March 18, 2008

Israel recruits for Hamas

Many people have commented on how the western approach to Israel and the Middle East in general tends to promote support for islamist groups, not detract from it. Here's a Ha'aretz article that suggests that that take is the correct one:
Israel Defense Forces attacks in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have boosted the popularity of the Islamist group's leader Ismail Haniyeh among Palestinians in that territory and in the West Bank, according to a poll released Monday.

The survey by the West Bank-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research showed that if new presidential elections were held, Haniyeh would receive 47 percent of the vote compared with 46 percent for President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah faction

The figures represented a sharp strengthening of Haniyeh's popularity. He served as prime minister in the Hamas-led government Abbas dismissed after Hamas seized the Gaza Strip from Fatah in June.

But the survey also found that Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, imprisoned in Israel and seen as a possible Abbas successor, would defeat Haniyeh by a clear margin. The poll gave him 57 percent of the vote, compared to Haniyeh's 38 percent.

The center's previous poll, in December, gave Gaza-based Haniyeh just 37 percent of a potential presidential vote compared with 56 percent for Abbas, whose peace efforts with Israel are opposed by Hamas. [I remember Harry's Place was quite thrilled that Israel's policy of starving the Palestinians seemed to be working. Perhaps now they'll learn the limits of repression. Even the Warsaw Ghetto fought back eventually]

The latest poll was conducted shortly after Israel ended an offensive in the Gaza Strip in early March that killed more than 120 Palestinians, almost half of them were identified as civilians.

Israel said the operation was aimed at stopping cross-border rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

According to the survey, Hamas's breaching of the Gaza Strip's Rafah border crossing with Egypt in January also contributed to Haniyeh's popularity among Palestinians.

"These developments managed to present Hamas as successful in breaking the siege and as a victim of Israeli attacks,"
In other words the facts speak for themselves but then Israel always likes to use Hamas as an excuse to carry on killing Palestinians so perhaps, in spite of the fact Israelis will continue to get killed, Israel actually got what it wanted and was simply lying when it said it wanted to stop the rocket attacks. It may well have wanted to encourage them as an excuse for avoiding a meaningful peace process.

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