On January 30, representatives of the European Union and several other countries, including Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, Spain and Sweden, visited the Palestinian community of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank "to express their concern at the threat of demolition facing the village."
Khan al-Ahmar, home to 38 Palestinian families, was illegally built more than a decade ago as part of the Palestinian Authority's plan to illegally seize land near Jordan in Area C of the West Bank, which is exclusively controlled by Israel in accordance with the Oslo Accords signed between the Palestinians and the Israeli government.
A few days before the EU officials and diplomats visited the village, the Palestinian terror group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, demolished dozens of houses on the other side of Israel, near Egypt, in the Gaza Strip, as part of a plan to expand a coastal highway. Some of the homeowners expressed outrage over the Hamas demolitions. One of them described the them as a new catastrophe and a death sentence for scores of families. Another Palestinian denounced the demolitions as a "crime" and said they were "carried out by Hamas under the threat of arms."
The EU officials and other foreign diplomats -- who had come to the Middle East to express solidarity with the residents of the illegal village in the West Bank -- did even bother to comment at all on the demolition of the homes Hamas had destroyed. Without question, they would have heard of the demolitions from Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip or through the Palestinian media, but the foreign officials chose to ignore the "new catastrophe" and "crime." Why? Their hatred for Israel permits them to give Hamas a pass for the atrocities they commit against their own people, the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, but then to accuse the Israelis of defending what is rightfully theirs.
The plight of the families in the Gaza Strip, like other human rights violations committed by Hamas, are being ignored not only by the EU, but the international community as well. Unfortunately for these families, the bulldozers that destroyed their homes belong to Hamas, not Israel.
One can only imagine the uproar in the international community had Israel sent bulldozers to raze dozens of homes in the Gaza Strip. If those homes been demolished by Israel and not by Hamas, the same EU officials who visited Khan al-Ahmar would have rushed to the Gaza Strip to meet with the distraught families.
What is even more painful and humiliating for the Palestinians, is that EU officials who regularly visit the Gaza Strip intentionally ignore the suffering of the Palestinians living under Hamas.
On February 2, fifteen EU Heads of Mission visited the Gaza Strip without saying a single word about any of the victims of Hamas's crimes and human rights violations.
After the tour, the EU said in a statement:
"Gaza remains a priority for the EU and its Member States. The humanitarian situation is of great concern. It is high time to end the closure of the Strip and achieve Palestinian reconciliation."
Notably, the EU did not state that it is Hamas, whose wealthy leaders live comfortable lives in Qatar, Turkey and other countries, that is mainly responsible for the bad "humanitarian situation" in the Gaza Strip.
Instead of working to strengthen the economy after it violently seized the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas has since been investing the millions of dollars it receives in building tunnels, and manufacturing and smuggling weapons to attack Israel. As if that were not enough, two years ago Hamas imposed a slew of new taxes on imported goods, sparking rare protests by many Palestinians.
Hamas allocates 55% of its budget to fund its military needs, but the share of the budget for restoring the Gaza Strip is less than 5%.
Hamas, in addition to its disproportionately large military budget, also diverts aid money from Europe and the US to fund its military ventures.
As the EU officials were voicing support for the illegal village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank, residents of the town of Bet Lahiya, also on the other side of Israel in the Gaza Strip, were protesting the theft of their lands by Hamas. According to the residents, Hamas was illegally transferring large parts of land that belonged to them, the residents, to Hamas loyalists without telling anyone. A statement issued by the residents said that they are determined to thwart the Hamas "conspiracy."
This is the same Hamas that warned the EU delegation to insist on Israel permitting the Arabs illegally occupying Khan al-Ahmar not to evacuate it. Israel, by the way, had even built a new town not far away from Khan al-Ahmar, for these Arabs to move to and that would allow them "to maintain the same texture of life," but the Arabs would have none of it. "The aggression on Khan al-Ahmar is rejected and [Israel] will pay the price, sooner or later," said Hamas spokesperson Mohammed Hamadeh.
When Hamas threatens that Israel will "pay the price," the Iranian-backed group is actually saying it will continue to murder Jews for daring to enforce the law against those who violate the law by illegally seizing land and building houses without permits, as in Khan al-Ahmar.
The EU show of solidarity with the residents of Khan al-Ahmar not only emboldens Hamas, it also incentivizes Palestinians to pursue their illegal attempts to seize territory that, in the Oslo Accords, they had agreed did not belong to them, as well as to continue launching terrorist attacks against Israel.
What right does any European official have to tell Israel that it is not permitted to enforce the law against illegal squatters? Would any European official tolerate it if, for example, an Israeli government official told the authorities in Paris or Madrid that they are not entitled to take action against those who break the law in their cities?
The Europeans are further encouraging the Palestinians to violate the law by illegally building in violation of the Oslo Accords. Recently, a confidential document composed by the EU mission in east Jerusalem revealed that Brussels is actively working with the Palestinians to take over all of Area C by building scores of other illegal "facts on the ground." By doing so, the EU has disqualified itself from playing the role of an honest broker in any future peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.
The actions of the EU expose its deep hostility toward Israel in Europe's proxy war against the Jewish state, as well as its undisguised bias in favor of the Palestinians.
By obsessing about Israel and ignoring the crimes of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the EU is doing a massive disservice to the two million Palestinians living there. The EU's actions always seem more about hating Israel than helping the Palestinians.
If the Europeans truly cared at all about the Palestinians, they would raise the roof about the crimes committed by Hamas against the residents of the Gaza Strip. And they would be calling out their cohorts in the Palestinian Authority for abusive governance, corruption, embezzlement of public funds, and especially the Palestinian crackdown on human rights activists and journalists, who are trying to tell the EU, the international community and the so-called human rights groups about the brutal conditions under which their leaders keep forcing them to live.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.