Schools in Gaza are providing military training to teenage boys in a programme that a human rights organisation says is encouraging a culture of armed resistance and a new generation of fighters.
The school curriculum includes weekly classes in which boys are familiarised with the use of Kalashnikov assault rifles and other weapons. Instructors from the interior ministry’s national security arm also teach first aid, firefighting and the values of “discipline and responsibility”.
The course is supplemented with voluntary camps during school breaks, in which boys are instructed in handling guns and explosives. The Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, the Islamist faction that governs Gaza, assist in the training, according to Gaza’s ministry of education website.
It denies that real weapons are used in training. However, a video shot at the Gamal Abdel Nasser school near Gaza City appears to show students carrying Kalashnikovs and a boy firing an artillery shell at a mocked-up watchtower bearing an Israeli flag. Schoolboy Izzadine Mohammed confirmed to the Guardian that he had been trained in handling real weapons at a camp this year.
As reported recently in theHuffington Post, UNRWA (the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) cancelled a marathon run in Gaza, because the Hamas Government refused to permit Palestinian women to participate in this UN-sanctioned marathon.
Refreshingly, the feminist writers from The Nation and Ms. Magazine did not openly come out and lay the blame for this public relations debacle at the feet of Israel.
But I will buy a free dinner at the vegan, slow food, locavore restaurant of your choice, in the city of your choice, if you can find one article in either publication by a feminist writer that explicitly and substantially criticizes Hamas and the Palestinians for their terrible and discriminatory mistreatment of women in Gaza. And especially this most recent incident of discrimination against Palestinian women.
A law banning “normalizing ties with the Zionist occupation” as well as co-education schooling in the Gaza Strip has entered into force, the education minister for Hamas, said on Monday.
The law, which was issued on February 10, was approved by the Islamist movement’s legislative council and went into effect on Sunday, Osama Mazini told a news conference.
Article 46 of the law, obtained by the AFP news agency, will “ban the mixing of students from the two sexes in educational establishments after the age of nine, and work to ‘feminize’ girls’ schools.”
Hamas has in the past moved to enforce conservative religious laws, including telling schoolgirls in Gaza to wear traditional full-length robes and headscarves.
The newly approved education law also forbids the “receipt of gifts or aid aimed at normalizing (relations) with the Zionist occupation (Israel).”
The Hamas terrorist organization has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, after it won a victory in a Palestinian general election a year before against rival Fatah.
Earlier this week, UNRWA said that it “regrets to announce that it has cancelled the third Gaza marathon which was to be held on 10 April. This follows the decision by the authorities in Gaza not to allow women to participate.” (Source)
The announcement made news around the world. But Hamas’ prohibition is not surprising at all, if you consider the many other prohibitions Hamas authorities have imposed on the women of Gaza since they came to power.
If you read Hamas’ platform, you would be led to believe that women under Hamas authority in Gaza enjoy all of their rights and are treated with respect:
“Women’s rights will be guaranteed so that they can contribute to the building of society: socially, economically and politically. Women’s organizations should be encouraged.” (Source)
Unfortunately, the opposite is true. After Hamas made this promise, they began to impose numerous restrictions on the women of Gaza. For example, women are banned from dancing or smoking in public, riding behind a man on a motor scooter and even from getting salon treatment from male hairdressers.
The emancipation of women in Gaza is an empty slogan. Even the rising violence against women in Gaza is not a major concern for the Hamas authorities.
These disturbing restrictions on women’s freedoms are being enforced by Hamas members, although not all of them are imposed by law. For example, there is no legal provision that states that all students need to wear headscarves for school, but girls who don’t wear them are harassed. On the beach, which is Gaza’s main entertainment area, there is a strict separation between men and women. (Source)
Two articles in the Hamas official covenant explain the role of the woman in the fight to free Palestine:
“The Muslim woman has a role no less important than that of the Muslim man in the battle of liberation. She is the maker of men.” (Article Seventeen)
The convention proceeds to break down the role of the ideal woman, as Hamas see it:
“a woman in the home of the fighting family, whether she is a mother or a sister, plays the most important role in looking after the family… she has to teach them to perform the religious duties in preparation for the fighting role awaiting them.“ (Article Eighteen)
From reading these quotes, you can see that the ideal women according to Hamas is a woman who never leave her house. Her only job is to take care of her children and inculcate them with Hamas values.
