As it wails piteously, Hamas also crows victoriously. This evident incongruity may bewilder us but Gaza honcho Ismail Haniyeh connects the dots thus: “The military victory by the resistance and the legendary strength of our people will lead us to a lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.”
Gaza, he avers, “has turned itself into a graveyard for Israel” and had sown death and destruction in Tel Aviv. On the flipside, it is precisely Gaza’s own devastation that “will make it impossible for the world to ignore the Strip.”
“Gaza’s sacrifices” mandate acquiescence to its demands, foremost the elimination of what Haniyeh calls “the siege.”
To hear him, the blockade was born of arbitrary malice toward hapless civilians and not as Israel’s unavoidable response to ceaseless rocketing, tunnel construction and gunrunning at the expense of the very civilians whom Haniyeh purports to champion.
To be sure, for years Hamas managed quite well with the blockade. Iran and Syria supplied money and rockets via a variety of smuggling conduits, but the Syrian civil war and the Iranian involvement in it reduced the generosity of the Tehran-Damascus axis.
As long as the Muslim Brotherhood ruled Cairo’s roost, Hamas virtually reduced the blockade to irrelevance, but that came to an end a year ago. Now Hamas demands the opening of the Rafah crossing to Sinai, a seaport, an airport and extended fishing rights – all of which would fling open the floodgates to military reinforcements.
Additionally, Hamas aims to raise $6 billion in foreign contributions, to which end the piteous wailing is indispensable.
The danger is that foreign philanthropy will be mobilized on a grand scale for ostensibly charitable ends only.
What is seen as a purely do-good venture can easily be turned into the same travesty that for years allowed largesse from abroad to be invested in attack tunnels, while the population’s subsistence and other imperative needs were ignored. The cement that was to go to housing construction, hospitals and schools, ended up buttressing tunnels under Israel’s border.
It is more than probable that whatever is donated to Gaza now will be used to reconstruct the Hamas upper echelons’ mansions and the lower ranks’ comfortable quarters.
Unconnected individuals are unlikely to see a penny.
During the fighting, they were used as human shields for Hamas leaders and rocket launchers. They are again manipulated after the din of battle has died down, when their plight is used to tug at heartstrings the world over and raise funds – much as beggars expose physical deformities to arouse compassion.
Israel is hard put to contend with such cynicism.
It will almost certainly be placated with assurances of due diligence by international overseers. Unfortunately, however, promises by overseas governments and NGOs to strictly supervise the financial outlays and shipments into Gaza must be taken with a giant grain of salt.
Where the entire corrupt infrastructure is reliant upon coercion and cheating, outsiders cannot efficiently scrutinize events. Hence, the fact that UN facilities in Gaza doubled as rocket depots and that maritime smuggling of rockets and military materiel to Gaza was rife.
The monstrous burgeoning of Hezbollah missile hoards in south Lebanon despite the clear provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 testifies all the more to the utter lack of trustworthiness of international undertakings and supervision.
It is easy to promise vigilance, inspection and even demilitarization.
It is a whole other matter to keep these promises.
Foreign peacekeepers and observers, as we have experienced on the Lebanese front, will not risk life and limb to confront terrorists.
Quite the contrary. They are likely to stand back and vent their ire at Israel that shows up their ineffectiveness.
The replication of such scenarios is more than likely in the Gaza Strip.
The only way in which Hamas can conceivably wrest an achievement from its rout on the battlefield is by hoodwinking the global aggregate of gullible governments and the far-from-impartial hodgepodge of self-professed humanitarians eager to further current agendas while preparing the ground for future calamities.