by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Two days ago, Israel warned Palestinians who live near the Israeli border in the Northern Gaza Strip, an area from which Hamas launches long-range missiles, to evacuate their homes to areas of safety before Israel bombed the launching sites. Hamas' Ministry of Interior immediately called on its civilian population to ignore Israel's warnings and remain in their homes in spite of the danger:
"An important and urgent message:
The [Hamas] Ministry of the Interior and National Security calls on our honorable people in all parts of the [Gaza] Strip to ignore the warnings [to vacate areas near rocket launching sites before Israel bombs them] that are being disseminated by the Israeli occupation through manifestos and phone messages, as these are part of a psychological war meant to sow confusion on the [Palestinian] home front, in light of the [Israeli] enemy's security failure and its confusion and bewilderment."
[Hamas' Ministry of Interior spokesman Iyad al-Buzu, on Ministry's Facebook page, July 12, 2014]
However, many Palestinians did leave their homes, and yesterday Hamas called on them to return, saying that leaving only helps Israel "in carrying out its plans... to destroy [your] property and homes." Hamas' demand that people stay in their homes to prevent Israeli attacks on these missile sites is a demand that they act as human shields:
"Answering the occupation's calls will merely aid it in carrying out its plans to weaken the [Palestinian] home front and to destroy property and homes as soon as you leave them. We call on all our people who have left their homes to return to them immediately."
[Hamas' Ministry of Interior spokesman Iyad al-Buzu, on Ministry's Facebook page, July 13, 2014]
Hamas opposition to Palestinians leaving their homes is so great that after UNRWA opened schools to house those who had run for safety, Hamas TV broadcast a press conference protesting UNRWA's opening of schools. A representative of the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces read the decisions reached at the conference:
"We call on our Palestinian people, particularly the residents of northwest Gaza, not to obey what is written in the pamphlets distributed by the Israeli occupation army. We call on them to remain in their homes and disregard the demands to leave, however serious the threat may be."
[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), July 14, 2014]
Click to view http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?
Palestinian Media Watch has reported in the past that using civilians as human shields is a strategy of choice for Hamas, which is why it places missiles near homes and mosques. Last week, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Hamas' use of civilians as human shields has proven effective:
Al-Aqsa TV reporter: "Witnesses are talking about a large crowd. The residents are still gathering to reach the Kaware family home in order to prevent the Zionist occupation's fighter planes from striking it."
Al-Aqsa TV host: "People are reverting to a method that was very successful once."
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri: "The people oppose the Israeli fighter planes with their bodies alone... I think this method has proven effective against the occupation. It also reflects the nature of our heroic and brave people, and we, the [Hamas] movement, call on our people to adopt this method in order to protect the Palestinian homes."
[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), July 8, 2014]
The PA and Hamas death-seeking ideology fosters willingness to die as human shields
Hamas' success in convincing civilians to act as human shields is a direct outcome of years of PA and Hamas indoctrination that there is no greater achievement than dying for Allah. Dying in the conflict with Israel, as a fighter, suicide bomber, or a passive civilian in a combat zone, is defined by both the PA and Hamas as "achieving Shahada (Martyrdom)." Dying for Allah is an achievement to be sought. Recently, the essence of this Palestinian Shahada-seeking (Martyrdom-seeking) ideology was explained in great detail by then-PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash, (today the Supreme Shari'ah Judge and Mahmoud Abbas' Advisor on Religious and Islamic Affairs):
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash: "After prophecy and righteousness, there is no status Allah has exalted more than Shahada
(Martyrdom)... Allah forbade us to consider them [the Shahids - Martyrs] as dead or to speak of them as being dead... They went smiling to their deaths... The Shahid has merit with Allah, a merit that no one else has... 'The Shahid - his sins are forgiven with the first gush of his blood from his wound...
The Shahid advocates on behalf of 70 members of his family, and saves them all from hell. The Shahid lives [in Paradise] together with the prophets and the righteous ones...'We will never reach the level of the prophets. We won't. So let us reach the level of the Shahids. I say to you, brothers, as the Prophet [Muhammad] said: 'He who honestly seeks Shahada, Allah will give him the status of the Shahids, even if he dies in his bed.'"
[Official PA TV, Nov. 8, 2013] (See longer text translated below)
In a later sermon, Al-Habbash preached:
"Brothers, Allah willing, only 'one of the two best things' (Quran) will happen to us - victory or Shahada (Martyrdom) - and what a great fate this is, what a great rank this is - victory or Shahada."
[Official PA TV, Dec. 20, 2013]
It is notable that this death-seeking ideology was delineated by a PA religious leader.
The great success of this indoctrination, which goes against the basic instinct for self-preservation, can be seen in numerous statements by adults and children broadcast on Palestinian TV stations glorifying Shahada and expressing yearning for this acclaimed Martyrdom death for Allah.
A few months ago, Hamas TV broadcast interviews with children in Jenin in the PA-governed West Bank, expressing the ideal of dying for Allah:
Newsreader: "For most of these children, resistance has become a dream...
