OpinionIsrael at War

Palestinian leaders have brought a ‘nakba’ to their people

As soon as the war ends, the Palestinians' first priority should be to replace the horrific leaders who have been dragging them from one nakba to another.

A tent camp in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, set up for Palestinians who evacuated from their homes, Jan. 30, 2024. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.
A tent camp in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, set up for Palestinians who evacuated from their homes, Jan. 30, 2024. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.
Khaled Abu Toameh
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award winning Arab and Palestinian Affairs journalist formerly with The Jerusalem Post. He is Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Nearly four months after Hamas declared war on Israel, Palestinians and other Arabs are finally speaking out against the Iran-backed terror group, holding it responsible for bringing a new nakba (catastrophe) upon the two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Despite the criticism, many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip continue to support Hamas and would likely vote for it if there were an election.

Hamas sought to bring a nakba to Israel when its terrorists in the Gaza Strip crossed the border into Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, murdering, beheading, raping, mutilating and burning alive some 1,200 Israeli men, women and children.

Instead, Hamas, whose leaders are either hiding in tunnels throughout the Gaza Strip or in villas and five-star hotels in Qatar and the Middle East, ended up bringing a true nakba upon the Palestinians.

“Gazans want peace, our kids want to go back to schools,” said a Palestinian man from the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Speaking during a demonstration by Palestinians against the war and the lack of food and medicine, the man asked:

“Why did Hamas get us into this gamble? Why is Hamas shooting at us? We want to live. The people are hungry; they have sick children and are unable to sleep in their homes. Some people are sleeping in public places, others in sewage systems. Our lives have become miserable! Why is Hamas shooting at the hungry people? They [Hamas] started a war we didn’t want. We want peace. Why is Hamas doing this to us? [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar is killing us, not the Israeli army. He is the one who is killing us. Our children are the victims. Our children are asking for a sack of flour, a bottle of drinking water.”

According to reports from the Gaza Strip, Hamas militiamen have been trying for the last few days to prevent Palestinians from taking to the streets to protest against the terror group.

Videos circulating on social media show Hamas policemen and members of the group’s armed wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, responding with gunfire to the protests, held under the banner of “We want to live!

“We don’t want [Israeli] hostages,” said another Palestinian man during one of the anti-Hamas protests in the northern Gaza Strip. He was referring to the more than 240 Israeli men, women and children kidnapped by Hamas terrorists during the Oct. 7 massacre, of whom more than 130 are still being held hostage today. The man added:

“We don’t agree with what Hamas is doing. We want to live in peace. If they [Hamas] accept this, they are welcome. If not, they and Iran should leave us alone. Hamas should go away. We want to live. That is all we want.”

On Feb. 20, Algerian political analyst Anwar Malek published an open letter to Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal “who are living in their palaces in Doha, Qatar.” Malek wrote:

“The strategic goal of Tehran is to displace the people of Gaza, as they [Iranians] did to the people of Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

“Iran is using Hamas as a tool. [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei’s Hamas led the people to a Holocaust and has caused them to starve.

“[Palestinian] children are dying of hunger, while the Hamas leaders are enjoying themselves in their palaces and their stomachs are full. If the leaders of Hamas had a remnant of manhood, they would bear their historical responsibility and make decisions that would save their people.

“Unfortunately, however, they [Hamas leaders] are continuing to deceive the people with the illusion of clear victory [over Israel]. Future generations will curse [Hamas leaders] Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh, Khaled Mashaal, Osama Hamdan and Khalil al-Hayya. They will curse [Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan] Nasrallah, the [Iran-backed] Houthis [in Yemen], Khamenei, [Syrian President] Bashar Assad and everyone who played a role in the Oct. 7 flood that drowned the Palestinians and their Gaza Strip in blood and tears.”

Saudi social media influencer Abdullah Ghanem al-Qahtani emphasized that removing Hamas from the Palestinian scene has become a necessity to give the Palestinians new hope for a better life. He called for considering the idea of placing Hamas’s “wealthy” leaders under house arrest for the purpose of creating an opportunity for the Palestinians to rearrange their internal house.

