by Dr. Reuven Berko
Recently, there has been a construction boom in the Gaza Strip, including in the construction of bomb shelters. This has been accompanied by intense Hamas propaganda. Osama Kahil, the head of the Palestinian Contractors' Union, will attest to that.
Reports from the field state that the construction is being subsidized by the "government," and Gaza City spokesman Hatem Al Shaikh Khalil promises that buildings that add bomb shelters will receive financial benefits.
According to Palestinian propaganda, the shelters are being built in response to previous Israel Defense Forces attacks, during which Palestinians were forced to seek shelter at UNRWA schools, the diabolical U.N. mechanism that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem like a for-profit business.
Israel's efforts to protect its citizens stands in stark contrast to Hamas' cynical use of theirs as human shields. Gazans interviewed on Al-Jazeera have bravely called for military activity to be kept away from civilian neighborhoods. Gaza is showing strong signs of attrition, breaking through the bonds of the "heroes' silence" straightjacket that Hamas has imposed on Gaza's residents. Their suffering is now being used as part of the propaganda machine.
The decision to build shelters is a new development for the Palestinians. The personal safety of the average Palestinian civilian had never been a consideration for their leadership. They have always been cynically seen as "biodegradable ammunition," human shields, bodies required for propaganda photography and oil to grease the wheels of the Muqawama (resistance).
The Islamic terrorist leaders' strategy of firing at Israeli population centers came out of their knowledge of Israel's moral code, through which it would not retaliate by deliberately firing at Palestinian civilians. But during the latest operation, November’s eight-day Operation Pillar of Defense, as happens in every war, Palestinian civilians living near spots from where rockets were launched unfortunately were also hit by IDF counterstrikes.
Could the building of the shelters represent a change in policy for Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh? One based on a sense of responsibility, governance and an understanding of the plight of their civilians? Or could this be a propaganda move to make Hamas look like a savior protecting Gazan victims from attacks by the "aggressor," Israel? Maybe Hamas is building these shelters as a cover-up for creating fortifications for terrorist leaders. Or perhaps Hamas understands that Israel will strike the source of Hamas rocket fire even if it employs human shields.
The Hamas "government" project to build bomb shelters looks like an attempt to emulate Israel's own fortification efforts, in the rocket-stricken south. It is a pathetic attempt to appease the angry Palestinian public, which must resign itself to its fate while its leaders stay in hiding. Palestinian media outlets showed children going through therapy for post-traumatic stress as a result of the Israeli bombing. These are the same children who appear in other "photo sessions” dressed up in fake suicide belts, carrying AK-47s and calling for Israel's destruction.
Hamas has shown that if there is a will, there is a way, and has now worked to keep the terrorist groups under its command in check. The construction of shelters in Gaza could be preparation for the next round of violence, but Hamas knows that those who have the capability to destroy an Iranian nuclear bomb inside a mountain and to get into shelters in Dahiyeh, Beirut, can penetrate the new terror shelters.
Dr. Reuven Berko
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