Massive “Hamas” Terrorism Not Good for Palestine
By Ikuzo Kobayashi, President of Salaam Association
On October 7, at around 6:30 a.m., Hamas, which effectively controls the Palestinian interim self-government area Gaza, launched a massive rocket attack from thle Gaza Strip. More than 5,000 rockets were fired by the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. Not only that, Hamas fighters infiltrated the Israeli side. They blew up seven facilities including checkpoints on the separation wall between Gaza and Israel along with the fence, and several vehicles carrying armed fighters entered the Israeli side. Some of them infiltrated into Israel on rubber rafts from the sea. Some even used paragliders with motors to jump over the separation wall onto the Israeli side.
In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying, “We are at war,” and launched a retaliatory operation. The Israelis launched a series of heavy airstrikes against Hamas strongholds in the Gaza Strip day after day. (From NHK International News Navi, October 10, 2023)
On Saturday, October 7, 2023, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said that the Palestinian armed group would expand its fight in the Gaza Strip to the West Bank and Jerusalem. (From ARABNEWS Japan)
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu making a statement “We are at war.” (Photo from NHK International News Navi, October 7, 2023)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya. (Reuters/File) Short Url: 08 Oct 2023 05:10:24 GMT9 (Photo from ARABNEWS Japan)
As of October 15, the Israeli death toll was estimated at 1,300 and the Palestinian death toll at 1,400, and unprecedented casualties are being recorded on both sides. Furthermore, Hamas has taken more than 150 hostages. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ: Islamic Jihad) attacked an open-air music festival near the border with the Gaza Strip and massacred over 260 people. In response to these inhumane atrocities, the West and Japan have declared the Hamas attacks “terrorism.” Attacks and kidnappings of innocent civilians cannot be justified under any circumstances. It is also a matter of course that Israel has the right to defend itself and its citizens in accordance with international law.
Meanwhile, Khalid Mashal, Hamas’ supreme leader and a founding member of Hamas, called on Muslims around the world to “show your anger on Friday the 13th, in Muslim countries, … and show your message of anger to Zionists and America.” He further appealed, saying, “I ask Muslims around the world for financial assistance. ・・・ to carry out jihad, and become martyrs.”
The situation is about to escalate in unpredictable ways. Hamas wants it, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (that is similar to Islamic Jihad = al-Qaeda) wants it, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps supports it, and Hezbollah is already engaged in the battle. But this is not in the best interest of Palestine. It is an attack of madness that will drag the whole of Gaza into suicide bombings. It can never lead to the two-state coexistence that Fatah has been promoting.
“Hamas” not accepting Israel
Hamas is an armed organization founded by Shaikh Ahmad Yassin (died 2004), the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Gaza Strip, in December 1987, when the first intifada (popular uprising) in the Gaza Strip spread throughout Palestine, for the purpose of establishing an Islamic state through armed struggle. (From the Public Security Intelligence Agency website)
At that time, when Arafat, the representative of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), was beginning to abandon the armed struggle and lean toward recognizing Israel, the first intifada started as a demonstration against it. We must not overlook the fact that the denial of Israel’s right to exist and the denial of the existence of the State of Israel are at the root of “Hamas” advocating the establishment of an Islamic state through armed struggle. Furthermore, Hamas started out as a kind of religious group that declared jihad against Israel. Such an essence is the same as that of the “Jihad Group” who assassinated President Anwar Sadat, who signed a treaty of diplomatic relations and peace with Israel in Egypt. (Incidentally, the Jihad Group also derived from the Muslim Brotherhood.)
The key point of the Oslo Accords of September 1993 was that PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) Chairman Arafat recognized Israel as a state, and Israel recognized Chairman Arafat as the legitimate representative of Palestine. Both sides recognized the “coexistence of two states.”
Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat shake hands after the signing. In the center is U.S. President Bill Clinton, who brokered the deal. (From Wikipedia)
In May 1994, Palestinian interim self-rule began in the Gaza Strip and West Bank under the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Agreement. Chairman Arafat was the President of the Palestinian National Authority, and after Arafat’s death in 2004, Abbas was elected President in 2005. (Fatah came to be seen as a moderate faction and Hamas as an extremist in terms of political faction.)
After the Oslo Accords, Hamas resisted peace negotiations between the PLO and the Israeli government with suicide bombings. After the Oslo Accords, Sunni Islamic extremists, led by Al-Qaeda, launched terrorist bombings around the world as a global jihadist movement. In particular, they formed the International Islamic Front against Jews and Crusaders, signed by Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri, and ordered the murder of the citizens of the United States and its allies. This religious directive (fatwa) was a kind of declaration of war against the United States. This is why Al-Qa’ida is considered the mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001.
After the recent Hamas terrorist attack, Hamas’ supreme leader Mashal’s call on October 11, was for “All the Muslims of the world…to show anger on Friday, October 13”. This call, which was made by Hamas’ Mashal after the death of both Bin Laden and Zawahiri, called for a worldwide jihad specifically focused on Palestine, and was reminiscent of 9-11. But that call failed because the majority of Muslims were not in tune with that call as they were 20 years earlier.
