Hamas Warns: Give Us Money Or We'll Become Terrorists

Chutzpah in Gaza

Not extremists (Reuters)

Buried in an Agence France Presse article about the failure of international donors to pay the $5.4 billion they've pledged to help rebuild Gaza is an absolute gem of a quote:

A Hamas official warned recently that the territory could become a breeding ground for extremism unless promised reconstruction is accelerated.

"Our message to the world, which is scared of terrorism and extremism, is that the delay in rebuilding Gaza and the continuing blockade against it will make it a ripe environment for the spread of extremism and terrorism," Khalil al-Haya told a Gaza City meeting of the movement's representatives in the Palestinian parliament.

I'm struck more by the credulity of the reporting in this article than by the actual statement from Mr. al-Haya. Of course it is in the nature of Hamas to believe itself to be non-extremist, and of course it is in its nature to threaten violence if it doesn't get paid. (To understand Hamas and its extremist views, read its charter, and to survey a catalogue of its violence against civilians over the years, simply Google "Hamas bus bombings.")

Just because Hamas, which murders children because they're Jewish (I've seen this with my own eyes), argues that it is a bulwark against terrorist extremism doesn't mean that the AFP must take such an argument at face value.

On the larger matter—the unwillingness of donors to release the funds they've promised to Gaza—there are two possible explanations. The first is that donors, particularly Arab states, have seldom made good on their pledges to help the Palestinians. This is a recurring theme in recent Middle East history. The second explanation: Donors understand that Hamas will use their money to rebuild its tunnel network, and to revitalize its rocket industry, and then to use those rockets against Israeli civilian targets. Israel, in turn, will fire back at Gaza, destroying new and repaired buildings. In other words, international donors understand that money they deploy in a territory controlled by Hamas will not be used wisely.

It bears repeating: When Israel withdrew its settlers and soldiers from Gaza in 2005, per a longstanding Palestinian demand, Gazans had the opportunity—an imperfect opportunity, but there are no perfect opportunities—to build their territory into the nucleus of a functioning, vibrant Palestinian state, with plenty of donated funds and international goodwill. But Gaza went in another direction.