And if you are still wondering what exactly those Hamas values are, take a look at this video, where Umm Osama, wife of senior Hamas figure Khalil Al-Hayya, tells viewers that “a woman’s role is to instill love of Jihad and martyrdom in her children”.
The government in the Gaza Strip has decided that there are too many cars being imported into the Palestinian territory, and on Wednesday announced it had reduced the number of vehicles due to oversupply.
In February, “we imported 63 cars from Egypt and 242 from Israel, and that’s a small number,” Basel Deeb, head of imports at the Gazan transportation ministry, told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an. In previous months the number of vehicles transferred into the Strip was larger, he said.
People in Gaza were not ordering cars in an indication that there was no lack of private vehicles, Deeb said.
However, he added, there was a shortage of commercial cars, such as taxis, due to an Israeli embargo on certain types of vehicles.
Latest photos of Concentration Camp Gaza
More on this wonderful university, and its history with terrorism, here and here.
One last reflection. Hamas’s strategy has long been to attack from behind civilians to provoke Israeli retaliation and then use the collateral damage of those victims as a way to blame Israel. This is in fact a key element of their asymmetrical war with Israel. As one Gazan explained to an Italian reporter towards the end of Operation Cast Lead (OCL):
The Hamas militants looked for good places to provoke the Israelis. They were usually youths, 16 or 17 years old, armed with submachine guns. They couldn’t do anything against a tank or jet. They knew they were much weaker. But they wanted the [Israelis] to shoot at the [the civilians’] houses so they could accuse them of more war crimes.
In other words, Hamas engages in the exceptionally rare wartime act of actively victimizing one’s own civilian population – specifically a war crime – in order to win a victory in cognitive war. And they can only do so, if a corrupt media on the scene (including NGOs and UN agencies), rather than expose their criminal strategies, play along and present the images of dead babies in the framework of the Palestinian narrative of Israeli victimisation.
The fact that Hamas thought they could clean up the scene and pull off a Gaza Beach, successfully blaming the Israelis for the tragedy, speaks eloquently of their exceptionally low appraisal of the forensic acumen of the Western press (or their power to indimidate). And they have good reason to so believe. After all, Goldstone, in his investigation into the abuses of the Palestinian people during OCL, never once looked into this kind of human shielding. Imagine if he had!
ברצועת עזה לא חסר כלום, לפחות לא דבר שישראל מונעת מהתושבים. את האוכל ישראל מספקת להם דרך מחסום ארז מתוצרת ישראלית - השוק בעזה עמוס בתוצרת ישראלית. החשמל גם כן מסופק לרצועה למרות חוב של מליונים לחברת החשמל הישראלית. הבניינים מפוארים ורבי קומות. אפילו שרותי רפואה ובתי חולים יש בשפע. מי שמבקש, הטיפול בישראל לא נמנע ממנו ואפילו נותנים לו עדיפות. אלו הם חיי הישראלים, בתמורה לנתינה שלהם לעם הערבי שחי ברצועת עזה - ירי טילים לעבר אוכלוסייה ישראלית אזרחית.
Civilian population in the Gaza Strip is not missing anything, at least not that Israel is preventing them. Israel provides Israeli-made and products food for them through the Erez passage - Gaza’s market is full with Israeli pruducts. Electricity also provided Strip despite a debt of millions to the IEC. Luxury buildings and high rises are common in Gaza. Even the medical services and hospitals abound. Even though, any person who wants to, gets treatment in Israel and and even give it priority.
Im Tirtzu wrote an open letter to the new head of the New Israel Fund, which funds anti-Israel NGOs:
Dear Mr. Lurie:
We write to ask a simple question: Do you stand by the latest accusations NIF-funded groups are making against Israel?
After Operation Cast Lead in 2009, groups funded by the NIF led a campaign that sought to portray Israel as a war criminal and human rights violator. That campaign culminated in the Goldstone Report, a ruthlessly biased attack on Israel that cited NIF groups hundreds of times. Even Judge Goldstone himself has disowned it.
Now, in the weeks after the latest conflict in Gaza, NIF groups are once again making misleading and unfounded accusations against the IDF.
