Hamas' decision to lock up a Gaza peace activist during a pandemic is proof that it wants endless war with Israel

Abid Katib/Getty ImagesMasked Palestinian members of the Islamist Hamas movement march during a demonstration in Gaza Strip.
  • A Gazan peace activist set up a Zoom chat between Israelis and Palestinians. Hamas arrested him for it, and now his family doesn’t know where he is.
  • Hamas has for years imprisoned, tortured, and murdered so-called “collaborators” with Israel, as well as critics of their abuse and corruption.
  • To be very clear, Israel has a moral imperative as a democracy to work toward ending its more than a half-century-long occupation of the Palestinian people.
  • But any honest analysis of the tragedy that is the status quo between Israel and the Palestinians needs to always take into account what Hamas is: a fascist theocracy that exists to be at war.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Even in the midst of a pandemic, Hamas will do anything to ensure the Palestinian people never make peace with Israel.

The Sunni Islamist militant group that controls the Gaza Strip and is designated as a terrorist organisation by the US, has for years imprisoned, tortured, and murdered so-called “collaborators” with Israel, as well as critics of their abuse and corruption, according to Amnesty International.

None of this has changed during the coronavirus pandemic, as Hamas continues to use brute force to snuff out any dissent or rapprochement with Israelis by its own citizens.

Hamas considers Zoom chats between Gazans and Israelis “treason”

The Gaza Youth Committee is a pro-peace activist group and member of the Alliance for Middle East Peace. The Committee has undertaken activities to try and unite Israelis and Palestinians, including previously-staged bicycle “Rides for Peace” with people on either side of the Gaza border.

They have also initiated video chats between Palestinians and Israelis called “Skype with Your Enemy.” Last week over 200 people on both sides of the Israel-Gaza divide participated in an English-language Zoom chat initiated by the Gaza Youth Committee.

But a Palestinian journalist took to Facebook to object to the outreach effort and tagged several Hamas officials in a post. In short order, the Youth Committee’s leader, Rami Aman, as well as several other Palestinian participants, were arrested by Hamas.

In a statement, Hamas said Aman had been charged with the crime of “normalization” with Israel, which it also reportedly likened to “espionage” and “treason.”

Human Rights Watch reported Tuesday that Aman’s family has not heard from him since his arrest.

It’s important to remember in the context of the failure of Middle East peace efforts, that this is who Hamas is.

Israel’s expansion of settlements and annexation of land is an impediment to peace, but Hamas won’t make peace under any circumstances

Since 2007, the people of the Gaza Strip have lived under an Egypt/Israel-imposed blockade, after Hamas took control of the region in a bloody civil war with Fatah, the political party that dominates the Palestinian Authority and presides over the West Bank.

Hamas is primarily funded by the government of Iran, does not recognise Israel, and only in 2017 removed from its charter a call for the destruction of Israel (the charter still pledges “armed struggle” against Israel).

When the horrific semi-regular wars between Israel and Hamas break out, the brutality visited upon civilians is a moral failing of both parties.

Hamas’ tactics include indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel, and the use of civilian population centres as launching areas.

To be very clear, Israel has a moral imperative as a democracy to work toward ending its more than a half-century long occupation of the Palestinian people. And over the past decade, it has failed to take legitimate efforts to do so.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has in recent years demonstrated an inclination to do the exact opposite of working for peace. His government continues to build settlements, partners with Israel’s equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan, and takes steps toward permanent annexation of land that had been long considered a starting point in negotiations for an Israeli disengagement with the Palestinians.

This is not to make any direct equivalence, or to weigh the sins of one side against the other. But peace can’t be imposed, it requires painful sacrifice between both parties, and the support of its citizenry.

Last year, Hamas staged a brutal crackdown on civilian protesters and journalists, detaining over 1,000 people in the process. These stories don’t get a tremendous amount of play in the US, and part of the reason for that is how tightly Hamas controls the messaging out of Gaza.

And now, in the middle of a pandemic, Hamas is trying to stamp out any embers that might spark an interest among Gazan citizens to make peace with Israel.

That’s why any honest analysis of the human rights tragedy that is the status quo between Israel and the Palestinians needs to always take into account what Hamas is: a fascist theocracy that exists to be at war.

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