March 26, 2019

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Flawed @AP analysis of "Great Return March" doesn’t mention "return"

AP has an analysis of why Gazans want to demonstrate against Israel at the border.

Although the named purpose of the demonstrations is to “return” to Israel and destroy it, the AP’s Josef Federman and Dan Perry really don’t bother to mention that. Even though the name of the demonstration is the “Great Return March.”

Apparently, the fact  that Gazans are brainwashed to want to destroy Israel by “returning” to a land most of them never lived in is not worthy of being mentioned.

[I]t’s just the latest reflection of basic facts on the ground: the situation for the 2 million people of Gaza is extraordinarily harsh and difficult to resolve. It’s not surprising so many would risk death by converging on the border fence, which has now happened three Fridays in a row, with dozens killed and hundreds injured.
By and large the people of Gaza — over two-thirds of them descended from refugees who left communities in what is now Israel — cannot leave their tiny strip of arid land along the Mediterranean coast. Anger toward Israel runs deep, yet dependence is great.

The analysis of the players in the region is not terrible, but Federman and Perry miss the real impetus for Hamas throwing its weight behind the riots. They know the facts but they cannot draw the lines:

While the bulk of the article blames Israel for the “blockade” on Gaza, it only mentions in passing the important facts:

For years, President Mahmoud Abbas, based in the West Bank, tried to retain influence in Gaza by paying salaries to tens of thousands of former civil servants and funding fuel shipments from Israel to generate Gaza’s electricity. The unintended result: Abbas provided a safety net that helped keep Hamas in power.

A frustrated Abbas has taken a tougher line over the past year, scaling back electricity subsidies, reducing salaries of his former employees and now threatening to cut them off altogether.

These tough measures have added to the hardship in Gaza but had little effect on Hamas. A renewed attempt at reconciliation has deadlocked over Hamas’ refusal to disarm, collapsing last month after a bombing on the convoy of Abbas’ prime minister during a stop in Gaza.

Israel calibrated its measures to limit the damage Hamas could inflict while still allowing, as much as possible, Gaza civilians to live their lives. Abbas went way beyond that, sharply reducing medicines, electricity, fuel, salaries of critical infrastructure workers  and the paperwork allowing Gazans to receive medical treatment.

It was Abbas’ cruel moves that almost brought Hamas to its knees, forcing Hamas to agree to a unification deal that would have sharply restricted its power. But they two sides disagreed on the extent and the deal fell through. So Abbas maintains his own blockade, far beyond what Israel and Egypt do, with little international reaction.

Hamas is worried about its people revolting. Polls shows that Gazans now prefer Fatah over Hamas by a large margin. 

So Hamas needs to get the people back on its side, distract them from their misery, act like it is the vanguard of the resistance, and – as usual – use Israel as the focal point of any actions.

The “Great Return March,” based on the myths that Palestinians tell their kids from birth that they have a “right” to destroy Israel, fits Hamas’ goals perfectly. It wasn’t Hamas’ idea but Hamas ran with it, since it was exactly what it needed to maintain its control over Gaza.

Getting people to die was exactly what Hamas wanted, to fuel successive riots and demonstrations.

The world media sees all the facts, but because of their skewed view of the region and their inability to look beyond Arab propaganda talking points, they simply cannot draw the lines and realize what the riots are all about.

The Great Return March is a magician’s trick, a master class in misdirection to redirect potential Gaza anger at Hamas into anger against Israel.

And the fake “right of return” – the wish to destroy Israel – is a critical component.

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