Wash. Post legitimizes Hamas rule in Gaza -- no terrorists there
The Washington Post, in its Oct. 20 edition, runs an article by correspondent Ernesto Londono about Hamas pressing for an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza after its success in gaining the freedom of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit ("Amid celebrations, Hamas hopes for lifting of Gaza bloackade," page A8/
Londono's article goes to great lengths to erase any tinge of terrorism from Hamas's identity and record. It distorts recent history by making it appear that Hamas seized control of Gaza by legitimate, democratic means. And it provides a false rationale for Israel's 22-day counter-terrorism offensive in Gaza at the end of 2008, completely ignoring the thousands of rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza at civilian populations in southern Israel.
Here's how Londono transmutes Hamas from a terrorist subsidiary of Iran into a scrubbed-clean political outfit:
Londono begins by telling Post readers that Hamas is merely a "militant" group that "assumed power in Gaza in 2007, following its victory in parliamentary elections in 2007." No mention that Hamas is designated by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization committed to the total destruction of Israel. No mention that, far from having assumed power in Gaza because of its electoral victory, Hamas dislodged Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party from Gaza by launching a brutal civil war, killing, injuring and torturing many Fatah members and throwing some of them to their deaths from rooftops.
Having cleansed Hamas from any terrorism taint and justified its assumption of power in Gaza, Londono then writes that Israel's 22-day Gaza war was intended "to make it harder for Hamas to stockpile long-range rockets and build bunkers." Wrong again. Israel's 22-day military incursion into Gaza wasn't just aimed at halting Hamas's stockpiling of rockets and building bunkers. Its real objective was to halt the firing of thousands of rockets against Sderot and other Israeli communities. Londono makes absolutely no mention of the incessant rocket barrages that terrorized hundreds of thousands of Israelis. This is why Israel's military entered Gaza. While Operation Cast Lead didn't entirely halt cross-border rocket and mortar attacks, it greatly reduced this threat. Londono needs a quick remedial course in recent history.
Completing his fanciful account of Israel's actions vis a vis Hamas, Londono tells Post readers that Isrel's blockade of Gaza "was widely seen as a punitive measure driven in large part by the outrage that Shalit's abduction in 2006 generated in Israel." Wrong again. The main reason for the blockade was and remains Israel's way of isolating a deadly enemy who not only has been warring against the Jewish state with lethal rocket barrages but also was and is posing a strategic threat by amassing an arsenal of tens of thousands of missiles. Shalit's abduction was a minor reason for the blockade -- at most.
And thus, do Londono and the Washington Post manage to turn history upside down so that Israel emerges as a blockading villain, while Hamas is painted as pure as the driven snow.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers