Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Hamas on Bin Laden

Hamas condemned the American attack which killed Osama bin Laden:
"Hamas officials here condemned on Monday the American operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, with Ismail Haniya, the leader of the Hamas government, calling it a 'continuation of the United States policy of destruction...'

"Though the Islamic group Hamas is also defined as a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel and others, its denunciations were surprising to many, given their timing. Just two weeks ago, Hamas forces stormed a building in Gaza where Al Qaeda inspired extremists accused of kidnapping and killing a pro-Palestinian Italian activist were holed up. Two died and Hamas arrested the third.

"And on Wednesday, Hamas is expected to sign a preliminary reconciliation deal in Cairo with its secularist, mainstream rival Fatah, which is now based in the West Bank. The West Bank leadership is currently trying to win Western support for the deal and the unified interim government that is supposed to emerge."

Helena Cobban speculated that Hamas's Gaza leadership has reasons to be sensitive to issues of extra-judicial killings, which makes some sense. Another angle, however, is suggested by the juxtaposition of the last two paragraphs excerpted above. Hamas is about to sign a unity deal with Fatah even as it fends off a radical salafi challenge. Speaking out against the American operation could have been a way to shore up part of its base as it makes peace with an organization many Hamas supporters view as an Israeli tool.

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