Along with expressing solidarity with the Hamas casualties in Gaza, PA, PLO and Fatah officials criticize Hamas for its contribution to the escalation that led to the Israeli attack. They blamed Hamas for not listening to the call to prolong the tahdiah, for not preparing properly for the possibility that Israel would attack, and for combining its government functions with its resistance activity, which made it vulnerable to an attack on its institutions. Hamas, for its part, accused the PLO and Fatah of collaborating with Israel.
The following are excerpts from statements and articles in the Palestinian media:
Abu Mazen: We Told [Hamas] - "Don't End the Tahdiah"
In his visit to Egypt, PA President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) placed the responsibility for the Israeli attack on Hamas, saying, "We called the leaders of Hamas, and told them both directly and indirectly, through Arab parties and non-Arab parties. We talked with them on the phone. We told them, 'Please, do not end the tahdiah.'"[i]
Nimr Hammad, an advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, said: "The one responsible for the massacres is Hamas, and not the Zionist entity, which in its own view reacted to the firing of Palestinian missiles. Hamas needs to stop treating the blood of Palestinians lightly. They should not give the Israelis a pretext." He called upon the leaders of Hamas to stop carrying out "operations which reflect recklessness, such as the firing of missiles."[ii]
Director of the Palestinian TV & Radio Authority: Hamas is In the Grips of Megalomania
Bassem Abu-Sumayyah, director of the Palestinian TV & Radio Authority and columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, reiterated the accusation that "Hamas blocked its ears… They should have had even a little bit of political and security sense, and not left the people wandering, and losing their way, getting killed and injured. It is clear that Hamas was struck by megalomania since they took over Gaza, which blinded them so they would not listen to any advice. Hamas behaved like a superpower, as if they have weapons and means like Hizbullah in Lebanon, and as if they can conduct a war like the July war [of 2006]. Hamas's people thought they have a number of missiles that can enable them to prevail in a war of such size."[iii]
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Palestinian Columnists: Hamas Could have Prevented the Bloodshed
Editor of the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida Hafez Al-Barghouthi criticized Hamas for not prolonging the tahdiah, and for kidnapping Gilad Shalit: "Prolonging the tahdiah was a supreme national interest. Why hasn't [Hamas] prevented the aggression and the massacre? How many times have we written, and President Abu Mazen has declared, that these missiles [that Hamas is firing at Israel] as ineffective and contrary to the supreme national interest. Even Hamas saw them as contrary to the supreme national interest at the time of the tahdiah. We said, also, that the kidnapping of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit cost us 500 casualties in one year."[iv]
Columnist Muwaffaq Matar called for creating an internal Palestinian investigation committee, and blamed Hamas for being responsible for the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza: "Will we learn the lesson, or are our leaders going to run away from bearing responsibility, as they usually do? If we believe in the value of men and in humanity, we should establish a Palestinian investigative committee that will reveal to the Palestinian people what happened, and why over 200 people have lost their lives and 750 have been injured within one hour, even though the calls for war, the speeches and the statements [in Israel], were abundant a week before the tahdiah ended… What did the commanders in Gaza expect? That the commanders of the Israeli army will let them know what is the zero hour, so that they will remove their people from the military and security headquarters?... This bloodshed and horrible destruction of our national institutions could have been prevented. It only needed political courage, moral wisdom, and adherence to the aspirations of the Palestinian people to live securely and in freedom and independence."[v]
Hamas has to Choose Between Being a Government and Fighting Its Resistance Activities
Abdallah Awwad, columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, argued against Hamas' attempt to be both a government as well as a fighting resistance: "The Israeli incursions after 2000 [during the Al-Aqsa Intifada] and the destruction of the PA headquarters were enough [for the PLO] to see the incompatibility of being a government at the same time as fighting the resistance… We are paying the price of stupidity, and the maniacal love of being rulers, that has nothing in it except for hollow slogans. [A choice must be made to be] either a government or a resistance. When the two are combined, it gives the occupying power easy targets… The example of the destruction of the PA headquarters in the West Bank during the Intifada should have sufficed… What happened in Gaza demonstrates that the lesson was not learned. Instead of disappearing under the ground, which is the basis for any resistance, Hamas personnel remained exposed in the open… This destructive formula contained within it a premise that the occupation will not dare to carry out a bloody attack on Gaza."[vi]
[i] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 29, 2008.
[ii] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), December 28, 2008.
[iii] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 29, 2008.
[iv] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 28, 2008.
[v] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), December 28, 2008.
[vi] Al-Ayyam (PA), December 28, 2008.