Palestinians prepare an incendiary device attached to a kite before trying to fly it over the border fence with Israel, on the eastern outskirts of Jabalia, on May 4, 2018. .
(photo credit: MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
Now that the lie has been exposed about the “peaceful” protests in Gaza, these latter day Ghandis are reverting to plain old, out-in-the-open crime and terrorism.
Burning kites are the new silent sit-in; torched farm crops and nature reserves along with billows of toxic black smoke, the closed-fist consequence. This is not peaceful, civil disobedience – this is terrorism.
Hamas has clearly become too accustomed to being the darling of an international press corps that is, for the most part, besotted with their particular brand of theocratic terrorism. So taken has the press been, in fact, that they overlook the rather barbaric social and other practices and policies of Hamas.
Among the fundamental and ongoing issues – big issues that the global media ignores – is the known fact that Hamas diverts huge amounts of international aid that flows into Gaza and is intended for civilian use into its impressive terrorist infrastructure. Hamas doesn’t deny it. UNRWA doesn’t deny it. And most international donors are completely aware of the lies but choose to look the other way – for expedience and, likely, from an understandable degree of exasperation with this situation that just won’t go away.
Legitimate international aid to Hamas and the Gaza Strip comes in the form of goods, primarily, and cash. Things like cement, steel, air conditioning units and all manner of building materials are supplied on the understanding that they will be allocated to improve the desperate living circumstances of many Gazans. These so called “dual use” materials – things which have a legitimate civilian use but are often diverted to support the expansive terrorist infrastructure in the Strip – are an ongoing challenge.
DURING OPERATION Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, most Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) rockets that hit or were intercepted on their way to Israel, were shot from the back of pickup trucks – gas guzzlers which relied on imports for their fuel supply. And so, there was some discussion at the time, never really serious, about limiting fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip.
During wartime, it seems a rational question: Why provide weapons and key supplies to the adversary? Pretty rudimentary stuff.
Now, there are the kites. Reportedly a gift from Japan for the children of Gaza, Hamas has cleverly adapted the toys for terror. Launched with Molotov cocktails and other flammables attached, many of these crude airborne weapons land in Israeli border communities and amidst farmers’ fields, resulting in hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of damage to burned nature reserves and crops, and toxic smoke from the fires.
Kites. Toys. The next wave of “dual use” material. The foreign press, it seems, has lost much of its early interest in the whole mess and moved on. No Israelis have actually died from kite attacks, so it becomes irrelevant in their analysis.
And much of the West and the world has retreated into ostrich mode, burying its collective head in the sand and hoping it all just goes away.
As we all know, “it” will not disappear. The pressure cooker that is Gaza will explode and the people who will suffer most are those people living in the Strip.
This seemingly intractable crisis screams for some swift and decisive action. Media and UN bashing of Israel is not a solution.
Following the recent round of Hamas and PIJ rocket attacks on Israel, even the EU and some individual member states condemned Hamas. Perhaps they have yet to receive the memo on the burning kites. Surely, it is time to call Hamas and its benefactors – like Iran and Qatar – on the carpet and for the international community to rap their knuckles. Hard.
Hamas has no interest in peace, but the people of Gaza do need a decent standard of living. Clearly, their so-called “government” could care less about their well-being, making it incumbent upon others to intervene. Egypt should likely lead such an effort: it is in its interest to ensure a degree of calm in Gaza and they have the requisite standing in the Arab world to corral interests and finances, and help Hamas understand that the terror cannot continue.
Hamas will never abandon its commitment to the destruction of Israel, but it is clear that this marathon of violent protests and mass arson does not accrue to the benefit of either side. If Hamas is incapable of seeing and understanding the obvious, which may well be the case, then it is time for other well-meaning countries to intervene and give them remedial lessons in the responsibility of government.
Angela Merkel. Emmanuel Macron. Justin Trudeau. This is your moment.
Tell Hamas what you think of burning kites and environmental terrorism. Tell Hamas how you view their theft of international aid meant for civilian use and relief, and deploying it to enhance their robust terrorist infrastructure in the Strip. Oh. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to plant a flag for gender equality and LGBTQA rights.
The people of Israel and Gaza need solutions. A precondition to any pragmatic truce is the recognition by this troika of self-anointed liberal leaders of the West to be as bold in their criticisms of Hamas as they are of Israel, and hold Hamas and its benefactors to account. Engage Egypt and Israel in a constructive manner. There are no easy fixes in this region, but any assuaging of the heightened tensions must flow from a realistic, not wishful, assessment of the facts on the ground.
When kites become weapons of war and the world is silent then something is very, very wrong.
Vivian Bercovici is the former Canadian Ambassador to Israel. She resides in Tel Aviv.