Posted tagged ‘Hamas’

The Real Hamas: Sorry, Folks!

March 16, 2017

What Hamas says, day and night, in Arabic, tells the real story. In fact, Hamas officials are very clear and straightforward when they address their people in Arabic. Yet some Western and Israeli analysts do not want to be bothered by the facts. Some

by Bassam Tawil

March 15, 2017 at 5:00 am

Source: The Real Hamas: Sorry, Folks!

  • What Hamas says, day and night, in Arabic, tells the real story. In fact, Hamas officials are very clear and straightforward when they address their people in Arabic. Yet some Western and Israeli analysts do not want to be bothered by the facts.
  • Some reports have suggested that Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh are the ones pushing for the changes in the movement’s charter. However, even if Mashaal and Haniyeh succeed in their mission, there is no guarantee that Hamas’s military wing would comply.
  • Hamas has also denied its intention to cut off its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. “The reports are aimed at tarnishing the image of Hamas in the eyes of the world,” explained a top Hamas official. He also denied that Hamas was planning to abandon the armed struggle against Israel in favor of a peaceful popular “resistance.”

What does Hamas mean when it says that it “accepts” an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem without recognizing Israel’s right to exist?

Is this a sign of moderation and pragmatism on the part of the extremist Islamic terror movement? Or is it just another ploy intended to deceive everyone, especially gullible Westerners, into believing that Hamas has abandoned its strategy of destroying Israel in favor of a two-state solution?

Recent reports have suggested that Hamas is moving towards “declaring a Palestinian state over the 1967 borders.”

According to the reports, Hamas is also contemplating changing its charter so that it would no longer include anti-Semitic references. The charter, which was drafted in August 1988, contains anti-Semitic passages and characterizations of Israeli society as Nazi-like in its cruelty. The same reports also claimed that Hamas’s revised charter will also state that the terror movement is not part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Some analysts in Israel and the West have interpreted these reports as a sign that Hamas is finally endorsing a policy of pragmatism toward Israel and Jews. They are particularly excited about Hamas’s purported intention to declare (in its revised charter) that its conflict is “only with Zionism and the occupation, and not with Jews around the world.”

Judging from the analyses published by some commentators and Palestinian affairs “experts” in the past few days, one might conclude that Hamas is on its way to making a dramatic change in its vicious ideology. Unfortunately, however, the facts suggest otherwise.

Changes or no changes, the movement has no intention whatsoever of abandoning its jihad to destroy Israel and kill Jews.

The purported shift in Hamas’s policy is illusory. What Hamas says, day and night, in Arabic, tells the real story. In fact, Hamas officials are very clear and straightforward when they address their people in Arabic. Yet some Western and Israeli analysts do not want to be bothered by the facts.

When Hamas talks about “accepting” a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 lines without recognizing Israel’s right to exist, it is actually saying, “Give us a state so that we can use it as a launching pad to destroy Israel.”

Indeed, senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan leaves no room for ambiguity when he explains this point. Hamas, he says, does not oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 “borders,” but this does not mean that “we will recognize the Zionist occupation and that the entire Palestinian land belongs to Palestinian and Islamic generations.” He also repeated Hamas’s opposition to any form of negotiations with Israel.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar was also quick to refute claims that his movement was headed toward accepting the two-state solution. Calling for stepping up the “intifada” against Israel, Zahar said that Hamas’s goal was to “liberate all of Palestine.”

Hamas has also denied its intention to cut off its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. “The reports are aimed at tarnishing the image of Hamas in the eyes of the world,” explained a top Hamas official. He also denied that Hamas was planning to abandon the armed struggle against Israel in favor of a peaceful popular “resistance.”

Some reports have suggested that Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh are the ones pushing for the changes in the movement’s charter. However, even if Mashaal and Haniyeh succeed in their mission, there is no guarantee that Hamas’s military wing would comply.

Hamas’s recent internal and secret election saw the rise of Yahya Sinwar as the top leader of the movement in the Gaza Strip. His election is seen as an indication of the growing influence of Hamas’s military wing. Sinwar, a convicted murderer, was released from Israeli prison a few years ago. The rise of Sinwar to power is also a sign that Hamas is headed toward more extremism and terrorism and preparing for the next war with Israel.

The Hamas military wing has a rather spotty history of following the directives of the movement’s political leaders. For example, recurring attempts by Mashaal and Haniyeh to end the dispute with Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) have been repeatedly thwarted by the Hamas military wing and other leaders of the movement, first and foremost Zahar.

Let’s remember, for a moment, the annual rallies held by Hamas’s military wing in the Gaza Strip. At these rallies, masked Hamas terrorists remind the world that their true goal is to “liberate all of Palestine.”

Armed Hamas militiamen on parade with a vehicle-mounted rocket launcher in Gaza, in August 2016. (Image source: PressTV video screenshot)

At one such rally, Zahar announced that Hamas already has an army whose mission is to “liberate all of Palestine.” He continued: “By God’s will, this army will reach Jerusalem.”

Hamas continues to remain committed to all forms of terrorism against Israelis. There are no signs whatsoever that the movement is on its way to endorsing a peaceful and popular resistance against Israel. Quite the opposite is true: Hamas never misses an opportunity to clarify that it continues to encourage terrorism against Israel. The latest assertion from Hamas came this week when one of its spokesmen, Abdel Latif Al-Kanou, issued a statement praising a stabbing attack against two Israeli policemen in Jerusalem. Hailing the attack as a “heroic operation,” the spokesman stressed that the “intifada” against Israel would continue.

This is not the first time that Hamas has talked about “accepting” a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines.

In the past, some Hamas officials were quoted as saying that they do not rule out the possibility that their movement would one day accept such an idea. But these statements always came in the context of Hamas’s effort to rid itself of its growing isolation in the Gaza Strip.

The latest reports concerning floated changes in Hamas’s charter, too, ought to be seen in the context of the movement’s ongoing effort to end its isolation. But it is nothing but a smokescreen to mislead the international community into believing that it is on its way to toning down its murderous intentions.

So, what is prompting this disingenuous “change of heart”?

Reports that the Trump Administration is considering the possibility of designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. In all likelihood, Hamas is simply seeking to appear as if it is moving toward moderation. In other words, Hamas is prepared to lie — at least in English — about its independence from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Disturbingly, some Westerners are already marketing Hamas’s deception tactics as a “major shift” in the movement’s ideology and plans. Facts, however, are that Hamas remains a terrorist organization that has not and will not abandon its plans to eliminate Israel and kill as many Jews as possible. Here is a dose of deadly reality: Hamas seeks to extend its control to the West Bank as part of its plan to destroy Israel. It wants Israel to give the Palestinians more land so that it would be used as a launching pad to drive the Jews into the sea. This is Hamas, like it or not.

Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.

Living in Sderot: Ten seconds to save your life

March 13, 2017

Living in Sderot: Ten seconds to save your life, Rebel Media via YouTube. March 13, 2017

The blurb beneath the video states,

Less than 1 km from Gaza and the target of over 10,000 rockets, Mayor of Sderot, Alon Davidi, tells Sheila Gunn Reid why he stays in what he describes as “the front line in the battle against evil”.

Arab Factions Praise Jordanian Terrorist For Killing Israeli Schoolgirls

March 13, 2017

Arab Factions Praise Jordanian Terrorist For Killing Israeli Schoolgirls, Investigative Project on Terrorism, March 13, 2017

(Were the girls hiding behind a rock?  Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “The Jews will fight with you, and you will be given victory over them so that a stone will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew behind me; kill him!’ ” — DM)

From the Muslim Brotherhood’s factions in Jordan and the Palestinian territories, to Mahmoud Abbas’ party Fatah and across social media, praise for the murderer of Israeli schoolgirls is gaining traction throughout the Arab world.

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Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian factions are praising a Jordanian terrorist who shot and killed seven Israeli schoolgirls and injured six others in 1997, after his release from prison on Saturday.

“The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas hails the Arab Hero Ahmed Daqamseh on his release and his gaining his freedom. As we greet his noble struggle, his historic steadfastness and his heroic positions on Jerusalem and Palestine and the Resistance of the Palestinian people,” according to an Investigative Project (IPT) translation of a Hamas press statement released on Monday.

Following his release, Daqamseh labeled Israelis as “human garbage vomited into our midst by the world’s nations” and called for the death of Israelis “whether by burning or by burying,” in comments translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

The Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing in Jordan rejoiced at Daqamseh’s freedom.

“The (Islamic Action) party greets people of Jordan and the family of the hero Ahmed Damaqseh on his release from prison after his sentence and welcomes his return to practice his national role alongside the free men of this nation in construction and achievement,” according to the IPT’s translation of an Islamic Action Party statement.

Even the so-called moderate Palestinian faction, Fatah, glorified the Jordanian terrorist, justifying the murder of Israeli schoolchildren.

