There is no horror more appalling than forcing the Gazan population to endure the stockpiling of rockets in mosques, the construction of tunnels under their kitchens, the situating of terrorist headquarters under their hospitals and the perverted use made of UNRWA facilities (some of whose personnel collaborated with Hamas and willingly concealed weapons). The West must disband UNRWA.

The tragedy is that the Gazans, in fear of their lives from Hamas terrorists, are afraid to protest.

Hama leaders should be tried for war crimes, and Abbas should remember that since he heads the national consensus government with Hamas, he himself is liable to be tried in the Hague for the war crimes Hamas has committed against the Israelis.

Why is the Oslo II Agreement of 1995, assuring the complete disarmament of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, even being renegotiated, and why was it not implemented in the first place?

As Qatar is a country without a people and the Palestinians are a people without a country, Qatar should be turned into the national home for the Palestinians, "Palestine."

Hamas violates Islam by fighting and indiscriminately killing Jewish women, children and the aged, while its missiles launched at Jerusalem could easily harm Arabs and Christians, and hit Al-Aqsa mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The claim voiced by Muhammad Deif and Ahmed al-Jaabari, leaders of Hamas's military-terrorist wing, that all Jews in Palestine will die, sounds suspiciously like the precursor to the campaign waged by the Islamic State [IS] against the Christians, the Yazidis and the Shi'ites in Syria and Iraq -- and it contradicts Islam.

Even before Hamas launched their missiles at Israel and activated their terrorist tunnels, its leaders sent their suicide bombers from the West Bank to kill Jews deep inside Israeli territory. To prevent suicide bombing attacks and protect its population, a decade ago the Israelis constructed the security fence, separating the Palestinian Authority from Israel.

The leaders of the Palestinian terrorist organizations, especially Hamas, frustrated in their attempts to commit murder, tried to overcome the obstacle by enlisting supporters of the Palestinian cause to call it a racist "apartheid wall", and to accuse Israel of the "crime" of apartheid for wanting to prevent murderers from infiltrating into its territory. Despite the accusations and the traditional Friday riots "protesting" the barrier, there is not a single Arab in the Israeli-Arab city of Umm el-Fahm who would agree to move (with his house, property and lands) from Israel to the Palestinian Authority, or to any other Arab regime.

During the recent Operation Protective Edge, the Jews did everything possible to keep from killing Gazans. They dropped flyers from planes, made telephone calls and sent SMS messages warning the Gazans to leave potential combat zones. There is no basis in fact for the accusation that Israel killed Gazans in cold blood. If the Israelis had wanted to kill all the residents of the Gaza Strip, they had sufficient ammunition to do it easily. Had Hamas, however, possessed the same firepower, it would, without a doubt, have long since slaughtered every single Israeli Jew.

While Hamas recklessly sent its rockets without warning to Israel's population centers, the Israeli army surgically attacked Hamas rocket and mortar shell launchers and blew up its terrorist tunnels. Watching TV, we often saw how Israel aborted missions when it became apparent that civilians were in the area of a proposed attack. Hamas, on the other hand, launched its missiles from deep within the civilian population without warning, knowingly exposing local Gazans to Israeli retaliation.

The problem is that Hamas, driven, claim its leaders, by orders from Allah and the Prophet, have a distorted view of Islam which, along with other radical Islamist movements, they market to the world as the Islam of terrorism, violence and carnage, and not as the religion of peace. There is no horror more appalling than forcing the Gazan population to endure the stockpiling of rockets in mosques, the construction of tunnels under their kitchens, the situating of terrorist headquarters under hospitals and the perverted use made of UNRWA facilities (some of whose personnel collaborated with Hamas and willingly concealed weapons).

The tragedy is that Gazans, in fear of their lives from Hamas terrorists, are afraid to protest. No sane person can identify with the acts perpetrated by Hamas. Naturally, it is hard to justify the killing of Palestinians by Jews, but as the Arab saying goes, "Let a thousand mothers cry, just not mine," and that makes it possible to understand the claim of the Jews that they have to kill us to save themselves.

Nevertheless, it is strange that the Palestinians in the "democratic" Islamic Gaza Strip have not yet uttered one word against Hamas. Even the correspondents who documented the use made by Hamas of UNRWA facilities for firing rockets at Israel only dared to write their reports after they had left the Gaza Strip. Hamas exploited their fear and made them report lies about the deaths of "civilians" who were really terrorist operatives. So great was the journalists' fear of expulsion or reprisal that they complied.

