The Hamas siege of Gaza....
Once again, Khaled Abu Toameh is on top of what is really happening...
As Israeli naval commandos raided the flotilla ship convoy that was on its way to the Gaza Strip, Hamas security officers stormed the offices of five non-governmental organizations, confiscated equipment and documents, and ordered them closed indefinitely.
Ever since it seized control over the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, Hamas has imposed a reign of terror on the local population in general and its critics in particular. Hamas has brought nothing to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip other than death and disaster.
The raid on the NGOs in the Gaza Strip, which received little coverage in the media, is seen by many Palestinians as part of Hamas's ongoing crackdown on political opponents and human rights organizations.
Further, Hamas's recent decision to ban municipal elections in the Gaza Strip is yet another violation of one of the basic rights of its constituents.
Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested by Hamas's security forces for daring to speak out against the state of tyranny and intimidation in the Gaza Strip. Over the past three years, dozens of Fatah officials and members have either been thrown into prison or killed.
Under Hamas, the Gaza Strip is being transformed into a fundamentalist Islamic entity resembling the regimes of the Ayatollahs in Iran and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
While there is no ignoring the fact that Hamas originally came to power in a free and democratic election in January 2006, this does not give the movement the right to impose a social, intellectual, political and economic blockade on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Instead of searching for ways to improve the living conditions of the 1.5 million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, Hamas is busy enforcing strict Islamic rules on the population, such as Hamas policemen, for example, often stopping men and women who are seen together in public to inquire about the nature of their relationship.
Since the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit in 2006, more than 3,500 Palestinians have been killed, many of them during Operation Cast Lead which followed the firing of rockets at Israel.
The kidnapping of Schalit and the rocket attacks have made the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip pay a very heavy price.
If Hamas were really serious about ending the blockade on the Gaza Strip and helping the poor people living there, it would have accepted at least shown some pragmatism in dealing with the outside world.
Hamas could have, for instance, accepted the international community's demand to renounce terrorism and honor all previous agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel. Moreover, it could have allowed representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit Schalit.