Fall of Hamas predicted
With anti-government demonstrations at home and a new chill from Cairo and Tehran, the Islamist organization is in a tight spot all around.
By Zvi Bar’el, Ha’aretz
October 29, 2013
The excuse Iran gave to the political leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, was clear and pointed: “We’re busy with the Syrian crisis and with building our international relations, so perhaps it would be better to postpone your visit.”
Ahmed Yousef, a former adviser to the Hamas prime minister of the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, was describing Tehran’s response to a Hamas delegation trying to organize a visit by Meshal to Iran aimed at putting Gaza-Tehran relations in order.
Iran’s fury at Hamas for criticizing the Assad regime in Syria is not new, and the break between Tehran and Gaza City is close to total.
Now there’s an additional complication. The Iran of President Hassan Rohani prefers to enter the Middle East arena through the front door rather than by means of “non-centrist” organizations.
That is precisely Hamas’s problem. It was kicked by Iran and then “sentenced to death” by Egypt, in the words of a senior Hamas official. Jordan won’t let the organization open an active branch there and Qatar sends small change with a promise of more. But with the Rafah crossing to Egypt open fitfully (it’s been closed for the last three days) and Israel impeding the entry into the Strip of building materials, the aid from Qatar has little impact.
The crisis in Hamas’s relations with Arab states has recently been exacerbated by problems at home. The Tamarod Gaza movement, its name copied from the Egyptian youth protest movement that instigated the recent coup there, is organizing mass demonstrations on November 11, the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death.
Tamarod Gaza’s website is already advising Gazans to obtain a week’s food supply and remain at home, in anticipation of attacks by Hamas forces.
Tamarod Gaza spokeswoman Hind al-Arabi told Egypt’s Dream TV that the movement intends to topple the Hamas government, mainly due to its oppressive measures and because it has become “a protective agent helping Israel.”
Walls in Gaza are now filled with graffiti calling for an end to Hamas rule, while Palestinian media outlets in the West Bank report Gazans’ dissatisfaction with the Hamas regime and their loss of personal security. One example was the murder of a young Gazan man by a group of thugs, who then celebrated by dining on his grave – with no interference from the security forces, who even tried to keep the incident secret for fear of public fury.
Hamas is not indifferent to the internal threats. Last week the heads of the security forces met in a Gaza mosque with senior Hamas political figures including Mahmoud al-Zahar and Interior Minister Fathi Hamad to discuss ways to combat Tamarod Gaza.
Hamad, who is in charge of domestic security, called for assassinating the group’s leaders. Zahar stepped in to say Hamad’s demands should not be taken literally while advocating harsh measures against the activists.
For now members of the security forces have taken to the streets, some in plainclothes, in a bid to monitor and deter the activists.
Tamarod representatives say they do not fear a confrontation and expect a million demonstrators.
It is hard to assess the extent of the rebellion against Hamas, but judging by Haniyeh’s aggressive rhetoric and recent shows of force in the form of street parades by Iz A-Din Al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, the government seems to be feeling the heat.
Hamas’s political distress is not unrelated to the economic crisis in the Gaza Strip, which has worsened since July’s military coup in Egypt to an extent that threatens Hamas’s ability to govern.
The Deputy Economy Minister of Hamas, Hatem Oweida, said Sunday that Egypt’s closure of the smuggling tunnels into the Strip costs the Gazan economy $230 million a month. He said half of Gaza’s economy depends on the tunnels and there are no funds to create new jobs or to pay Hamas’s 40,000 employees. Unemployment has rebounded to 2008 levels of around 43%, and exports are just 9% of production.
Adding to the misery, the UN Relief and Works Agency recently announced it will have to scale back aid to around 10,000 Palestinian refugees in the Strip. Gazans increasingly complain about the soaring prices of basic goods, the shortage of building materials and the hardship posed to thousands seeking to leave the territory as a result of the Rafah crossing closures.
Ostensibly, Israel should be happy about the internal and external pressures on the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, especially in light of the fact that much of its work has been done by Egypt, in destroying the tunnels and closing the crossing. The rift between Hamas and Iran also coincides with Israeli interests.
But the satisfaction comes with a constant threat. Hamas, in its distress and in a bid to regain the attention of the Arab states, may be tempted to lobby rockets at Israel for the express purpose of evoking the automatic Israeli response.
That would enable Hamas to disrupt the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and to set new ground rules for the cease-fire while forcing Egypt to change its policies.
Israel should not conduct separate negotiations with Hamas, but current conditions give Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas an opportunity to implement the conciliation agreement with Hamas under more favorable terms and to lay the ground for bringing Hamas into the peace process. It is doubtful whether Israel or Abbas will use the present circumstances as political leverage. They are both convinced that one day Hamas will evaporate.
