Hamas’ strength stems from its role as a welfare organisation

Jan 8, 2024
Israel and Hamas flags painted over cracked concrete wall.And lava flows behind.Israel vs Hamas war.

Hamas was voted in by Palestinians in Gaza in a fair election (as agreed by international monitors). It was primarily a welfare organisation providing services and infrastructure for the general population. It primarily still has this role, with an attached small military wing.

It reminds me of my time in Sri Lanka working for CARE in 2005-6, a year after the Tsunami. I worked above the line in Tamil Tiger country and in Trincomalee where there was a collaborative government comprising Tamils, Muslims and Buddhists. I was reviewing the work of CARE relating to rural development, shelter and livelihoods security, and recommending future directions. I was very impressed with the Tamil Tiger Administration. It worked with CARE, Oxfam, UNICEF and the Norwegian aid organisation to rebuild small houses for fisherman a little back from the sea and plant mangroves to prevent a future onslaught. The Administration was separate from the small Tamil Tiger Military. Below the line, the Buddhist government operated very differently. They told the owners of the backpacker hostels all along the coast, which had been destroyed, that they could not rebuild. They moved the fishermen inland some distance, and sold the land to developers to build 5-star hotels and resorts. In Trincomalee they removed the collaborative government and established one of just Buddhist officials.

Similar to what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank there were dreadful atrocities by the Buddhist government which was elected after I left, which many governments did not want to believe. I remember how proud I was of the head of the UNICEF program in the north who reported what had happened in international media. So often the truth does not come out as it is uncomfortable politically. Let us hope the truth will come out sufficiently about Israel and the Palestinians to allow changes of policy by a number of powerful countries and establishment of a workable solution.

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