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Myth of the noble terrorist takes an overdue battering

Jason Koutsoukis in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald reports on the brutality of Hamas towards Gaza's citizens

PALESTINIAN civilians living in Gaza during the three-week war with Israel have spoken of Hamas's attempt to hijack ambulances. Mohammed Shriteh, 30, is an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. "Mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected. We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us."

Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety.

"You hear when they are coming. People ring to tell you. So we had to get in all the ambulances and make the illusion of an emergency and only come back when they had gone."

Eyad al-Bayary, 32, lost his job as a senior nurse at the Shifa Hospital because he is closely identified with Fatah.

Since the ceasefire was declared on January 17, Hamas has begun to systematically take revenge on anyone believed to have collaborated with Israel before the war. According to rumour, a number of alleged collaborators have already been executed.

Taher al-Nono, the Hamas Government's spokesman in Gaza, told the Herald that 175 people had been arrested so far on suspicion of collaborating.

And if the sentence is death? "We will respect the decision."

The commander of one al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade unit, who used the name Abu Ibrahim, said he would never accept peace or negotiation, even if it might lead to the creation of a Palestinian state. reports that Hamas may have inflated the death toll in Gaza:

ITALIAN newspaper Corriere della Sera reported Thursday that a doctor working in Gaza's Shifa Hospital claimed that Hamas has intentionally inflated the number of casualties resulting from Israel's Operation Cast Lead.

"The number of deceased stands at no more than 500 to 600. Most of them are youths between the ages of 17 to 23 who were recruited to the ranks of Hamas, who sent them to the slaughter," according to the newspaper article. The doctor wished to remain unidentified, out of fear for his life.

A Tal al-Hawa resident told the newspaper's reporter: "Armed Hamas men sought out a good position for provoking the Israelis. There were mostly teenagers, aged 16 or 17, and armed. They couldn't do a thing against a tank or a jet. They knew they are much weaker, but they fired at our houses so that they could blame Israel for war crimes."

The reporter for the Italian newspaper also quoted reporters in the Strip who told of Hamas's exaggerated figures, "We have already said to Hamas commanders: why do you insist on inflating the number of victims?"

These same reporters mentioned that the truth that will come out is likely to be similar to what occurred in Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin. "Then, there was first talk of 1500 deaths. But then it turned out that there were only 54, 45 of which were armed men," the Palestinian reporters told the Italian newspaper.

Denis Maceoin in The Jerusalem Post:

WATCH those films of Hamas gunmen dragging screaming children along with them to act as human shields, watch how they fire from behind the little ones, knowing no Israeli soldier will fire back. And even as they put their own children's lives at risk, they shout to high heaven that the Israelis are Nazis and the Jews are child-killers. Hamas has become proficient at resurrecting the blood libel, just as its fighters use the Nazi salute, just as their predecessor in the 1930s and '40s, Haj Amin al-Husseini, conferred with Hitler about building death camps in Palestine and raised a division of SS troops in Bosnia to fight for the Reich.

It is all self-contradictory: The Left supports gay rights, yet attacks the only country in the Middle East, where gay rights are enshrined in law. Hamas makes death the punishment for being gay, but "we are all Hamas now". Iran hangs gays, but it is praised as an agent of anti-imperialism, and allowed to get on with its job of stoning women and executing dissidents and members of religious minorities. If British Prime Minister Gordon Brown swore to wipe France from the face of the earth, he would become a pariah among nations. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatens to do that to Israel and is invited to speak to the UN General Assembly. Israel guarantees civil liberties to all its citizens, Jew or Arab alike, but it is dubbed an apartheid state; Hamas, ever the bully, kills its opponents and denies the rest the most basic rights, but we march on behalf of Hamas.

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Original piece is,25197,24967063-20261,00.html

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As Fairfax"s Middle East correspondent, Jason Koutsoukis is shared by the SMH and The Age, yet the latter chose not to publish his piece - the prerogative of an editor whose agenda could not be more clear. It"s heartening that The Australian put a spanner in Hamas" works, but how I wish it had appeared as a major foreign news story instead of in a column. Still, columnists can be enormously influential and The Age"s nemesis, Andrew Bolt, is about to be back in print in the Herald Sun.

Posted by Zelda Cawthorne on 2009-01-27 12:10:56 GMT

Thank God that in "The Australian" the world has at least one newspaper that is not afraid to tell the truth about the Israel-Hamas battle. As a resident in England I welcome the opportunity to read these articles supplied through your kind offices.

Posted by David Reed on 2009-01-27 10:21:28 GMT

I regret to report that this very accurate article will NOT be well circulated becase "the fix is in" with an abundance of news outlets. I agree that seeing it in a secular site is heartwarming - but the oil-rich p.r. machine never stops rolling over the truth. Also, the "1300" dead (Hamas" inflated figure) is now known to be 500-600 - mostly fighters. Of course that too, won"t be widely reported. But kudos to "The Australian" - most papers just echo Arab lies.

Posted by Roberta on 2009-01-27 03:45:16 GMT

The Australian had better be careful or they will be labelled as a pro-Israel rightist rag! I am amazed that the SMH published that first article also. To see truth, not propaganda, published is a deeply moving experience. Excellent pieces, maybe send a copy to the UN? But I fear little will change really, as there is no expectation of humanity of Hamas, and endless expectations of Israel. So nothing Hamas does can"t be explained away by leftist apologists and everything Israel does will be viewed through their warped prism of "anti-Zionism". But it still did my heart good to read these pieces.

Posted by Shyrla on 2009-01-27 01:35:40 GMT

The smartest, most compassionate thing the world can do now, is hold early elections amongst the Palestinians. Hamas will try to consolidate power with ever increasing brutality. The sooner they are gone, the more Palestinians will be spared. The next step is to redress the debacle that was Oslo, and try to get out Fatah, PLO, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, DFLP, and all the other terrorist groups the PLO invited in to become the Palestinian Authority, and restore some chance for peace. I think, with their own representation, most Palestinians would opt to once again become part of Jordan. The whole concept of independent statehood was driven by Arafat and the PLO, and then, as a cynical means to destroy Israel concocted at the Rabat conference of 1974.

Posted by Morry on 2009-01-27 01:28:32 GMT