As date of protest looms, speculation still swirls over whether Tamarod is just a front for Fatah. We’ll find out soon enough…
By Dan Ephron, Vocativ
October 25, 2013
A Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip that fashions itself after the movement that helped oust Egypt’s government this summer is calling for a broad protest next month against Hamas, the Islamic party that has ruled Gaza largely unchallenged for the past six years. The group goes by the name Tamarod, which means rebellion in Arabic. It releases messages to its supporters via Facebook and YouTube.
Vocativ reported on the group’s growing social media presence in September. But Tamarod has received little attention outside Gaza in part because some people suspect it’s not a popular movement at all but instead a front for Hamas’ old rival—the Fatah party.
Nevertheless, Tamarod’s activities are succeeding in making Hamas uneasy. The governing Muslim Brotherhood offshoot is already facing its most extreme political and financial turmoil to date, largely because of recent troubles with neighboring Egypt, which has all but sealed off its border with Gaza. This means Hamas can no longer access the lucrative network of smuggling tunnels it heavily relied on to support Gaza’s economy.
“It’s a very severe crisis for the movement,” says Mkhaimer Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University in Gaza. “If the financial difficulties continue for a number of months, I could see it threatening Hamas’ control over Gaza.”
Tamarod started its campaign in the Palestinian territories earlier this year, launching several Facebook pages that called for rebellions primarily against Israel. It appears to have drawn inspiration from the millions of Egyptians who took the streets in June—many marching under the same name Tamarod—prompting the military to overthrow the Islamic government of Mohammed Morsi.
At some point, Tamarod Palestine seems to have split into separate factions, one in the West Bank and the other in Gaza. According to one report, the Gaza branch held a conference in Cairo in September and asked Egyptian authorities for help in ousting Hamas from the coastal strip. The conference fueled suspicions that the people issuing communiqués for the Gaza faction of Tamarod were actually Fatah activists.
Hamas has responded by arresting political activists and journalists who wrote about the group but were not themselves identified with it.
Still, a senior official in the Hamas government tells Vocativ that Tamarod was not a real movement and certainly not a threat to the group. ”I don’t think this is serious,” says Ghazi Hamad, Gaza’s deputy foreign minister. He says Hamas was making an effort to reconcile with Fatah, the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and hinted that hardliners in Fatah stood behind the initiative.
But the arrests suggest that Hamas takes the group at least somewhat seriously and wants to avoid challenges to its power at a time when its fortunes are already declining.
The Islamic group had been gaining recognition across the region and had a key ally in Morsi, a longtime leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. After the Egyptian military ousted Morsi in July, the officials newly in power accused Hamas of helping arm the Muslim Brotherhood and of fueling a low-level insurgency in Sinai, the desert area that borders Gaza. Hamas denied both charges.
But Egypt still began destroying the network of illegal tunnels that run under the border to Gaza and had been used to smuggle in everything from cars and fuel to cigarettes and drugs. The tunnels allowed Palestinians to bypass Israeli restrictions on imports and helped create an economic growth spurt in the past year.
The UN wrote in a report last week that only about 10 tunnels are still operational, out of the 400 that were running earlier this year. Palestinian officials say Egypt is wrecking homes on its side of the border to create a buffer zone and halt smuggling altogether, crippling Gaza’s economy.
“It’s ruining Gaza,” says Hatem Awidah, a spokesman for the Ministry of Economy in the Strip. “We want to have a good relationship with Egypt, and we don’t know why this happened.”
Awidah says the biggest blow was that Gaza could no longer bring gasoline from Egypt through the tunnels. Egyptian petrol, subsidized by the government in Cairo, had been selling at Gaza gas stations for about 3.4 shekels (95 cents) a liter. Gasoline imported from Israel goes for about seven shekels ($1.96 a liter), which most of the public can’t afford. Inadequate fuel supplies for the Gaza power plant have forced outages for up to 12 hours each day, according to the UN report.
Hamas itself made several million dollars in revenue each month by taxing smugglers at the border. Without the money, Hamas managed to meet only part of its August payroll for 47,000 civil servants. The group announced last week that it would withhold some money in September as well.
One trader at the border tells Vocativ he had been importing some 200 tons of cement a day through the tunnels to power Gaza’s construction boom. Israel has allowed him to bring in only about a one-tenth of that amount through its Kerem Shalom crossing.
The trader, who agreed to be identified only by the initials AM, says he sees Egyptian soldiers across the border searching the area every day for tunnels.