“It may be noted that the soldier Daqamseh opened fire on the group of girls because they made fun of him during his prayers according to his testimony at the time,” reads a Fatah statement.

Numerous supporters celebrated Daqasmeh’s release, posting large signs glorifying the murderer in the streets of Ibdar city – located in Irbid Province north of Amman – which host’s Daqasmeh’s tribe.

“Praise be to God for your safety Oh Abou Sayf [Father of the Sword]

After a long absence of twenty years. Your village is filled with light Oh Lion of the Valley. Welcome,” reads one sign, translated by IPT, featuring Daqamseh’s face

Social media users also glorified the Jordanian soldier turned terrorist as a “hero” and a “model,” while Daqamseh’s name was trending on Twitter.

From the Muslim Brotherhood’s factions in Jordan and the Palestinian territories, to Mahmoud Abbas’ party Fatah and across social media, praise for the murderer of Israeli schoolgirls is gaining traction throughout the Arab world.

Hizballah lists targeted Israeli “nuclear sites”

March 4, 2017

Hizballah lists targeted Israeli “nuclear sites”, DEBKAfile, March 3, 2017

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Our military and counterterrorism sources draw a straight line from Hizballah’s latest stance and the newfound aggressiveness displayed this week by the Palestinian extremist Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip.

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Hizballah’s latest round of threats against Israel reached a new peak Thursday, March 2, with the release of a videotape claiming to expose nine locations allegedly tied to the production and assembly of Israel’s nuclear weapons, DEBKAfile reports. The Lebanese Shiite terror organization said it possessed precise missiles for wiping out Israel’s nuclear infrastructure and attached addresses to all its targets.

Five locations topped the list, starting with the nuclear reactors at Dimona in southern Israel and Nahal Soreq on the Mediterranean coast. “Revealed” next are three secret locations for the production, assembly and storage of nuclear missiles and warheads. Kfar Zacharia near Beit Shemesh in the Jerusalem Hills, defined as the main depot for the Jericho Series I, II and III, of three-stage ballistic missiles, which can reach ranges of up to 6,000 km.

Two others were a factory in Beer Yaakov near the central Israeli town of Ramleh, the alleged production site for nuclear warheads; and the “Galilee Wing-20” plant at the Tefen Industrial Park, 17km from the town of Carmiel, a facility where the Rafael Advanced Defense System Authority was said to mount nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles and prepare them for launching.

The video stresses that Hizballah now possesses precise missiles able to pinpoint and destroy every single facility.

Just two weeks ago, Nasrallah “advised” Israel in an aggressive speech, to dismantle its large ammonia tank in Haifa and the nuclear reactor in Dimona before they were hit by Hizballah rockets and caused massive casualties. He and his associates have repeatedly warned in recent weeks that their Lebanese terrorist group has acquired weapons capable of deterring Israel as well as the capability to catch Israeli intelligence unawares by “surprises.”

In previous articles, DEBKAfile accounted for the heightened bellicosity of Hizballah’s leaders by the permission Bashar Assad recently granted Hizballah to launch missiles against Israel from Syrian soil as well as from Lebanon.

Our military and counterterrorism sources draw a straight line from Hizballah’s latest stance and the newfound aggressiveness displayed this week by the Palestinian extremist Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip.

Thursday, March 2, Hamas spokesmen stated that the group would no longer exercise restraint in responding to the heavy Israeli air and artillery strikes that are conducted in retaliation for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Henceforth, it would conduct a policy of “military position for military position” – meaning that for every Hamas position destroyed by Israel, the Palestinian extremists would swipe at a comparable Israeli military site.

The new Hamas posture challenged Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman”s strategy of holding the Hamas government of Gaza responsible for any attacks coming from the Palestinian enclave – whether the work of Hamas or the extremist Salafis running loose there.

On Feb. 27, the Israeli Air Force smashed five Hamas targets in the northern, central and southern regions of the enclave after a rocket from Gaza exploded in Israel. The IDF did not respond to the rocket fired subsequently at the Hof Ashkelon region. But then, after a round of fire from Gaza to shoot up IDF military engineering equipment, the IDF knocked over two small Hamas look-out positions in the north.

Hamas had in fact given the defense minister an ultimatum:  either exercise restraint, or continue the policy of massive retaliations for every rocket coming from the Gaza Strip – at the risk of a fresh round of fighting with Hamas. Lieberman appears to have settled for the first option for the time being.

