His personal struggle

The release of kidnapped… BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston yesterday was welcome news. Read his own description of the hellish 16 weeks in captivity.

Always a champion for the Palestinians in a Western media that routinely ignores their plight, Johnston’s comments upon his release were intriguing:

“Hamas has a huge law and order agenda,” he said. Although the Islamic militant movement was controversial internationally, he said, it “is better at keeping law and order than many would agree. And God knows Gaza needs law and order.”

The Damascus-based Hamas leader Khalid Mish’al has also tried to place Johnston’s release in perspective:

The Palestinian people have been struggling for their freedom for almost a century. In our own land we have been denied basic human rights by an occupier that has enjoyed, under various spurious guises, international support. As Alan Johnston returns home, we hope that the British, and people the world over, reflect on the fact that more than 12,000 Palestinians are languishing in Israeli jails, unjustly denied their freedom. They include ministers of a democratically elected government, parliamentarians, women and even children…

Many in the international community warned that the imposition of sanctions would undermine security and bring chaos to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Their warnings were ignored. The kidnap and 114-day-long captivity of Alan Johnston took place within a dysfunctional environment imposed from beyond Palestinian borders.

Is it not absurd that a duly elected and constituted government should be denied the authority, by external and internal forces, to control its security services? Is it not bizarre, is it not scandalous, that a national security force should itself become a mechanism for the spread of disorder? Where else in the world today would an elected prime minister find that persistent assassination attempts were allowed to pass without any security measures taken? Where else would the known would-be assassins be allowed to walk free? Where else would assailants and racketeers be given the licence to attack at will? It is to address such chaos in Gaza that Hamas was compelled to take charge.

It is in this context that we condemn the attempted attacks in London and Glasgow – as we have done in the past after attacks in Spain and the US. We could not be clearer: Hamas will not accept nor tolerate anyone exploiting the sacred cause of the Palestinian people to commit acts of murder and carnage around the world. Our strategy has always been and remains firmly based on the principle that the resistance should be fought only within Palestine.

We appreciate and commend the support given to our cause by international civic society, and hope that support will continue in the pursuit of justice and freedom for the people of Palestine.

Love them or loathe them, Hamas are a permanent feature in Palestinian affairs. The more the Western powers try to isolate the group, the stronger its power becomes.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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