These hard economic times, of course, immediately damage Hamas’ popularity in Gaza, potentially opening the door for Tamarod.
On its Facebook page, Tamarod set the date of the protest for Nov. 11, the ninth anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat, who founded Fatah and led the Palestine Liberation Organization for decades.
Vocativ is a web organization that posts on the basis that “There is an untapped world of raw, vital information hidden in the digital space. Until now, no news organization has had the ability to reach it, let alone understand it. Vocativ’s proprietary technology navigates the deep web, homing in on the part of the Internet that search engines can’t reach, to discover the stories other news organizations cannot.”
By Orouba Othman, Al Akhbar
September 10, 2013
There is no doubt that the Gaza version of Tamarrod is keeping Hamas on its toes. There is also no doubt of its strong links with the Egyptian Tamarrod – and the Egyptian army behind it – and Fatah.
Gaza’s Tamarrod rebels are beating the drums of war with Hamas. However, many secrets are beginning to surface about the Palestinian version of Tamarrod, including its aims and background.
Just like the Egyptian military dealt with the Muslim Brotherhood bloodily, Gaza’s Tamarrod is vowing to repeat the scenario in Gaza. There are several indicators that Tamarrod Gaza does not make its own decisions. Most likely, they are dictated by military leaders in Egypt and the authority in Ramallah, even verbatim. Yet the group denies this and insists on its “independent identity.”
There is a discernible contradiction in the claims of the rebels and their instant recipes for rising against “Hamas fascism.” Speaking to Al-Akhbar, Palestinian Tamarrod leader Abdul-Rahman Abu Jamea says, “If Hamas does not relinquish power when the people demand it, we will seek the help of Egypt. We will be requesting an audience with its military leadership soon.”
Abu Jamea’s statements are an indication of a hope that the Egyptian army, which “liberated millions of Egyptians from Muslim Brotherhood tyranny,” could liberate Gaza from Hamas.
“Egypt ran Gaza in the past,” Abu Jamea declares. “I think it has enough capacity to return Gaza to the bosom of the people, after Hamas had stolen it from them.”
Abu Jamea is expected to leave Ramallah for Egypt next week to prepare for their conference, which will be hosted in Cairo in October. The meeting has the blessings of Egyptian leaders, who are following every step they make in the Gaza Strip.
The conference, called “Together for Palestine’s Unity,” will tackle all sorts of themes of the next phase and how to help Tamarrod succeed in Gaza, so that the Egyptian army can enjoy some calm, by getting rid of Hamas in Gaza.
It seems Tamarrod supporters in Gaza will not rest until they declare a rebellion in the Gaza Strip, as threatened by Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas a short while ago. This is where Tamarrod Gaza intersects with the PNA, which provides them with political arguments that do not conform with those of Hamas.
We will not fail (Abu Jamea proclaims). If people in Gaza will not go out into the streets in fear of pressures by internal security and Hamas’ repressive measures against them, we will hold a popular referendum asking, ‘Do the people want Hamas or not?’ If the answer is no, we will declare Gaza a rebel district under a government, which expired years ago.
If the Strip is declared a rebellious district, Tamarrod will seek the help of the Egyptian army, “which wishes all good for Gaza,” as it claims. It will be their primary saviour from “Hamas tyranny.”
However, Abu Jamea declines to tell Al-Akhbar about the specific type of intervention. He maintains that the Higher Central Committee of his movement will decide on the issue in due time.
He explains that Hamas is passing through a critical phase these days. It is collapsing slowly after losing its Syrian and Iranian support. Tamarrod will reap the fruits of this situation, while Hamas will face the same fate as its allies in Egypt.
But why isn’t there a rebellion in the capital of the Oslo authority? “I do not see the same injustice in the West Bank as I saw in Gaza, to incite people to rebel against Abbas,” he replies.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
Khaled Meshaal, Hamas Leader, meets with Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah President of the PNA. Despite almost universal calls for the Palestinians to create a single political entity it is in the interests of Israel and some Palestinians to prevent that happening.
As the Tamarod Movement prepares to protest against Hamas rule, Israel should take quiet steps to support them. Having Hamas overthrown from within is an Israeli interest!
By Rachel Avraham, Jerusalem online
October 31, 2013
The Tamarod Movement in Gaza is set to initiate mass protests against Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip on November 11, according to the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz. The Haaretz report also stated that Tamarod has instructed local residents of Gaza to gear up on food and other supplies for at least a week, in anticipation of clashes with the Hamas authorities. While the Tamarod Movement is not pro-Israel, it is still nevertheless an Israeli interest that they will be successful in overthrowing the Hamas regime in Gaza.
