Sunday, November 28, 2010

The enemy within: life under Hamas

A Palestinian insurgent tells Donald Macintyre how the internal security force in Gaza is posing more of a threat than the Israeli army

The Independent

".....But this good-looking Palestinian in his thirties says it is not the Israeli military that has made him nervous about talking to us. Rather it's the internal security force of Hamas, whose plain-clothes operatives arrested him this year while he was leading a group of fighters intending to mount what he will only delicately describe as a military "operation" against Israel. Before speaking to us, he extracted a promise not to use his name or identify his faction, the month he was detained, or even the area of Gaza he was arrested in, or the exact nature of the "operation" he'd been part of.

While in detention, he was beaten with fists and rifle butts. "They said to me: 'You're trying to make an operation. This is forbidden. There is a hudna [truce]. We have no resistance here. Gaza has been liberated. If you want to do an operation, do it in the West Bank, or in 1948 territory [Israel].' We said: 'As long as there is an occupation, we have to fight and no one should stop us.' This is not the Hamas we know from before the elections. It is completely different. They are always in border areas, telling people don't get close to the border. They used to be with the resistance, but once you get into authority you change. They want to protect their authority and they fear that there is going to be a war."

What makes us as confident as we can be that he's genuine is not so much the way he lowers his voice and suddenly stops talking altogether when the waiter brings us coffee in the quiet sunlit garden of a Gaza City hotel, but that we were pointed towards him by a reputable and independent Palestinian NGO. Assuming our confidence is justified, what he had to say is persuasive testimony that Hamas not only agreed to a Gaza ceasefire in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead (Israel's military onslaught in the winter of 2008-09), but is enforcing it....."

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