About a year ago I took part in a long and searching discussion of Arab-Jewish relations with several friends in an Arab city in Samaria. They were heads of leading hamulot (clans), traditionally the respected leaders of the local population. The meeting took place at the home of one of the city's dominant sheikhs, over a lavish platter of fruits and vegetables fit for a king.
At some point, my host ceased speaking, and after thinking for what seemed a very long time, said in ponderous literary Arabic, incisive and serious, weighing every word: "Doctor Kedar, do you know what a terrorist organization is?" The question surprised and intrigued me, and I answered "No," curious and awaiting his answer. "Mark my words, Doctor," he said, "a terrorist organization is not an organization fighting against its enemies. A terrorist organization is an organization that fights its own people, its own nation, fights the very people it claims to protect, the children for whom it is responsible."
My eyebrows raised in surprise, I asked "Kif – how is that?" and he answered, in a voice permeated with sadness: "Look at ISIS, who do they slaughter? The Muslims in Iraq, Syria, the Sinai. Look at Hezbollah, who do they murder? The Syrian Muslims. Look at Hamas, who do they kill? The people of Gaza. An organization fighting enemies is a liberation organization, an organization fighting its own people is a terror organization." The words were totally unexpected, and all those present were shocked into silence. Not a sound could be heard in the room, because the import of that statement is a declaration of war, no less, on Hamas, made by a sheikh and his hamula. "Interesting," I finally was able to say, keeping my thoughts to myself, intending to mull upon his remarks later on.
During the past weeks, ever since the riots – definitely not protests – began near the fence separating life in Israel and death in Gaza, I keep thinking about the Sheikh's statement. In the years since the Hamas movement took over Gaza violently in June 2007, blowing up PA police stations, shooting at the heads and knees of security personnel and policemen, hurling PLO members from the roofs of buildings to their deaths on the street – ever since that debacle, life in the area has deteriorated to the level of the terrible conditions Gazans live under today.
Hamas has spent a large part of the funds it was given to purchase weapons, develop missiles, manufacture rockets, acquire explosives and dig tunnels. Hamas has not built a single hospital in the Strip, not one desalinization plant, nothing. Zero. Nada. Then Israel developed the "Iron Dome" and simply erased the threat of rockets and missiles. It soon found a solution for the tunnels as well. Hamas lacks tanks and artillery. So what's left? How are they to attack Israel? What can they use? The answer is to be found in the Sheikh's words: Hamas, after it succeeded in putting out every flicker of hope left in the hearts of Gaza residents, after it brought them to the depths of despair, has now turned them into live ammunition aimed at Israel.
People are the best weapon of all, low cost and self-activated for 50 shekels a head. That is the sum Hamas pays each rioter. For 50 shekels, Hamas gets a walking bomb, imbued with Hamas-produced anger, frustration and despair. That is the real story of what is happening at the border fence for the last few weeks, the reality that clearly exposes the reason Hamas is defined as a terror organization: the war it has declared on the residents of Gaza since the day it first took over their lives. Now it is sending them to their deaths, knowing full well that Israel will never, ever allow them to cross the fence to reach any kibbutz or moshav filled with men, women and children. The very thought of the horrific massacre that would ensue is terrifying.
Hamas is a terrorist organization not because of its war against Israel but because it has betrayed the residents of Gaza: Instead of an Islamic regime, it has instituted a regime based on fear. Instead of work, it has brought unemployment. Instead of hope, it has caused despair. Hamas rule has dragged the Gaza Strip into three rounds of violence with Israel: Cast Lead (2008-09), Pillar of Defense (2012) and Protective Edge (2014). There is as yet no name for today's events, except for the delusional one given them by Hamas - "the march of return," as if Israel was actually going to allow a single rioter to "return" to Israel's sovereign territory. All the Hamas mantras are old, tired slogans whose objective is to ignite the human explosives with foreign fire.
For weeks now, Israel has been warning them of what happens to anyone who touches the fence, this by means of warnings, flyers, telephone calls and media communications. Everyone in Gaza, from Yihye Sinwar down to the last of the rioters, now knows exactly what happens to anyone who comes near the fence. That makes the rioters themselves and the Hamas organization which sends them fully responsible for the deaths of these live bullets
However, the foreign press is another responsible party of which the public must be made aware. Anyone who understands Hamas' plans knows full well that without media coverage all the riots near and at the fence would not have occurred. After all, why would Hamas waste human ammunition unless it could make an impression on world opinion?
This is where Israeli idiocy steps in, as Israel allows foreign media to reach the immediate surroundings of Gaza (where Hamas tunnels end, where it attempts to kill and kidnap men, women and children) to photograph - while standing behind them - IDF snipers protecting the residents of kibbutzim and moshavim with their own bodies. Most of the foreign correspondents do not tell their audience the truth about these IDF heroes who faithfully fulfill their mission to protect Israeli citizens. Instead, the media act as tools of the Hamas terrorists, useful idiots who spread Hamas propaganda without charge.
There are those who claim that the advent of internet and social media makes it impossible to prevent this. Still, one can limit the reports from the front line by temporarily shutting internet access in Gaza. For anyone who does not know it, Israel supplies internet services to Gaza. Do you get it? They get internet access from Israel (do they pay for it? Who knows?) and use that medium to spread propaganda lies about Israel. Is there anything more absurd?
What about the electricity with which Israel supplies Gaza and which allows the continued existence of the Hamas satellite television station broadcasting rabid incitement against Israel 24/7? Why does Israel continue to supply electricity to Gaza during these riots? During WWII would it have entered the head of any normal, loyal British or Russian citizen to supply electricity to the Nazi propaganda machine?
True, Israel is better off acting as if it is "business as usual" before the cameras, so that tourists do not flee and Israelis do not complain – but we are at war and in war as in war. If Hamas fires human ammunition at us, we are allowed to do anything reasonable to stop them – from taking out Hamas leaders, those personally responsible for the terrible state of the Gaza Strip and for the shots fired against the rioters threatening Israeli citizens' lives and welfare.
In contrast to the Arab world, Israel protects its citizens from the knives of Gaza rioters. Israel, however, must also protect the image of its citizens in the eyes of the world and act against those promoting European "media terror" and the "Jihad media" promulgated by Hamas and Arab satellites headed by al Jazeera. I am incapable of understanding how Israel continues to allow them to broadcast endless incitement from within its borders.
There is no question that Israel will defeat Hamas, because Israel is fighting a just war and Hamas is a terror organization whose reign of terror over Gaza turns its population into disposable ammunition with its own evil hands. The fate of Hamas is not in doubt: It will be dumped in the ash heap of history, along with the other Arab dictators who were overthrown in the "Arab Spring." Hamas, the despotic and tyrannical terror movement, is no different than they, because it, too, is prepared to sacrifice the Palestinian Arabs down to the last man on the altar of its own survival.
Written in Hebrew for Arutz Sheva, translated by Rochel Sylvetsky