What is with those wanting to kill Haniyeh?

It all started a couple of months ago when the sacked Ex-Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh came out claiming that his sacked Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahhar was planning to kill him. Zahhar in turn came out stating that despite the differences between the two, he will not kill him. To those who have insight into the Zahhar character, it sounded as if the statement was missing the "for now" in its conclusion.

That was a serious affair because Zahhar and the sacked interior minister Said Syam and their likes are the ones who control the Hamas militias and are the characters in Hamas who have been ordering the mayhem, murders and torture, whereas Haniyah is nothing but a sitting duck in that organization with no military power.

The differences between Haniyah and the Zahhar line inside of Hamas are major differences and historic. Haniyah was the office manager of the late leader of the organization Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and his ardent follower. Zahhar, Syam and the current leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, are the hardliners who had an irrevocable dispute with the founder of the organization when he strategically decided to join the Palestine Liberation Organization and achieve national unity in Palestine.

The differences are ideological and therefore strategic. Sheikh Yassin had turned the movement from an international Islamist agenda concerned mainly with Islamist causes such as Jihad in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Bosnia into a nationalistic movement concerned with liberating Palestine first. The liberation of Palestine as understood by those who still see themselves as members of the global Islamist cause is secondary and some would even argue unnecessary on the basis that Israel would not survive "when" the Caliphate state is set up encompassing all Islamic nations and all the way up to China!

These two lines of thought inside of Hamas can be described as the "realists" represented by Sheikh Yassin and now Hanyeh and the ridiculous "dreamers" who have taken power in the organization and have caused the division of Gaza from the West Bank.

When Meshaal and his line were on the verge of breaking out of Hamas on the basis of these ideological differences, Israel resolved the dispute by murdering Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his deputy Abdul Aziz Rantissi; placing Meshaal on the top of the organization, followed by the most radical of them all, Zahhar, and after him Syam. The moderates represented by Haniyah had dropped on the ladder of hierarchy from top positions to 4th in line, and even that low level position is disputed.

Based on the need for a functional government, upon the results of Legislative Council elections, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked non-other than Haniyeh to form the government and gave him the authority to select his cabinet. The poor Haniyeh, functioning under the directives of his overall leader Meshaal, appointed a cabinet of adversaries including Zahhar who could not accept to work under the directives of a man who is much lower on the scale of leadership. He never did despite the titles of government.

Abbas knew Haniyah and the line of Sheikh Yassin were the only ones he could work with; the others did not subscribe to a national agenda and therefore were bad news. But every single agreement reached between Abbas and Haniyah was revoked by the seniors of the weak man with no say in his own organization resulting in the collapse of the government then the birth of the unity government that did not last due to the military coup conducted in Gaza that showed the true colors of the leaders of Hamas.

All signs show that the coup was planned and conducted despite Haniyah’s disapproval and all his post-coup attempts to revoke the coup and bring back a unity government failed. Worse, it soon became clear that Haniyeh himself was pretty much a hostage inside Hamas; forced to read statements written by others and to declare things he did not subscribe to.

Haniyeh’s life is in danger if he chooses to continue to be an obstacle in the face of his seniors. Moreover, Israel’s declaration this month that they would assassinate Haniyeh is as serious as the threats he faces from within his own party.

It is typical for Israel to take out the moderates. The killing of Sheikh Yassin and Rantissi at a time when they were close to reaching an agreement with the PLO is just one example of how Israel is adamant to keep the opposition groups as radical as possible and nourish the excuse for why a peace deal can "never" be brokered with the Palestinians.

When Israel moved into Gaza and the West Bank against Hamas, arresting their leaders including members of the legislative council, it is fascinating how the vast majority of those picked up were the moderates who either supported unity or were willing to humor a peace deal with Israel if such a deal can be reached.

The Hamas leader of the West Bank, Sheikh Ahmad Youssef, was one of the first to be arrested. A prime example of a natural ally of Haniyah who has always worked very well with all other factions including Fateh and the Authority, Youssef’s arrest was necessary to ensure that the division between Hamas and the legitimate leadership in Palestine spilled over to the West Bank and was not restricted to Gaza alone. Again, Youssef has no blood on his hands and has nothing to do with militants or military affairs.

Therefore it is not surprising that Israel publicly declared with a straight face that they will kill Haniyeh if the Qassam Rockets did not stop, as if Haniyeh had a say on rockets or even bullets! Had Haniyeh enjoyed any decision making power in Gaza, it would be no surprise if he would pull the plug on all military operations to "give peace a chance!"

But what must be much more scary for Haniyeh than Israel’s true threats is when his sacked interior murderer of a minister Siam came out at a press conference declaring that his thugs have caught a group – working for President Abbas out of all people - planning to kill Haniyeh. He displayed on TV the men who "confessed" to the plan to kill Haniyeh as he performed Friday prayers at a mosque.

Hilariously, many viewers noted how the previously unheard of characters put on display and who had been "caught" weeks ago had neat haircuts and complemented Hamas on its unprecedented prison beauty services. One guy was even wearing the Qassam black necklace around his neck; must be a gift from Hamas as a sign of hospitality to those who plan to kill their leaders.

What is not funny for Haniyeh is that the terrible quality television drama featuring Siam and his boys is nothing but a step by his "comrades" to pave his road to heaven even before Israel makes a martyr out of him.

Just like Meshaal and his comrades in crime were planning to break out of Hamas before the death of their revered leader, it would be no wonder if Haniyeh is looking for a way out of Gaza and into the West Bank or Egypt to break for his life. Good luck Haniyeh, Hamas needs you and your likes alive if it is ever going to be saved from the abyss!

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About Ramzi Khoury

Ramzi Khoury is an opinion columnist and satirist who publishes a weekly page, Piece of Mind, at the Saudi Gazette and elsewhere every Wednesday, Ramzi E. Khoury started his career in Granada Television in the 80s working on documentaries and since then has worked in the print, television and radio media all over the world. In addition to reporting with international news agencies he held several posts in the media including Chief Sub Editor/Political Editor of the Jordan Times, Editor in Chief of the Arab Daily newspaper and Secretary General of the Arab Media Organization. He continues to be adviser to several newspapers, television and radio stations as well as online media. He has worked with numerous satellite channels on television programs, documentaries and news and is often invited to offer his political analysis on television and radio stations from all over the world especially on Mideast and related issues. Currently based in Malaysia with extensive travel in the Middle East and Europe Khoury advices governments and private sector organizations on Perception Management with focus on issues related to politics and religion including the divide between the Muslim World and the West and is active with several non-government organizations. Before Malaysia he was based in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Palestine, Jordan, USA and the UK in order.

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