Briefing | opinion

Hamas is a terrorist organisation -- it doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt

Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images
  • The protests in Gaza are not peaceful.
  • Hamas is a terrorist organisation that utilises violence to achieve its aims.

Amid the recent protests in Gaza, story after story on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has focused on Israeli responses to the protest or the protesters’ repeated pledges that their actions were nothing more than a nonviolent expression of displeasure with the status quo.

That’s the wrong way to look at it.

The New York Times ran an editorial under the headline “Israel’s Violent Response to Nonviolent Protests,” which focused on Yasser Murtaja, a 30-year-old journalist who was killed at the border earlier this month.

The editorial explored reporting that Murtaja was wearing a “PRESS” sign when he was killed. But it only briefly cited and did not meaningfully explore the charge leveled against Murtaja by many in Israel – that he was, in fact, a Hamas operative.

I spoke with David Keyes, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told me: “This ‘photographer’ was 100% a Hamas officer. … I saw the intelligence myself. There is not a scintilla of doubt.”

In general, the recent coverage surrounding this issue has left out the relevant context in which these protests should be viewed.

So, for anyone following the news out of the Middle East, here’s a refresher on Hamas, the terrorist organisation that has effectively taken control over the protests.

Throughout the conflict, Hamas has unabashedly called for, and carried out, the slaughtering of innocents. They have been responsible for suicide bombings that have killed and injured civilians on the street, in cafes,restaurants, clubs, buses, and shopping centres.

The physical impact of such attacks is immediately obvious: blood loss, maybe loss of a limb, or a necessary function, or even death. What’s less immediately obvious – though profoundly damaging in its own way – is the psychological toll that comes from the regular repetition of such attacks. That’s part of the motivation for Hamas and other terrorist organisations: to strike fear into the hearts of the civilians they target or those civilians who begin to fear they will be targeted next.

Speaking about the organisation and the recent protests, Keyes told me:

“Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organisation. It openly declares its goal of destroying Israel and killing every Jew and every American. Over the past few weeks, Hamas has tried to overrun Israel’s border to kill innocent people. They have shot guns, planted bombs, and thrown Molotov cocktails as Israelis as they hide behind women and children.”

Hamas’s history of violence should be enough to persuade those who doubt the Israeli side of the story. But sometimes, contrary to the familiar adage, words speak louder than actions.

So here’s what Fathi Hammad, a Hamas official, once said explaining his organisation’s tactics: “For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. … The elderly excel at this, and so do themujahideenand the children.”

He went on to explain that “this is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly … in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine.” It is, Hammad said, like “they were saying to the Zionist enemy: ‘We desire death like you desire life.'”

The Hamas charter is rife with anti Semitic stereotypes and blames “the enemy” for things like the French Revolution, the Communist revolution, and both world wars.

The reporting should include this highly relevant background. It usually doesn’t, and people reading about the protests should remember this simple fact: Hamas is a terrorist organisation. It has done nothing to earn your trust. Don’t give it to them.

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