Media Misfeasance Exposed in “Eyeless in Gaza” Documentary

March 4, 2017

Media Misfeasance Exposed in “Eyeless in Gaza” Documentary, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Noah Beck, March 3, 2017

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Hamas operatives burst into the Associated Press (AP) Gaza bureau during the 2014 war with Israel, angered by a picture shot by an AP photographer. Gunmen threatened the AP staff, which never reported the incident.

The incident shows that Hamas can control what journalists report, and what they don’t, former AP Middle East reporter Matti Friedman says in a new documentary, “Eyeless in Gaza.”

Producer Robert Magid’s 50-minute film, which is screening via pay-per-view online, examines the flaws and challenges in reporting on the 50-day war.

Magid said he wanted to “set the record straight and provide context,” after being appalled at news coverage that ignored Hamas’ practice of launching rockets from civilian areas. That omission allowed the media to push a false narrative that “Israel was callous in their bombing.”

The sullied moral image of Israel that emerged from the media’s biased coverage sparked public outrage and anti-Semitism. “Muslims will crush the Jews as they did in Khyber 14 centuries ago,” protestors in the film shout. Another says: “I see the Jews in Israel as total Nazis.”

Reporters routinely failed to show the history leading up to the conflict or how Hamas instigated it. Magid provides viewers with some brief historical context: Israel expelled 10,000 of its own citizens from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and offered the Palestinians their first chance at self-rule. But Hamas took over the territory and turned it into an Islamist terror state, rather than a model for responsible self-rule and peaceful coexistence with Israel.

Viewers see how attack tunnels exemplify Hamas’s policy of diverting public resources to pursue terrorism. Israel allows high-quality cement into Gaza in response to the humanitarian need to rebuild damaged buildings, only to discover the same cement being used to build massive underground tunnels whose only purpose is to target Israelis. Each tunnel costs about $3 million, and an Israeli military spokesman interviewed in the film estimates $100 million in resources were diverted.

Despite Israel’s unprecedented efforts to minimize Gaza’s civilian casualties, the film shows how Hamas works to maximize them.

“The Israeli army called me, they asked me to leave Al-Sajaeya,” says one Gazan. “We stayed at home because Al Aksa and Al Quds [Hamas] radio stations told us ‘Don’t leave your homes, it’s rumors.’ We remained in our homes, but when we saw the bombs pouring on us, we miraculously got out…Five of my brothers’ sons were killed, and the houses destroyed.”

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) went to great lengths to spare civilians, issuing warnings by leaflets, SMS messages, the “roof knock” technique, and social media. Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, notes in the film “the immense efforts that the IDF took when fighting in this very challenging environment, to minimize the number of civilian deaths [even though] Hamas used human shields virtually constantly. They deliberately site their weapon systems, and their fighters among the civilian population.”

“Eyeless in Gaza” shows the underreported perspective of Israelis trying to survive Hamas rocket attacks, including a huge explosion on a populated beach, and people racing to shelters with just 15 seconds to reach them. Israel’s Iron Dome defense system is no silver bullet: “10 percent [of] rockets…could hit you,” notes Tal Inbar, head of the Space Research Center at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies in Herzliya. “And…if the enemy is firing thousands of rockets…10 percent…is quite a lot.” Even intercepted rockets can still cause shock and injuries from falling shrapnel.

Kneejerk global condemnations of Israel triggered by a lopsided casualty count resulted, at least in part, from the media’s failure to cover the true nature of the mass casualty-threat facing Israel. Hamas launched thousands of rockets at schools, hospitals, and densely packed Israeli neighborhoods, demonstrating the group’s intent to kill many thousands of civilians. Hamas failed only because Israel had invested billions in a rocket defense system and Israelis regularly scurried to bomb shelters despite the disruption to their lives.

Former Russia Today correspondent Harry Fear, who calls himself “one of the most Palestinian-sympathizing journalists in the world,” notes that Palestinians “rejected cease fires, which could have saved…thousands of lives…”

Fearing violent retribution from Hamas, journalists engaged in collective self-censorship, he told Magid. Just about all foreign correspondents witnessed Palestinian war crimes without reporting them. “Rockets were being fired consistently from densely populated areas,” he said. He was expelled from Gaza after reporting on Twitter such fire.

An Indian television crew aired footage of Palestinian terrorists firing rockets from civilian areas only after it had left Gaza. Its report, shown in “Eyeless in Gaza,” notes that the rocket fire “will obviously have serious consequences… for those who live here, should Israel choose to retaliate.”

