(photo credit: REUTERS)
When Hamas accepted the US-UN proposed cease fire, many eyebrows were raised. Why suddenly would Hamas accept this cease fire, when it had turned down so many previous proposals? Some speculated that perhaps Qatar, the financial godfather of the terrorist organization, had pressured Hamas into accepting it. Others speculated that Hamas was getting pressure from its own citizens to end the bloodshed.
It now seems that all these speculations failed to take into account the true nature of Hamas. We often forget that Hamas is a criminal organization—a group of terrorists working together with other terrorist groups such as Islamic Jihad for the sole purpose of destroying the nation-state of the Jewish people and killing as many of its citizens as possible. Criminals and terrorists don’t play by the rules of civilized society. It now seems likely that Hamas and its co-conspirators agreed to the deal for the sole purpose of lulling Israel into accepting it so that they could catch Israel off guard and exploit the humanitarian cease fire to achieve one of the most important goals of the war they started: namely to kidnap an Israeli soldier or civilian and hold them hostage until their extortionate demands were met.
The reason some people actually believed that Hamas would play by the rules and maintain the cease fire to which it agreed, is because the media, the UN, and some in the international community falsely equate Israel, a democratic country that abides by the rule of law, with Hamas, a terrorist organization comprised of criminals who commit double war crimes every time they fire rockets at Israeli civilians from behind Palestinian civilians and whenever they hide terrorist tunnels in civilian areas.
The conflict is seen not as one between good and evil, or between criminals and those who seek to enforce the law, but rather as between two parties with equal claims. This false symmetry only encourages Hamas to exploit this status by appearing to play by the rules, while never intending to do so.
Israel has learned its harsh lesson. It will never again agree to a cease fire with Hamas that in any way depends on mutual trust. One hopes that the world too has learned a lesson. It should never try to pressure Israel into taking any action or inaction that relies on Hamas’ good faith.
Since it was the United States and United Nations that asked Israel to accept the cease fire that led to the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, it is now their responsibility to demand the return of the soldier with no conditions. The United States has accepted this responsibility. Secretary of State John Kerry issued the following statement:
“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s attack, which led to the killing of two Israeli soldiers and the apparent abduction of another… Hamas, which has security control over the Gaza Strip, must immediately and unconditionally release the missing Israeli soldier, and I call on those with influence over Hamas to reinforce this message.”
The United Nations, on the other hand, has accepted no responsibility. Its Security Council is unlikely to demand the unconditional and immediate return of the soldier or even condemn Hamas alone for violating the UN brokered cease fire. That is because Russia will almost certainly veto any unilateral condemnation of Hamas even if a majority could be mustered in support.
The best proof, if any were needed, that Hamas is a criminal organization, is that it regards the kidnapped soldier not as a prisoner of war but as a hostage. Responsible armed forces capture soldiers; criminal organizations kidnap them. Responsible armed forces allow the Red Cross to visit captured soldiers; criminal organizations keep them incommunicado and allow no Red Cross visitors. Real armed forces release soldiers when the combat is over; criminal groups hold their kidnap victims until their ransom demands are met. Finally, real armed forces protect the lives of captured enemy soldiers; criminal gangs often murder their kidnap victims, as Hamas members murdered the three Israeli children they kidnapped earlier this year.
The time has come, indeed it has long past, for the international community to regard Hamas as the terrorist gang that it is. It should be treated the way the world has treated pirates over the centuries. International warrants should be issued for the arrest of Hamas’ gang leaders. They should be dealt with in the way police and armed forces deal with the mafia and other criminal gangs. Hamas deserves no place at the table of negotiation or in any Palestinian government, any more than La Costra Nosta would deserve to be part of an Italian government or the Israeli-Russian mafia should be included in any Israeli government. Hamas has done more harm to the Palestinian people than has Israel. If the Palestinian people won’t rescue themselves from this gang of cutthroats, the international community must do so. That would be true humanitarianism.