Hamas made the mistake of thinking the Jews would invade the Gaza Strip and that their operatives would rise up from the tunnels deep within Gaza and strike and kill their soldiers. The Jews were smarter, however, and made do with a partial invasion to expose and destroy the tunnels. The Israeli army exploited its relative advantages and attacked from the air and sea, and sent in tanks, to assist special units of its infantry, while the Palestinians claimed it was an army of cowards, a stupid claim but actually believed by some Gazans.

One of Hamas's worst crimes was its use of the mosques, the houses of Allah, for military-terrorist purposes. Because Hamas not only had tunnel openings inside mosques, but also used them as weapons caches, and fired missiles from their courtyards, the Jews bombed them without hesitation. Actually, the Jews had a good teacher: our Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) himself burned the mosque in Al-Madinah where his opponents had barricaded themselves.[1] Unhappily, bombing religious sites is not unusual in the Middle East or in the world. The Islamic State [IS], the Taliban and various other fanatical groups all attack ancient and modern Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and Muslim houses of worship, and in Syria and Iraq the Shi'ites and Sunnis attack each others' mosques. IS, not far removed in ideology and practice from Hamas, is currently slaughtering Yazidis, Christians and Shi'ites in Iraq, kidnapping and raping their women and selling them into slavery, all the while calling on the "infidels" to convert to Islam or die.

The claim that Palestinian blood was shed as a means to kill Jews and liberate Al-Aqsa is simply evil. Palestinian blood was shed because Hamas rejected Netanyahu's appeals for ceasefires, despite the Islamic history that on several occasions Muhammad said one drop of Muslim blood was more precious that the Kaaba itself. According to one of the hadiths, "Allah would consider it less important for the Kaaba to be destroyed stone after stone than for a single drop of Muslim blood to be shed."

Hamas is wasteful of Palestinian blood. However, like Muhammad (SAAS), who used catapults to sling stones into the city of Taif, Hamas sends its rockets to attack the cities of Israel. What Hamas did not take into account was that Muhammad never went to war without being fully prepared for every eventuality; he collected intelligence and made sure he would win. Hamas was defeated; the Palestinians lost in the struggle against Israel and failed miserably.

It cannot be denied that Hamas is not only a terrorist organization but committed a double-pronged war crime: on the one hand, it deliberately caused the deaths of innocent Palestinian civilians by using them as human shields for its operatives, its rockets, its mortar shells and its tunnels, and on the other hand, it attacked population centers in Israel to kill innocent civilians. And now it makes the absurd boast that its civilians were killed but that its operatives are all still alive, and it boasts of having killed more than 60 Israeli soldiers who entered the Gaza Strip.

To my great sorrow, that is the difference between the Israeli army and Hamas: if the Israeli chief of staff were to boast that there were no casualties among his fighters but that Israeli civilians had been killed, he and his staff would have been relieved of their commands, tried and imprisoned. However, we Palestinians boast that our civilians were killed and that Hamas's terrorists remained alive, hiding in their underground bunkers and tunnels, and accusing Israel of moral turpitude. Hamas's irresponsibility in abandoning the Palestinians to a slow, painful death is an unforgivable crime and a violation of Islam.

Hamas boasted that Palestinian civilians were killed while Hamas's terrorists remained alive, hiding in their underground bunkers and tunnels. (Image source: Hamas video screenshot)

In addition, the conduct of Mahmoud Abbas, as a leader who claims to want peace, is suspect. While the Palestinian Authority leadership repeats violent Islamist slogans and prepares to incite a third intifada in the West Bank, it dares to propose bringing Israel to the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of war crimes. Mahmoud Abbas should remember that he heads the national consensus government with Hamas, that Hamas shares the government with him, and that he himself is liable to be tried in The Hague for the war crimes Hamas committed against the Israelis.

Furthermore, the way the PLO closed ranks with Hamas during Operation Protective Edge was also a sign of cowardice. The PLO seemed to fear a massive uprising in the West Bank as well as attempting to open its pockets to receive the funds that will eventually be donated for the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip. Forming the national consensus government was an act of stupidity, because the world, both Western and Arab, knows Hamas is no different from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State and the Al-Nusra Front. For that reason, the image of the PLO and of the Palestinian cause will suffer from the Hamas-Fatah partnership. Hamas will exploit it to try to take over the funds for rebuilding the Gaza Strip, but it well never accept the authority of the senior PLO figures whose comrades were thrown off the roofs of Gaza when Hamas took it over in 2007.

The conduct of the Palestinian delegation to the ceasefire talks in Cairo is also inexplicable. While the PLO is committed to the peace agreements and to the establishment of a demilitarized Palestine state, the Palestinian delegation in Cairo objects to a demilitarized Gaza, which contradicts its commitment to peace, as well as abrogating an agreement to demilitarization already signed in 2005: The Oslo II Interim Agreement, Article XIV, which commits the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip not to manufacture or import weapons. So why is this Agreement even being renegotiated, and why was it not implemented in the first place? And as it was not, what is the point of Israel even trying to reach agreements with people who do not honor them?