B’tselem, Adalah, Gisha, and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel are claiming that the IDF targeted journalists and civilians, violated international law, and is perpetrating “collective punishment,” a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.
In the weeks leading up to Israel’s response, as terrorist rockets forced thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters, none of these groups criticized the attacks or stood up for Israel’s right – its human right, and its right under international law – to defend itself.
Despite this troubling record, we hold out hope for your leadership as the new president of the New Israel Fund. We ask that you hold the groups you fund responsible for the veracity of their accusations, and that you demand just as much accountability from them as they do from the IDF.
And if you do not stand by their latest false accusations, Israelis deserve to know: What will you do to reform the New Israel Fund?
The Zionist Student Movement
The NIF response is astonishing (not yet online):
Hamas is a flagrantly anti-democratic, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, anti-feminist and anti-gay movement dedicated to genocide. The United States, Canada and the European Union all consider it a terrorist organization. Hamas strives to kill the maximum number of Israeli civilians while using its own population as a human shield — under international law, a double war crime. Why, then, would the same free press that Hamas silences help advance its strategy?
Media naturally gravitate toward dramatic and highly visual stories. Reports of 5.5 million Israelis gathered nightly in bomb shelters scarcely compete with the Palestinian father interviewed after losing his son. Both are, of course, newsworthy, but the first tells a more complete story while the second stirs emotions.
This is precisely what Hamas wants. It seeks to instill a visceral disgust for any Israeli act of self-defense, even one taken after years of unprovoked aggression.
The Muslim Brotherhood simply cannot be trusted on either a domestic or international level. Dishonesty is part of the organization’s DNA, as evidenced by its broken promises to the Egyptian electorate and by Morsi’s double-dealing in regards to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip: first he allowed weapons into Gaza and encouraged Hamas; then, once the fighting started, he played the peacemaker. Before the last election that raised Morsi to the presidency, the group promised that if elected it would spend $200 billion dollars on repairing Egypt’s infrastructure as part of a “Renaissance Project.” Gamal Al Banna, the youngest brother of Hassan Al Banna, a prominent historical figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, warned Egyptians not to believe the organization’s promises. Gamal was right. After the election, the group said its promises were just an idea that needed further development.
During the election, Morsi also promised that he would pick a Coptic Christian as his vice president. He did not. And since becoming president, he has given almost 60 speeches — one almost every two and a half days — mostly in mosques. Since becoming a President, he has yet to visit a church. He promised to attend the seating of the new Coptic Pope, but did not show up.
The Muslim Brotherhood has also deceived the international community, which is all too willing to view him as a pragmatic “peacemaker.” Yes, Morsi engineered the ceasefire that brought an end to the recent fighting between Hamas and Israel, but it was he who helped bring the fighting about by allowing missiles built in Sudan’s Yarmouk weapons factory to pass through Egypt on the way to the Gaza Strip. And before he brokered the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, he encouraged Hamas to start the aggression against Israel. He never objected to the many calls for jihad against Israel and the West.
The total number of areas ranked is 157, meaning that Gaza has a lower poverty rate than about 30% of all countries worldwide.
But you already knew that from the amount of media coverage of poor people in those other 45 countries, of course.
By the way, there are more poor Saudis than there are Gazans altogether.
People hate who they want to hate, regardless if there is a reason or not.
The double standards applied in relation to Israel are extraordinary. Where Obama’s assaults on Pakistan are nodded through, or occasionally mildly criticised in newspaper columns, Israel’s assaults on Gaza give rise to the most furious condemnation and to rowdy public demonstrations at which Israel is denounced as “evil” and “fascistic”. Where Obama’s victims – not only Pakistani militants but vast numbers of Pakistani women and children, too – are almost instantly forgotten, Israel’s victims are splashed across the front pages of our newspapers and at the top of news bulletins and are speedily put on anti-war placards that denounce Israel’s barbarism. Where Palestinian territories are overrun with keffiyeh-wearing, conscience-possessing Westerners who monitor Israel’s every act, rural Pakistan has no such army of caring outsiders, no well-minded gatherers of info about Obama’s bloody destruction. I guess rural Pakistan is too hard for these people to get to. Their consciences don’t stretch as far as the Khyber Pass.