Many injustices plague Palestinian society, few of which can be blamed on the
Jewish state, even by the farthest stretches of the imaginations of Israel’s
enemies. These are self-inflicted injustices.
In the Gaza Strip, an
Islamic quasi-state ruled by the totalitarian regime of Hamas has in the past
few weeks arrested or summoned for interrogation at least 16 journalists as part
of a campaign aimed at intimidating the local media, as reported by The
Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh.
These journalists’ only crime is
daring to criticize Hamas’s leadership.
And the situation for journalists
in the West Bank, which is ruled by the “moderate” Palestinian Authority, is not
much better. Just last week, a PA court sentenced 26- year-old Anas Said Awwad
to one year in prison for “insulting” President Mahmoud Abbas on
Awwad was found guilty of depicting Abbas as a member of the
Real Madrid soccer team.
In both Gaza and the West Bank the Palestinian
political leadership has suffered from a fundamental lack of legitimacy for the
past four years. Besides municipal votes, the last democratic election in Gaza
and the West Bank took place in 2006. Palestinians were supposed to hold
elections again in 2009. But after Hamas’s victory in the last election,
Palestinian leadership was split.
With Western support, the Fatah-led PLO
managed to maintain control over the West Bank. In Gaza, Hamas launched a
violent and successful putsch in which Fatah members were shot down in the
streets or thrown off buildings. Warnings by Israel that if Hamas were allowed
to participate, Palestinians’ first truly democratic election (Hamas boycotted
the 1996 vote) would be their last were not heeded by then-US president George
Yet, neither the jailing and intimidation of journalists (and other
human rights abuses), nor the lack of democratic representation in their
political leadership, has mobilized Palestinians in a significant way. At best,
rallies are occasionally organized under the vague banner of “Palestinian
Instead, Palestinians – and Arab citizens of Israel – are
rallying under a different banner: the rights of Palestinian terrorists in
Israeli jails. Palestinians and Israel’s Arabs, threatening a third intifada,
have been demonstrating against the “injustice” of Israel’s rearrest of
terrorists who are among the 1,027 Palestinian prisoners released in October
2011 under the Egypt-brokered deal between Hamas and Israel for the return of
IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.
Samer Tariq Ahmad Essawi, a member of the
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is one of the rearrested
terrorists. Essawi was captured in April 2002 and later sentenced to 30 years
for possessing weapons and for helping to form terrorist cells in the Jerusalem
area. He was one of many terrorists arrested during Defensive Shield, the
military operation carried out under thenprime minister Ariel Sharon that
essentially ended the second intifada and restored security to Israelis who had
been regular victims of suicide bombings and shootings.
rearrested prisoner is Ayman Sharawna, who was arrested for helping carry out a
terrorist attack in Beersheba. On the morning of May 11, 2002, two Palestinian
terrorists placed an improvised bomb near a group of civilians in the Old City
of Beersheba and fled. A technical fault prevented the bomb from exploding
Eighteen civilians were wounded. Sharawna was sentenced to 38
Both men were released in the Schalit deal and both
men subsequently violated the conditions of their release.
returned to terrorist activities with Hamas, according to the IDF, and was
arrested in January 2012.
Essawi, who was freed on condition he remain
inside Jerusalem, left the city to visit the nearby PA town of a- Ram and was
arrested in July 2012. Both men must now finish out their original
Inexplicably, Palestinians – and Israel’s Arab citizens – have
chosen to champion the causes of these hunger-striking terrorists and others
while ignoring the fates of journalists arrested, beaten, censored and arrested
by their own political leadership, which for four years now has been ruling
without democratic legitimacy. Under the circumstances, what prospects for peace
can US President Barack Obama hope for when he visits the region next month?