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Hamas carries out military parades in response to external and internal threats

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YOUSEF ALHELOU, TRNN CORRESPONDENT, GAZA: The military wing of the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip has held many military parades across the coastal strip in recent weeks, presenting new anti-aircraft missiles for the first time. Hamas is saying these parades were a message to Israel, and added that it is ready to repel any new Israeli attack on Gaza.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of the movement’s political bureau, said that the other message is that Hamas has not abandoned the resistance against Israel and that it has improved its military capabilities in recent years.

Another official said that these parades were in response to the decision by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to return to negotiations with Israel.

But some analysts say that there are other messages directed to the internal society in Gaza, following the establishment of a new movement called Tamarod, which means rebellion. The new online group urges the people of Gaza to rebel against Hamas and to bring an end to its rule on November 11.

MUKHAIMER ABU SEDA, POLITICAL ANALYST: Their target is the Palestinian internal society. They are directed toward the Palestinian public amid fears that there will be a Palestinian Tamarod rebellion on November 11 against Hamas and its government. And I don’t think that Hamas can send such strong messages to the Israelis or the Egyptians by these military parades. In my opinion, they are mainly intended for internal goals.

ALHELOU: As part of the tension that has calmed in recent days, a Hamas official has accused the Egyptian intelligence and security services of training members of the rebellion Gaza group.

ADNAN ABU AMER, POLITICAL ANALYST (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): Hamas feels that its resistance in Gaza is in danger. It says there is internal and external conspiracy to rebel against it. That’s why it carried out the recent parades, to send different messages to different sides and as a sign of strength for the resistance party that has been ruling Gaza since 2007.

AKRAM ATALLAH, POLITICAL ANALYST (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): There are a number of messages. The first message is for Egypt, an attempt to correct the mistakes that happened in the first parade that was carried out at the first of this month when it showed the sign of R4BIA and the Muslim Brotherhood logo during the parade and to stress that their weapons are only directed against the Israeli side.

The second message is for the [incompr.] society in Gaza and that the Tamarod group will not be able to bring an end to Hamas rule.

And the third message is for Israel, that the resistance party is ready to counter an attempt to destabilize its role in Gaza.

ALHELOU: Although the spokesperson of Hamas’s armed wing as well as the Hamas government denied Egyptian media reports that the recent frequent military marches were a message to Egypt, the Egyptian foreign minister has warned Hamas of a “harsh response” if the Islamist movement threatened Egypt’s national security.

ATALLAH: In theory these warnings are serious, but it’s impossible to implement them practically on the ground, because Gaza is still under Israeli control and Egypt cannot decide alone. The new Egyptian regime considers the Muslim Brotherhood as its first enemy in the Arab world, not only in Egypt, but also in neighboring Gaza, because Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the new Egyptian government does not want to see Hamas in power.

ALHELOU: Egypt’s army says militants from Hamas-run Gaza have staged joint attacks along with hardline Islamists in North Sinai, where the government has ramped up security operations after a surge of violence set off by President Mohamed Morsi’s downfall in July. This was denied repeatedly by the Hamas party.

SEDA: Egypt is not happy with the Hamas intervention in the Egyptian internal crisis. And the Egyptian security agencies have been able lately to arrest some Hamas figures, some Hamas infiltrators in Sinai and in Egypt who have been accused of plotting against Egyptian national security.

But at the end of the day, I don’t think that Egypt will intervene militarily. I don’t think that Egypt will deal with the Gaza Strip in a military way.

ALHELOU: The relationship between Cairo and Hamas has been strained since the Egyptian military overthrew Islamist president Mohammed Morsi on July 3. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which Morsi is a member of.

YOUSRI ALGHOUL, AUTHOR AND COLUMNIST: I think these are messages not only for Israelis. I think it’s a message for Tamarod movement that they are trying to make something in Palestine against Hamas movement, against the government of Gaza. Also, I don’t know whether it’s a message for Egyptians that now because of the conflict between both sides–.

AMER: It’s clear that the new Egyptian regime is trying to put pressure on Hamas in Gaza through issuing these warnings, in order to prevent the resistance party from showing any sign of sympathy with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and prevent it from interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs. Practically, a military action in Gaza on part of Egypt is not possible, because Israel will not allow any Arab army to reach its borders with Gaza.

ALHELOU: The Egyptian military has accused Hamas Party of aiding the Brotherhood militarily with the aim of attacking Egypt’s army. Yet it is obvious that the party is trying its best to avoid any confrontation with Egypt’s army.

Gaza has come under a financial crunch since Egypt destroyed most of the subterranean tunnels under Gaza-Egypt borders that are considered the lifeline for Gazans who relied heavily on these tunnels to bring in commodities banned by Israel from entering into the coastal strip, items such as construction materials.

The Egyptian army has said that the destruction of the tunnels is part of a crackdown against Islamist militants in the Sinai peninsula who have links to militants in Gaza. In the meantime, Israel has often said that tunnels are used to smuggle weapons into Gaza.

Now it remains to be seen if diplomacy will succeed to defuse the tension between the two neighbors, especially as Egypt is Gaza’s only gate to the outside world.

UNIDENTIFIED: It’s not our fault as Gazans that the similarity between the ideologies of Hamas, the government of Gaza, and the Muslim Brotherhood, the current opposition in Egypt, that it’s not our fault that we’ll be treated in such a way.

UNIDENTIFIED: The Rafah Crossing closes for one week maximum, and then it reopens again, because one week is enough to cause a humanitarian crisis, since it’s the only exit and access point to the Gaza Strip. So I’m pretty hopeful that things will change for the better soon.

Personally, I think that Hamas itself will not allow things to go in that direction. It’s a Palestinian resistance group against the Israeli occupation. It’s not necessarily fighting the Egyptian army or willing to put itself in a negative situation with respect to the Egyptian situation.

ALHELOU: Yousef Alhelou in Gaza for The Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Yousef Al-Helou is a Palestinian journalist and correspondent for The Real News Network based in Gaza-Palestine & London. His work has been featured in a variety of media outlets including BBC, GRN, CBC Radio Canada, TV New Zealand, UN Observer, Reuters Institute, Middle East Monitor, Press TV, Al-Etejah TV, Maan News Network, Electronic Intifada, Palestine Chronicle, PNN among many others. Yousef is a Reuters journalist fellow and a UN fellow as well and took part in many speaking tours in the UK/Ireland about his work experience, reporting in a war zone. Yousef covered the infighting between Fatah and Hamas as well as the two Israeli wars on Gaza in late 2008/early 2009 and late 2012, arrival of siege-breaking boats and many other major events since 2006. Yousef runs Gaza TV News page on Facebook that has more than 49,000 followers. Currently he is working on his research about the rise of citizen journalists in Gaza and their impact of public perception of Palestine in the West.