr. Ghazi inadvertently forgot the many achievements of the resistance, including liberating Gaza from the Israeli occupation, including its abandonment of all its settlements [referring to the disengagement], which in itself breaks Israel's military and security doctrine... Dr. Ghazi also believes that the resistance has the option of avoiding war, and he urges it to seek another model of resistance for arriving at achievements... Here I will make three comments:

"First, every time Israel attacks in Gaza, it excuses its attacks by blaming resistance operations, which mostly are retaliation for the aggression of the occupation. I am surprised that Dr. Ghazi, who is well versed in Israeli military and security doctrine, believes that Israel will absorb painful individual attacks without launching a war against the resistance, since it blamed the war in Gaza on the resistance, namely on [Hamas's] abduction of the Israeli soldier [Gilad] Shalit, even though it was one of the individual operations against Israeli soldiers.

"Second, Dr. Ghazi prefers that there be national consent for the resistance. But we know that there are two opinions among the Palestinians: One espouses all forms of resistance, and the other opposes all forms of military resistance. So the Palestinians cannot agree on the resistance, only on a ceasefire with Israel.

"Third, war is not an option for any Palestinian element, and never was. [It is the] the occupation state that forces it on us, because it destroys and kills, and bears the sole responsibility for its crimes, which will never end or let up without the deterrence that the resistance, particularly the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, has attained, whether Dr. Ghazi can acknowledge this or not...

"As for Hamad's claim that it was the repeated talk about the tunnels that motivated Israel to find a solution to them, I do not think so. Israel operated against the tunnels solely on the basis of the nightmares it has suffered since the Nahal Oz operation [July 2014 tunnel attack that killed five IDF soldiers], the kidnapping of Hadar Goldin [using tunnels in Gaza], and other heroic operations carried out by the Martyr 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades using tunnels."[3]

 

Endnotes:

 

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch  No. 2502, Hamas Official: We Should Learn Lessons - Not Delude Ourselves That We Won the War,

September 15, 2009; Special Dispatch- No. 1268, Scathing Self-Criticism by the Hamas Government Spokesman, August 29, 2006.

[2] Alwatanvoice.com, July 10, 2016.

[3] Alwatanvoice.com, July 14, 2016.