Hamas’ intimidation of journalists produces flawed, misleading coverage, as Friedman elaborates: “Most of the work of the international media in Gaza is done not by western journalists … but by local Palestinians from Gaza: fixers, translators, reporters, photographers … their families are in Gaza, and they’re not going to get Hamas angry. And because these people largely shape the coverage, that ends up having a very significant effect.”

Fear decries the limits to free speech in Gaza, citing a 2014 poll indicating that 80 percent of Palestinian journalists exercise self-censorship for fear of retribution.

Similarly, Friedman says in the film, “I understand why reporters censor themselves … in Gaza. What I don’t understand is why the news organizations haven’t made clear the restrictions under which they operate in Gaza, so that news consumers can understand that they are seeing a warped picture.”

The intimidation can be worse for Palestinian journalists. Ayman Al Aloul describes his imprisonment and torture by Hamas after he refused to stop writing about Gaza’s extreme poverty, and Hamas’ failed economic policies. “They started beating me and cursing at me. When I went back inside [my cell], I feared someone would be sent to end my life… I was scared they would say, ‘He died from cold or hunger.’ I was really scared.”

While the Western media and United Nations Human Rights Council obsessively harp on any alleged Israeli human rights violation, it completely ignored Al Aloul’s case.

Conflicts that receive far less media attention than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, despite being exponentially bloodier, also have been neglected, thanks to the media’s obsession with Israel. The film notes that, since 2011, nearly half a million people have been killed or wounded in Syria, compared to about 2,000 in Gaza. “160,000 Palestinians lived in Yarmouk prior to 2011. [Because of] Syrian…bombing and starvation policies, there are now 18,000.”

Thus, campus protesters who routinely accuse Israel of “genocide” and “massacre” are either grossly misinformed (at least in part because of media bias) or simply anti-Semitic.

UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesperson Chris Gunness acknowledges a double standard by the media and Arab governments’ in terms of attention given to the plight of Palestinians in Syria versus Gaza. But when asked why UNRWA failed to condemn Egypt’s security-motivated destruction of thousands of homes along the Gaza border, he says only, “we are not mandated to work in Egypt.”

Friedman notes, “If Israel did 1 percent of that, of course the international community would be in an uproar. I think people aren’t interested in Arabs in general, or what Arabs do to each other. I think they’re basically interested … in the actions of Jews. And that’s why Egypt can destroy entire neighborhoods [bordering] Gaza, as it did recently, and the world kind of yawns. That I think proves that … the story being told here by the international media is not a story about current events. It’s a story about something else. It’s a morality play starring a familiar villain [the Jews].”

This hostile paradigm explains the failure of Western media to report on the anti-Semitic nature of the Hamas charter, which blames all of the world’s woes – including every major war and revolution, and even the Holocaust – on the Jews, while calling for their annihilation, Friedman says in “Eyeless in Gaza.”

“If you say that Hamas is anti-Semitic, if you quote their charter, if you look too closely at exactly what their goals are, and who they are, then it would disrupt the narrative, according to which Israel is an aggressor, and the Palestinians are passive victims who have reasonable goals,” Friedman says.

Nevertheless, the media’s failure to include critical facts like those exposed in “Eyeless in Gaza” encourages terrorist groups like Hamas to embrace tactics intended to maximize civilian casualties. The resulting global condemnation of Israel for Gazan deaths only encourages Hamas to jeopardize civilians in the next round of violence.

As “Eyeless in Gaza” highlights, the kind of journalism that covered the 2014 war in Gaza distorted the truth, abetted a terrorist group, and strengthened the party most responsible for Gaza’s misery and ongoing hostilities with Israel. For more on the film, click here.

The Lessons of the Hamas War

March 3, 2017

The Lessons of the Hamas War, Front Page MagazineCaroline Glick, March 3, 2017

hamas-3

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

Sunni regimes, led by Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Saudi regime and the United Arab Emirates, were shocked to discover that the Obama administration was siding with their enemies against them.

If Israel went into the war against Hamas thinking that the Obama administration would treat it differently than it treated the Sunni regimes, it quickly discovered that it was mistaken. From the outset of the battle between Hamas and Israel, the Obama administration supported Hamas against Israel.

America’s support for Hamas was expressed at the earliest stages of the war when then-secretary of state John Kerry demanded that Israel accept an immediate cease-fire based entirely on Hamas’s terms. This demand, in various forms, remained the administration’s position throughout the 50-day war.

