Hamas is the enemy of the Palestinians
This vicious Islamist regime has treated Gazans as mere fodder in its apocalyptic war on Jews.
Over the past two weeks, the same phrase has been uttered by countless politicians: ‘Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people.’ US president Joe Biden has said it. British PM Rishi Sunak has said it. Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, which rules over the West Bank, has said it (before his speech was redacted).
But something far stronger needs to be said. It’s not that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. It’s that Hamas is against the Palestinian people. It’s the enemy of the Palestinian people. Its interests as an Islamist terrorist movement, dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state in its place, stand in direct opposition to the interests and lives of the Palestinian people.
Make no mistake: Hamas has always treated the Palestinians like dirt. Since it seized power in Gaza in 2007, it has ruled as one would expect it to – as a brutal, oppressive, theocratic regime. It has tortured and killed those who deviate from its strict ‘laws’, and who dissent from its quasi-fascist ideology. Homosexuals have been regularly persecuted, tortured and killed. And political opponents have frequently been murdered, sometimes under the cover of its intermittent battles with the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).
Perhaps most despicable of all, Hamas has constantly sacrificed Gazans in its multiple conflicts with Israel, deliberately placing them in harm’s way. It has stored rockets in schools, mortar shells in hospitals and munitions in mosques. And, with incredible callousness, people have been ordered to remain in their homes during Israeli attacks, even when being told by the IDF to evacuate. This is still happening now. The IDF is telling those living in the north of Gaza to evacuate, while Hamas is ordering them to stay put.
Despite Western sympathisers’ attempts to downplay this horrific ‘tactic’, or to dismiss it as Israeli propaganda, Hamas has always been open about it. As one of its leaders boasted in 2008: ‘For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry… The elderly excel at this, and so do… the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women and children.’ During the 2014 conflict with Israel, another senior spokesman told Palestinian station al-Aqsa TV that wilfully sacrificing Gazans ‘attests to the character of our noble, jihad-loving people, who defend their rights and their homes with their bare chests and their blood’.
Hamas uses the phrase ‘human shields’, but this unjustly dignifies this tactic’s depravity. For Hamas, Gazans’ bodies are not shields – they are media fodder. Their lives are worth less to Hamas than their deaths – the images and videos of which offer valuable propaganda material to be circulated around the world as proof of Hamas’s victimisation at the hands of evil Israel. Again, this is what Hamas is doing right now. As the Israeli military readies itself for a ground invasion, Hamas is happy to turn hundreds of thousands of Gazans into bloody war propaganda.
Every dead Palestinian is useful for Hamas. Just consider the explosion at the al-Alhi Arab hospital earlier this week. This was immediately held up by Hamas spokespeople as proof of Israeli war crimes. They claimed that 500 innocent people had died in the blast. Yet it now seems likely that Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another Islamist terror group, was responsible. All too often, rockets fired at Israel fall short of their targets and end up killing Gazans instead. But this is of no concern to Hamas, which can exploit and weaponise these deaths to its own abhorrent ends.
There is no question that Gazans have suffered greatly over the past two decades. But their oppression and exploitation has only benefitted Hamas’s leaders. They have happily reaped the rewards of their reign of terror, growing rich on their control of the Gazan black market, the largesse of their regional backers and no doubt some of the billions of dollars Gaza receives in international aid. Long-time Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh pledged to live on ‘olive oil and dried herbs’ after he led Hamas to victory at the 2006 Palestinian elections. In 2019, he shook off his asceticism and left Gaza to go on what Hamas announced was a ‘foreign tour’. He has never returned. The multibillionaire now lives in luxury in Qatar. As does some-time chairman of Hamas, Khaled Meshal. Meshal and his family, estimated to be worth something in the region of $2.5 billion, own a Doha real-estate firm, four residential towers and a 20-story mall. And all the while, the vast majority of Gazans live in extreme poverty.
Hamas is clearly corrupt, brutal and nasty. Yet we rarely hear much about just how vicious a regime Hamas runs, because Hamas also arrests, tortures and detains journalists. It is eager for the local and international press to carry stories and images of Gazans’ deaths at the hands of an Israeli missile. But less keen for the media to carry stories and images of its own treatment of Gazans.
That Hamas can treat Gazans so callously and brutally should not surprise us. Formed by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1987, Hamas does not share the interests of the Palestinian people. It is not concerned with establishing some form of Palestinian statehood, or securing rights and freedoms. No, its goals are near-enough apocalyptic – and genocidal.
Like the larger Islamist movement of which it is part, Hamas wants to wage war – perhaps the final war – against the Jews. It wants to destroy Israel, to cleanse the land of Jews ‘From the river to the sea’, as the slogan goes. ‘Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious’, reads one of the opening lines of Hamas’s 1988 founding charter. Hamas, it says, ‘is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy [Israel] is vanquished and Allah’s victory is realised’.
This genocidal anti-Semitism doesn’t just pose a danger to Jews in Israel – it also makes any sort of political resolution of the Palestinian question near impossible. After all, how can Israelis be expected to make accommodations with a group that openly calls for their extinction? Meanwhile, the lives of the Palestinians are treated as mere fodder in this obscene, racist campaign.
And yet there are still many Western leftists proudly celebrating Hamas right now. There are many ‘radical’ academics cheering on Hamas’s pogrom of Jewish civilians as an act of resistance. And there are many poseurs flooding social media with Hamas-style anti-Zionism. These are not friends of the Gazans. They are friends of Hamas. And that makes them the enemies of the Palestinian people.
Tim Black is a spiked columnist.
Picture by: Getty.
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