The Hamas Martyrdom Operation

Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh gestures as he delivers a speech in Gaza, April 30, 2018. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

Hamas knew exactly what it was doing with its huge border demonstrations, and got exactly what it wanted — a barrage of negative publicity for Israel and international condemnation of the Jewish state. For Hamas, the 60 dead Palestinians and about 2,700 injured were just the cynical price of doing business. 


Every indication is that the Israelis did everything they reasonably could to prevent the bloodshed. Per their practice, they issued warnings and fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and warning shots. When these don’t avail, they can’t simply allow hundreds or thousands of rioters, some armed, to storm into their country. 


It is easy to condemn the Israeli handling of the situation from afar, but controlling a violent mob that doesn’t care about getting killed — indeed, in some cases, welcomes the prospect — is one of the hardest tasks for any security force.


Some of the dead are members of Hamas or other terrorist groups. Others are theatrical victims. What is the purpose of inciting civilians to put themselves at mortal peril except that their deaths will be particularly wrenching?


The crux of the issue is that Israelis are generally perceived by Palestinians as Westerners and colonizers, the sort of people whom the indigenous inhabitants throw out of the country. In reality, one national liberation movement has come up against another and they are locked into separate identities, separate religions, and separate cultures.


Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement that aims for a pan-Islamic world and is willing to use force to achieve it. Hamas took power in Gaza through a coup that overthrew Fatah, a rival group of nationalists on the West Bank. Ever since, Hamas has been the sole source of law in Gaza, a condition in which corruption and terrorism inevitably fester. Massive subsidies from Iran are spent on arms and digging expensive tunnels under the fence for future attacks on Israel. In this embryo police state, critics of Hamas, for instance journalists who question the luxurious villas of the leadership, disappear and are not seen again.


Hamas called for 100,000 to broach the fence at twelve points; 40,000 or so turned up and none at all on the West Bank. Obviously, the indoctrination of the younger generation to shun Fatah and hate Israel has had some success. So long as Gaza is beholden to this self-immolating politics that produces nothing except the instruments of mayhem and martyrs, it is stuck in a fetid dead end.


Committing barbarities on its own people in order to foist those barbarities on to Israel, Hamas is ensuring that, for now, there is nothing to negotiate over and Israel simply must defend itself as best it can.

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