Khaled Meshal – exiled leader of Hamas – made a triumphant return to his native Gaza strip for the first time in 45 years and gave an uncompromising speech where the Islamist group will continue to fight Israel. Meshal became famous in 1997 when Israel tried assassinating him with poison in Jordan, only to be forced to hand over an antidote when the Hashemite Kingdom protested.
Meshal’s visit marked the 25th anniversary of the group’s founding, which occurred with the start of the first intifada. In the aftermath of the eight-day Israeli assault that left over 160 Palestinians and six Israelis dead, many analysts agreed that Hamas emerged stronger than ever as the face of resistance in the eyes of Palestinians – especially when the alternative Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority relies on American/EU financial assistance and is seen as a corrupt partner of the West/Israel that prefers a negotiated settlement that will never happen.
That’s what the media reported.
Here’s what the media failed, with few exceptions, to report: that 25 years ago Israel worked with then newly established Hamas to undermine the secular nationalist Fatah-dominated Palestine Liberation Organization during the uprising. It’s a policy that goes back to the origins of the Islamic Association – Hamas’ predecessor founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 1979.
As the UPI reported back in 2002:
“Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.
Israel ‘aided Hamas directly — the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization),’ said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.
Israel’s support for Hamas ‘was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,‘ said a former senior CIA official.”
Despite these reports, the American mainstream media haven’t bothered to report this past relationship; no doubt as part of its pro-Israel bias that even goes beyond Israeli media. Compare the coverage of the 2004 Israeli assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin between the Associated Press and the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.
According to the AP:
“1948: Yassin family uprooted in creation of the state of Israel. Yassin grows
up in Gaza refugee camps. At age 12 is paralyzed in sporting accident. He later
raises 11 children in three-room apartment in Gaza City slum.
1987: Yassin founds Hamas from ranks of Muslim Brotherhood religious
organization. Hamas soon emerges as strongest political rival to mainstream
Fatah movement of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Hamas opposes peace talks
with Israel. Carries out scores of suicide bombings, killing hundreds of
Israelis, to thwart peace agreements negotiated by Arafat and his supporters.”
Note the gap. Now here’s Ha’aretz’s timeline:
“1948 – the Yassin family becomes refugees. Yassin grows up in Gaza refugee camps. At age 12 he is paralyzed in sporting accident. He later raises 11 children in three-room apartment in Gaza City slum.
1965 – the Egyptian intelligence service arrests Yassin for Muslim Brotherhood activities. He is held for a month.
1979 – Islamic Association, headed by Yassin, is recognized by the IDF as a counterweight to Fatah. Yassin gets medical treatment in Israel.
1984 – Yassin is sentenced to 13 years in prison for weapons possession, establishment of an armed organization and calling for Israel’s destruction.”
See the difference?
It should be noted that there was nothing unusual about Israel’s divide-and-conquer strategy of that time; it mirrored similar strategies employed by the United States in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation and Turkey’s support for Kurdish Hezbollah (no relation to the Lebanese group) against the communist Kurdistan Workers Party.
Israel no doubt isn’t too happy with a strongly rooted Hamas any more than it was when Fatah was successful in winning UN recognition as a non-member observer. But, it only has itself to blame for helping give birth to an Islamist group whose charter contains quotes from the fraudulent Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion so that it could subdue Palestinians while building settlements on their land as part of its settler-colonialist agenda.
Like the famous proverb states, “be careful what you wish for …”