January 29, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11100

Palestinian Columnist: Hamas' Policy Exacts A High Price From The People Of Gaza; It Must Acknowledge Its Mistakes

January 29, 2024
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 11100

The Palestinian Authority (PA) daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida has lately begun publishing articles voicing criticism against Hamas. Among them is a January 11, 2024 article by columnist Bassem Barhoum titled "Everyone Makes Mistakes – Is Hamas Infallible?", in which he argued that Hamas' October 7 attack was impressive in terms of its planning and execution, but that it nevertheless involved an element of suicidal recklessness that brought disastrous consequences upon the people of Gaza. Barhoum accused Hamas of subversiveness against the PLO and of serving foreign agendas, and called on it to reexamine its policy and start acknowledging its mistakes so it can be part of the Palestinian future.

Bassem Barhoum (Image:

The following are excerpts from his article:[1]

"The media of Hamas and its allies often quote statements by former officials and oppositionists in Israel, or even from the Israeli press or by current Israeli officials, who address the country's failures on October 7, [2023] or the failures in the course of its military campaign [in Gaza], and direct harsh criticism at [Prime Minister] Netanyahu and his government. Hamas' media also frequently refer to Israel's [intention] to form investigative committees [to look into these failures], although this is something Israel has traditionally done in all its wars. Hamas stresses this, as though it is an achievement it can take credit for. At the same time, we haven't heard of a single instance in which Hamas made a mistake. As everyone knows, it is the custom of Hamas and of [all] the factions of political Islam to direct criticism at others and at their failures and mistakes,  yet neither Hamas nor any of the factions of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) has ever examined itself or admitted a mistake. They behave as though they are infallible soldiers of Allah.  

"Let's examine where Hamas should have assessed its performance and told the public whether it was right or wrong:

"A. After it won the 2006 elections, Hamas formed a government under Isma'il Haniya, and then, after [the signing of] the Mecca agreement,[2]  it headed the national unity government. The question is: Given the situation of the Palestinians, can Hamas be at once a governing body and a resistance movement? Shouldn't this experiment be [re]assessed? The strange thing is that Hamas stubbornly clings to power even now, after everything that has happened in the Gaza Strip, and  sanctifies its resistance and the blood that is being spilled to keep it in power, as though [power], and nothing else, has become the goal.

"B. The so-called military coup [Hamas] carried out in 2007 [i.e., its takeover of the Gaza Strip] , which led to the worst schism in the history of the Palestinian people, is what brought us to the nakba we are experiencing today. Does this not require [Hamas] to admit that this coup led to a mistake?

"C. [Regarding] the October 7 operation: Its planning and execution were impressive from a military perspective, but, considering the large number of martyrs (about 30,000), the vast number of wounded (60,000) and the comprehensive destruction [in Gaza], shouldn't Hamas admit that this operation involved a measure of suicidal recklessness? The greater problem is that Hamas clings to its arrogance and gives the Israeli war machine all the time it needs to complete the genocide and the destruction of the Strip that will necessarily cause [its residents] to migrate, willingly or unwillingly.   

"D. [Regarding] Hamas' position vis-à-vis the PLO and its presentation of itself as an alternative to the PLO: Has Hamas not noticed the price that this policy has exacted from the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause by providing Israel, and all those who wish to harm the Palestinian unity, an opportunity to doubt the PLO's title as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people? Does Hamas not realize that this is a very dangerous game, that may lead to the complete elimination of the Palestinian people? If Hamas cared about our national unity and about the PLO and its interests, it would have joined [the PLO] and started to operate within its framework. Is this position worth reconsidering?

"E. Most of the Hamas leadership is abroad, although it has been proven that this does not guarantee its safety. Hamas' leaders fled the Strip – many of them [just] a few weeks before October 7 – and left the people of Gaza  to face the violence and madness of the Israelis by themselves. Is that not [a policy] that requires reexamining, and shouldn’t Hamas explain why its leaders fled with their families?

"F. Hamas' regional alliances, and the fact that it has placed itself at the service of external agendas [i.e., Iranian ones], have been very costly for the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause. 

"Hamas should have admitted to being wrong about many issues whose consequences have been disastrous for the Palestinian people, such as the question: Were all these wars against Gaza really inevitable? Five wars in a single decade! Did Hamas fortify the Gaza home front sufficiently to deal with war on this scale? Or [does it believe that] the important thing is for it to carry out operations and let the people pay the price for its adventures? And if we agree that nobody is infallible, why doesn't Hamas admit its mistakes? Why doesn't Hamas take responsibility for its mistakes and try to stop the war through practical initiatives? If Hamas is determined to be part of the future, the first step is admitting its mistakes." 


[1] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), January 11, 2024.

[2] The February 8, 2007 Mecca agreement between Fatah and Hamas called for establishing a national unity government and resolving the power-struggles within the PA that had been ongoing since 2005. See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 331 - The Mecca Agreement – A Strategic PLO-Hamas Alliance for Establishing a Palestinian State Without Hamas Recognizing Israel – February 28, 2007.

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