Although Hamas has been in full control of the Gaza Strip since 2007 -- and its security forces and militias have been employing an iron fist against any individual or group that defies the Islamist movement's authority -- lately Hamas has lately been trying to avoid responsibility for rocket and mortar attacks on Israel by claiming that other groups in the Gaza Strip were responsible.

By holding others responsible for the anti-Israel attacks, Hamas is signaling to the world that it has learned a thing or two from Arafat and Abbas. But if in the past Arafat and Abbas were allowed to get away with it, there is no reason why Hamas should be absolved of any responsibility for what is happening in the Gaza Strip.

If Hamas is now saying that it does not have control over other groups that are firing the rockets and mortars at Israel, then its leaders should resign and pave the way for a new regime

On a number of occasions, Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam, did take credit for firing some of the rockets and mortars. However, Hamas spokesmen continue to maintain that smaller and more radical groups like the Islamic Jihad were behind most of the recent attacks.

Hamas's line of defense -- "It's not us, it's someone else" -- is not unfamiliar to those who have been closely watching the situation in the Palestinian territories over the past two decades.

For many years, Yasser Arafat used the same argument to explain why the territories under his control were being used as launching pads for anyone who wanted to attack Israel.

Ar first, Arafat said he was unable to stop terror attacks against Israel because they were being carried out by Hamas and Islamic Jihad on instructions from Tehran and Damascus.

Then he said he was unable to take action against the terrorists because of Israel's military response, which also targeted Arafat's security forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

So, first Arafat tried to evade responsibility by blaming other Palestinians for the terror attacks on Israel. Then, when the Israel Defense Forces took the initiative to halt terror assaults emanating from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Arafat put the blame on Israel for "escalating tensions" and foiling his efforts to stop the attacks.

Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, appears to have endorsed the same policy of putting the blame on others.

Abbas did too little, if anything, to stop the rocket and mortar attacks on Israel after he came to power in January 2005, although he had more than 35,000 armed policemen -- trained and paid for by the US amd Europe -- at his disposal in the Gaza Strip.

He too defended his failure to tackle the problem by first saying it was not his men who were firing the rockets and mortars and, second, blaming Israel whenever the IDF took action to stop the attacks.

In keeping with this policy, Abbas was quick last week to issue a statement condemning Israeli "aggression" after a rocket that was fired from the Gaza Strip hit a school bus, critically injuring an Israeli teenager. Instead of directly and clearly condemning the attack on the bus, Abbas urged Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip "not to give Israel an excuse" to step up its military strikes.

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