|Israel Resource Review
||24th August, 2005
Eviction Through Negligence
by David Bedein
Forum documents negligence in handling Gush Katif evacuees
Despite reports that have reached disapora Jewish organizations
that "all is well," the harsh reality is that the Israeli
government is simply not prepared to provide for the 1,700
families evicted from their homes in the 21 Jewish communities
of Gush Katif. What is more, official sensitivity to the
humanitarian needs of the displaced residents is nonexistent.
At a press conference on August 23 at the Beit Agron International Press Center in Jerusalem, attorney Dr. Yitzhak Meron provided sobering evidence of the failures of the Sharon government in this regard. Dr. Meron is a senior member of the Israel Legal Forum, an organization of 50 Israeli lawyers that worked pro-bono during the period leading up to the disengagement, in an effort to ameliorate the difficulties of the Gush Katif residents, presenting their case to the Knesset, the government and the courts.
The Forum, anticipating the problems, first approached the government last November, shortly after the disengagement law had been passed. They provided ample warning in writing of what might be expected, to no avail.
The government approach to the settlers, says Dr. Meron, was "aggressive" from the beginning, with a total lack of direct communication. The prime minister never went to "look in their eyes," and ministers in the government who voted for expulsion did so without having visited the communities whose fates they were deciding. (When the Defense Minister finally traveled to Katif to meet with residents there on April 19th, he simply would not answer questions.)
The express desire of most of the communities has been to stay together, wherever they are relocated.
The Forum communicated the importance of this as well. Every significant study (especially those regarding what happened when people were moved from Sinai) indicates that keeping communities in tact helps to prevent post traumatic disorder, which results in serious emotional disability. The government - clearly aware of all of this - still preferred to act in a fashion that would break up communities, dealing with separate families and attempting to place them in different locations. The official approach, in the main, has been to negotiate compensation and then consider the government absolved of further responsibility.
When individuals declined to speak with government officials and Gush Katif leaders requested that the Forum be permitted to formally represent them as communities, the government was not responsive.
The current situation is a vastly complicated one, involving several stages on the way to final solutions to the problems of the evacuees. Monetary compensation will be provided according to a formula involving length of residence in the community, whether the family owned or was renting, and other factors.
The original full package of compensation for all parties - 2.5 billion shekels - was increased to 4.5 billion shekels when the Forum went to court to expose the inadequacy of the projected sum. This larger amount is still 50% less than is needed for families to restore themselves to anything approximating their former positions. Compensation, in brief: for families who owned houses, roughly $700 per square meter, some $50,000 for land, and $1,000 for each year each individual over age three lived in the community; for renters, some $10,000; for certain land owners compensation via new land - a plan not working out successfully.
Government threats - illegal according to Dr. Meron - to reduce compensation of persons who refused to leave voluntarily before August 17 are being challenged by the Forum in court now.
To date, no funds have been dispersed.
Rachel Saperstein, informal press spokesperson for Katif residents, who was present at the press conference, indicated that many people are without ready pocket cash because the banks in the Gush were closed prior to expulsion. A sum of 50,00 shekels (roughly $11,000) for each family, against eventual full compensation, is anticipated shortly. Families for whom total compensation is less than this will be required to ultimately return the difference
All of the current issues regarding housing solutions were raised with the government by the Forum in sufficient time for them to be addressed - had the government wished to address them. This was not the case. A suggestion that 13 settlements be established in the Negev to which whole communities might move was rejected. A similar suggestion regarding Nitzanim, which is a beach-front area between Ashkelon and Ashdod, was similarly thrown out.
As matters stand right now, there is a three-stage process facing the majority of the evacuees. When forced from their homes they had to be placed somewhere. This is the stop-gap first stage, which could have been prevented had the process moved more slowly and with more deliberation. In the majority of cases, the people are currently in hotels.
Three days before the expulsion was to begin, the government announced that 1,000 rooms had been rented and everyone had some place to go. The reality was that 2,500 rooms were required because of large families. Officials had to scour Israel, seeking rooms at the last moment; the Forum assisted in this emergency action. People left their homes literally not knowing where they were going to end up.
