Since these false claims that Israel created Hamas or that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported Hamas are circulating across social media, let's address them.
Hamas is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), an organization founded in Egypt in the 1920s, before the rebirth of the State of Israel, but which now has a presence in Israel and in much of the world. In its early days, it coordinated with the Nazis and received support from Nazi Germany.
The Gaza Strip used to be ruled by Egypt, which helps explain the strength of Hamas in the area.
The Muslim Brotherhood operates in the United States and Europe under different names and front groups, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). It also has terrorist organizations, including arguably Al Qaeda, whose leaders have mostly been MB members, and which after Osama Bin Laden was run by members of an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood splinter group.
The Muslim Brotherhood operates under various identities inside Israel. There are two branches of the Islamic Movement, one of which has seats in the Knesset (parliament). Hamas initially resembled them, focusing on religion, social work and non-violent politics, before it gained strength and revealed its real true agenda.
This is how the Muslim Brotherhood tends to operate. It pretends to be political and non-violent until it can seize power.
The Israelis, like the Americans and Europeans, were initially fooled by Hamas and viewed it as western governments tend to see Muslim Brotherhood organizations in their own countries as religious and political, but not terrorist.
That obviously changed.
When the Bush administration pushed elections in the Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of its democracy agenda, Hamas easily won them. The PA then ended any future elections to avoid losing them to Hamas.
Hamas fought the Palestinian Authority (Fatah/PLO/PA are all basically the same thing) and won in Gaza.
While Israel closed its border with Gaza, Hamas had plenty of support from Muslim Brotherhood organizations around the world (and during the Obama Arab Spring, the MB temporarily took over Egypt) and from terror state sponsors like Iran and Qatar.
Under Obama, Hamas attacks and Israeli responses tended to end in "truces" negotiated by Egypt. In these truces, Israel would trade some benefits for an end to the violence.
Social media has passed around a claim taken from an article in the ultra-left Haaretz newspaper about Netanyahu funding Hamas. Here's the actual context, also from Haaretz, about that funding.
"In recent months, Israel has quietly provided some relief as part of an unofficial, Egyptian-brokered truce with Hamas, in exchange for reduced rocket fire from the territory and the scaling back of weekly protests along the border. It has allowed Qatar to deliver millions of dollars in cash to allow Hamas to pay its civil servants and has allowed the United Nations to step up aid efforts."
Netanyahu allowed Qatar to bring cash to Hamas in exchange for an end to the violence.
A quote circulating on social media about Netanyahu and Hamas comes from a Haaretz hit piece on Netanyahu.
"'Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas,' he told a meeting of his Likud party's Knesset members in March 2019. 'This is part of our strategy – to isolate the Palestinians in Gaza from the Palestinians in the West Bank.'"
The actual source is supposedly the biography of Haim Ramon, who had not served in the government since 2009, and certainly not in the Likud.
Ramon, a leftist politician, had been convicted of sexual harassment, partially ending his political career. He certainly had not been a Likud member and was not attending any such meetings, raising serious credibility issues about the quote.
But the Qatar deal was certainly unpopular in the conservative Likud party, and it's not impossible that Netanyahu might have tried to rationalize it to right-wing members in those terms.
That's not, however, why the deal was made. It was made to stop Hamas attacks on some of the same communities now under attack.
Haaretz's elite defense editor, Amos Harel, wrote a defense of the deal when it was made in an article titled, "Images of Qatari Cash Flowing Into Gaza May Embarrass Netanyahu – but Alternative Is War." He argued:
"Continued pressure on the Strip will lead to an explosion, which in turn will lead to an Israeli ground operation in Gaza, heavy casualties followed by desperate negotiations over who will assume responsibility for Gaza's population – or in other words, a return to square one. And if Israel has nothing to gain by invading Gaza, it ought to try any other possible solution before going to war...
"Thursday's cash transfer produced a relatively quiet weekend, the second in a row. Friday morning, Hamas was busy distributing the cash to 27,000 civil servants and some 50,000 families defined as needy. In the afternoon, its security forces generally prevented large numbers of people from nearing the border fence during the weekly demonstrations...
"Over the summer, when incendiary balloon launchings were at their height – a threat played up by the media and on social media – Netanyahu was nearly dragged into a war he didn't want and which the military forcefully advised against. The steps that will soon be approved to ease Gaza's distress could have been taken much earlier, thereby reducing the damage on all sides."
The Haaretz hit piece on Netanyahu is hypocritical because the paper supported the policy.
The policy was terrible. I argued against it. So did anyone seriously concerned about fighting Islamic terrorism The problem with it was not that Netanyahu was hawkish, but that he was too liberal and prone to giving in to pressure.
Buying calm from Hamas did the opposite. But the truces pushed by Obama had made that the default plan.
Israel, however, was not financing Hamas. It was letting Qatar move money in. As outrageous as that was, it was part of the same system that had Israel providing water and electricity to Gaza. And the entire agreement in which Israel regularly transfers money and provides services to the Palestinian Authority, which is no better than Hamas.
The Oslo Accords were essentially a deal in which Israel provided terrorists with territory and money in exchange for peace. That agreement, like all subsequent ones, failed.
As they always will.
This was the policy of the Clinton administration, which pushed the Oslo Accords. Nearly every administration since has pushed Israel to make concessions in exchange for peace. President Joe Biden's visit to Israel climaxed with more of the same, with Israel being forced to once again provide services to the Hamas territory.
That's the context.
Hamas is not a monster that Israel created, but one that came out of Islam and was financed by Muslim countries for the same reasons as Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups.
Israel is stuck with an Islamic terrorist problem. Like most countries, it unfortunately alternates between fighting them and trying to appease them.
But appeasement never works. War always follows. The only way to deal with terrorists is to destroy them. Anything else is appeasement, which leads to compromises like these that attempt to avoid war, but bring on war anyway.