Rebels with a really, really bad cause

Gaza has been occupied these past few years, certainly. But not by Israel.

It's been occupied and run by a terrorist organization known as Hamas, which is masquerading as a government. Even Palestinians in the more moderate Fatah wing, and those Arabs running more moderate governments around the Mideast, realize this.

Hamas's raison d'etre isn't better streets and sewers or an end to all that unsightly graffiti. Its reason for being is an end to Israel and, as author Mark Steyn puts it, to be a "Jew-killing machine."

Hamas isn't as concerned with the welfare of Palestinians so much as the harm it can do to Israelis. That is why Hamas has launched rockets at Israel for years from behind Palestinian civilians, including most recently from schools. Then, when Palestinian children are seen dead or wounded across the world after the counterattack, they delight in the public relations victory over Israel.

Meanwhile, the uninformed or the easily manipulated seem to reflexively rally to the Palestinian "cause." Thousands have been doing so recently in Europe and North America.

But just what is that cause?

The word "intifada" -- the Palestinian word for the "uprising" against the Israeli occupation -- has been thrown about lately by protesters. But they're tragically unaware.

Israel handed Gaza over in 2005, even forcibly removing the last of the Jewish settlers there. It's been the Palestinians' ever since.

You now see what they've done with it, through what Steyn calls the Hamas "cult of death."

Absent Hamas, there could be a state today called Palestine. But when you respond to Israel's "land for peace" abandonment of Gaza by raining rockets down on Israel, you don't want peace.

STEYN CITES U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's summation of the situation several years ago: "The great majority of Palestinian people," Rice said, "they just want a better life. This is an educated population. I mean, they have a kind of culture of education and a culture of civil society. I just don't believe mothers want their children to grow up to be suicide bombers. I think the mothers want their children to grow up to go to university."

Says Steyn: "Of course, there are plenty of Palestinians like the ones the Secretary of State describes: you meet them living as doctors and lawyers in Los Angeles and Montreal and Geneva ... but not, on the whole, in Gaza. In Gaza, they don't vote for Hamas because they want access to university education. Or, if they do, it's to get Junior into the Saudi-funded Hamas-run Islamic University of Gaza, where majoring in rocket science involves making one and firing it at the Zionist Entity. In 2007, as part of their attempt to recover Gaza from Hamas, Fatah seized 1,000 Qassam rockets at the university, as well as seven Iranian military trainers."

The real problem -- other than Iran's waging war on Israel through proxies -- is the unbridled, irrational and unabashed hatred among Palestinians and their most fervent supporters. A woman at a recent rally in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., chanted to Israel supporters, "Go back to the oven! You need a big oven, that's what you need."

Such hatred is what is destroying Gaza.

It's not only abominable, it's irrational. Until Hamas decided to continue waging war on Israel these past few years, Israel was out of Gaza.

THAT SEEMS TO be totally lost on pro-Palestinian protesters here, writes Ambassador Reda Mansour, consul general of Israel to the Southeast United States.

"Some of the Arab and Muslim demonstrators who recently came to our offices were holding signs that said 'Free Gaza,'" Masour writes. "Many Israelis would raise that same sign, me included, but for different reasons. People tend to forget that as of August 2005, Israel has not been in Gaza, and that the Gazans have been under Hamas control since June 2007. Indeed, Gaza needs to be freed from many different extremist forces.

"Gaza should be freed from Hamas, a terrorist organization that seized the strip by force. Since the takeover, Hamas has run Gaza's economy into the ground and now nearly half of the work force is unemployed. Hamas has built a Taliban-style state in Gaza and introduced many of the Islamic Shari'a laws, institutionalizing the persecution of women and minorities.

"Hamas has transformed Gaza from a free territory to a large bunker, a place where rockets are stored under families, schools, and places of prayer. Unfortunately, Gazans not only live among this militarization but are now a tool in Hamas' aggression."

The aggression isn't just against Jews, either. Pointedly on the eve of Christmas, Hamas legalized crucifixions. And an Iranian official has said Tehran has a "department" devoted to England's demise, for its role in spreading Western civilization.

That's being fairly explicit about one's "cause."

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