Saperstein reports that some large families are sleeping in one room, with mattresses on the floor for children. In a number of instances, people arrived at one hotel, as assigned, only to be told that there was no room and they had to go elsewhere. There is a problem of "competition" with tourists who have booked rooms and are being given priority.
With all of the problems regarding provision of space came other problems: No social workers were sent by the government to help people cope logistically, or psychologists to help with trauma. Other social services were lacking as well. Mundane but very real issues were raised regarding such matters as insufficient food in some of the hotels that offered only two meals a day or lack of facilities for doing laundry. The flood of volunteers who entered the hotels to provide assistance vastly ameliorated some of these immediate problems.
The situation was also ameliorated in part, according to Dr. Meron, by the initiative of families, mostly religious, who did not wait for the government to provide but made alternative arrangements, going to student dormitories and kibbutz guest houses, and setting up tents. None of this absolves the government of its failure to these people.
Families were told that they would have 10 days in the hotels, but two-thirds of the families have no idea yet where they will go next, for the second, temporary housing, stage.
At least three to four months will be required for this to be resolved and there is expectation that the period allotted for remaining in the hotels will be extended. Matters will become easier after the tourist season ends on September 1, but will become difficult again when the Jewish holidays start in early October. Of great concern to these families, most of whom have many children, is what school facilities will be available.
Some small percentage of the families have already entered that second stage of temporary housing. Most notably is this the case with families who signed up for caravans (euphemistically referred to as "caravillas") in Nitzan (adjacent to Nitzanim). Some 200 families have received their keys, but are encountering vast problems: There are no synagogues, no schools, no clinics and no shops - simply an array of simple housing that is so inadequate that people have to store their large refrigerators and purchase small ones, and store their precious religious books as well. A maximum of 400 such caravilla will be provided here. The government is investing $100,000 in each of the structures, which are all scheduled to be destroyed in four years when residents will move on. There is no adequate information forthcoming as to why the government did not instead invest in more permanent housing.
The final stage of housing solutions will not be completed for some three to four years. At present, a full 90% of the people have no idea how their situations will be resolved.
This contrasts with the fact that when the people were brought out of Sinai only 10% were lacking a final plan on the day of evacuation.
The roughly 200 families who do have a solution at present have been placed - or have arranged to be placed - for the most part as individuals and not as communities. The vast majority of those awaiting solutions still intend to work towards the goal of staying together as communities.
Plans are being made for the 200- 300 families who have signed on independently to live in Netzanim. These plans are tentative however, as the government still must purchase the property on which the houses are to be placed. Those participating were required to sign an agreement saying that they understand if this cannot be accomplished by the end of 2006, the project will be abandoned.
Dr. Meron emphasized that there is no legal basis whatsoever to the government claim that there was no official responsibility in cases where Gush Katif residents refused to deal with authorities.
As the government ordered thousands of people to be removed from their homes, it was obligated to provide satisfactory alternative housing.
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Gush Katif Postscript:
Post Zionism Won
The painful pictures of Jewish-Israeli children
confronting Israeli soldiers with the question "Why
are you removing me from my home?" will forever haunt
the young soldiers charged by the Sharon government to
do the dirty job of expelling Jews from Gush Katif in
the Gaza Strip. In going through such drastic
measures Sharon has basically divorced himself from
the Likud ideology not to mention that of the
nationalist camp. He has conversely bought into
Shimon Peres' and the left's ideology that "Israel
must end the occupation."
The ideology of post-Zionism has triumphed over
Zionist idealism embedded in the residents of Gush
Katif, Judea and Samaria who left comfortable homes in
central Israel to fulfill their pioneering mission for
Zionism. Back in the 1940's and the 1950's it was
the kibbutzim youth who displayed the meaning of
Zionist pioneering and self-sacrifice for their
homeland. Young, left-leaning kibbutzniks,
volunteered to combat units, they came to the wild
unsettled Negev to teach new immigrants, and "to build
the land and be rebuilt by it" as the old pioneering
By the 1970's and 1980's the sons and daughters of the
leftist Zionist elites abandoned the kibbutzim for the
proverbial three- piece suits and the pursuit of
money. Ben Gurion's son as well as Itzhak Rabin's
moved to the US. Shimon Peres' son became a
corporate tycoon. The socialist elite found its
future in the New Middle East as envisioned by Shimon
Peres- a new ideology that stands ready to forfeit
land, history, heritage, and the very raison d'etre of
Zionism, for the global idealism of open markets and
technology as the only new tools for existence.
