Following the latest round of fighting in Gaza between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), two columnists for the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, Majed Kayali and 'Abd Al-Ghani Salameh, criticized the Gazan resistance factions, which, they said, treat Gaza as nothing more than a battleground and a launching pad for their rockets, while ignoring the steep price paid by the people who live there. These factions' hyperbole about their "victories" over Israel and their strength and abilities, wrote the columnists, are far from the truth and only distort the Palestinians' image in the eyes of the world. The columnists called to stop treating the resistance as sacred, subject it to criticism and assess its effectiveness as part of the Palestinian struggle. They added that the resistance must be waged by all the Palestinians, not monopolized by certain armed factions, and must serve the Palestinian goal of liberation, rather than the ideology and interests of foreign elements, hinting at Iran.
The following are excerpts from their articles:
Majed Kayali: The Gazan Factions Inflate Their Abilities And Condemn The Gazans To Suffering
Palestinian columnist Majed Kayali, who lives in Berlin, wrote on May 14 under the headline "There Are People Living in Gaza, Not Just Factions, Commanders and Rockets": "The confrontation, or war, currently being waged between Israel and the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip is not the first of its kind. There have been many previous confrontations, bitter, devastating and bloody, since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 and Israel imposed a siege on it. Despite this, the discourse of the Gaza factions [indicates that] they insist on forgetting these facts and the tragedies [the wars] have caused, and on spreading messages of victory. Intoxicated by the fact that they have a measure of military power, they claim that they have imposed [new] military and political equations on Israel, none of which is proven or visible.
"Some hyperbole is bad because it turns into illusions, and an example is the exaggerated assessment of Gaza's strength. In practice, this is a Palestinian society of two million people living in a small area of 360 square kilometers… Furthermore, it is a known fact that Gaza lacks resources and attracts no investments, and that its people are poor and unemployed, and therefore this area relies on income arriving from abroad…
"Most of those who speak in Gaza's name see it as nothing more than a military camp of the resistance, or a military base for launching rockets, as though it is not inhabited by people – women, children and elderly people, flesh and blood, who need [decent] living conditions and security in order to continue developing as a society, even as they resist the occupation and act to liberate themselves from it. [The struggle must take place] without exhausting them and threatening their very existence.
"Another [example of] exaggeration is inflating the power of the resistance and its rockets, as though we have no past experience and as though the previous attempts were successful and forced Israel to make concessions… This exaggeration creates a false impression [in the world] that the Palestinians have [already] liberated themselves from Israel and [already] have a state, as evident from the fact that they have an army equal in its strength to the Israeli army. Such [exaggeration] reflects ignorance and a disconnect from reality. Worse, it endangers lives, since it gives Israel a free hand to crush the Palestinians and demolish their homes, and supports [Israel's] narrative, that it is facing a threat and is only defending itself. It drags the people in Gaza into a war they cannot withstand, which exhausts them, instead of the resistance exhausting the enemy.
"As part of this discourse, it is said that the [Palestinian] factions have anti-aircraft weapons they can use against the Israeli planes, or rockets that threaten Tel Aviv, when it is known that these rockets have barely caused Israel any damage in lives or in property, whereas self-sacrifice operations of young individuals who are not part of any faction have caused Israel more fatalities in the past year than all the rockets fired in all the wars waged by the Gazan factions…"
The Resistance Must Be Divested Of Its Sanctity, Removed From The Purview Of The Organizations That Monopolize it, And Subjected To Scrutiny
"With all due respect and appreciation for heroic acts and sacrifice, resistance cannot be limited to armed struggle or to fighting with rockets, and the armed factions must not monopolize it. [Resistance] is first and foremost popular or social action, otherwise, resistance [forces] become mere militias, or just another authority, especially if they rely on foreign [elements] for their resources…
"The main point is that the resistance must be divested of its sanctity, for it is [merely] political action by specific people with specific desires, knowledge, experience of various kinds, and political and ideological leanings. [As such] it must be subjected to scrutiny, criticism and accountability – especially given that this Palestinian experiment has been going on for 58 years [since Fatah's founding in 1965] yet still has no clear military strategy. Some people, as part of their illusions, wishes and emotions, burden the Gazans with more than they can bear, thinking that Gaza can liberate Palestine or expel the occupation from the West Bank or from Gaza [itself]. But all we get is [military] clashes or exchanges of mortar fire, for Israel does not wish to enter Gaza either, and the resistance factions cannot liberate a single inch of land beyond Gaza's [borders]…
SUPPORT OUR WORK
"In all the previous wars, the [Palestinian] factions set terms for a ceasefire with Israel and [boasted] loudly of their victories. But in practice, after the war ended and the number of victims, the loss of life and the damage to property, became clear, reality remained as it had been, without any change, despite all the talk about the unity of the fronts, the balance of deterrence and fear, and the new rules of the conflict.
