Inside Hamas

What is the reality of daily life in Gaza under Hamas and can a militant religious organisation move from international pariah to meaningful political player? David Rosenberg explores the issues. ‘A man once jumped from the top floor of a burning building in which many members of his family had already perished. He managed to save his life; but as he was falling he hit a person standing down below and broke that person’s legs and arms. The jumping man had no choice; yet to the man with the broken limbs he was the cause of his misfortune… The injured man blames the other for his misery and swears to make him pay for it.

The other, afraid of the crippled man’s revenge, insults him, kicks him and beats him up whenever they meet.’ The Polish Jewish writer, Isaac Deutscher, used this analogy to illustrate the tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the basis on which it would endure. Deutscher doesn’t state the nationality, ethnicity or religion of the man who jumped or of the passer-by. There were enough conflicts throughout the 20th century to show that no community or nation has a monopoly either of doing harm or of being victims. Every group is capable of trampling on the rights of another.

While the creation of Israel in 1948 promised a secure future for Jewish refugees who had survived the Holocaust, it inflicted a permanent injustice on the Palestinian people, most of whom were dispossessed and turned into refugees. The Palestinians call this the Nakba (catastrophe). They fled mainly to neighbouring Arab states and some later reached Europe and America. In further wars (1956 and 1967), Israel gained more territory – Gaza from the Egyptians and the West Bank from Jordan – and annexed East Jerusalem. Today around half the Palestinians in the world live under military occupation in the West Bank, or under Israeli rule in East Jerusalem, or confined in Gaza – a narrow strip of land 40km by 5km along the Mediterranean, home to 1.5 million people, which Israel has evacuated while keeping the population there dependent on it for essential supplies.

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  1. another keyboard warrior who preaches like a prophet, but has the brain of a child…go read a book sometime…specifically about the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict…perhaps you might gain some perspective.

  2. I agree with Harriet; there was too much of a desire by the media here to paint Hamas as a firebrand terror organization, a habit of the West, especially the US and UK, who are now fully vested in Israeli statehood and who could give a toss about the millions of people they dispossessed to give the Zionist political movement (an infinitesimal minority of Jews worldwide) exactly what they wanted.
    All the same, I cannot pretend to support Hamas, even recognizing that terrorism is a reaction to something and not a raison d’etre, as others seem to believe. But, blocking Hamas entrenches their most extreme ideology and behavior. It would interest many people to know that Hamas’ political program and its religious program are distinct, but having Fatah wage a war against them, imposing barbaric and crippling sanctions and blockades upon their government and land, or Israel bombing the living hell out of them every other week allows the extreme ideology to meld with the moderate.
    People support Hamas not because they’re religious whack-jobs or wanting all Jews to die. They support Hamas because they want their land and freedom back, something Fatah and Yassir Arafit failed to get them for forty-five years and counting. The endemic corruption of Fatah, under both ‘Arafat and ‘Abbas, has stymied the campaign for Palestinian statehood, so Hamas stepped in to fill the void, abandoning the left-wing secularism of Fatah for a right-wing nationalist/religious approach. When Sean Hannity or a similarly dimwitted talking head on TV bleats that ‘Hamas is a terrorist organization’, he or she is oversimplifying a complex issue. Terrorist organization or not, Hamas is here to stay, and if the US or Israel or the European Union want half the peace and brotherhood they claim to want in the Middle East, they need to start engaging Hamas…leaving them isolated and behind walls and ramparts is barbaric treatment of the people who are not involved with Hamas and will only serve to keep the party’s ideology extreme. For God’s sake, it is time to talk to Hamas—this goes for you, Bibi, and you, Obama, and David Cameron, Francois Hollande, Juan Manuel Carlos…any leader involved in the peace process cannot discount the voices of Gaza, suffering people beleaguered by occupation, isolation, starvation and brutal violence.

  3. It’s really rare that I take the time to write comments after watching documentaries as they usually make no difference, however, as an English student of International Relations I was disappointed by what appeared to me to be the ‘partiality’ of this documentary. I am currently studying political violence and resistance movements, along with methods to suppress them. In this study i have watched documentaries about the war in Vietnam, the police response to protests at the G8 meeting in Italy (search Black Box’ on youtube). In both these documentaries I have watched WESTERN police arrive at scenes of demonstrations and beat the hell out of protesters, withut restraint or provocation. In my country, Britain, there have been instances of police brutality which killed protesters, where no action has been taken against the officers responsible. I was very surprised therefore to witness the scenes of ‘brutality’ performed by Hamas against Palestinians, which, from what I could see, usually involved issuing one or two hits with the baton followed by long pauses, in what appeared to be an overral reluctance to use violence.

