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August 10, 2007

Hamas Stamps Out Smuggling -- Washington Post

“Egypt Finding Fewer Gaza Smuggling Tunnels; Hamas Steps Up Border Patrols, Seeking to Assert Order in Palestinian Territory” (July 30, 2007), by Washington Post foreign correspondent Ellen Knickmeyer, makes superficial seem profound. Knickmeyer writes, without journalistic skepticism, that the Hamas terrorists who purged their Fatah rivals from the Gaza Strip in a murderous five-day campaign in June have turned into conscientious border guards. She paraphrases an Egyptian official as saying that Egypt’s finding fewer tunnels is “an indication of the radical Islamic group’s broad success in reducing the smuggling of weapons and other contraband.”

Barry Rubin, professor at the Interdisciplinary University in Herzliya and director of the Global Research for International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, supplies the missing logic: “There was an arms race between Fatah and Hamas, leading to large-scale smuggling” before the purge. Now, “Hamas has all the arms it smuggled plus all of Fatah's [captured] armaments, including materiel supplied by the United States. At this moment” — having beaten Fatah and not yet provoked large-scale fighting with Israel — it is “not expending much ammunition or losing any equipment. So Hamas doesn't need to smuggle arms for a long time, or at least needs to bring in far less.” Knickmeyer and The Post mistake these circumstances as meaning, Rubin adds, that “since they aren't smuggling arms this proves that they are moderate, or at least trying to show they are acting responsibly.”

“Egypt Finding Fewer Gaza Smuggling Tunnels” does not meet minimum standards of professional inquiry, let alone The Washington Post’s professed investigative standards. Knickmeyer observes that “Palestinian border guards, identified by Egyptian and U.S. officials as Hamas fighters, have shed the ski masks that Hamas fighters usually wear. They have adopted military-style short haircuts and wear dark T-shirts.” So readers are to believe that a change in fashion signals a change in the organizations’ murderous methods, used against Fatah and still aimed at Israel? One wonders where the editors were, and where the articles on Hamas’ armed build-up in the Strip and creeping imposition of Islamic fundamentalism on Gazans are. -- M.B. and E.R.

Posted by ER at August 10, 2007 04:05 PM

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