An Arab proverb says, "First he hit me, then, before I could accuse him, he complained" -- meaning, "It all started when he hit me back."
These days, every loyal Palestinian finds it very frustrating to listen to Hamas boast about its great victory against the Jews in Albunyan Almarsus, what the Israelis call Operation Protective Edge, while it complains that the Jews committed war crimes in Gaza.
These complaints recall the pathetic way Arabs boast to convince themselves that they won every war the Israelis defeated them in.
There is nothing more bizarre, though, than Hamas's complaints about the "war crimes" it accuses Israel of committing. According to Article 7 of the Hamas charter, the Hamas movement has a religious and national duty to kill all the Jews in Palestine -- and everyplace else:
"The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: 'O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'"
The Hamas Charter's Article 7 is taken from a quotation of Muhammad in the Hadith Bukharu Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177:
Narrated Abu Hraira: Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him."
Throughout Hamas's existence, it has striven to carry out this duty, killing and maiming thousands of Israelis along the way.
Before Israel built its security fence, Hamas suicide bombers would go from the West Bank to Israeli territory and blow up hundreds of Israelis in buses, discotheques, hotels, restaurants, and markets.
Hamas's commitment "to fight the Jews and kill them" has also been seen in Operation Protective Edge: Hamas's rockets exclusively targeted Jewish population centers, large and small.
Its truly massive attack against Israel, however, according to Hamas members captured by the IDF and interrogated, was not planned for July, but for the end of September, when, on the eve of the Jewish New Year, hundreds of terrorists wearing IDF uniforms would pour out of its tunnels to kill or kidnap hundreds of Israelis.
Hamas was forced to act earlier, it seems, after the forces of Egypt's President, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, destroyed Hamas's smuggling tunnels along the Egyptian-Gazan border. Hamas found itself being slowly strangled. Even the most recent payment of $30 million promised by terrorist-funder Qatar never reached the Gaza Strip. Hoping for a way out of its financial straits, Hamas joined the Palestinian Authority [PA] in a national consensus government so that money from Qatar could "legally" be sent to the Gaza Strip from Ramallah. The funds, however, stayed in Ramallah.
Hamas had yet another plan: to win the PA elections, wrest control from Fatah and throw Mahmoud Abbas onto history's garbage heap. The Israeli and PA security forces recently detained 94 Hamas operatives, and seized weapons, ammunition, explosives and large amounts of money. It seems the cardboard false front of the national consensus government was to be used to engineer a Hamas palace takeover in the West Bank, similar to the one in the Gaza Strip in 2007.
Close to the date of the elections, Hamas abducted and murdered three Jewish teenagers, as admitted last week by senior Hamas operative Salah al-Arouri at a Muslim Brotherhood conference in Turkey. Hamas, it appears, had been hoping to use the boys as "Get Out of Jail Free" cards for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons -- all acts that would boost Hamas's popularity in the West Bank and ensure a win in the elections.
The result of the abduction was that the IDF launched Operation Brothers' Keeper, which included destroying Hamas's network in the West Bank, and re-arresting several terrorist operatives who had been released in a prisoner exchange deal for the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.
This Operation exerted additional pressure on Hamas, which began bombarding Israel's towns and cities with rockets, and then sent several terrorist squads into Israel through its tunnels, evidently hoping for some kind of showcase attack. Some of the terrorists succeeded in killing IDF soldiers, some of the terrorists were killed, and others succeeded in returning to the Gaza Strip.
Hamas went on to violate over six ceasefire agreements proposed by Israel and one proposed by itself.
Hamas did succeed in scaring Israel to the point where 80,000 reserve soldiers were called up. Hamas even managed to cause foreign airlines to stop flying into Israel's international airport for three days, sending Hamas's leadership into a state of euphoria which led it to ramp up even further its rocket attacks against the Israeli civilian population.
In view of the rocket attacks and the terrorist tunnels, only some of which were known to Israeli intelligence, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu had no choice but to authorize a military action. He hesitated, and tried for four days to delay a military response. He proposed ceasefire after ceasefire, and told the Palestinians again and again, "Quiet will be met with quiet" -- to no avail. Unfortunately for Gaza's civilian population, the leaders of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad mistook Netanyahu's remarks as signs of weakness.
The Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leadership waged their war from deep underground bunkers, beneath high-rise buildings and below Gaza's showcase Al-Shifa Hospital. The leadership left the civilian population above ground and urged them onto the roofs of buildings or to stay home and receive the strikes that were coming toward their weapons stockpiles and rocket launchers. Waging war from five-star hotels in Qatar or bunkers under Gaza's urban landscape, Hamas's leaders positioned these rocket launchers next to hospitals, schools, mosques, UNRWA facilities, residential complexes and even hotels where foreign media personnel were staying.
It was the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders, not the Israelis, who are the war criminals. It was these Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders who were responsible for the civilian deaths of more than two thousand Gazans, while they safely hid and only claimed that they wanted to be shaheeds [martyrs].
While the Hamas leadership threw the Gazan civilians to their bitter fate, the Israelis used the safe rooms they had built for their civilians and their Iron Dome aerial defense system to keep their own civilians safe. Not relying solely on Iron Dome, the IDF sent infantry units to the front lines inside the Gaza Strip to protect Israel's home front. The Israel Air Force attacked rocket and mortar shell launchers; its ground forces destroyed 32 terrorist tunnels that led from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.
(Image source: IDF)
Its tunnels into Israel were blown up; the rockets smuggled in from Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Korea were neutralized; thousands of civilians were killed and tens of thousands of Gazan homes were destroyed, and yet the Hamas leadership continues claiming victory.
What is sad is that the Gazans have not managed to free themselves from the yoke of Hamas, and the world seems still not to understand the problems genuinely facing the Palestinians.
Even more important, the world seems not to understand that Hamas, like ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, does not exist in a vacuum. It is one cog in the radical Islamist wheel which threatens the Arab-Muslim world, and which already has a foothold in the major cities of Europe. Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are the petri dishes of the political Islamists threatening the world order.
The Yazidis on Iraq's Mt. Sinjar in 2014 are the reincarnation of the Armenians on Musa Dagh in 1915, and they hint at what lies in wait for Europe when Islam becomes powerful enough within European borders.
Radical Islam in Europe and in the world in general is so strong that even recent attempts in England to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization failed. How could any responsible government have allowed that to happen?
The Western world also seems not to understand that it either has to incapacitate or totally neutralize the countries funding Islamic terrorism -- such as Iran, Qatar and Turkey -- despite the United States' financial and security interests. It is irresponsible to keep providing security for, and making Faustian bargains with, countries aggressively working to destroy you.
The recent crucifixions, beheadings and other atrocities committed by radical Islamists in Syria and Iraq may have begun to help people understand that the Palestinian problem is merely a pretext for countries such as Qatar and Turkey, whose agenda is to destroy the Western world as we know it and replace it with only Islam.
Therefore it is most strange that, when the Israeli ambassador to the UN recently defined Qatar as a terrorism-sponsoring state that arms Hamas and that funds the construction of its terrorist tunnels, Mary Harf, spokeswoman for the American State Department, rushed to deny it. Harf claimed that, on the contrary, Qatar was helping to find a just solution for the Palestinian-Israel issue. And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry even tried to palm off Qatar and Turkey on Israel as mediators in its negotiations with Hamas, although he knew full well that both countries are major supporters of Hamas in its terrorist activities against Israel.
The real causes of the crises, not just their symptoms, need to be identified and dealt with. First, according to international law, there are almost no Palestinian refugees because the status of a refugee cannot be inherited.
There are, however, millions of genuine refugees around the globe whose lives are in danger, who need help immediately, and to whom no one pays the slightest attention. UNRWA, which, in the name of the "Palestinian cause," has done nothing constructive for the Gazans, only perpetuates the problem, colludes in helping Hamas to attack Israel, is totally corrupt, and needs to be disbanded and the funds it receives diverted elsewhere.
