Unmask Hamas for what it is: a terror group that’s stalling Israel-Palestine reconciliation | opinion | Hindustan Times
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Unmask Hamas for what it is: a terror group that’s stalling Israel-Palestine reconciliation

Confronted with tens of thousands of incited mobs, the Israeli defence forces did not fire indiscriminately but, instead, were able to minimise the cost of lives of those human shields. This was in keeping with our values, respect for human rights and meticulous preparations

opinion Updated: May 22, 2018 09:40 IST
Hamas,Israel-Palestine reconciliation,Palestine Liberation Organization
Hamas supporters wave their green Islamic and national flags during a rally against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, at Palestine square in Gaza City, Wednesday, March 7, 2018. (AP)

Israel constantly stands on the frontline of the global and regional war on terror. Last week’s painful events on the Israel-Gaza border are an example of the complexity of this war and the viciousness of terror organisations such as the Hamas.

Since taking control of Gaza in 2007, instead of assuming civic responsibility for the benefit of its residents, the Hamas has dedicated itself to incitement, terror and destruction, and is responsible for the deaths of many Israelis and Palestinians.

And, all the while, the Hamas has been staging a false and cynical act for the world.

In 2006, Israel unilaterally pulled out of Gaza in the hope of furthering peace with its Palestinian neighbours. Israel had left behind houses, schools and greenhouses full of produce for the people of Gaza to use.

Sadly, in less than a day’s time, the local Palestinian authorities tore down the houses, schools and greenhouses. The opportunity to build upon the infrastructure left behind by Israel was pushed aside in favour of hate and anger. This is not what the Gazans expected from their leaders.

In democratic elections held in Gaza, the Hamas — a radical Islamic terrorist organisation — was chosen, and soon it proved to be neither democratic nor caring for the well-being of the people of Gaza.

A year later, in 2007, with Israel no longer in control, the frustration of the people in Gaza was directed towards those in power, the Palestine Liberation Organization leadership, which had been losing its legitimacy. In a practical coup, popularly known as Hamas’s takeover of Gaza, the Hamas violently eliminated any remaining representatives of the secular Palestinian Authority. Next, it revoked any shred of commitment to the peace process with Israel. Instead, the first chapter of the Hamas Charter states that it dedicates itself to the destruction of the Jewish State — Israel.

Indeed, for over 10 long years, the Hamas has engaged in many terrorist activities, including suicide bombings, cross-border artillery attacks, launching short- and long-range missiles, operating terror tunnels, etc. The Hamas has constantly challenged Israel into military retaliation while using its own civilian population as human shields as it targeted, and continues to target, the civilian population in Israel. The pain and the suffering of the Gazan people means nothing to these so-called legitimate Palestinian leaders.

Today, the Hamas in Gaza has learned the effectiveness of human shields not only in its violent encounters with the Israeli military, but also in soliciting international media and public opinion.

Recently, it sent mobs to the border with Israel, under the false pretext of “civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest” — an easy-on-the-ear phrase for the international community. However, the true intent came out when, addressing local audience, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said that the riots were intended “to take down the border and tear out their [Israelis] hearts from their bodies.”

Thus, the Hamas was ready to sacrifice more Palestinian lives for the sake of media attention. These terrorists were violently pushing their way to breach the border with Israel, using innocent civilians — women, men, children — as human shields.

While committed to safeguarding its citizens and territory, and in a clear legal act of self-defence, Israel made sure its border was not breached, despite attempts to do so. Confronted with tens of thousands of incited mobs, the Israeli defence forces did not fire indiscriminately but, instead, were able to minimise the loss of lives of those in the human shields. This was in keeping with our values, respect for human rights and meticulous preparations.

A popular phrase suggests that a gun in the first act will likely fire in the third act. Sadly, for a long time the world has ignored the presence of the gun and is now overlooking the “smoking gun” presented in the form of the Hamas official, Salah al-Bardawil, who admitted that 80% of the dead in the latest events were their own. Do I need to say more?

For Israelis and Palestinians this is a painful reality. Here real lives are at stake, and this is the tragedy of our complicated region, West Asia, marred with extremism and terrorism.

Only when terror is recognised for what it is and is defeated, can Israel and the Palestine bring down the curtain on decades of violence and begin a life side by side in peace and security.

The international community must unmask the Hamas for what it is: A terrorist organisation that stands in the way of any attempt at reconciliation.

Daniel Carmon is Israel’s ambassador to India

The views expressed are personal

First Published: May 22, 2018 07:14 IST