Hamas's October 7 war on Israel did not surprise those who have been following the actions of Iran and its regime-backed Islamist terror group since it was founded in late 1987.
Since then, Hamas, with Iran's help -- Hamas does not have a productive economy in Gaza -- has carried out countless terrorist attacks, killing and wounding thousands of Jews by suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings and car-rammings, as well by firing tens of thousands of rockets into Israel, a country the size of New Jersey (roughly 22,000 km2).
In 2002, Hamas committed one of its deadliest massacres during the Jewish holiday of Passover in the Israeli city of Netanya. Thirty civilians were murdered and 140 wounded when a Hamas terrorist, disguised as a woman, detonated a suitcase filled with powerful explosives in the dining room of a hotel where Jews were celebrating the Passover holiday. Most of the victims were senior citizens (70 and over). The oldest victim was 90 and the youngest, 20.
Over the past three decades, Hamas officials never concealed their group's ambition to destroy Israel through Jihad (holy war). Hardly a day has passed without another Hamas statement concerning the need to "liberate all Palestine" (meaning destroy Israel).
Days before the latest Hamas attack on Israel, the terrorist group called on all Arabs and Muslims to "continue the legitimate struggle in all forms" until Israel is defeated and expelled from "our historical land."
The statements by Hamas officials and leaders over the past three decades were not empty threats. They were backed by literally thousands of terrorist attacks against Israel. Sadly, many in the international community chose to look the other way as Hamas continued its threats and terrorist attacks.
The indifference has reached a point where some Western media outlets and officials continue to label Hamas terrorists as "militants." The October 7 carnage, during which Jewish women, children and the elderly were brutally murdered, shows that there is effectively no difference between Hamas and the Islamic State (ISIS).
The Hamas terrorists who invaded Israel used the very tactics employed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq: Burning people alive, raping women, beheading civilians, and abducting women (including an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor on a wheelchair) and children.
Why, then, are Hamas terrorists labeled "militants" while ISIS members are called "terrorists"?
It is because of the identity of the victim. When the victim is a Jew, then the perpetrator is a "militant." Yet when the victim is a non-Jew, the Muslim extremist is called for what he really is: a terrorist.
Attempts by some Westerners to whitewash Hamas and portray it as a small group of fighters challenging Israel, one of the most powerful countries in the Middle East, have continued in spite of the atrocities committed by the group over the past 35 years. Bizarrely, the attempts have continued even while Hamas leaders themselves were stressing that their group has not changed and remains committed to slaughtering Jews and eliminating Israel.
In 2017, Western media outlets published stories arguing that Hamas has recognized Israel's right to exist by accepting the "two-state solution." The only problem is, it was not true.
The argument was based on a political program announced by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal at a press conference in Doha, Qatar.
The British newspaper The Guardian then claimed that Hamas, in its new program, had made "the biggest concessions" by agreeing to the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel.
The paper quoted a part of the program that says:
"[Hamas] considers the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of June 4, 1967, with the return of the refugees and the displaced to their homes from which they were expelled, to be a formula of national consensus."
Many in the international media, however, failed to report that the new program also states that:
"Hamas believes that no part of the land of Palestine shall be compromised or conceded, irrespective of the causes, the circumstances and the pressures and no matter how long the occupation lasts. Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea."
Other sections of the political program, falsely presented by some media outlets as a sign of Hamas's purported moderation and pragmatism, actually reaffirmed the group's original charter, published in 1988.
The 2017 program includes these statements:
- "The establishment of Israel is entirely illegal"
- "There shall be no recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist entity"
- "Resistance and Jihad (holy war) for the liberation of Palestine will remain a legitimate right, a duty and an honor for all the sons and daughters or our people and our Ummah (Muslim community)."
The 1988 Hamas charter states that "our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious." It quotes Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is an offshoot), as saying: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."
In its charter, Hamas makes it clear that it remains faithful to the words of the prophet Mohammed, who was quoted as saying:
"The Day of Judgement will not come until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O' Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him." (Article 7)
Article 13 of the charter emphasizes the importance of Jihad:
"There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals, and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."
Hamas says in the charter that "the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day" (Article 11) and "the Jihad for the liberation of Palestinian is an individual duty of every Muslim" (Article 15).
Notably, the new Hamas program did not replace its 1988 charter. In fact, the program repeated Hamas's commitment to the destruction of Israel through Jihad, but pointed out that since this goal cannot be achieved under the current circumstances, the group is ready to accept a temporary state on any land it obtains as a first stage toward the annihilation of Israel. Hamas, in short, is saying: We will take whatever you (Israel) give us now – starting with a Palestinian state – and we will use this to slaughter you.
Additionally, no senior Hamas official has ever gone on the record to announce the revocation of the charter, which calls for the elimination of Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state. On the contrary; Hamas representatives have gone to some length to let it be known that they have not abandoned their desire to kill Jews and destroy Israel.
Days after the political program was announced, Hamas's envoy to Iran, Khaled al-Qaddoumi, asserted that there was no change in his group's attitude toward Israel. The program, al-Qaddoumi said, does not include any recognition of the "Zionist entity," adding:
"The Palestine that we believe in and want is every inch of the historical land of Palestine, from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea. Therefore, this [program] is an affirmation of the principles of Hamas, that it wants everything."
Mahmoud al-Zahar, another Hamas leader, also emphasized that the new political program does not mean that his group has changed its position toward Israel:
"Most importantly, we did not recognize the Israeli entity. Our acceptance to establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders does not mean that we recognize the [Israeli] enemy or give up Palestine."
Hamas did not carry out the October 7 massacre because Jews were living in settlements in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. The Jews who were butchered on that day lived inside Israel, near the border with the Gaza Strip. Israel, it should be noted, withdrew from the entire Gaza Strip in 2005.
Hamas launched its attack on Israel because it does not see a difference between a Jew living in a West Bank settlement and a Jew living in a city inside Israel.
For Hamas and its followers, all Jews are "settlers" and "colonialists," regardless of their geographical location. Hamas launched the attack as part of its effort to slaughter Jews and obliterate Israel.
To be fair, both the present Iranian regime and Hamas have made their intentions clear. Iran, since its 1979 Islamic revolution, has vowed "Death to Israel" and "Death to America." Why would anyone think they do not mean it? Hamas has boasted of its intention to commit atrocities against Jews. These two regimes have not changed and will never change. It is time for the international community to wake up and realize that Iran and its Palestinian proxy terrorists are as determined as ever to wipe Israel -- and America -- off the map.
Hamas leaders, including Ismail Haniyeh, Khaled Mashaal, Saleh Arouri, and Khalil al-Hayya, living safely in five-star hotels in Qatar and Lebanon, actually invited reporters to document them during the special prayer they held to thank God for the massacre of Jews. These bogus leaders also evidently do not give a damn about the thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who have lost their lives, homes and loved-ones as a result of Hamas's thirst for Jewish blood.
Those who continue to defend Iran and Hamas are complicit in their campaign of genocide against Jews. Such a defense is an outrage not only to the Jews, but also to the many Palestinians who being used as human shields and cannon fodder to satisfy the blood-lust of Hamas leaders and allow them to maintain their residences in the five-star hotels of Qatar, Turkey and Lebanon. It is also an outrage to the millions of Iranians being held as virtual prisoners in their own country, while their leaders sit comfortable and untouched, watching everyone else pick each other off, while they collect more than $60 billion from violating US sanctions -- as the Biden administration looked the other way -- that enabled them to prosecute this war.
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.