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Gaza and Hamas: How Jason Greenblatt aims to turn the victim into executioner

Blaming Palestinians while facilitating Israeli crimes is the hallmark of US policy in the region
A Palestinian protester hurls a rock towards Israeli forces at the Gaza fence on 30 March (AFP)

Jason Greenblatt, the US special representative for international negotiations, recently wrote in the New York Times about the alleged role of Hamas in the humanitarian disaster facing the Gaza Strip.

We were not surprised by the false picture painted in this article, given that US policies unreservedly adopt the extreme Israeli position. Every measure taken by this administration has aimed to promote the occupation and undermine Palestinian rights. 

The Trump administration has recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, written off the Palestinian right of return, and recognised Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights. US President Donald Trump’s team has given clear signs of its implicit consent to Israel’s annexation, in whole or in part, of the occupied West Bank. 

Supporting the occupation

Even Greenblatt, who appears to show concern for the well-being of Palestinians, has not condemned the Israeli occupation, despite the daily crimes it commits against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem. Those crimes have been denounced in dozens of UN and international reports.

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Every time Israel attacks our people, Greenblatt and his leaders express their absolute support for the occupation. In the latest assault, Israel killed 25 Palestinians in Gaza, including babies and women; wounded dozens; and damaged scores of homes and civilian facilities. 

Hamas has done everything in its power to spare Palestinians in Gaza from the negative effects of Israel’s siege

Greenblatt, however, has blamed Hamas for firing rockets, maintaining the US position that Israel is entitled to defend itself. In his Times article, Greenblatt misleads readers, taking advantage of the lack of public knowledge about many facts on the ground.

Greenblatt tries to turn the victim into the executioner, partly by listing the effects of the siege imposed on Gaza for more than a decade, from the lack of medicine and electricity, to widespread unemployment and infrastructural collapse. But he fails to point out the real cause behind this human tragedy.

Israel’s war crimes

Greenblatt claims that Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, is behind all of this. He fails to cite the litany of international reports accusing Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, where two million Palestinians are imprisoned and deprived of their basic rights.

Without any evidence, Greenblatt suggests that Palestinians in the West Bank are living a better life because they gave up on violence. In reality, Palestinians in the West Bank are systematically murdered and uprooted from their land, with legalised humiliation taking place around the clock. The apartheid wall separates families, while colonial settlers destroy Palestinian homes and steal their water.

Mourners carry the body of a 22-year-old Palestinian killed during a protest in the Gaza Strip on 4 May (AFP)
Mourners carry the body of a 22-year-old Palestinian killed during a protest in the Gaza Strip on 4 May (AFP)

Attempts by the Palestinian Authority to reach an internationally acceptable solution - despite the reservations of many Palestinians about the efficacy of those attempts - have been rebuffed by Israel and the Trump administration, as more settlements have sprung up and the rights of Palestinians have been repeatedly trampled, including through the cessation of US financial support for Palestinians.

Israeli apartheid has been legalised through the nation-state law enacted last year, formalising a system of racism against the country’s Arab citizens.

Greenblatt alleges that Hamas misuses materials entering Gaza to strengthen its military structure. In fact, Israel has blocked the entry of hundreds of basic goods to Gaza for “security” reasons, including fishing nets, medicine and IT equipment, keeping the territory mired in poverty and despair. 

Deprived of basic needs

What does Hamas have to do with the fact that Palestinian patients die every year because they are prevented from travelling abroad for treatment - or that the health system is deprived of many basic needs, including electricity?

Greenblatt fails to mention that the severe electricity shortage in Gaza was sparked by Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s power station in 2006 and its obstruction of the flow of fuel. Gaza is suffering not because of Hamas, but because of Israel, with international cover.

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Despite the difficult and complex circumstances, we have worked hard to achieve good governance, including internal security, stability and the operation of vital government services.

At the political level, Hamas has made great efforts to bring about Palestinian unity and form an internationally accepted government, although these efforts have been thwarted by US and Israeli subversion.

Freedom and independence

Hamas is a Palestinian national liberation movement, democratically and transparently elected by a majority of the Palestinian people in the 2006 election, which was supervised internationally. Hamas believes in the right of our people to freedom, independence, self-determination and return.

We do not adopt violence, but it’s our right to resist by all available means guaranteed by international law for all peoples under occupation. But it seems that Greenblatt’s administration no longer believes in international law, working to bypass it and destroy its institutions.

Hamas bears a great deal of pressure and persecution because it puts Gaza and Palestine first - but not according to the US vision

Hamas did not initiate any of the three wars launched by Israel against Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014. Israel was the initiator each time. Hamas defended its people with its own limited capabilities, which do not compare to the occupation’s advanced weaponry.

All Palestinian factions, including Hamas, have taken part in the recent peaceful demonstrations near the Gaza fence, demanding the lifting of the siege and implementation of the right of return. In response, Israeli forces have used live ammunition, killing hundreds of Palestinians and wounding thousands. Many are permanently disabled. No Israelis were killed in the demonstrations.

A call for justice

Hamas bears a great deal of pressure and persecution because it puts Gaza and Palestine first - but not according to the US vision, which goes hand-in-hand with Israeli interests. 

I can promise Greenblatt that Hamas will not leave the scene, because it is an authentic and significant part of the Palestinian people. It expresses the aspirations of millions of Palestinians, inside and outside Palestine.

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The US deal to liquidate the Palestinian cause will end in resounding failure. Instead of being blind to the facts and hoping for the impossible, the US administration must come to its senses and realise that peace and stability can be built not on lies and distortion, but on justice and equity.

Justice requires respect for the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people for freedom and independence - to let them contribute to well-being and prosperity, not only for themselves, but for peoples throughout the region, and indeed the whole world.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Former Palestinian health minister
Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.