Netanyahu asked Sisi for help in blunting the American campaign for Hamas. Sisi was quick to agree and brought the Saudis and the UAE into an all-but-declared operational alliance with Israel against Hamas.

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The State Comptroller’s Report on Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s war with Hamas in the summer of 2014, is exceedingly detailed. The problem is that it addresses the wrong details.

Israel’s problem with Hamas wasn’t its tactics for destroying Hamas’s attack tunnels. Israel faced two challenges in its war with Hamas that summer. The first had to do with the regional and global context of the war. The second had to do with its understanding of its enemy on the ground.

War between Hamas and Israel took place as the Sunni Arab world was steeped a two-pronged existential struggle. On the one hand, Sunni regimes fought jihadist groups that emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood movement. On the other, they fought against Iran and its proxies in a bid to block Iran’s moves toward regional hegemony.

On both fronts, the Sunni regimes, led by Egypt under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Saudi regime and the United Arab Emirates, were shocked to discover that the Obama administration was siding with their enemies against them.

If Israel went into the war against Hamas thinking that the Obama administration would treat it differently than it treated the Sunni regimes, it quickly discovered that it was mistaken. From the outset of the battle between Hamas and Israel, the Obama administration supported Hamas against Israel.

America’s support for Hamas was expressed at the earliest stages of the war when then-secretary of state John Kerry demanded that Israel accept an immediate cease-fire based entirely on Hamas’s terms. This demand, in various forms, remained the administration’s position throughout the 50-day war.

Hamas’s terms were impossible for Israel. They included opening the jihadist regime’s land borders with Israel and Egypt, and providing it with open access to the sea. Hamas demanded to be reconnected to the international banking system in order to enable funds to enter Gaza freely from any spot on the globe. Hamas also demanded that Israel release its terrorists from its prisons.

If Israel had accepted any of Hamas’s cease-fire terms, its agreement would have constituted a strategic defeat for Israel and a historic victory for Hamas.

Open borders for Hamas means the free flow of armaments, recruits, trainers and money to Gaza. Were Hamas to be connected to the international banking system, the jihadist regime would have become the banking center of the global jihad.

The Obama administration’s support for Hamas was not passive.

Obama and Kerry threatened to join the Europeans in condemning Israel at the UN. Administration officials continuously railed against IDF operations in Gaza, insinuating that Israel was committing war crimes by insisting that Israel wasn’t doing enough to avoid civilian casualties.

As the war progressed, the administration’s actions against Israel became more aggressive. Washington placed a partial embargo on weapons shipments to Israel.

Then on July 23, 2014, the administration took the almost inconceivable step of having the Federal Aviation Administration ban flights of US carriers to Ben-Gurion Airport for 36 hours. The flight ban was instituted after a Hamas missile fell a mile from the airport.

The FAA did not ban flights to Pakistan or Afghanistan after jihadists on the ground successfully bombed airplanes out of the sky.

It took Sen. Ted Cruz’s threat to place a hold on all State Department appointments, and Canada’s Conservative Party government’s behind-the-scenes diplomatic revolt to get the flight ban rescinded.

The government and the IDF were shocked by the ferocity of the administration’s hostility. But to his great credit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surmounted it.

Netanyahu realized that Hamas is part of the Muslim Brotherhood nexus of jihad and also supported by Iran. As a result the Egyptians, Saudis and UAE rightly view it as a major enemy. Indeed, Egypt was in a state of war with Hamas in 2014. Gaza serves as the logistical base of the Salafist forces warring against the Egyptian military.

Netanyahu asked Sisi for help in blunting the American campaign for Hamas. Sisi was quick to agree and brought the Saudis and the UAE into an all-but-declared operational alliance with Israel against Hamas.

Since the Egyptians were hosting the cease-fire talks, Egypt was well-positioned to blunt Obama’s demand that Israel accept Hamas’s cease-fire terms.

In a bid to undermine Egypt, Obama and Kerry colluded with Hamas’s state sponsors Turkey and Qatar to push Sisi out of the cease-fire discussions. But due to Saudi and UAE support for Sisi and Israel, the administration’s attempts to sideline the Egyptians failed.

The cease-fire terms that were adopted at the end of the war contained none of Hamas’s demands. Israel had won the diplomatic war.

It was a strange victory, however. Netanyahu was never able to let the public know what was happening.

Had he informed the public, the knowledge that the US was backing Hamas would have caused mass demoralization and panic. So Netanyahu had to fight the diplomatic fight of his life secretly.