The New Middle East is an unworkable formula for the
Middle East. Peres' mind was on the West when he
advanced his notions of markets and technology for the
21st century. The Arab Middle East looks more towards
the glories of the 7th century than to Peres' visions
of the 21st. Arab and Muslim leaders reacted to
Shimon Peres' notion of open borders with hatred and
Similarly, the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, a
brainchild of the Labor party, adopted by Ariel Sharon
in spite of receiving a huge electoral mandate against
such a move, will prove to be as effective as Peres'
New Middle East. However logical in may sound to
Westerners, the Arab Middle East has found a different
meaning to it: Jewish loss of will and faith,
cowardice, and weakness. The Palestinians are
heralding the withdrawal as the defeat of Judaism in
the face of Islamic resolve.
In the meantime, Sharon dealt a devastating blow to
the most idealistic segment of the Israeli population.
The National-Religious movement that spawned the
Zionist pioneering in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, and
sent its youth to the elite combat units, and
development towns to help Ethiopian and Russian
immigrants, is in a state of shock. Sharon deemed
them irrelevant in his post-Zionist Israel.
The message that Prime Minister Sharon sent to every
Jew in the world is that in the free State of Israel
Jewish sovereignty is limited, the continued living of
Jews in their homes might be in doubt and their
security conditional. And, that Israel needs to pay
"protection money" to the Palestinian Authority enemy,
requires Egypt's protection of its Southern border and
US approval of its every action in self-defense or
Ariel Sharon alienated the best element in Israeli
society-its idealists. Worse yet, he has used the
truly sacrosanct Israel Defense Forces to do what the
dictator Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe does-throw people
out of their homes. What implications this action
might have on the future morale of the IDF is yet to
be seen. In the short term many of the young soldiers
will live with a deep trauma and guilt. Their
bitterness is bound to grow as Hamas takes over the
former settlements in Gush Katif and uses them as
bases for greater and more effective terror against
The cry of the Jewish children of Gush Katif "Why are
you expelling me from my home" may very well be mixed
with the cries of the residents of Sederot, Netivot,
Ashkelon, and other Israeli towns in the Negev, "Why
did you bring upon us the terrorists rockets?" The
answers will come in the next elections, but that will
be too late for the traumatized soldiers, heart-broken
former residents of Gush Katif, and the angry and
grieving residents of the Negev.
Joseph Puder is founder and executive director of the
Interfaith Taskforce for America and Israel (ITAI).
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1,000 families 'have no homes
to go to'
Correspondent, the Jerusalem Post
A leader of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel charged on Tuesday that only 100 of the 1,700 families evacuated from the West Bank and northern Samaria settlements have found permanent housing solutions so far, and that only 700 families have found temporary solutions to tide them over. The other 1,000 have no solutions at all.
Meanwhile, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss announced that he ordered his workers to monitor the handling of the evacuation of the settlers by the security forces and the degree of government preparedness for the disengagement. Lindenstrauss said the investigation began two months ago.
Legal Forum founder, attorney Yitzhak Meron charged that the government was fully responsible for the lack of housing solutions because it failed to establish proper communication with the settlers during the disengagement process.
From the beginning, he said, the government acted arrogantly and aggressively.
"The Prime Minister was not brave enough to meet the settlers," said Meron. "He could not look them in the eye because he knew they helped elect him into office." The settlers had demanded a referendum to decide on the evacuation, but Sharon refused, Meron recalled. After that, the official leadership of the Gaza settlements refused to talk to the government but had authorized the Legal Forum to represent it.
Sharon, however, refused to meet with the members of the lawyers' group, Meron charged.
The government also rejected the settlers' demands to be relocated as communities rather than individuals.
For a long time, the solutions proposed by the government were on an individual basis only. When settlers first came up with a proposal to build a permanent community in the Nitzanim area, the government turned it down. It took two and a half months for government officials to readdress the idea, as opposed to the temporary neighborhood of mobile homes, which is currently in the process of being inhabited, and presented the proposal to the National Planning Committee.
Meron pointed out that even this solution is far from certain at this point. He said about 300 families have expressed interest in moving to a permanent settlement in Nitzanim. However, the government is making them sign an understanding that the homes my never be built because of legal or planning problems and that, if by 2006, the project is not standing, the project will be regarded as defunct and the settlers will be unable to sue for damages.
The government also established an unreasonable evacuation timetable of five (later extended to six) months, charged Meron. "Everyone knew this wasn't enough time to transfer a population when no one knew where they were supposed to go."
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni charged on Tuesday that the settlement leadership had refused to accept the reality of the evacuation until the very last minute for political reasons and that this approach had hurt its followers.
"It's really a shame for the settlers," she said in a Channel 1 interview. "I visited their homes. They acted as though nothing would happen. I'd hoped to at least see soldiers helping them pack. But there was a conflict of interests between what was best for them and political interests."
Livni added that she had tried hard to persuade settlers to join the Nitzanim housing plan.
"Even in May, I was reaching out to the settlers, calling on them to take advantage of the solutions we offered . . . [But] in order to find a solution for the community, there has to be a dialogue between the government and the community. It's a mutual process."
In a related development, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urged the government to resettle the settlers as quickly as possible.
"All ministries in my government must take immediate action and dedicate maximum possible effort and management to the rebuilding," he said, according to a cabinet's communiqu .
Meanwhile, Interior Ministry Planning Authority Director Shamai Asaf told the cabinet that the Nitzanim plan included 1,600 permanent houses, enough to accommodate all of the settlers from the Gaza Strip. He said the development would be built in accordance with the number of evacuated families who are interested in living in the project.
"This plan provides a full answer to each group of settlers that is interested in maintaining its community character," he said.
This piece ran in the Jerusalem Post,
on August 24th, 2005
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Sharon rebuffs charges that
gov't is mishandling evacuees
Herb Keinon and JPost staff
Ariel Sharon utterly refuted what he termed "lies" being spread
in the media concerning the treatment of evacuees from Gaza and
"There are many untrue statements that the government is trying to break up these communities," Sharon told the Disengagement Cabinet referring to residents of evacuated settlements who wanted to be moved together.
"It needs to be unequivocally clear that the government turned to the residents and offered to keep their communities intact. We are very interested in this, and want it to be carried out," he said.
At the opening of the meeting, Sharon said, "the government will continue in its primary efforts to settle residents in new places, while making all possible efforts in order to shorten the time that they will need to live in uncertainty."
He also asked SELA (the Disengagement Authority) to publicize detailed information regarding housing solutions for the evacuees, including the exact number of apartments available and their location in each community, Israel Radio reported.
Construction and Housing Minister Isaac Herzog also presented housing options during the meeting.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres suggested that the government refrain from getting into arguments with evacuees, since the public considered them a weak and victimized group.
Interior Minister Ophir Paz-Pines said he suspected that in the near future the government would run into difficulties convincing evacuees to leave the hotels where they were temporarily staying.
This article can also be read at
This piece ran in the Jerusalem Post, on August 24th, 2005
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Goodbye Gaza, Hello Hamas
Anyone who believes that Israel's withdrawal from Gaza has even
the remotest chance of fostering a spirit of reconciliation
among Palestinians ought to consider the ongoing, venomous
declarations of 60-year-old Mahmoud al Zahar, the most senior
Hamas member in Gaza. Al Zahar has had some alarming things to
say lately about Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip - most
recently in an interview that appeared in the August 18 edition
of Asharq Al-Awsat, the leading daily international newspaper in
the Arab world. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
has provided translations of Zahar's comments, among which were
- When asked whether Hamas would continue its violent resistance even after the Israeli withdrawal, al Zahar said: "Our plan is not to liberate the Gaza Strip, nor is it to liberate the West Bank or to liberate Jerusalem. Our plan in the first stage is to liberate the lands occupied in 1967. Those who view it as a strategic solution and those who view it as an interim solution have agreed upon this plan. Therefore, we will not take over the Gaza Strip and live there peacefully while the Zionist enemy is detaining thousands of our sons and occupying the West Bank. The resistance must move to the West Bank to expel the occupation."
