|Photos from Getty|
For many years, the Palestinians had been complaining about Israeli restrictions that ban them from entering Israel, but during the holy month of Ramadan, in an unprecedented move, the Israeli authorities granted permits to tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank to visit Israel during the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr.
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims from the West Bank have been entering Jerusalem for Friday prayers at the Aqsa Mosque without permits.
Many Palestinians, particularly shopkeepers in the city, welcomed the Israeli move, noting that it boosted the local economy.
Then, in a move that angered Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and other Palestinians, the Israeli authorities went a step farther by allowing tens of thousands of West Bank Palestinians to enter the rest of Israel.
For the first time in many years, in scenes reminiscent of the good old days before the peace process when Palestinians were able to enter Israel freely, the beaches of Tel Aviv and Jaffa were full of Palestinian Muslims who also converged on shopping malls and water parks in different parts of the country.
But the scenes of Palestinians enjoying themselves on Israeli beaches and shopping in Israeli malls have angered Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas also fears that the easing of restrictions may have a moderating effect on Palestinians at a time when the Islamist movement is working hard to recruit more followers, especially in the West Bank.
Hamas does not want to see Palestinians happy and enjoying themselves, especially not in Israel. Hamas would prefer to see Palestinians live in misery and poverty so that it could find fertile soil for recruiting terrorists.
The Palestinian Authority, for its part, is now accusing Israel of seeking to damage the Palestinian economy by opening its doors to Palestinian vacationers and shoppers.
Some Palestinian officials in Ramallah are even talking about an Israeli "conspiracy" to undermine the Palestinian Authority. Other officials are opposed to the new Israeli policy because they believe it is aimed at promoting "normalization" with Israel -- something the Palestinian Authority leadership considers a crime...
For years, the Palestinian Authority has been demanding that Israel lift travel restrictions imposed on West Bank Palestinians. But now that Israel has permitted tens of thousands of Muslims to visit its beaches and malls, Israel is being denounced for trying to damage the Palestinian economy.
What is clear is that neither the Palestinian Authority nor Hamas wants to see Palestinians living a good life. Improving the living standards of Palestinians is something that these two parties are not interested in. They would rather see Palestinians direct all their anger and frustration only toward Israel.
Otherwise, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority fear, Palestinians may vent their anger against their own leaders