What is Hamas afraid of?

The Israeli parliament has taken the first step to clear the way for the largest single act of ethnic cleansing of Arab citizens of Israel since the 1950s.

On 24 June it passed in the first reading the Prawer Plan which, if implemented, will authorize the expulsion of tens of thousands of Bedouin from their current dwellings, with the ultimate aim of Judaizing the Negev Desert.

As one might expect, this racist bill is strongly opposed not only by the Bedouin Arab community inside Israel, but also by Palestinians in the territories occupied in the 1967 war.

According to Mohammed Suliman, a Palestinian writer and human rights worker in the Gaza Strip, the Prawer Plan generated a public outcry among all Palestinians in the territories occupied before and after the 1967 war. But a plan for a mass protest in Gaza came to nothing, thanks to the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas.

The protests in Gaza, which were called for via Facebook and succeeded in attracting thousands, did not actually come to fruition. The protest lasted for only 15 minutes before protesters were asked to leave by Hamas security. Just as dozens of protesters started gathering in Gaza’s main square El-Jundi El-Majhool (the Unknown Soldier’s Square), Hamas internal security personnel arrived at the scene and ordered the protesters to disperse…

The reason given by Hamas – failure by the protest organizers to obtain a license from the Ministry of Interior – is rather unconvincing.

A more likely explanation is fear that the people of Gaza would turn against the Islamist group, much as their Egyptian brothers and sisters turned against Hamas’s parent organization in Egypt.

And the reasons are definitely not what Israel and its Western stooges would like them to be – they have nothing to do with Hamas’s  refusal to recognize the Jews-only state or its occasional propensity to allow the launching of garden-shed rockets against the apartheid state in retaliation for Israeli acts of aggression.

Rather, the reasons are entirely of Hamas’s own making.

First, its electoral mandate has long ran out – legislative elections should have been held in January 2010 but Hamas refuses to hold them, ostensibly because of its dispute with Fatah but many suspect that it fears being evicted from power through the ballot box.

In the meantime, Hamas has been busy alienating the people who voted it into power by enacting Islamist reforms aimed at taking Palestinian society back to the seventh century – banning women from running in a marathon organized by a United Nations agency, passing a law on gender segregation that bars men from teaching at girls’ schools and mandates separate classes for boys and girls from the age of nine, punishing young men for wearing the wrong hair style or low-waist trousers.

WIth such mindless activities, it’s not surprising that Hamas has become so disengaged from its grassroots that it fears even a protest against Israeli crimes against fellow Palestinians.

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