- When asked whether Hamas would take up its militant operations in the evacuated Israeli towns after the withdrawal, al Zahar replied: "Firstly, there are no Israeli towns. These are settlements. If the aggression and occupation continue, the Palestinian people will have no alternative but to defend themselves."
- When asked whether Hamas recognized the existence of the state of Israel, al Zahar proclaimed: "We do not and will not recognize a state called Israel. Israel has no right to any inch of Palestinian land. This is an important issue. Our position stems from our religious convictions. This is a holy land. It is not the property of the Palestinians or the Arabs. This land is the property of all Muslims in all parts of the world."
- In response to the statement, "Israelis fear that Gaza could become the land of Hamas after the withdrawal," al Zahar replied angrily: "Let Israel die."
- When asked whether Hamas had planned its manner of entry into the evacuated settlements, al Zahar said, "We will enter the settlements and sully the dignity of Israel with our feet. We will stand on the ruins of the Israeli settlements and tell our people we have prevailed."
These non-conciliatory statements are nothing more than rewordings of the positions that al Zahar had previously enunciated in July, when he told the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera that Hamas would "definitely not" accept coexistence with Israel even if the Israeli Defense Force were to retreat to the pre-1967 borders. "It [coexistence] can be a temporary solution, for a maximum of 5 to 10 years," al Zahar said candidly. "But in the end Palestine must return to become Muslim, and in the long term Israel will disappear from the face of the earth . . . . We won't disrupt the Israeli withdrawal, let them get out of here and go to hell. The problem will be afterwards, because in the hearts of every Palestinian, the liberation of Gaza must be accompanied by the liberation of Jerusalem and the West Bank."
Al Zahar's stated views are entirely consistent with those of
Hamas as a whole. Since the day of its December 14, 1987
creation, Hamas itself has been most consistent in its positions
on how to deal with Israel. The group's founding charter
explicitly mandates that a jihad of armed attacks against the
Jewish state must be pursued until Israel is eviscerated from
the globe. Among the charter's assertions are the following:
- "Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors. The Islamic World is burning. It is incumbent upon each one of us to pour some water, little as it may be, with a view of extinguishing as much of the fire as he can, without awaiting action by the others."
- "[O]ur struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah's victory prevails. Thus we shall perceive them approaching in the horizon, and this will be known before long: 'Allah has decreed: Lo! I very shall conquer, I and my messenger, lo! Allah is strong, almighty.'"
- "Only under the shadow of Islam could the members of all regions coexist in safety and security for their lives, properties and rights. In the absence of Islam, conflict arises, oppression reigns, corruption is rampant and struggles and wars prevail."
- " . . . Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah's promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!"
- The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf [a religious endowment belonging ultimately to the Muslim nation's ruler] throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it . . . . This is the status [of the land] in Islamic Shari'a, and it is similar to all lands conquered by Islam by force, and made thereby Waqf lands upon their conquest, for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection."
- "[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad . . . . There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility."
- "I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill."
- "…The Nazism of the Jews does not skip women and children, it scares everyone. They make war against people's livelihood, plunder their moneys and threaten their honor. In their horrible actions they mistreat people like the most horrendous war criminals."
- "The Zionist invasion is a mischievous one. It does not hesitate to take any road, or to pursue all despicable and repulsive means to fulfill its desires . . . . [Its] secret organizations, some which are overt, act for the interests of Zionism and under its directions, strive to demolish societies, to destroy values, to wreck answerableness, to totter virtues and to wipe out Islam. It stands behind the diffusion of drugs and toxics of all kinds in order to facilitate its control and expansion. The Arab states surrounding Israel are required to open their borders to the Jihad fighters, the sons of the Arab and Islamic peoples, to enable them to play their role and to join their efforts to those of their brothers among the Muslim Brothers in Palestine. The other Arab and Islamic states are required, at the very least, to facilitate the movement of the Jihad fighters from and to them . . . . Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims."
- "Zionist scheming has no end, and after Palestine they will covet expansion from the Nile to the Euphrates. Only when they have completed digesting the area on which they will have laid their hand, they will look forward to more expansion, etc. Their scheme has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion [the infamous 19th-century forgery that speaks of a Jewish plot for world domination], and their present [conduct] is the best proof of what is said there. Leaving the circle of conflict with Israel is a major act of treason and it will bring curse on its perpetrators."
Given these unequivocal positions, it is quite evident that Hamas has no intention of embracing a negotiated peace with Israel; the only solution it will accept is Israel's elimination from the planet. For Hamas, the issue of concern is not how land can be divided and apportioned most equitably for each side, but rather of how a nation of Jewish "infidels" can be driven permanently into the sea.
This self-evident reality gives rise to the most crucial of questions: To what degree do the positions of Hamas reflect the attitudes of Palestinians as a whole? After all, if Hamas were in fact nothing more than a fringe element of Islamist extremists with whose methods and ideals most Palestinians disagreed, there might indeed be reason to hold out hope that a peaceful solution could be hammered out and pursued. But the facts regarding this question are not heartening.
A September 2003 poll conducted jointly by Public Opinion Research of Israel and the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found that only 13 percent of Palestinians agreed with the statement that Hamas is a terrorist group; 82 percent agreed that Hamas is a freedom-fighting organization; and a mere 10 percent believed that bombings targeting Israeli civilians in buses and restaurants could be classified as acts of terrorism. These attitudes suggest that the ethical and moral gulf dividing Palestinian from Israeli culture is so vast as to be unbridgeable.
An April 2004 poll of 506 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip found that for the first time ever, Hamas, which has long been the most popular faction in the Gaza strip, enjoyed stronger support among Palestinians than did Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. In that same survey, 76.5 percent of respondents supported the continuation of Hamas' suicide attacks against Israel; only 15.4 percent were opposed such attacks.
In a November 2004 Al-Arabia network survey of some 113,000 individuals throughout the Arab world, 73.2 percent of respondents said they wanted a Hamas official to replace the recently deceased Yasser Arafat as Palestinian leader.
In December 2004, municipal elections for local councils were held in 26 Palestinian communities. Hamas, participating for the first time in Palestinian elections, won a majority of council seats in nine communities, while Fatah took control of 14 towns. "This is an outstanding result for Hamas," noted the Palestinian analyst Ali Jerbawi. "The 26 localities were selected from the beginning according to strongholds of Fatah. So the results should have been more for Fatah than Hamas."
In local council elections held in Gaza in January 2005, Hamas won at least 75 out of the 118 seats it contested. The ruling Fatah faction of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas won approximately 26 seats. Correspondents interpreted the results as a significant blow to Fatah, and a great leap forward for Hamas.
In local elections held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in May 2005, Hamas again made a very strong showing against Abbas' Fatah movement. Further establishing itself as a potent political force, Hamas won 23 of the electoral races - including those in Qalqiliya, Rafah, and Beit Lahiya, the three largest towns being contested.
In summation, Hamas has developed into a major political entity to be reckoned with, enjoying immense and ever-growing popularity among Palestinians. The respective mindsets of Hamas and the Palestinian population alike are imbued with deep contempt for Jews and the state of Israel. This hatred has been nurtured by decades of poisonous rhetoric pouring forth from the font of Yasser Arafat's propaganda machine. Ugly characterizations of Jews have been a constant theme of Palestinian state-controlled media outlets, schoolbooks, and religious leaders. Consequently, Palestinian culture has become one of unsurpassed bigotry, a fact that does not bode well for hopes that its people are capable of committing, for any extended period of time, to living peacefully alongside Israel.
This piece ran on FrontPageMagazine.com on August 24, 2005
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