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Palestinian Houses Demolished in Gaza: Whose Fault Is It?

Posted on May 18 2010 9:00 am
Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at City University of New York. For extended biography visit The Phyllis Chesler Organization.
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Hamas police

Guess what? Yesterday, Hamas leaders demolished scores of Palestinian homes in Rafah, Gaza. And why? What is the real reason for this Palestinian-on-Palestinian demolition? Was the land needed for villas for Hamas heavies? Was it for a military purpose? Were these tunnels in which Palestinians were trying to escape from Gaza and into Egypt?

Hamas claimed that the houses were on “government-owned land.”  That—nothing more. Hamas police, wielding clubs, beat the inhabitants to force them to leave. Beaten, the people clutched mattresses and pronounced this a “nakba,” a catastrophe, (and in the Palestinian media, no less). This word is usually reserved for Israel’s miraculous survival in May of 1948 when it faced as many as ten Arab armies, including forces from Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.

The Palestinians are so emotionally and rhetorically extreme. I wonder whether they’ll take this to the United Nations or perhaps to the Arab League? Why not the Organization of the Islamic Conference—surely, they will raise a hue and cry at the United Nations on behalf of Palestinians-under-seige, yes?

Actually—no.  Sadly, no one really cares about the Palestinians. Most of their leaders are known as killers and terrorists, gangsters. No Arab country will grant them citizenship. Jordan massacred them in 1970 and began to exile them in 2009; this is an ongoing process. They are forgotten by Arab tyrants whose own countries are filled with people who are also living in poverty and considerable misery. The Palestinians only matter as a symbol to quell national Arab unrest and when it is Israelis who are demolishing Palestinian homes or shooting back at Palestinian terrorists.

In the past, Israel has, indeed, demolished homes in Rafah. But why?  Beneath the homes and buildings there were tunnels in which guns and explosives were smuggled from Egypt.

In the past, Israel was demonized for such home demolitions. American, European, and Israeli activists have demonstrated against Israel, and the UN has denounced Israel for precisely this reason.

I wonder whether these activists will denounce Hamas for brutally demolishing Palestinian homes. Sadly, I am not holding my breath.

Recall: the American activist and Palestine solidarity dupe, Rachel Corrie, was accidentally killed in Rafah, when an Israeli military bulldozer ran her over. The Israeli driver claimed that he could not and did not see her. I believe him. Nevertheless, her parents are attempting to sue the state of Israel. To date, plays have been written and performed about this naive, perhaps unwitting “shahida,” (martyr) for the Palestinian cause.

In the past, in 2007, Egypt demolished homes on the Egyptian side of Rafah. There was no international uproar, nor did any Egyptian object. A September, 2007 article in the New York Times reported: “Egypt … is clearing almost 1,000 feet of houses from the Egyptian side of Rafah, a city cut in two by the border.”

The Times’ reporter asked a local Palestinian businessman named Muhammad the following question: “When Israel cleared Palestinian houses in Rafah to stop smuggling tunnels, will there be an international uproar and many demonstrations. Will there be demonstrations in Egypt?”

His response?

“Muhammad roared with laughter.”

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