    Frequently they chased protestors and hit THE GROUND. In one scene a protestors was chased by Hamas officers and I was very curious to see the ending, and yet the camera conincidentally cut out immediately before the protestor was caught.

    I saw many arguments between Hamas officers and civilians. This contrasts hugely with other incidences of police brutality in Western societies where police have been too busy beating the protestors to actually stop and argue with them, and, for me, reassuringly suggested the possible presence of civilians’ freedom of speech at least. Furthermore, we later had a Hamas government member stating that the use of violence at all against protestors had caused them to sack the officers responsible. How many times has this NOT HAPPENED in Western countries when police have actually killed protestors?

    In the scene just after resistance fighters fired a rocket into Israel, the Hamas leader was interviewed. The narrator stated that Hamas ‘endorsed’ this violence, and yet the Hamas leader quite clearly stated, everybody has the right to ‘RESIST’, but that there are other methods of resisting not using violence. I did not hear any endorsement of violence in his words.

    Quite honestly I know nothing about the Israel-Palestinian conflict and am beginning my understanding. But I could not help but feel this documentary was expressive of an attempt to demonise Hamas.

    Of course there are abuses of power occurring, injustices being committed and mistakes being made by a government with no political experience, trying to establish power in the face of enormous resource limitations and lack of experience, but, come on people, we in the West have CENTURIES of experience of democratic governance, arguably the best access to resources/training in the world and yet we still regularly see human rights abuses committed by police against our own people and our governments sending armed forces into foreign wars for dubious reasons, against obvious resistance from the people (one million people marched against the war in Iraq). Lets not be hypocrites and seek any sign of brutality from Hamas as an opportunity to label them a terrorist dictatorship, otherwise, our own governments would arguably be guilty of the same.

  4. both sides made their pitch- since the disagreement that has brought us here today. – take a stand something is not right. people are dying all over the world because
    of this tragedy. Governments at their best:(

  5. this is good, showing the truth

  6. Those who say this documentary is purely propaganda – Can you please point us to film that you deem to be unbiased and true on the subject of Hamas, then we can be properly informed. Many thanks!

  7. Fuck you fuckgreece

  8. As long as the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews remain requirements of Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, Iran and the rest of them, there will be no peace.  Palestinians have no interest in getting along or a negotiated peace, they have one goal: the total destruction of Israel, period.

    • WTF are you talking about?
      Israel is the one committing genocide against the Palestinians.
      There is a Good reason Israel has No friends in the Middle east…
      They need their own island in the middle of no where…a place where the rest of the world can be free from their parasitic, blood sucking behavior..
      The U.S. is doomed is we continue letting these fascist murderers lead us around like the dog on their leash..
      Fuck Israel Zionist Pigs!

  9. watching this makes me proud I can say whatever the fuck I want about my government and I probably won’t have my head split open for it. however the longer Harper holds on to power the less likely that will become my right to do so.

  10. watching this makes me proud I can say whatever the fuck I want about my government and I probably won’t have my head split open for it. however the longer Harper holds on to power the less likely that will become my right to do so.

  11. Hamas Rules Ok

  12. Very well documented. 

  13. BBC Propaganda??? BBC is the media standard for objectivity! But these are things you Palestinians do no know. You are poisoned with hatred by you leaders, fighting a losing battle, not caring about the welfare of you families, your children, parents… blinded by hate. If this conflict would have been in a civilized part of the world, it would have been long over.

  14. This is one of the more informative as well as non biased documentaries I’ve seen about Israel/Palestine conflict. It doesn’t endorse nor entirely discredit Hamas….

    I have no idea why it has such low ratings….it’s getting a 10/10 from me for its quality!!

  15. fuck the Jews Free Palestine!

    • with this shit in your head thats what gona hapen in the futur:Palestinia is gona explode more important things in important countries(BIG Ban,Statue of liberty,eiffel tower)Because the only country that is with help against this is Israel,without israel the whole middle east is palestinian,and they are going to explode things in the name of them god…Your head is full of shit,you better stop wathing films where the bad guys win and start to thing possitively

      from brasil to save your brain

  16. Its just bbc Propaganda.

  17. Its just Zionist Propaganda.