Rafah reminds us of the evils of Hamas

Why are so many in the West washing away Hamas’s responsibility for the Gaza catastrophe?

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Politics World

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The anti-Israel set is right about something for once: it is unconscionable that Rafah has been turned into a warzone. It is an affront to humanity itself that a city once teeming with civilians fleeing the ravages of war elsewhere in Gaza should now be reduced to a hellish battleground. But who did this? Who was it that decided to use this former city of civilians as a launchpad for war? Who was it that posted their military commanders there, hid their ammunition there, fired their missiles from there, dragged hostages there? Who was it who hid the machinery of war among the women and children of Rafah, knowing full well bloodshed would ensue?

It wasn’t Israel. Israel helped to facilitate the evacuation of over 900,000 civilians. No, it was Hamas. To see the evils of Hamas, look at Rafah.

There is ‘global outrage’ following Israel’s firing of a missile that hit a camp in Rafah for displaced Palestinians. According to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, 45 civilians were killed. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has called it a ‘tragic mistake’. The footage from the burning camp is grim in the extreme. And Hamas bears ultimate responsibility for it. It was Hamas that forced Rafah to become the frontline in its apocalyptic war against the Jews. It was Hamas that turned this former ‘safe zone’ into one of the least safe zones on Earth. Nothing captures the ruthlessness and cynicism of these Islamofascists better than the cruel fate befalling Rafah right now.

Not that you’d know it from the public discussion. Peruse the mainstream media or the tweets of the woke and you could be forgiven for thinking Israel is attacking Rafah for sport. Both the cranky left and batshit right are even referring to the ‘tragic mistake’ in Rafah as the ‘Rafah Holocaust’. This is Holocaust inversion of the most rank variety, where Israel’s rightful pursuit of the fascists who carried out the pogrom of 7 October is rebranded as ‘fascism’; where a war on the genocidal terrorists of Hamas is reimagined as ‘genocide’. War is peace, freedom is slavery, anti-fascism is fascism.

The truth is that Hamas didn’t only start the Israel-Hamas War, with its vile pogrom – it also brought it to Rafah. Consciously, determinedly and without so much as a passing thought for the impact it might have on the people there. Indeed, as some of the news reports begrudgingly acknowledge, Hamas attacked Israel from Rafah just hours before Israel returned fire with the missiles that caused that tragic mistake. Hamas fired eight missiles from Rafah towards Tel Aviv. It gloated about its ‘major rocket attack’. It used Rafah as a staging area for anti-Semitic warfare. It knew what the consequences would be. It invited war to Rafah, and war came.

For some time, Hamas has been making Rafah the main base of its genocidal crusade against the Jewish State. Harried by the IDF from the rest of the Gaza Strip, Hamas spied in Rafah a ‘safe’ site for its warmongering. Israel believes Hamas has six battalions left, and that four of them are operating out of Rafah. Many missiles have been fired from Rafah. One killed four IDF soldiers. Others have rained down on Israeli territory, with the aim of slaughtering the Jews there. Israeli hostages are being held in Rafah. Hamas is using Rafah as a base from which to taunt, blackmail and assault the Jewish State. If you hate what has happened to Rafah, if you hate that it’s been sucked into the vortex of war, then you should hate Hamas.

Of course, the luxuriant moralists of the West, the noisy purveyors of lazy correct-think, prefer to hate Israel. They blame Israel for everything, even for things Hamas did, like the condemnation of Rafah to war. The catastrophe of Rafah ought to have prized open the eyes of Western opinion-formers to the evils of Hamas. To the bracing truth that this is a movement so bereft of basic decency it is willing to hide itself among humanitarian infrastructure, to use a city designated as a safe space from war for war. The IDF is surely right that Hamas’s use of Rafah for arms storage, hostage-keeping and missile-firing represents a ‘systematic exploitation of humanitarian facilities and spaces’.

And yet many in the West, especially those of a woke persuasion, hold Hamas responsible for nothing. Their collective finger points permanently at Israel. No doubt they consider this a ‘progressive’, even ‘anti-imperialist’ position, but in truth there is a sinister streak of racial paternalism to their ceaseless exoneration of Hamas. Their view seems to be that Israel is the only consequential actor in this conflict, and the Palestinians mere victims. Israel makes decisions, Palestinians suffer the consequences – The End.

This denudes the Palestinian side of agency entirely. It lets even the fascists of Hamas off the hook. It represents the globalisation of identity politics, where the idea is that only ‘white’ forces can be held responsible for what they do, while ‘non-white’ forces must be excused, apologised for, forgiven. Behind the phoney anti-colonialism of the Israelophobic left there lurks the nauseatingly colonialist belief that Arabs are essentially overgrown children who must never be judged – not even when a small section of that people launch a pogrom against the Jewish State and invite war across the Palestinian territories. Behold the double racism of the woke left: the racism of hating the Jewish State above all others, and the racism of refusing to condemn Palestinians for anything, ever. The racism of unrealistic expectations of Israel, and the racism of no expectations of Palestine.

We see this so often in the Western coverage of the Israel-Hamas War – the invisibilisation of Hamas. Think about how rarely we hear about Hamas operations. Its gun battles with IDF soldiers. Its booby-trapping of its vast network of tunnels. Even its firing of missiles at Israel. And, most importantly, how many of its operatives have been slain by the IDF. There has been next to no effort by the mainstream media to figure out how many of the Palestinian fatalities in this war were armed fascists of Hamas, killed as part of the war against the Jewish State that they started. Hamas is being written out of a catastrophe that it itself authored, by observers who see Israel as the only blameworthy actor in the region. It is deceiving war propaganda disguised as reportage.

The end result of this dishonest depiction of Rafah as a crime scene of Israel’s making is that Hamas gets moral cover to continue its war on the Jews. When the International Court of Justice haughtily demands that Israel stay out of Rafah, it is essentially saying ‘Leave Rafah to Hamas’. When the Biden administration condemns Israel for its ‘devastating’ missile attack on Rafah, it unwittingly emboldens the Rafah-based terrorists who attacked Israel first. And when the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court compares Hamas to the IRA, and says Britain didn’t bomb Belfast in the Seventies and therefore Israel shouldn’t bomb Rafah today, he demonstrates the shocking historical and moral illiteracy of the globalist elites; their inability to grasp how existential is the threat posed by Hamas to Israel, and how vulnerable Western civilisation itself is to the menaces of radical Islam.

At this stage in the Israel-Hamas War, if you are not condemning Hamas, if you are not calling on it to return the hostages and surrender to Israel, then it’s clear your concern is not with saving Palestinian life but with humiliating the Jewish State. You are not fighting to end the war – you are giving cover to Hamas’s war. All morally serious people who, like spiked, want to save Rafah and the rest of Palestine from further violence should have as their priority the complete and final defeat of Hamas.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Pictures by: Getty.

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Topics Politics World


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