"The gap between the rhetoric and reality is wide, especially when it comes to the wretched state of the Palestinians in Gaza, dozens of whose young people are lost at sea every year as they desperately try to emigrate…
"The reality in Gaza is too complex to address in emotional [terms] and with fiery speeches. The patient, steadfast, brave and resisting people of Gaza must contemplate their situation in cerebral, realistic and humane terms, alongside the discourse of liberation. This will enable them to live while [engaging in] steadfast resistance."
Majed Kayali (Image: annahar.com)
'Abd Al-Ghani Salameh: Is There No Alternative To This Resistance, Which Comes At Such A Steep Price?
Columnist 'Abd Al-Ghani Salameh argued in a similar vein in a two-part article titled "The Gaza Wars and the Surreal Sights." In the first part, published May 15, he wrote: "It's true that the sight of the rockets as they are launched – as they pierce the heavens and light up the dark Gaza night, setting a determined course towards the usurping enemy – is a moving and amazing one that lifts our spirits and gives us a shot of adrenaline, for it is a stimulating show of force and of steadfastness, and for some people it also fulfills the need for revenge. But if we look at it from the other perspective, we see the ruins left behind by the airstrikes [on Gaza], the fear that grips the people [there] as they hear the explosions, and their hearts that quake with every bomb that pulverizes their homes…
"And here we face an inner conflict: [Which should take precedence?] The cheering as we see the force and vitality of the rockets, or the sorrow over the suffering of the people, the terror of the children, the weeping of the mothers and the grief of the fathers over their lost sons, flesh of their flesh, and over the destruction of their homes[?]
"Here too there is a usual, ready-made answer: Life and blood are less important when they are sacrificed for the sake of victory, as part of the price of liberation. Resistance means sacrifice, and no nation ever managed to liberate itself without sacrifice. [But] this claim begs another ready-made question: Will this kind of resistance really lead to victory and liberation? Is there no alternative and no other way?
"Had the picture been obvious and clear, the people would have united behind it without hesitation… For who among us does not yearn for liberation? Who among us does not wish to be free of the occupation? But sadly, the picture is not as simple as it seems, for many elements have entered it, making it complicated, tangled and dark.
"We are still at odds over the image we should project to the world. Are we victims or victors? Do we really have rocket abilities on a par with those of the enemy, that we present ourselves to the world in terms of an army facing an army, rockets facing rockets, and terror facing terror? This image is obviously false. It has nothing to do with reality and we have paid for it dearly. The image of an [Israeli] settler fleeing to safety comes at a price, which was paid by a [Palestinian] boy who had a lethal panic attack, and by hundreds of thousands of families who live in terror. The sight of the amazing rockets comes at a price: 4,086 martyrs killed in six [Gaza] wars and thousands of devastated homes whose owners remain homeless to this day…
"Not everyone who calls to behave reasonably and to be rational in waging resistance is a coward, and not everyone who calls to consider the victims of aggression is talking nonsense… [Decisions on military] confrontation should not be based on considerations of profit and loss – for we are not talking about commerce – [but] neither should they be based on frivolous impulsiveness… We need to [combine] the insight of a wise statesman, the cold and hard reasoning of a strategist and the impulses of a brave fida'i [self-sacrificing fighter]. This is the challenge we have repeatedly failed to meet."
The People Will Rally Behind The Resistance When Its Objective Is A National Palestinian One, Not Tied To Foreign Ideologies
In the second part of the article, published two days later, Salameh wrote: "Every [Palestinian] organization that arises starts its political and military experience without considering the past experience in the struggle [with Israel]. We repeatedly start from scratch, [for] nobody tries to benefit from the experience of the past. It is not in our nature to draw lessons [from the past], and some people think that the Palestinian struggle started only in their lifetime.