“There is no doubt that getting rid of the leadership of Hamas will prevent the presence of [Iran’s] Revolutionary Guard Corps in Palestine. The absence of Hamas will end the state of its coup against its people. Ending Hamas’s rule is very good for everyone, even for Hamas itself. It will prevent Hamas from tampering with the Gaza Strip and will put an end to the torture and killing of the people of Palestine.

“Overthrowing Hamas and ending its coup in Palestine is important for every Palestinian and Arab. Its exit from the scene will be equivalent to the Egyptian army saving its people from the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood [in 2013, when Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi was ousted by the military]. Hamas was a malicious partner with, and branch of, the Muslim Brotherhood.

“They [the Islamists] tried to destroy Egypt and hand over its land to terrorist organizations. The absence of Hamas may prevent the recurrence of threats to the security of the Red Sea, which has become crowded with armed global fleets, which worries everyone and threatens the security of the Arab countries in order to protect Israel and serve Iran’s projects. The loser is Palestine and all the Arabs. Hamas is like the terrorist organization Hezbollah, an evil that affects everyone. Why does Hamas insist on exterminating the people of the Gaza Strip?”

Ahmed al-Fifi, another Saudi social media influencer, scoffed at Hamas’s recurring claims that its terrorists have achieved “victory” in the war with Israel.

“We congratulate the leaders of Hamas and the [Iran-led] axis of resistance for the decisive victory they achieved over the Palestinian people in Gaza,” he wrote.

“They [Hamas leaders] have caused the extermination of the people, destroyed their homes and displaced them. We call on the wise men of Muslims and Arabs to let their historical books record this venerable victory. We conclude by saying: ‘May God disgrace them.'”

What is astonishing is that while a growing number of Palestinians and Arabs have begun to criticize Hamas and hold it responsible for bringing disaster upon the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, the leaders of the Palestinian Authority are refusing to utter a word against Iran and its Palestinian terror proxies. P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas has refrained from condemning Hamas for its atrocities it committed against Israelis on Oct. 7.

Instead of distancing themselves from Hamas, P.A. leaders continue to talk about achieving “unity” with the terror group. “We are ready to engage [Hamas],” said P.A. Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. “If Hamas is not, then that is a different story. We need Palestinian unity.”

Asked about the wisdom of making common cause with a group that carried out atrocities against Israelis, Shtayyeh indicated that the world needs to forget the massacre that took place on Oct. 7. “One should not continue focusing on Oct. 7,” he said.

Earlier, the same Shtayyeh and other senior Palestinian officials defended Hamas by arguing that the terror group is an integral part of Palestinian society and politics. “Hamas is part of the Palestinian political map, and if Israel claims that it will eliminate [Hamas], this will not happen, and it is unacceptable to us,” Shtayyeh said in a speech at the 21st edition of the Doha Forum in Qatar, in December 2023.

If anything, the statements of the leaders of the P.A. show that they do not care about the thousands of Palestinians who have been killed and wounded as a result of Hamas’s foolish decision to wage war on Israel.

If P.A. leaders continue to see Hamas as a legitimate and acceptable partner for a unity government, this does not bode well for the future of the Palestinians, especially those living in the Gaza Strip. It means that the Palestinians will continue to be ruled by terror groups whose main goal is to eliminate Israel, regardless of the price the Palestinians pay. The P.A. is saying that it wants Hamas to be part of any future government and lead the Palestinians toward further violence, bloodshed and catastrophe.

As soon as the war ends, the Palestinians’ first priority should be to replace the horrific leaders who have been dragging them from one nakba to another.

It started in Jordan, where the PLO tried to create a state-within-a-state in the late 1960s, leading to a nakba there, then moved to Lebanon, which the Palestinian armed groups used as a launching pad to attack Israel before they were expelled from the country in 1982 for creating yet another nakba there.

For the past three decades, Palestinian leaders have failed their people on an epic level. Instead of improving their lives, they have been radicalizing them against Israel and encouraging them to launch uprisings in the West Bank and mini-wars in the Gaza Strip that have resulted in thousands of Palestinian casualties. Unless the Palestinians rid themselves of these despots, they will continue to pay with their lives and the lives of their children.

Originally published by The Gatestone Institute.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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