When you speak to them, you're surprised by the strength and eloquence of their words."
Boy: "We love the resistance. We want to die as Martyrs. Long live the Martyrs."
[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas) YouTube channel, May 8, 2014]
Hamas' call to use civilians as human shields is successful only because the PA and Hamas have educated their people to value the ideal of dying for Allah.
In 2008, PMW reported that Hamas openly took pride in comparing their preference for death to the "Zionist enemy's" preference for life:
Then-Hamas member of Palestinian Parliament, Fathi Hammad said:
"For the Palestinian people, death became an industry at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly [Palestinians] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire Death, as you desire Life."
[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), Feb. 29, 2008]
The following are longer texts of the items glorifying Shahada:
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash: "After prophecy and righteousness there is no status Allah has exalted more than Shahada (Martyrdom)... ''And think not of those who have been killed in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord.' Allah forbade us to consider them [the Shahids (Martyrs)] as dead or to speak of them as being dead... They went smiling to their deaths... The Shahid has merit with Allah, a merit that no one else has... No one - not even the righteous - yearns to return to this world after death. Only Shahids. Why? Because they see the great honor Allah has prepared for them. One of them aspired to return to this world in order to be killed again, in order to die as a Shahid yet again... Allah spoke with one of them (a Shahid), Jabir ibn Abdullah... After all he saw in Paradise, he wanted to return and be killed [again] in order to taste the pain of death a second time. Abdullah said to Him: 'Lord, then tell those who follow us about what we have found.' Allah Himself is conveying to us the message from the Shahids. The prophets convey Allah's message and Allah conveys the message of the Shahids. What kindness! 'The Shahid - his sins are forgiven with the first gush of his blood from his wound... The Shahid advocates on behalf of 70 members of his family, and saves them all from hell. The Shahid lives together with the prophets and the righteous ones.' When they threatened Yasser Arafat, [he said] 'You threaten me with death?
I yearn to die! I come only to it; I seek only it.' We will never reach the level of the prophets. We won't. So let us reach the level of the Shahids. I say to you, brothers, as the Prophet [Muhammad] said: 'He who honestly seeks Shahada, Allah will give him the status of the
Shahids, even if he dies in his bed.'"
[Official PA TV, Nov. 8, 2013]
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash: "We know for certain that as long as we [adhere] to the truth, we will face challenges and be made a target - as individuals and as groups - we know this for certain. Nonetheless, we are also confident in the words of Allah: 'Say, 'Do you await for us except one of the two best things' (Quran, Sura 9:52, translation Sahih International). What do you expect, enemies, cowards (indistinct word), what do they expect will happen to us? 'One of the two best things.' Brothers, Allah willing, only one of the two best things will happen to us - victory or Martyrdom (Shahada) - and what a good fate this is, what a good level is this - victory or Martyrdom... 'Say, 'Do you await for us except one of the two best things while we await for you that Allah will afflict you with punishment from Himself or at our hands? So wait; indeed we, along with you, are waiting' (Quran, Sura 9:52, translation Sahih International). Await, wait a short while, I swear the signs heralding victory are seen on the horizon. I swear in a God, beside whom there is no other God, that the end of the tyranny and the tyrants is near. This occupation and its growths and creations that wish to spread corruption in our land... We tell them all, the occupation and the occupation's instruments and any who serve the occupation: 'Await for us except one of the two best things' - we, Allah willing, [will be] either Martyrs or victors on our land. [...]
Pay attention, it is Allah who says: 'They will not harm you except for [some] annoyance' (Quran, Sura 3:111, translation Sahih International) - it is possible that they will harm you. I say to you, it is possible that they will kill us, it is possible that Allah will sentence us to Martyrdom. It is possible that we will be wounded, it is possible that terrorism will be laid on us - 'They will not harm you except for [some] annoyance' - but in the end, 'and if they fight you, they will show you their backs' and the conclusion - 'then they will not be aided' (Quran, Sura, 3:111, translation, Sahih International). We ask for victory more than we ask for life. We ask for the strengthening of our people in this good and blessed land."
[Official PA TV, Dec. 20, 2013]
Hamas TV reporter: For most of these children, resistance has become a dream... When you speak to them, you're surprised by the strength and eloquence of their words. Boy: We love the resistance. We want to die as Martyrs. Long live the Martyrs...
Boy: The Israeli occupation understands only resistance. We always love the resistance, to liberate our nation Palestine. And among us, the Martyrs are loved. Applause for the Martyrs...
Reporter: The atmosphere in the refugee camp is full of the spirit of resistance and of those who inscribed its stories of heroism. Most of the walls show you the images of the Martyrs...
Boy: The resistance, the armed resistance is what brings results in the Jenin refugee camp... The Jenin refugee camp continues to educate its children to resist, and passes on the flag to them, from generation to generation. They yearn for one of the two best outcomes -- the return to their occupied lands, or Martyrdom.
[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas) YouTube channel, May 8, 2014]
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.