Hamas and the Guardian – doing what comes naturally?

The Guardian Online has been confusing lately.   More and more Guardian articles are closed to comments.  Why is that?  Are they having to lay off moderators or rely on school leavers/holiday job volunteers?  Why are they departing so markedly from their format of printing guff about Israel and by not allowing even their own baying hounds to vent their hatred?

No comments are allowed either below the article in the World News section about Hamas hanging two Palestinians, allegedly for spying for Israel. 

Hamas executing political opponents in Gaza.

Accusing their political enemies of spying for Israel is the strong suit of every Arab government in the Middle East, as Daniel Pipes says in his book “The Hidden Hand” , so that should not surprise us. 

Nevertheless not allowing comments below the Guardian article is bizarre, given the readiness of the Guardian, and particularly Comment is Free, to leap to the defence of Hamas and give its apologists all the column inches they want to spout their particular brand of distortion. 

Why, I wonder, is there no attempt to explain away Hamas’ behaviour or at least give the Guardianista anti-Israel regulars the opportunity to do so below the line?  Also curious is that this article is stripped of the usual anti-Israel / pro-Palestinian hype one expects from the Guardian.

We see from the article that the two men, aged 60 and 29, (who according to CNN were father and son) were hanged at dawn on 26 July. The Guardian article says that the Hamas spokesman would give no further details, so we do not know from that article whether they were tried or whether this was a summary execution in the manner preferred by Hamas of its enemies, real and/or imagined.  CNN, however, tells us that they had been convicted in 2004 of assisting the enemy and providing information used to assassinate Palestinians.  It is interesting to note the egregious double standard here, that Hamas executed two men for colluding with the very crimes (ie assassinating Palestinians) that it itself committed subsequently against Fatah:

“According to the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, the families of the men received a call at 1 a.m. Tuesday, asking them to visit their relatives. The meeting took place until 3 a.m., and at 6 a.m. the men’s bodies were received at Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital.

“It appears from the state of the bodies that the men were hanged,” a statement from Al Mezan says. The center noted the danger in collaborating with Israel, but said that “(while) it is important to bring them to justice, we strongly object to the use of the death penalty and see the move by Hamas as illegal.”

[Question 1:  If CNN could find this out, why didn’t the Guardian print the whole story? *

Anomaly 1:  According to CNN, these men were arrested in 2004 and Israel left Gaza in September 2005.  I am not sure – and the article does not make clear – exactly how they fell into the hands of Hamas, when Fatah was presumably in charge of maintaining what passed for civil law and order in Gaza at the time of their arrest.   Perhaps it happened after the Hamas coup and the bloodletting and murder of Fatah operatives when Hamas took over the jail system.   But why wait seven years to execute these men if the case against them is clear-cut?   Is Hamas losing its grip and therefore it needs to make an example of them now?   So many questions shopping for answers!]

Conjecture apart, Amnesty International’s Middle East programme director Malcolm Smart said in 2010 that legal proceedings that led to death sentences “failed to meet international fair trial standards” and made any resulting executions “especially abhorrent.”

*Now look a little closer at the article.  This report of Hamas brutality was not written by a Guardian reporter filled with anti-Israel animus but by Associated Press, which might explain the unadorned, unemotional nature of it, and why it did not wander off into the ozone layer of hyperbole and supposition.  Can we assume that it was chosen for publication because the sparse nature of the information in it might have fitted the Guardian World View far better than the more detailed reporting of an outlet like CNN, simply because AP skated over the circumstances of the executions and the fact that they arose from Hamas’ failure to meet the international standards for a fair trial? 

These are not the first such executions and it is a racing certainty that they will not be the last. 

Indeed Hamas seems morbidly proud of its record and intentions, as one might expect given its blatant disregard for the human rights of its own people (see also here ). The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said that Hamas has executed five people for spying since taking control of the coastal strip in 2007.  It would not be surprising if the figure was in fact higher and that is definitely the case if one includes the summary executions of Fatah members and sympathisers after Cast Lead.

It is a similar racing certainty that no article condemning Hamas’ complete lack of awareness of what might constitute “just” behaviour towards its own people will ever find its way into the Guardian or Comment is Free.

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