Politics & Policy

Hamas’s Suicidal Tendencies

(Getty Images)
Its rejection of the Egyptian ceasefire shows how it has a crazy ideology, not a strategy.

Hamas is an acronym for the Arabic translation of “Islamic resistance movement.” Its logo blends Palestinian nationalism (flags) with the total destruction of Israel (painted green) and the physical-theological liberation of Jerusalem (the Dome of the Rock).

The intended narrative is clear: valiant nationalism, geographic liberation, and Islamic purity.

But in reality, Hamas is a movement of totalitarian zealots. After winning elected power in 2006, Hamas proceeded to destroy Palestinian democracy by massacring its Fatah opponents.

Since then, it has allowed Gaza to drown in raw sewage and economic collapse. And now, a slave to its own ideological idiocy, Hamas is burying its people in blood. Over a week ago, Hamas had an opportunity to avoid this conflict. It could have stopped firing rockets into Israel and avoided Israeli military reprisals. Instead, it celebrated the murder of Israeli teenagers, ignored political pressures on Netanyahu, and persisted in its rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.

Unsurprisingly, Israel responded with force.

Hamas has now doubled down on this strategic stupidity: Yesterday, after hundreds of punishing air strikes, the group rejected a cease-fire accord brokered by Egypt. Its military wing, made up of the group’s most fanatical followers, promised an “increase in ferocity.” Netanyahu had quickly and publicly accepted that cease-fire, doing so against significant pressure in his own cabinet.

The consequence of Hamas’s intransigence? Israel has responded with even greater force. Netanyahu has made it clear that his patience is exhausted and a limited ground incursion is more likely than ever. And if that happens, Netanyahu knows the IDF is likely to suffer casualties, so he’ll want to do more than confront Hamas’s military infrastructure in northern Gaza — he may drive Hamas out of power entirely. His olive branch spurned, Netanyahu will see force as his only option.

And for now, IDF air sorties are continuing at a furious pace. Israeli intelligence drones are circling Gaza, hunting for Hamas rocket teams and commanders. In response, Hamas fighters are doing what they do best: firing back from behind civilians.

But it can’t do so forever: Egypt has restricted the border crossings and smuggling tunnels through which Hamas gets resupplied. Egypt was already annoyed by Hamas’s support for extremism in the Sinai, but now, with Sisi’s ceasefire rejected, Hamas will find it even more difficult to replenish its limited rocket supplies.

To make matters worse, traditional Hamas allies are staying silent. Iran is focused on avoiding Western ire in order to keep at its weapons program, and, along with the Lebanese Hezbollah, consolidating Assad. Meanwhile, the sectarianism of the Syrian civil war has complicated Hamas’s deeper relationship with these actors. And while the Sunni Arab monarchies still do finance Hamas, they have little interest in a showdown with Israel.

Why is Hamas pursuing such a self-destructive strategy? Ideology.

With the raison d’être of Israel’s destruction, Hamas’s political strategy is fundamentally disconnected from its military efforts. Hamas exists for an impossible purpose, so the group cannot govern as a logical actor.

Were Hamas to accept serious compromise with Israel, by embracing the peace process, it would fracture and empower its increasingly powerful rival, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

So instead, Hamas pushes on in an endless war against Israel and reality — risking its destruction all the same.

— Tom Rogan is a blogger and a columnist for the Daily Telegraph. He is based in Washington, D.C., and tweets @TomRtweets.

Tom Rogan — Tom Rogan is a columnist for National Review Online, a contributor to the Washington Examiner, and a former panelist on The McLaughlin Group. Email him at TRogan@McLaughlin.com

Most Popular

Immigration

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More
U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Religion

Billy Graham: Neither Prophet nor Theologian

Asked in 1972 if he believed in miracles, Billy Graham answered: Yes, Jesus performed some and there are many "miracles around us today, including television and airplanes." Graham was no theologian. Neither was he a prophet. Jesus said "a prophet hath no honor in his own country." Prophets take adversarial ... Read More
Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More