The war on the ground was greatly influenced by the diplomatic war. But the war on the ground was first and foremost a product of the nature of Hamas and of the nature of Hamas’s relationship with the PLO.

Unfortunately, the Comptroller’s Report indicates that the IDF didn’t understand either. According to the report, in the weeks before the war began, the then-coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eitan Dangot, told the security cabinet that the humanitarian situation in Gaza was at a crisis point and that hostilities were likely to break out if Israel didn’t allow humanitarian aid into the Strip.

On Wednesday we learned that Dangot’s view continues to prevail in the army. The IDF’s intelligence chief, Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi, told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Israel must send humanitarian aid to Gaza to avert a war.

There is truth to the IDF’s position. Hamas did in fact go to war against Israel in the summer of 2014 because it was short on supplies.

After Sisi overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt the previous summer, he shut Egypt’s border with Gaza because Gaza was the logistical base of the insurgency against his regime. The closed border cut off Hamas’s supply train of everything from antitank missiles to cigarettes and flour.

The problem with the IDF’s view of Hamas is that providing aid to Gaza means supplying Hamas first and foremost. Every shipment into Gaza strengthens Hamas far more than it serves the needs of Gaza’s civilian population. We got a good look at Hamas’s contempt for the suffering of its people during Protective Edge.

After seeing the vast dimensions of Hamas’s tunnel infrastructure, the then-OC Southern Command, Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman, told reporters that Hamas had diverted enough concrete to its tunnel project to build 200 kindergartens, two hospitals, 20 clinics and 20 schools.

Moreover, the civilian institutions that are supposed to be assisted by humanitarian aid all serve Hamas. During the war, three soldiers from the IDF’s Maglan unit were killed in southern Gaza when they were buried in rubble of a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic.

The soldiers were in the clinic to seal off the entry shaft of a tunnel that was located in an exam room.

Hamas had booby trapped the walls of the clinic and detonated it when the soldiers walked through the door.

All of the civilian institutions in Gaza, including those run by the UN, as well as thousands of private homes, are used by Hamas as part of its war machine against Israel.

So any discussion of whether or not to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza is not a humanitarian discussion. It is a discussion about whether or not to strengthen Hamas and reinforce its control over the population of Gaza.

This brings us to the goals of the war in Gaza in 2014. At the time, the government debated two possible endgames.

The first was supported by then-justice minister Tzipi Livni. Livni, and the Left more generally, supported using the war with Hamas as a means of unseating Hamas and restoring the PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority to power in the area.

There were four problems with this notion. First, it would require Israel to reconquer Gaza.

Second, the Obama administration would never have agreed to an Israeli conquest of Gaza.

Third, Israel doesn’t have the forces to deploy to Gaza to retake control of the area without rendering its other borders vulnerable.

The final problem with Livni’s idea is that the PLO is no better than Hamas. From the outset of the war, the PLO gave Hamas unqualified support. Fatah militias in Gaza manned the missile launchers side by side with Hamas fighters. PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas represented Hamas at the cease-fire talks in Cairo. He led the political war against Israel in the West. And he financed Hamas’s war effort. Throughout the war Abbas sent a steady stream of funds to Gaza.

If PLO forces were returned to Gaza, they would behave precisely as they behaved from 2000 until Hamas kicked them out in 2007. That is, they would have acted as Hamas’s full partners in their joint war against Israel.

The second possible endgame involved a long-term strategy of defeating Hamas through attrition. This was the goal the government ended up partially adopting. The government ordered the IDF to destroy as much of Hamas’s missile arsenal as possible and to destroy its offensive tunnels into Israel. When the goals had been achieved to the point where the cost of opposing Obama grew greater than the battle gains, Netanyahu agreed to a cease-fire.

For the attrition strategy to have succeeded, the cease-fire would have only been the first stage of a longer war. For the attrition strategy to work, Israel needed to refuse to resupply Hamas. With its missile arsenal depleted and its tunnels destroyed, had Israel maintained the ban on supplies to Gaza, the residents would have revolted and Hamas wouldn’t have had the option of deflecting their anger onto Israel by starting a new war.

The IDF unfortunately never accepted attrition as the goal. From the Comptroller’s Report and Halevi’s statement to the Knesset this week, it appears the General Staff rejected attrition because it refuses to accept either the nature of Hamas or the nature of the PLO. Immediately after the cease-fire went into force, the General Staff recommended rebuilding Gaza and allowing an almost free flow of building supplies, including concrete, into Hamas’s mini-state.

