Hamas Militant Can’t Wait to Be Killed by Superior Firepower
Gaza City, Gaza Strip (AP) – Ahmad Kawasmeh, 22, is in many ways your typical resident of the Gaza Strip: young, unemployed, fervently Muslim and uncompromisingly anti-Israel. He also boasts an infectious enthusiasm for being shot, dismembered, burned, crushed or otherwise killed in a looming confrontation with the Israeli Army.
“Ahmad reminds us what it’s all about, with his youthful exuberance,” said Mahmoud Salah, his commander in the Izzedin-el-Qassam Brigades, the main Hamas fighting force. “Most of us walk around with bravado, boasting of the Zionist soldiers we’ll kill, the tanks we’ll blow up, the aircraft we’ll shoot down. Ahmad is different. He’s all about the pure experience of being overwhelmed by superior firepower and dying in a painfully frustrating fashion.”
Salah said Kawasmeh reminded him of a Hamas fighter killed in confrontations with the IDF in 2010. “Hamdi [Al-Tuq] tried to fire an antitank missile at a bulldozer, but an Israeli tank shot the missile,” he recalled. “Then the tank’s turret rotated a few degrees, and bam, Hamdi was in a dozen pieces. I’ll never forget him for that. He lived and died what it’s all about.”
The Hamas militants are keenly aware that their only real option in a ground conflict is to booby trap the hell out of every room in every building and exact as heavy a toll as possible on the invading Israeli troops. They also know that no matter how many soldiers they dispatch, the technologically and logistically superior IDF will kill more of them. They are already getting a taste of the disproportionate capabilities, with at least sixty fighters among the one hundred dead Gazans in the last five days and not a single Israeli soldier killed. Three Israeli civilians have been killed by Hamas missiles.
Those statistics have made Kawasmeh even hungrier to meet his fate. “You can see it in his eyes,” says Jibril Abu Kluf, a comrade. “He wants to be the one crushed under the rubble of a collapsing arms storage depot. He wants to be the one torn apart by Israeli naval gunners before he can launch that missile at Tel Aviv. He wants to be standing on a rooftop when a bomb lands, flattening him before collapsing the structure like a pile of blocks.”
Gaza has no shortage of young men like Mr. Kawasmeh; it is a veritable breeding ground for unemployment, frustration, prejudice, isolation and radicalism. On track to be unlivable by 2020, Gaza is teeming with Hamas recruits – or potential recruits – itching to take out their frustrations on whatever outside forces can be blamed, and die trying. Anything to avoid actually trying to transform the place into a thriving trade corridor.
“Trying to do anything other than ‘resist’ Israeli ‘Occupation’ would mean admitting that Palestinians’ problems have solutions that do not involve lobbing rockets at Israeli towns and trying to blow up buses full of Israeli schoolchildren,” explained Mustafa A-Salka, who studies what passes for the Gaza economy. “The leadership of Hamas has far too much at stake in terms of its standing to blame anything but the Zionists, and they control what goes on in Gaza. Young men such as Ahmad Kawasmeh will naturally gravitate toward the only career options the Hamas makes available.”
Hamas can and does supply a limited number of positions in propagandizing, but the clumsy performance of the Gaza publicity machine so far in this conflict does not inspire additional candidates to want to be associated with the debacle. “At least with getting blown to smithereens, there’s a clear right way to do it,” says Kawasmeh. “And no Zionist pig soldier is going to stop me from – well, he might, actually, come to think of it. For some reason those Israelis have reasons to value life.”
“It’s not something I can wrap my head around.”
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