Many people still haven’t figured out what Hamas is really up to

Once again the Islamists, this time in Israel, are showing what atrocities and massacres they are capable of. The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (2014-2017) targeted and murdered religious minorities, particularly Christians and Yazidis. He has also systematically persecuted and killed Shiites and other opponents in his territory. He publicly carried out mass executions of civilians. He had thousands of women and girls kidnapped, enslaved and sexually abused.

His aim was to destroy everyone who did not share his religious Salafist views. Therefore he did not distinguish between harmless civilians and armed military; All are enemies of Islam, his Islam, and must die.

Hamas accepts the killing of civilians

On October 7, 2023, these scenes were repeated. From the Gaza Strip, Hamas fired over three thousand rockets at residential areas in Israel. It broke through the border fence in 29 places and entered Israeli soil with a few thousand terrorists. In more than twenty kibbutzim and towns they killed every person, woman, man, child and infant they encountered, without exception. At a music festival alone that took place not far from the border, 260 young people were killed.

Around 200 people, including Germans, French and Americans, were kidnapped and taken to the Gaza Strip. After three days, the Israeli army regained control of the border. The preliminary tally is difficult: 1,300 Israelis dead and 3,200 injured. The Israeli army counted around 1,500 bodies of Palestinian attackers.

The reaction was to be expected; Hamas’ positions in Gaza were bombed, killing many civilians. It is part of Hamas’ strategy as a terrorist organization to hide behind the civilian population and accept their suffering. They shell residential areas in Israel, the Israeli army fires back, civilians die, their pictures circulate in the media, the world public is outraged and wants to help the poor Palestinians.

It donates millions of dollars in humanitarian and reconstruction aid, from which Hamas alone benefits and thus secures its rule. The perpetrator becomes the victim and Israel is condemned. This scenario has been repeated eight times since Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Some are trying to draw attention back to the civilian victims in Gaza – but that won’t work

The pogrom of Jews that happened recently cannot be explained away. Some are trying to bring the focus back to the civilian casualties in Gaza; that won’t succeed. For Israelis, the fundamental question is: How can one coexist with a terrorist neighbor who works day and night to erase one’s existence? This is still part of Hamas’ program.

The Israelis withdrew from the Gaza Strip on August 5, 2005 without compensation. They hoped that the principle of land for peace would work. That was a mistake. A few months later on January 25, 2006, the Palestinian Authority elections took place. Hamas won the elections with a large majority of 74 of the 132 seats. After a civil war, Hamas took sole control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. They defeated Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah, killed and captured many of its members, and drove the rest out of Gaza.

Since the Israeli withdrawal, Hamas has received billions of dollars to build its economy and administration. The Gaza Strip could have experienced an upswing. Good relations with neighbors Israel and Egypt have made work possible for thousands of Palestinians. Instead of investing for the good of the population, Hamas expanded its armed forces and a vast network of underground tunnels under homes for its weapons production and to illegally reach neighboring countries.

This enabled Hamas to effectively support the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula after its ouster from power in 2013. This prompted the Egyptian government to destroy the tunnels and build a border wall to isolate the Gaza Strip.

The question is: why now?

Hamas quickly lost the character of a liberation movement in the Arab countries and was increasingly seen as an Islamist terrorist organization. Financial support from the Gulf states was lost. They put the Muslim Brotherhood on the terror list; Hamas is its offshoot among the Palestinians. Qatar became the main financial backer of Hamas and all Islamists in the world. It forged close ties with Iran, Afghanistan and Erdogan’s Türkiye. The fugitive Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt and the leadership of Hamas reside in Qatar.

Hamas moved closer to Iran and became part of its rejection front, which is committed to the destruction of Israel. The front consists of Iran and its vassals, Iraq, Syria, the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran supplies Hamas primarily with weapons, military technology, missiles and cyber know-how.

