Hamas militants attend the funeral of members of Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas, in the central Gaza Strip March 22, 2018..
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
The Gaza Strip is one of the most intolerable places in the world. Drinking water is scarce, poverty is rampant, unemployment is through the roof and sewage flows in some streets.
But let us be clear – this is not Israel’s fault. Gaza is run by a terrorist organization that has unremittingly decided to invest its resources and attention at attempting to murder Israelis instead of trying to improve the quality of life for its people.
It is also true that Gaza is the world’s largest prison.
This too though is Hamas’s fault. Hamas holds its people hostage and as prisoners. The people of Gaza are not free. They are not given the opportunity to speak out against their regime like citizens of democracies are. They cannot freely protest against the terrorist group’s policies that have turned Gazans into prisoners. They are trapped.
This is important to keep in mind after a new round of violence – the most widespread since the war of 2014 – broke out on Friday. It is still too early to tell where this is heading, but it is important that the world and the people of Gaza, in particular, understand why this bad rerun is happening again: It is because of Hamas.
Since Hamas violently took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, it has continued to face the same dilemma: Lay down its arms and come to terms with Israel’s existence in exchange for economic prosperity and a better future for its people, or continue trying and failing to weaken and destroy Israel.
Unfortunately for everyone, it has persistently chosen the latter.
“For 100 years we have been fighting terror; we fight it forcefully,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week during a visit to Sderot.
“This place right now is the confrontation line between Islamic terrorism and the state of the Jews, and we are determined to win. This entails an exchange of blows, which are not yet over.”
Netanyahu went on to explain that the conflict with Hamas is a “prolonged struggle,” and one that will not end in the near future. Unfortunately for Israel, it faces a conflict that lacks a clear-cut military solution and instead can only aim for cycles of deterrence.
The war in 2014, also known as Operation Protective Edge, created quiet for Israel until a few months ago when the border protests and kite arson attacks began. This round of violence, too, will eventually end in a cease-fire that will lead, again, to another period of quiet, until violence once again flares up.
This weekend saw the first IDF casualty since the 2014 war, when 21-year-old Staff Sgt. Aviv Levy from Petah Tikva was killed by Hamas sniper fire from Gaza Friday afternoon.
It is a sad state of affairs, one that Hamas is responsible for. It has the ability to change the future, but to do so it would need to change its purpose from an entity obsessed with Israel’s destruction to one focused on caring for its people and upgrading their quality of life.
Sadly, it is a reality like the one depicted by Golda Meir in the quote famously attributed to her: “If the Arabs put down their guns there would be no more fighting. If the Israelis put down theirs there would be no more Israel.”
What Hamas continues to show is that, even 70 years after Israel’s establishment, some enemies are still blindly motivated by a radical ideology with a complete disregard for reality. Hamas stands no chance of destroying or defeating Israel.
But that doesn’t stop it from trying with rockets, tunnels, kites and border protests. It is a terrorist group, no different than any other group that uses terror to try and advance unrealistic political ambitions.
Hamas needs to pay a price. Israel has every legitimate right to attack Hamas targets and to use military force to stop attacks against itself. This is important to keep in mind as this round of violence continues. Politicians, international institutions and certain media will claim the contrary, but they are wrong. There is one side to blame for what is happening in Gaza, and that side is Hamas.
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