Hamas Responsible for Suffering in Gaza

Fars Media Corporation, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Hamas is calling for a cease-fire. However, they already had a ceasefire on October 6th, but they violated it.

In 2005, Israel withdrew its troops from Gaza as part of a unilateral disengagement plan, which included the evacuation of all Israeli settlers and the dismantling of military bases. Gaza subsequently became a stronghold for Hamas, an Islamist militant group that originated from the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in the late 1980s. Hamas, which has not held elections since 2006, took full control of Gaza in 2007 following a violent conflict with the Palestinian Authority. Since then, Hamas has utilized Gaza as a base to launch attacks against Israel, including rocket fire and other militant activities. The international community has condemned Hamas for its numerous suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and other acts of violence targeting Israeli civilians. Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by several countries, including the United States, the European Union, and Israel.

Hamas commits acts of repression and other human rights violations against the people of Gaza. According to Amnesty International, “Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip repressed the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Torture and other ill-treatment were reported in Palestinian detention centers. Members of Palestinian armed groups summarily killed several suspected ‘collaborators’. In Gaza, death sentences were passed, and executions were carried out.”

In 1988, Hamas published its official Covenant, which explicitly called for the elimination of Israel and the killing of all Jews. In 2017, Hamas released an updated version, the Document of General Principles and Policies, which removed the specific language about killing Jews but still did not recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli state, referring to it as “a racist, anti-human and colonial Zionist project.” The document states, “The Islamic Resistance Movement ‘Hamas’ is a Palestinian Islamic national liberation and resistance movement. Its goal is to liberate Palestine and confront the Zionist project.” It defines Palestine as the land “from the River Jordan in the east to the Mediterranean in the west and from Ras Al-Naqurah in the north to Umm Al-Rashrash in the south.” This definition encompasses the entire territory of the State of Israel, implying the complete elimination of Israel as it currently exists.

Given the ongoing threat that Hamas poses to the state of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asserted that Israel will never be safe unless Hamas is completely annihilated. To this end, he has launched one of the most intense military campaigns since the beginning of the Ukraine War. Israel provided warnings for civilians and non-combatants to leave Gaza. However, their exit is being impeded by neighboring countries. The Rafah crossing, the only border crossing between Gaza and Egypt not controlled by Israel, has frequently been closed or heavily restricted by the Egyptian government. This has severely limited the ability of Gaza residents to flee to Egypt during periods of conflict. To exacerbate the situation, Egypt is also blocking humanitarian aid from entering Gaza through Rafah, further contributing to the humanitarian crisis.

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) has faced accusations of targeting civilians, with women and children comprising more than half of the casualties. However, given that women and children make up about two-thirds of Gaza’s population, they are more likely to be collateral damage when Hamas is targeted. Additionally, women and children have been involved with Hamas, sometimes as human shields or suicide bombers. The term “children” includes those under 18, and Hamas has used minors in combat roles for harassment by throwing stones at IDF soldiers or using kites for espionage and dropping incendiaries.

Israel has also been criticized for restricting aid shipments to Gaza. The rationale behind this includes the fact that Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups have used aid shipments to smuggle weapons, ammunition, and military equipment. As the governing authority in Gaza, Hamas handles the acceptance and distribution of aid, increasing the likelihood that it will support terrorist activities rather than aid civilians.

There are claims that at least 260 humanitarian aid workers have been killed in the conflict, but this does not demonstrate that Israel is intentionally targeting aid workers. War zones are inherently dangerous, and although aid workers, press, and other noncombatants are not intended targets, they face significant risks by virtue of their roles. Most are aware of these dangers and accept the associated risks. A specific issue with this conflict is that Hamas terrorists have either worked as or posed as humanitarian aid workers. This has led to the suspension of U.S. funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) when it was discovered that several of its employees were involved in the October 7th attack on Israel.

Hamas could alleviate civilian suffering by refraining from using them as shields. They could also release the Israeli hostages and surrender, which would end the current military campaign. Additionally, the entire situation could have been avoided if they had not attacked Israel in the first place.

Photo of author
Dr. Antonio Graceffo, PhD, China MBA, is an economist and national security analyst with a focus on China and Russia. He is a graduate of American Military University.

You can email Antonio Graceffo here, and read more of Antonio Graceffo's articles here.

 

Thanks for sharing!