The Hamas Movement that presently controls Gaza is a terrorist organization that remains opposed to Israel’s right to exist under any borders. Their charter specifically condemns peace negotiations, supports utilizing violence until they achieve victory, and includes many anti-semitic references to the Protocals of the Learned Elders of Zion, alongside other anti-Jewish works. It is impossible for Israel to be able to reason with an organization that promotes terror and hatred to the detriment of the Gazan people.
The Gazan people themselves have suffered immensely under Hamas rule. Aside from Hamas’ gender based discrimination against women, totalitarian rule, and human rights abuses, the Gazan economy has completely collapsed due to the blockade that Israel and Egypt have both imposed on the coastal strip. Furthermore, ever since Egypt has been systematically destroying Hamas tunnels, Gaza’s last outlet to the outside world has been completely shut off.
Egypt has effectively caused the loss of $230 million that was funneled into the Gazan economy each month. As if this weren’t difficult enough for the average Gazan, UNRWA announced around the same period of time that they are cutting back aid to the coastal strip, at a time where prices are soaring for basic commodities, there is no budget to create new jobs, and Hamas lacks the funds to pay her employees. The only factor preventing Gaza from sinking into complete and utter decay is the fact that Israel permits humanitarian supplies to cross over into the coastal strip, despite the blockade.
The Tamarod Movement believes that the Gazan people have suffered enough. They are opposed to Hamas repression, seek better relations with other countries, and yearn for the Gazan economy to significantly improve. While the Tamarod Movement has also been critical of Israel as well, they nevertheless represent an improvement over the present Hamas regime. Unlike Hamas, the Tamarod Movement cares about the well-being of the people in Gaza. A group of individuals that firstly are committed to the well-being of their people can be reasoned with.
Aside from the fact that the Tamarod Movement cares about the humanitarian suffering in Gaza, they have been willing to admit things that other Palestinian movements wouldn’t dare to admit. Hind Al Arabi, a Tamarod Spokesman, told Al Monitor, “Hamas is the one primarily responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians only get the crumbs of the supplies of food, diesel and gasoline that reach Gaza via the legal routes or through the tunnels. The situation reached the point where a father killed his children because of his inability to support them.” In other words, Tamarod admits that Hamas and not Israel is the main one responsible for the suffering of the Gazan people.
Furthermore, the Jewish Press reported last August that the Tamarod Movement announced, “The PLO has negotiated with the Zionist enemy at some length (twenty years) and the negotiations did not reach the desired goal, but it has made some achievements in the political field and there are those who see it and there are those who do not want to see … a piece of land called Gaza and more of the West Bank are under Palestinian control and many countries and the UN recognize the State of Palestine on paper, etc.”
Not many Palestinian political movements can admit upfront that the Palestinians have gained by negotiating with Israel, rather than firing rockets or committing suicide bombings. This, alongside recognition of the fact that Hamas and not the so-called occupation was behind the suffering in Gaza, merits them to be considered an improvement over Hamas.
The Tamarod Movement doesn’t need to be pro-Israeli in order to sign a peace agreement with the Jewish state. Just as Sadat signed the Camp David Accords because he sought the return of the Sinai to Egyptian hands and the well-being of the Egyptian people, Tamarod can be reasoned with on similar grounds. For these reasons, the Israeli government should be quietly supporting the Tamarod Movement and hoping that they successfully overthrow Hamas, just as the Egyptians succeeded to liberate themselves from the yoke of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood’s tyranny.
Arrest of Israeli-hired spy operating as Tamarud member in Gaza
By Al Qassam (military wing, Hamas)
August 26, 2013
Gaza- The Palestinian security apparatuses in the Gaza Strip were able to arrest some individuals who were proved to have been planning to create chaos and destabilize the situation in the Strip under the name of Tamarud movement.
According to an informed official source, one of the detainees confessed to his association with the Israeli and Palestinian Authority intelligence agencies.
The informed source told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that the security apparatuses also found out that Qais Al-Baroudi, who was claimed to be the spokesman for Tamarud movement in Gaza, does not live in Gaza.
The source added that the information obtained by the security apparatuses in Gaza confirms that someone by that name lives in Nablus city of the West Bank.
The so-called Tamarud movement in Gaza had declared earlier that Qais Al-Baroudi was its spokesman in the Gaza Strip.
The official source stated that some unruly elements are seeking to create chaos in Gaza through replicating what has happened in other countries in order to draw attention to their alleged cause and win financial support from some parties that are hostile to the Arab and Muslim nations.
He expressed his confidence that the Palestinian people have the faith and strength to face any suspicious attempt to create a state of anarchy in Gaza, the stronghold of the Palestinian resistance.