Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hamas And The Threat Of The Internet

Another piece of good news penetrates the through the message that Gaza is a open air prison mired in despair.
While the West Bank and Gaza have suffered from wars, political instability and limited access to resources, the Web has proliferated. Internet penetration—the percentage of the population that uses the Web—is estimated at 40% in the West Bank and as high as 60% in Gaza. Both figures are higher than those in many other Arab nations.

One reason is the proximity of the Palestinian territories to Israel, which is the region's leader in Internet development. Another factor is the high rate of literacy in the territories, estimated at 92%. Perhaps most significant, however, is that Palestinians' isolation—and inability to travel and import or export goods—means that the Web is their main way to connect with the outside world.
In fact far from Israel being the one to place limitations on this new-found freedom, it is Hamas that wants to keep the Internet under control and monitored. The article discusses an NGO called Mercy Corps to encourages student to become involved in their community, using the Internet, to both organize their activities and to broadcast information about their charitable mission.

Hamas is aware of the group, and despite its non-political nature, it has unsuccessfully tried to keep these students from meeting, knowing the freedom the Internet provides and the challenge it poses to the status quo. Fortunately, the students have the knowledge and the software necessary to prevent the Hamas from monitoring them and tracking them down.

The article concludes:
The Internet alone won't transform trouble spots like Gaza and the West Bank. But the hope is that if Palestinians have access to better information today, they will make better decisions tomorrow.
Read the whole thing.

Perhaps starting with Hamas.
Maybe that is what has them so worried...they've seen it in action in Iran.

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