There is no respite in al Qassem Brigades (Hamas military wing), shooting homemade Qassam rockets in Israel, when Israel Defence Force (IDF) in retaliation for Saturday mayhem and abduction, which sparked chaos in the region, thrusting the nationalist movement firmly into the global spotlight.
The Iran-backed militant Hezbollah in Lebanon, jihadist groups in Syria and of course, Hamas in Gaza, also militarily backed by Iran are pounding homemade rockets in Israel.
The Pentagon moved American aircraft carrier and warships closer to Israel in the Mediterranean Sea to send a harsh message to Hezbollah, the Asad regime in Syria and especially Islamic Iran not to provoke escalation in the Middle East.
The USS Gerald R Ford Carrier Strike Group includes the USS Gerald R Ford aircraft carrier, which is the largest warship in the world, in addition to the Ticonderoga – class guided missile cruiser USS Normandy and four Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyers — USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney and USS Roosevelt.
Iran’s dreaded Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has long been involved in proxy wars in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The clergy regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran wants to give a sign warning to Saudi Arabia and Israel of their hegemony in the Middle East.
Iran is one of Hamas’s biggest benefactors. Iran’s top official Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Tehran was not involved in Hamas’ attack over the weekend. He however praised, what he described as Israel’s “irreparable” military and intelligence defeat.
Nevertheless, recent Iranian diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia have thawed relations with the Sheikhdom, but Riyadh is sceptical of Iran’s motives in waging proxy wars in the region. Iran Quds Force had trained and armed the Houthi rebels in Yemen, attacked military installations and fuel depots and refineries.
Iran has long been advocating crushing Israel found strong allies –Hezbollah and Hamas. The militant groups are funded and provided weapons and trained in military technology to build improvised rockets with precision targets and provided satellite images to Hezbollah and Hamas regarding IDF’s deployment and their military machines in the region.
Israel’s retaliatory strikes continue in Gaza by mobilising 360,000 reservists, regaining control over areas attacked by Hamas in the south and along the Gaza border.
Israel escalated its offensive entire districts in the region have been flattened, and houses razed. Hospitals and morgues were overwhelmed, reported an Indian TV journalist Palki Sharma from the Gaza border.
António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations urged warring parties to allow access to deliver urgent humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians trapped and helpless in the Gaza Strip.
The UN boss aptly said that he “recognises the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people. But nothing can justify acts of terror and the killing, maiming and abduction of civilians.”
Recognising Israel’s legitimate security concerns, the UN chief calls for an immediate cease to these attacks and the release of all hostages. “Civilians must be respected and protected at all times,” he stressed.
Reminds Israel, that its military operations must be conducted in strict accordance with international humanitarian law.
Responding to UN calls, Egypt and Qatar are reported to have been making moves to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to reduce the death and miseries of people in Gaza. The ceasefire will stop the destruction of Gaza City. Will the Hamas firing rockets and incursion against Israel stop?
On the other hand, Hamas supremo Ismail Haniyeh famously pledged to live on “zeit wa zaatar”— olive oil and dried herbs — after he led the Islamic militant faction to victory on a message of armed struggle and austerity during the 2006 Palestinian elections.
The election ousted a secular Al Fatah, a dominant group in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) founded by Yasser Arafat. Hamas fighters forcibly seized Fatah’s headquarters and claimed control of the 41 km long, 6 to 12 km wide, a total area of 365 sq. km with a population of two million Palestinians.
The group has since maintained political control of the area as a de facto government, and implemented harsh Islamic laws, as defined in strict Shariah laws.
Hamas never recognised the Palestine Authority of PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank and instead challenged its legitimacy to administer Gaza. Since then Gaza has been ruled by the militant Hamas, which also nurtured Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a fiercest militant outfit.
With Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the West Bank, occupied by Israel, there were two de facto governments in the Palestinian territories, each claiming to be the legitimate government of the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas was founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a radical Palestinian cleric who became an activist of the Muslim Brotherhood after dedicating his early life to Islamic scholarship in Cairo.
In 1988, Hamas published its charter, calling for the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic society in historic Palestine.
Since Ismail Haniyeh left the impoverished Gaza in 2019 along with some Hamas leaders, is presently living in luxury as he splits his time between Turkey and Qatar, travelling with a Turkish passport. Haniyeh has yet to return.
The Hamas leaders live in hotels and travel in private jets and their sons are in top positions in sports, and real estate business in Gaza. One son is known as the “Father of Real Estate”.
Akram Atallah, a long-time columnist for the West Bank-based Al-Ayyam newspaper who moved from Gaza to London in 2019, said when faulted for not providing basic services, it claims to be a resistance group; when criticised for imposing taxes, it says it’s a legitimate government, he said.
While Gazans grumble privately, they dare to raise their voice against Hamas, which has a history of locking up critics to severely punish delinquents.
Hamas also represses the Gazan media, civilian activism on social media, the political opposition, and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), reports Freedom House.
Saleem Samad is an award-winning independent journalist based in Bangladesh. A media rights defender with the Reporters Without Borders (@RSF_inter). Recipient of Ashoka Fellowship and Hellman-Hammett Award. He could be reached at [email protected]; Twitter: @saleemsamad