Why is Israel at War With Hamas?

Since 2001, Palestinian terrorists have launched tens of thousands of rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip, all but a few thousand of them since Israel withdrew in August 2005. The international community considers indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets to be illegal under international law. On October 7, 2023, Hamas terrorists murdered over 1,200 Israeli citizens and foreign nationals, including 40 babies, and kidnapped 240 civilians into Gaza, wounded thousands, and fired thousands of rockets against Israeli cities and towns.

What is Hamas?

Hamas is a terrorist Palestinian nationalist and Islamist movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that is dedicated to the establishment of an independent Islamic state in historical Palestine.  Among Hamas leaders living in Qatar are Ismail Haniyeh, head of the terrorist group’s political bureau, Mousa Abu Marzook and Khaled Mashal. They live a life of luxury in the Gulf state even as most Palestinians in Gaza live in abject poverty.

Hamas History and Charter

Founded in 1987, Hamas opposed the secular approach of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rejected attempts to cede any part of Palestine, and embraced the use of violence, including acts of terrorism, as a means to achieve its goals. It grew out of religious factions of the PLO and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and quickly acquired a broad following. It is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. Its leaders moved to Jordan, then to Syria, and then to Doha, Qatar.

In its 1988 charter, Hamas maintained that Palestine is an Islamic homeland that can never be surrendered to non-Muslims and that waging holy war to wrest control of Palestine from Israel is a religious duty for Palestinian Muslims.

The Hamas charter explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel—and the genocide of Jews—leaving no room for peaceful coexistence. These are actual commands in the 1988 Hamas governing charter:

  • Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it…
  • Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people. May the cowards never sleep.
  • Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts until the enemy is vanquished.
  • The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews).

Hamas and the October 7 Massacre

Hamas leaders make clear their intentions with their own words. Former Hamas chief Khaled Mashal asserted that “October 7 paved a wide highway towards the removal of Israel, towards liberation and towards saving Jerusalem.”

Hamas official Ghazi Hamad declared:

  • Nobody should blame us for the things we do. On Oct. 7, Oct. 10, Oct. 1,000,000; everything we do is justified.
  • We must teach Israel a lesson, and we will do this again and again.
  • Israel is a country that has no place on our land. We must remove that country.
  • We are called a nation of martyrs, and we are proud to sacrifice martyrs.

What Would a ‘Free Palestine’ Ruled by Hamas Look Like?

Notable groups marching with Palestinian flags and calling for a “Free Palestine, From the River to the Sea” in place of Israel include LGBT, feminist and some Christian movements. They seem to deny the discrimination or death they would face if they set foot in Gaza. The ruling Hamas regime rejects most of the basic principles at the heart of Western democracies ― elections, free speech, religious tolerance, minority rights. These values would not exist in a future Palestinian state under an Iranian-backed Hamas rule.

Previous protests against the brutality of Hamas were documented in interviews with young Palestinians living in Gaza. Maha graduated from a Gaza university with a degree in journalism. She gave up on her dreams to become a journalist: “The policy of ‘muzzling’ affects all the media here. At the slightest misstep, they’ll shut down a broadcast or publication.” Recently, a mourning Palestinian woman in Gaza screamed, “This is all because of those dogs Hamas!” A Palestinian man quickly covered her mouth with his hand to silence her.

Women’s rights are severely restricted in Gaza. There is no law prohibiting violence against women. Palestinian women must follow a “code of modesty,” and are required to wear a hijab in public. The United Nations was forced to cancel the 2013 Gaza Marathon because Hamas would not allow any women to participate. The Hamas Charter makes clear the role of women in Palestinian society: to raise and educate children at home in the pursuit of jihad. Women are, however, allowed to “go fight the enemy without their husband’s permission.”

A Palestinian Islamic scholar preached: Gays “should be thrown headfirst from the rooftop of the tallest building, and then they should be stoned from the top.” The severed head and decapitated torso of a 25-year-old Palestinian man were found in the West Bank, exactly one year before the October 7 massacre. Last year, Palestinian activists also prevented a gay Palestinian singer from performing in Ramallah because he is a “pervert.” Many gay Palestinians seek and receive refuge in Israel. Tel Aviv is known for its annual pride parade. Held since 1979, this year’s event attracted 150,000 participants from around the world.

War on the Propaganda Front

“Dad, I killed 10 with my bare hands! Their blood is on my hands, let me speak to Mom. Please be proud of me, Dad.” ― Mahmoud, a Palestinian Hamas terrorist speaking to his parents on a victim’s phone during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Hamas, Iran and its proxies have stepped up their twisted propaganda campaign aimed at maligning the Jewish state and weakening worldwide support for Israelis. They are spreading insidious lies that are quickly parroted by major media without questioning the truth or intent of their narrative. It is vitally important to separate facts from fiction in this deadly battle, as Hamas and Hezbollah rockets continue to rain down on Israelis.

Some reporters and news organizations accept what the Hamas terrorist organization says at face value. Even respected organizations like The New York Times, Reuters, AP, The Washington Post and NPR are subject to frequent corrections. It took days for international military analysts to correct the media that a failed Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket slammed into a parking lot next to Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, killing a fraction of the victims Hamas claimed; An Israeli bomb was not responsible. The New York Times belatedly issued a correction nearly a week later; other journalists, newspapers and media outlets neglected reality and moved on to the next story.

In these perilous times, when Israel is fighting for its very existence, it is vitally important that we not let lies and propaganda take hold. Israel Pulse provides accurate information and counters disinformation and lies.

Points to Consider

  1. Palestinians want the same freedoms Americans and Israelis enjoy. Palestinians living in Gaza are ruthlessly controlled by the autocratic Hamas leadership. Many Palestinians share the same desire for freedom, democracy and human rights that Americans and Israelis enjoy. They want a society where they can express themselves freely, participate in the political process and enjoy basic civil liberties without fear of repression or persecution. Despite the challenges they face, some Gazans have demonstrated remarkable resilience and determination in their quest for a more open and democratic society. The promotion of freedom and democracy is not only a moral imperative but also vital for peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
  2. Peace is NOT possible with Hamas or other terrorist groups in power. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.): “I don’t know how you can have a ceasefire, a permanent ceasefire, with an organization like Hamas, which is dedicated to turmoil and chaos and destroying the State of Israel. I think what the Arab countries in the region understand is that Hamas has got to go.” The founding covenant of Hamas explicitly calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. Its control of Gaza is marked by authoritarianism, human rights abuses and a disregard for the welfare of Palestinians. Hamas is incapable of making Gaza thrive because it dedicates its resources to the destruction of Israel and not the construction of Gaza, and the betterment of its citizens.
  3. Hamas official declared it is not responsible for defending Gazan civilians. Moussa Abu Marzouk said the vast underground tunnel network is for the protection of the terror group’s members, while civilians should be taken care of by the UN and Israel.

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