After Yassin, Hamas will live
BY QUSTANDI SHOMALI
March 24, 2004
Surely no one likes failure, especially Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,
who is currently facing a dilemma.
He is embroiled in numerous corruption investigations concerning himself
and his sons, experiencing a drop in popularity, and has less support
from within his own government. Having failed to provide security for
Israelis and victory over Hamas, Sharon declared a withdrawal from Gaza.
Hopes soared high, but it soon became clear that one necessary condition
to the withdrawal would be a rebuilding of consensus in the Israeli government
and society. The shaping of this consensus was to be built on the repression
forced daily in Gaza.
The new consensus was also based on the assumption that there is no Palestinian
partner - that the Palestinians are enemies who threaten the state of
Israel. Sharon made it clear that any withdrawal would be done on Israel's
What better way to divert attention from Sharon's problems and gain some
consensus than by killing a Palestinian spiritual leader, Sheik Ahmed
Monday's assassination exhibits a dangerous trend in the operating philosophy
of the Israeli government - a philosophy that supports dehumanization
of Palestinians and the labeling of any act of Palestinian resistance
But the killing really had little to do with the prevention of terror.
The real intent was to portray the withdrawal from Gaza as a victory for
Sharon and as a major blow to Palestinian resistance groups. In the process,
it has intensified the Palestinians' sense of defeat. It has also given
Israel the right to impose victor conditions, such as the continuation
of the policy of denial of the national rights of Palestinians.
In the Israeli government today, most consider war to be the only way
to exist in the Middle East. The crusade against Palestinian leadership
has become the strategic framework of the Israeli political and military
establishments. The killing of Yassin is a move that suits this mentality.
Sharon's decision to launch three missiles at Yassin Monday after the
Hamas leader finished his dawn prayer in a densely populated neighborhood
was an important military operation designed to eliminate any sign of
Palestinian resistance. But if ever an act was designed to deepen the
hostility of the Arab and Muslim world against Israel, its people and
its friends, the assassination was it. Sharon showed that he is betting
the future of Israel on the clash between civilizations.
Contrary to what many think, the killing of Yassin is not the end of Hamas.
His absence will not create a vacuum in Hamas leadership. Neither will
it weaken it. This is because Hamas is not only a political organization
with a military wing; it is an ideology, with social, religious and economic
Much of the Hamas ideology is about fighting to end the occupation in
the Palestinian territories. The assassination of Yassin and at least
seven unarmed civilians, the absence of progress in the peace process,
the destruction of houses and uprooting of thousands of trees, the construction
of the apartheid wall - these all are actions that definitely will give
reason to Hamas to retaliate.
The assassination has not only assured the unity of all Palestinian factions,
but created a new hostile environment that warns of a new cycle of destructive
violence. It's back to square one: Palestinians and Israelis will find
themselves in front of new lists of victims.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict, a political-historical conflict, cannot
be solved by use of force and arms; we are not talking about classical
armies confronting each other, but rather human masses charged with awareness,
myths, rights and the details of life and a place in this small geographical
area. This reality makes any security approach to the political solution
a mere illusion.
is an associate professor of Palestinian and comparative literature and
translation at Bethlehem University.
2004, Newsday, Inc.