Condoleezza Rice, giving the official position of the US government, remarked that: “The United States … holds Hamas responsible for the breakdown of the ceasefire and for the renewed violence in Gaza”. Her request was that the ceasefire be “immediately restored”. That kind of foreign statesmanship is a lot of impressive talk (well perhaps it isn’t even impressive), but it is still only talk and rather partisan talk.
How is Hamas supposed to respond to this statement? Knowing that the US government more-or-less fully supports Israel and having just emerged from a bombing raid that sees over 200 Palestinians killed, are they supposed to respond with a sensible nod and set up an arms amnesty?
Unfortunately for the US and Israel, Hamas is a legitimately elected government. They may be infiltrated by lunatic Islamic militants, but they were actually elected and have popular support. However, such minor obstacles has never bothered the US governments of the past as evidenced by their blockade of Cuba. Which is probably why the US never makes bold statements about how Israel cuts off food and medical supplies to Palestinians in the Gaza strip; that would be hypocritical. Much easier to highlight Hamas as a wing of the ‘world terrorist organisation’ propped up by Iran, this affords Israel some some sort of shaky legitimacy.
It helps to stir up fears of a mad world terrorism wing when it is reported that outside the bombed compounds in Gaza, next to the piles of dead bodies, recue and aid workers beat their heads and shouted: “God is greatest.” Others recited verses from the Qu’ran. There are two ways of looking at this: the Condoleezza Rice approach that Palestinian Gaza is simply saturated with Islamic extremist troublemakers, or the view that Palestinians in the Gaza strip, with a government that the US and others refuse to recognise and which tacitly support Israel’s Gaza occupation, have a fairly easy choice to make: Hamas is seen as the only group actively battling the anti-Israeli-occupation stance.