That Hamas continued shelling Israel despite the fact that Israel's Iron Dome protects its cities and turns the rockets into scrap iron is stupid: it merely led Israel to continue bombing the Gaza Strip.

The greatest recent example of Hamas hypocrisy was the recorded message from Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades commander Muhammad Deif, who, hiding in his bunker, proclaimed that, "The heroes of Hamas love death the way the Jews love life." The Holy Qur'an specifically states (Surah al-Baqarah, Verse 157) that suicide is forbidden, yet in direct violation of the Qur'an, Deif caused the deaths of hundreds of Gazans, while he and his ilk, who love life just the way the Jews do, hide and refuse to hurry to paradise. In fact, when a death-loving operative is killed, Hamas rages against the Jews and wants revenge.

Even as the mass catastrophe enveloped the Gaza Strip, Hamas boasted of its victory, demanding the Egyptians (against whom they act not only in the Sinai Peninsula but within Egypt itself) and the Israelis (whose cities they attacked with rockets) reward them for their violence. The prize they demand is the 24/7 opening of all the crossings, the Rafah crossing with Egypt and the crossings into Israel, a safe passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, a sea port, an airport, and the release of the terrorist operatives imprisoned in Israel. Hamas has forgotten that instead of constructing terrorist tunnels and buying weapons, it could have used the money it got from UNRWA, Qatar, the EU and its various "charities" around the world to construct a tourist center to rival Singapore.

There is reason for optimism. Egypt, in the depths of an economic crisis, can take a commission from the money that will flow into the Gaza Strip and subject the building materials that will enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing to customs duties. Both the Palestinians and the Egyptians will be able to benefit by returning Gaza to the status quo ante, before the war in 1967. The Palestinian people, who of course love life as much as the Jews do, will awake, arise, and expel Hamas from the Gaza Strip and start a new chapter in their lives.

You do not have to love the Jews or be a military strategist to know that the Hamas demands for an airport, seaport and a passage to the West Bank simply camouflage its plans to get money from Qatar and weapons from Iran for both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. As only 15% of Qatar's population is made up of Qatari nationals -- making Qatar a country without a people -- and the Palestinians are a people without a country, Qatar should be turned into the national home for the Palestinians, "Palestine," just as Israel is the national home for the Jews. In any event, Qatar supports us financially and ideologically, and in that way it will be able to contribute to the rehabilitation of our troubled people and turn us into a beloved nation, accepted by the international family through a more just distribution of Arab resources.

In the wake of the tragedy caused by Hamas, the world must identify the danger lurking for all of us if it is allowed to continue its activities. The danger is not to the Jews alone, but to the Palestinians and the entire world. The Europeans, convinced that the shows of support in their own Islamic communities are meant to show solidarity with the Palestinians and Hamas, will discover, to their sorrow, that those same demonstrators will turn against them in the future and are now only testing their strength.

The West must disband UNRWA, whose corrupt employees have for years been stealing the funds meant for the Palestinians, and have been employing Hamas terrorists and sheltering them in UNRWA facilities. The time has come for the UN to devote resources to the millions of genuine refugees around in the Arab world and in Africa, who are not in conflict with the Jews.

The descendants of the original 1948 Palestinian refugees should be granted citizenship in the Arab countries in which they have already settled, and the apartheid policies employed against them by those countries should be repealed.

Hamas leaders should be tried for war crimes in the International Criminal Court. Israel should be helped to disarm Hamas's military-terrorist wing and Hamas's leaders should be imprisoned. Hamas is an integral part of the radical Islamic problem in the Middle East -- and increasingly in Europe -- and the Palestinian issue is marginal at best, merely an excuse for Islamists to kill the innocent. The West should put Hamas on an equal footing with the ISIS. After that we can establish a Palestinian state neighboring Israel, as is the right of our long-suffering people.

Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.


[1] The demolition or burning of Masjid al-Dirar is mentioned in the Qura'n verses 9:107 and 9:110. Masjid al-Dirar was a Medinian mosque that was erected close to the Quba' mosque and which Muhammad (SAAS) initially approved of but subsequently had destroyed. Muhammad prepared himself to go to the mosque, before he was prevented by a revelation about the hypocrisy and ill design of its builders. Muhammad and his companions believed they were hypocrites, thus he ordered his men to burn it down.

Related Topics:  Palestinian Authority  |  Bassam Tawil receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free gatestone institute mailing list

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