The Comptroller’s Report is notable mainly because it shows that nearly three years after Protective Edge, official Israel still doesn’t understand what happened that summer. The problem with Hamas was never tactical. It was always strategic. Israel won the diplomatic battle because it understood the correlation of its strategic interests with those of the Sunni regimes.

It lost the military battle of attrition because it permitted Hamas to resupply.

Light at the end of the tunnel

March 1, 2017

Light at the end of the tunnel, Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth, March 1, 2017

It should be noted, however, that those who praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and then-IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz at the time for their restraint during the unfolding events, which staved off embroilment in all-out war in Gaza and kept Hamas in power for fear of a worse replacement, are the ones now criticizing them.

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In the fight against Hamas and other terrorist organizations, decisions always have to be made: Should maximum force be used to win the fight in one week, despite the chaos likely to ensue as a result; or should Israel try to end the campaign taking into account the international community, Arab countries, the many civilian lives at stake, and the need for stability?

A decision has to be made, because you can’t have both.

In Israel, another factor must always be considered. The IDF is a unique army: On the one hand, it has to go to war to protect Israeli civilians; on the other hand, it knows in advance that any campaign of this sort also entails fighting for its reputation and defending itself against critical reports, from home or abroad. This has become part of the routine.

Operation Protective Edge was not a failure. The IDF did not lose. It even met its given objectives. With that, we would have preferred a quick “knockout.” Israel has the necessary superiority, weaponry and military to defeat a terrorist organization like Hamas and its satellites in less than 51 days. It should be noted, however, that those who praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and then-IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz at the time for their restraint during the unfolding events, which staved off embroilment in all-out war in Gaza and kept Hamas in power for fear of a worse replacement, are the ones now criticizing them.

We heard the pundits explain to us on Tuesday that the most notable part of the state comptroller’s report is that the Netanyahu-led government did not examine diplomatic alternatives to the military campaign in Gaza. Has so much time passed? Could it be we have already forgotten why we were fighting? Perhaps we have forgotten the abduction of the three boys and their execution at the hands of Hamas terrorists, which was ordered by the group’s leadership in Gaza?

Anyway, the mention of diplomatic alternatives is amusing. With whom would we engage diplomatically? With Ismail Haniyeh in 2014, or maybe today with his successor, Yahya Sinwar, who is even more of a militant extremist? Don’t take our word for it, go and ask the Egyptians or even our neighbors in the Palestinian Authority what they think of the diplomatic alternative Hamas offers the Middle East. If anyone wants to insult Yahya Sinwar, ask him what “diplomatic alternative” he proposes.

Israeli society does not like wars, even if it is very proud of its army. It does not like terror, it does not like Hamas and Hezbollah, and it also does not like grieving for fallen sons and daughters. However, what it likes the least are attempts to harm its “sacred cow,” the IDF. Israeli society sees this comptroller’s report as nothing more than self-pity and self-flagellation.

Yes, self-criticism is essential. The IDF examines itself after every operation and mission. With that, our desire today to perform an X-ray on everything we do is, in retrospect, hurting the army. It undermines the decision makers and mostly handicaps future operational capability.

In hindsight, a report that strives to fix things can actually do more harm than good. Fateful decisions are made by a small handful of people, unless of course we have decided to return to the days of ancient Greece. Moreover, who can say that decisions made by broader forums are necessarily better or more successful?

The underground tunnel threat was never existential. Indeed, Hamas could have had its victory image had it been able to carry out a deadly attack, via one of those tunnels, inside an Israeli border community. The terrorist organization could have also acquired that coveted image if the Iron Dome defense system had not intercepted the barrage of missiles fired at us from Gaza. Israel reasoned that the missile threat was greater than the tunnel threat, and provided a response which proved to the world that in Israel missiles protect civilians, while in Gaza civilians protect missiles.

Regardless, things have changed. Before the comptroller’s report was even published, Israel had displayed its answer to the missiles from Gaza. According to reports, it also has an answer to the tunnel threat. Hamas’ national projects are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Before the report was ever published, we already understood there was a light at the end of the tunnel. This light is not a diplomatic alternative, but a decisive victory over Hamas, if and when it makes the grave mistake of trying to harm us again.

Hamas on Tuesday claimed that it emerged victorious from Operation Protective Edge, but that is certainly not because of its performance on the field of battle. It is more because of the report.