Some claim that the Palestinians’ latest aggression is a response to the repressive policies of Netanyahu’s right-wing religious Israeli government. That’s wrong. On the day of the aggression, its organizer Mahmoud Deif said in a message that they had been working on their preparation for two years. The current Israeli government has been in office since December 29, 2022. The attack would definitely have happened. The question is: why now?

The coordination took place in Lebanon

Preparing for such a complicated operation took time to create an arsenal with thousands of missiles and hundreds of drones. It was also secret; only a few in the leadership of Hamas knew about it and no one was privy to the details. Even the fighters who were training were left in the dark about their goals. IT communications were avoided because Israeli counterintelligence relies on them. Nobody used a cell phone.

The politicians gave the impression that they were focusing on peace. During al-Jihad al-Islami’s aggression on Israel in August 2022, Hamas remained at a distance and received a lot of criticism for this, especially from Fatah. The deceptive maneuver was successful, as it later turned out.

The proper coordination obviously took place in Lebanon. This was also the official reason for the trip of Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, to Lebanon in June 2022. In April 2023 he came back to Lebanon and met Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, again. According to Lebanese press reports, a series of meetings to prepare for the attacks have been taking place for weeks.

Cadres from Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Jihad al-Islami and the Iranian al-Quds Brigade of the Guardians of the Revolution took part. The war experiences of Iran against Iraq and Hezbollah in Syria served as models.

In other countries, Hamas has nothing to say

On July 29, Fatah leader Ashraf al-Armoushi and four of his companions were killed by Hamas in the largest Palestinian refugee camp, Ain El-Helwi, in Lebanon (80,000 refugees). A street fight broke out for control of the camp. It was clear that Hamas wanted to eliminate Fatah in order to become the sole representative of the Palestinians. It rules in the Gaza Strip, is gaining ground in the West Bank, and only Lebanon remains, where the Palestinians have political weight. In other Arab countries they have nothing to say. The fight has not yet been decided to this day.

Hamas has largely become a tool of Iranian politics like the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon. It cannot make important decisions without consultation with Tehran; it would jeopardize their logistical support. This is particularly true of the timing of the aggression on October 7th.

On the sidelines of the last UN General Assembly, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad ben Salman (MBS), confirmed in an interview with Fox News on September 20th that the peace negotiations with Israel are at an advanced stage. It was therefore expected that a peace treaty would be signed this year.

That would have meant a major defeat and isolation for Iran. A rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia has emerged in recent years because of the common threat posed by the mullahs’ regime. The refusal of the Americans under Trump to protect the oil fields against Iranian attacks in the Gulf and the hostile attitude of the Biden administration over the Kaschogi affair drove the Saudis to other shores. So China was able to bring about an agreement between them and the Iranians that guaranteed Saudi Arabia’s security from Iranian and, above all, Houthi attacks from Yemen.

Israel and Palestinians are condemned to live together

The agreement also provided a solution to other conflicts in the Middle East such as Syria and Yemen. Nothing happened in this regard. Bashar al-Assad has not met the conditions for Syria’s readmission into the Arab League. He was finally admonished. In Yemen, no rockets are being fired at Saudi cities, but peace is a long time coming as the Houthis consolidate their power.

It became clear to MBS that the agreement was a maneuver and not a long-term guarantee of its security. He switched to the Israeli track and was determined to get a deal. The current war has blocked this path for the time being.

With this conflict, the mullahs’ regime achieved a victory and finally established itself as the Mecca of Islamism in the world for all Muslims, whether Shiites or Sunnis. It would be fatal for the Palestinians to place their fate in the hands of the Islamists because they are not interested in peace but only in the destruction of the Jews. The Western world will not allow this. The Israelis, for their part, cannot ignore the millions of Palestinians.

Both are condemned to live together. Until a new solution to the conflict is found, perhaps reviving the Oslo Accords with its second-state solution makes sense. However, that is unlikely given the current political constellation. Replacing the current extreme right-wing government in Israel is possible with new elections. However, bolstering the Palestinian Authority is proving difficult; there have been no elections since 2006 and there are no new, peaceful Palestinian elites in sight.

Hank Peter

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