The Arab countries, in which the Palestinians live as second-class citizens, need to be acknowledged as the true apartheid countries that they are. They do not even tolerate other kinds of Muslims, let alone Christians, Yazidis or Jews. The international community needs to require them to grant citizenship to the Palestinians who have lived there for generations. If Israel could take in Jewish refugees who came from Arab states -- while also recognizing its Arab minorities as full citizens of Israel -- so can the Arab countries do for their fellow Muslims.
If instead they keep on cultivating Palestinians to wipe out a UN member-nation, then the international community is an accessory to war crimes and deserves to be -- at the very least -- disregarded. If the international community is complicit for reasons of business, oil or to avoid being attacked in their comfy home countries, we can all just go home and forget about such an international community -- totally lacking in honor, made up of nothing but corruption, collusion, and cowardice. If that is so, they are no better than those they try to boss around. They are less than useless; they are dangerous.
Rather than being duped by Hamas yet again and paying it to rebuild its military-terrorist capabilities, the world needs to demand that it be disbanded and an independent agency established to dismantle its terrorist capabilities oversee the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip, free of weapons, as already agreed to in the 1995 Oslo II Agreement. As this provision was already agreed on by all parties, why is it even under discussion?
Senior PLO figures such as Nabil Shaath and Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian delegate to the peace talks with Israel, have repeatedly stated to the Palestinians that as part of an agreement with Israel, all the Palestinian refugees will return to their homes inside the Israel of 1948, a promise that is as misleading as it is inflammatory and false. As are the logos of Fatah, Hamas and the PLO which need to be cleansed of their maps of "Palestine," displacing Israel "from the river to the sea."
The Palestinian Authority's leadership could truly benefit its people by telling them to abandon the dream of wiping Israel off the map and inciting a "third Intifada." It certainly should not be rewarded for continuous bellicosity.
As a Palestinian who wants to see a true and lasting peace finally come to the region, I believe it is the responsibility of the United States and its moderate Arab and Muslim allies to tell the Palestinians to stop stringing their people along with the dream of destroying Israel demographically with "returning refugees," and instead to ensure that the descendants of the original Palestinian refugees, finally, are enfranchised in the countries where they currently live.
Above all, the Americans need to stem the support Hamas and other terror groups receive from Qatar for terrorism. It is beyond crucial to demand that Qatar stop supporting global Islamist terrorism, especially Hamas, and cease the non-stop anti-Israel and anti-Egypt incitement on its mercenary television station, Al-Jazeera. Hamas's knowledge that it is assured of support from Qatar and Turkey allows it to feel secure in violating ceasefire after ceasefire and then making illogical demands at the talks in Cairo.
About a week ago, the Israeli and Palestinian Authority security forces revealed that Hamas was trying to carry out a coup against the PA in the West Bank, just as it did in 2007 in the Gaza Strip, when it threw its political rivals from Fatah off the top floors of the highest buildings there.
The plan to overthrow Fatah in the West Bank was probably integrated into Hamas's grandiose plan to attack Israel next month with rockets and terror squads from the tunnels in Gaza, while at the same time initiating the "third Intifada" for which they have been calling in the West Bank, Jerusalem and among Israeli Arabs inside Israel itself.
Azzam al-Ahmad, the representative of Mahmoud Abbas's national consensus government at the Cairo talks, defends Hamas's refusal to disarm and its attempts to overthrow Mahmoud Abbas -- while Mahmoud Abbas committed himself to establishing a demilitarized Palestinian state. This is how unreliable and hypocritical they are.
The tragedy is that, as in previous wars, the Hamas leadership constantly lies to itself -- and to the Gazans -- when it claims to have won.
Hamas makes the absurd claim that it was "victorious" in Operation Protective Edge and can therefore dictate terms to Israel. In fact, Hamas did not win; Hamas was badly defeated. Maintaining the illusion that Hamas won only allows it resume shelling and threatening Israel -- and it is the Palestinian people who pay the price.
Cato the Elder used to end every speech by saying, "Carthago delenda est": "Carthage must be destroyed." That is the only way there will be peace.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.