Arab Countries at War with Terrorism
The Arab Spring that began in Tunisia at the end of 2010 has spread to Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, the Gulf States, and the entire Arab world, with many Arab republics still in civil war. In particular, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which unilaterally declared statehood in 2014, has plunged the world into a state of terror. Together with Al-Qaeda, it legitimized terrorism as a global jihadist movement aiming for a global Islamic empire. Here, Arab countries entered a state of war against terrorism in a confrontational composition of Islamic moderates vs. Islamic extremists.
The Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, are moderate Islamic countries, and they have been cooperating with Western countries in the fight against the Islamic State and against terrorism by setting forth a policy of international cooperation based on “tolerance and cooperation.”
The Islamic Military Coalition, formed in December 2015, expounded the fight against the Islamic State and Islamic extremists as a joint Arab army.
On December 15, 2015, Saudi Arabia announced the formation of an anti-terrorism “Islamic Military Coalition” consisting of 34 countries and regions in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.The military coalition is led by Saudi Arabia and have its operational headquarters in the capital Riyadh. It is also looking to collaborate with Europe and the U.S. “It was born out of a zeal to fight terrorism that strikes the Islamic world and the international community,” said Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed, Saudi Minister of Defense. (Cairo Times)
The Islamic State, which claimed to have been established in July 2014, collapsed three years later in 2017, and its so-called caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, blew himself up in a U.S. military raid in October 2019. The ‘war on terror’ since 9-11 terrorist attacks in 2001 came to an end with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan at the end of August 2021.
August 2020, Abrahamic Accords
Above all, it was the “Abrahamic Accord” signed between Israel and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) on August 15, 2020, that brought a new progress to the Middle East peace process, which had not made concrete progress since the Oslo Accords (1993). Although this agreement was not a direct discussion between the parties to the Middle East peace process between Israel and Palestine, it was nevertheless an agreement between the two countries after considering some of the contentious issues regarding the details of the Middle East peace process. It by no means left the Palestinian issue behind.
Abrahamic Accords Peace Agreement: Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Full Normalization Between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel (from left) Bahraini Foreign Minister Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, U.S. President Trump, and United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah
The days of stubbornly refusing to recognize or accept Israel have passed. The Iranian siege network, which advocated the Israeli threat, has been isolated. Arabs learned through experiences that radical armed struggles such as suicide bombing terrorism carried out by the Islamic extremist factions such as the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, and the Jihad Group will not bring about solutions.
In September 2005, Israel decided to withdraw the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip along with the withdrawal of Jewish settlers from Gaza. Instead, a separation wall was built in the Gaza Strip to prevent terrorism and provide security for the Israeli side. Hamas built hospitals and schools, which won the support of Gaza residents, and thus won 74 seats that are the majority of 132-member Council in the January 2006 Palestinian Authority Council elections. However, Hamas originally only made unilateral claims against Israel and did not recognize Israel’s national rights. In this situation, Israel could not recognize Hamas, which it recognizes as a terrorist organization, as a negotiating partner, and the peace process in the Middle East was suspended.
After all, Hamas’ repeated use of armed struggle and terrorism led Palestinian residents who had temporarily supported Hamas to leave Hamas. The residents’ voices grew louder, saying, “The situation in Gaza will not be improved in the slightest by airstrikes and suicide bombings against Israel. The lives of the people of Gaza will be more restricted and their lives will become very desperate.”
In the 2012 vote, Hamas announced that it would not participate in the elections, resulting in a vote of confidence for Fatah, the mainstream faction of the Abbas Autonomous Government. No elections were held in Gaza at that time and Hamas took effective control of Gaza. Thus, Palestine was divided between Fatah, which controlled the West Bank, and Hamas, which effectively controlled Gaza.
July 8 – August 26, 2014 Israeli house set ablaze by rockets believed to be from Hamas
Tunnels in the Gaza Strip that were discovered by the Israeli army
Recent Hamas attack on Israel
Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip (two photos above are from NHK International News Navi, October 7, 2023)
The Wall Street Journal (electronic edition) reported on August 8 that Iran was helping to plan an attack on Israel, according to Hamas officials. According to the report, “The aim is to exploit a political gap in Israel and sabotage the normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which is being mediated by the United States.” It is unclear whether the plan to infiltrate Israel by land, sea, and air was hatched solely by Hamas, but it was reported that Hamas had been repeatedly meeting with officers of Qods Force that is an overseas operations unit of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah since August. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Secretary of State Blinken, and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Erdan have remained cautious about this information, saying it has not been confirmed.
BBC NEWS Japan (Video description) A woman being taken away from an outdoor music festival near the border with the Gaza Strip which she attended.
In response to Hamas’ strategy to draw Gaza into suicide bombing campaign in order to survive, Israel wants to wipe out Hamas and the PIJ. But the biggest obstacle is the lack of sufficient communication with the Palestinian Fatah. Furthermore, with Iran’s certain involvement in the background, an independent action by Israel alone is dangerous. It can be said that the Middle East peace process has reached a critical point.
(Written on October 18, 2023)
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