Unless you live on another planet, or simply don't do corporate news, you'll know by now that not only was murdered Hamas man Mahmoud al-Mabhouh Badder than Bad, but also that he was Bigger than Big:
"Israel clearly had the motivation to kill Mabhouh, a founder of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing. It also had the justification. Hamas and Israel are at war, with Hamas committed to the eventual obliteration of Israel and its replacement with an Islamic state. As a leading commander for 20 years, Mabhouh carried out scores of attacks against the Jewish state. He is accused of playing a key role in smuggling Iranian weapons to Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip and kidnapping and killing 2 Israeli soldiers in 1989." (Editorial: Stretching the friendship: Nobody should regret the demise of a Hamas warlord, The Australian, 27/2/10)
"There are compelling arguments against extrajudicial killings on both strategic and moral grounds. But Mabhouh, co-founder of Hamas' military wing, turned Palestinian children into bombs for the wiping out of Israeli children and marketed his atrocities as 'resistance'. He smuggled thousands of Iranian-made missiles into Gaza to be lobbed indiscriminately at Israeli towns. He was a perfectly legitimate target; far better he be removed without risk of 'collateral damage', to use that ugly euphemism." (Israel's identity theft from its own people is stinging betrayal, Julie Szego*, The Age, 3/3/10) [*Szego is also a columnist for The Australian Jewish News]
Hamas Warlord; Co-Founder of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades; Smuggler of Iranian Rockets; Kidnapper/Murderer of (2) Israeli Soldiers; Suicide-Bombing Svengali. Blimey! They don't come much Badder or Bigger than that!
But, as the old saying concludes, you can't fool all of the people all of the time. It's been almost a month now since the Baddering & Biggering of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh took off in the ms media, and the very first dissent (that I'm aware of) from the party/chorus line had to wait until March 4. It came in the form of a letter to The Age by one-time Israeli Sol Salbe, written in response to Szego's expression of outraged tribal concern for the alleged "Kafkaesque" turn in the lives of those 3 Ozraelis whose passports were supposedly stolen:
"It is not in dispute that he was a senior Hamas commander. But how could he have smuggled thousands of Iranian-made rockets into Gaza? The vast majority to have hit Israel were home-made Qassams. Had they been factory-made Iranian rockets with proper ordinance, they would have been more accurate and deadly. How could he have been involved in the use of children, or anyone else, as suicide bombers when he left the occupied territories before the first suicide bomber appeared on the scene, and spent most of 2003, one of the worst years for such bombings, in an Egyptian jail? If Mabhouh was as important a villain to make him a legitimate target, why can't I find any reference to him in this paper before his death? Why can't I find any reference to him in the 3 main Hebrew dailies in Israel for the same 10-year period?"
Salbe's letter was the media equivalent of a Mossad hit on Szego. Typically, it had to come from a ms media outsider.
Anyhow, I thought I'd follow Salbe's lead and see what else I could dig up on Mabhouh. Would it surprise you to find that there's no mention of him in either Khaled Hroub's Hamas: A Beginner's Guide (2006) or Azzam Tamimi's Hamas: Unwritten Chapters (2007)?
While Salbe's ably demolished most of the mythology around Mabhouh, there's still the matter of his alleged co-founding of Hamas' military wing. The origins of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades lie in the circumstances of the first Palestinian intifada (1987-93) and the Hamas leadership's efforts, following earlier setbacks, to launch a sustainable armed struggle against the Israeli occupiers of Gaza. In Tamimi's account of this particular phase of the evolution of Hamas, Mabhouh is conspicuous by his absence:
"[Sheikh Yassin] began to construct a new military cell... led by Muhammad Al-Sharatiha... Unlike the activists of the nationalist movement, these Islamic recruits brought with them little apart from zeal, determination and longing for martyrdom; they had neither training nor experience. Much of what they attempted at this stage either failed completely or had a very limited effect, but they were apparently able to learn quickly. Their first target was an Israeli contractor who was drilling a well in Al-Shaykh Radwan area in Gaza. The man was well trained in martial arts and succeded in escaping safely from his attackers. The second mission was to fire on a Jewish settlement using an antiquated rifle, seemingly with little effect. However, their third and fourth operations were serious enough to provoke a major reaction in Israel. These operations prompted a decision in Israel to declare an all out war on Hamas. On 16 February 1989, members of the new military cell travelled to Israel and kidnapped Sergeant Avi Sasportas, who was hitchhiking from his base to his home in Ashdod. Not knowing what to do with him, they killed him and buried his body. Then, on 3 May 1989, they kidnapped Sergeant Ilan Sa'adon, who was hitchhiking near Ashkelon. He was also killed and buried. During the search for Sa'adon the Israelis found Sasportas's body not far from where he had been kidnapped. Sa'adon's body was not recovered until seven years later, after Israel received intelligence reports regarding its location... After the Israeli authorities discovered the missing soldiers had been kidnapped, the members of the military cell fled and were eventually smuggled to safety outside Palestine, except for Al-Sharatiha, who was arrested... Al-Sharatiha was sentenced to three life terms plus thirty years for his role in kidnapping and killing the two soldiers. One of the unforseen outcomes of the Israeli onslaught on Hamas was the swelling of the ranks of the 'mutaradun', fugitives who were obliged to flee the country if they could, or if they could not, to go underground for as long as they were able. Those who were in hiding usually felt that, as they had already lost their freedom, they had nothing more to lose. Their general practice was to form small groups to mount attacks on Israeli targets or to improvise whatever attacks they could on an individual basis. It was out of this phenomenon that Hamas' military wing, Kata'ib Al-Shahid Izzadin Al-Qassam (the Martyr Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigades) was born... [T]he Qassam Brigades were a product of the Intifada itself, and had come into being as a reaction to Israel's mounting repression of what had begun as a peaceful protest. Initially, the Intifada had been merely a series of exercises in civil disobedience, intended to oblige the Israeli occupation authorities to treat the Palestinians more humanely. However, the disproportionate scale of the Israeli response to the Intifada was what provoked the young victims of Israeli brutality to take retaliatory action of a more violent nature." (pp 57-64)
As should be clear from Tamimi that, while Mabhouh may have been involved in the deaths of the Israeli soldiers, there is no indication whatever that he was one of the founders of the Al-Qassam Brigades. More likely, he was simply one of those mutaradun who had to flee the Strip before being hunted down by the Israelis. Tamimi also makes clear that it is from the womb of the then 22-year old Israeli occupation that Hamas and fighters like Mabhouh emerged. There's simply no escaping the 'O' word.
A final word: In their relentless campaign of demonization of the Palestinians and their legitimate resistance to Israeli oppression and occupation, there is no grubby allegation that Zionist propagandists will not fabricate. Take this rubbish in The Australian Jewish News of March 5 for example: "As well as being in charge of weapons procurement for Hamas, al-Mabhouh was a wealthy man. He used his smuggling to earn himself a tidy sum as a drug dealer as well." (A setback for Hamas) What next?