"We regard the resistance as sacred and justify it, without holding it to account in any way or criticizing it, because [criticism] is forbidden. We treat our people, especially in Gaza, like lab rats, because for some people Gaza is merely a battlefield, as though there aren't two million people living there!...
"If we examine the six previous rounds [of fighting], we find that most of them broke out because the resistance responded to the assassination of commanders… Second, we see that the terms set by the resistance for a ceasefire grew progressively less in each round. It went from demanding the lifting of the siege to [demanding] a seaport and airport, [and then just the opening] of the border crossings and the [widening] of the fishing zone, and in the last round the [only] demand was an end to the assassination of commanders and operatives. Third, [we see that] the resistance has failed to draw a link between its military battles and [progress on] the political front. That is, it has not managed to set political terms, such as halting the construction of settlements, the Judaizing of Jerusalem and the moves towards annexation, and restarting the political negotiations. Fourth, [the resistance] presented the world with a false picture in which the Israelis are victims and civilians terrorized by rockets…
"Here we must ask ourselves about the overall outcome of these wars on the political level and in terms of the struggle. [We must ask] how we can all act to harness them to the Palestinian struggle in the past and the future, how we prevent them from becoming merely partisan achievements [i.e., benefiting only a particular Palestinian faction], and how we prevent them from being used in the service of foreign elements [i.e., Iran]. How do we formulate an overall resistance strategy that everyone can agree on – all the factions and forces, and the general public[?] [It must be a strategy] that considers the abilities and options of the people and forms a basis for a reasonable assessment of reality that takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the conflict and all aspects of managing the conflict, including the power-balance on the ground and in the political arena.
"Our Palestinian people inside [Palestine] and abroad, along with all the Arab peoples, has never stopped supporting the resistance for a single day. It is always willing to warmly shield the resistance and sacrifice everything for it. But [this support] can be unreserved only when the resistance is united and when its objective is a national Palestinian one, not serving various external ideologies, [when this objective is] free of foreign interference and not tied to the political agendas of regional elements that use the Palestinian cause as a bargaining chip to toughen their stance in negotiations and improve their regional standing. [Furthermore, this objective] must not be the outcome of internal conflict and partisan competition."
'Abd Al-Ghani Salameh (Image: maannews.net)
 The rhetoric regarding the balance of fear and deterrence vis-à-vis Israel, and the threats of uniting the fronts in any future confrontation with it, have been very conspicuous lately in the discourse of the Palestinian resistance factions. See e.g., MEMRI TV Clip No. 10239, Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leader Ziyad Nakhalah: Iran Has Paid The Palestinian Resistance Billions Of Dollars – It Pays For Every House Demolished In The West Bank And Every Weapon Used By The Resistance, April 17, 2023; Special Dispatch No. 10562 - Lebanese Media Reports: On The Evening Before The April 6, 2023 Rocket Attack On Israel, Iranian Qods Force Commander Esmail Qaani Visited Lebanon, Met With Officials From Hizbullah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad – April 13, 2023; Special Dispatch No. 10595 - Hamas: The War For Palestine Is A Religious War – May 4, 2023; Special Dispatch No. 9946 - On International Qods Day, Instituted By The Iranian Regime, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah And Other Iran Allies Call For Jihad Against Israel, Threaten Regional War - May 4, 2022; Special Dispatch No. 7339 - Hamas, Palestinian Factions In Response To Israel's Airstrikes In Syria: 'Any Israeli Attack, On Any Front, Will Be Answered With A Comprehensive War On All Fronts' – February 15, 2018; Inquiry & Analysis No. 1366, Intensive Discussions In Resistance Axis Ahead Of Possible Joint Confrontation With Israel; Syrian Daily: A Confrontation Is Inevitable, January 1, 2018.
 Al-Ayyam (PA), May 14, 2023.
 Al-Ayyam (PA), May 15, 2023.
 The reference is apparently to Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which were founded in the 1980s, years after Fatah and the PLO.
 Al-Ayyam (PA), May 17, 2023.