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Hamas gladly puts its people in harm’s way

Jan 24, 2024 | Jamie Hyams

Fighters from Hamas' Qassam Brigades
Fighters from Hamas' Qassam Brigades

Terrorist organisation Hamas believes its civilians’ lives matter far less than the cause of destroying Israel and continues to use its people as human shields.

 

Daily Telegraph – January 23, 2024

 

While the Israel-Hamas war has received blanket coverage, some important aspects need to be better understood.

One is exactly why Hamas is so keen to sacrifice the lives of Gaza’s civilians and how to stop it. Put bluntly, Hamas gets its civilians killed because doing so helps its overall strategy against Israel.

Hamas, as well as Iran and Hamas’ fellow Iranian-sponsored Islamist fundamentalist terror groups including Hezbollah, subscribe to what leading Israeli commentator Ehud Yaari referred to as the Muqawama Doctrine.

Muqawama is Arabic for resistance and what the letter M in the name Hamas stands for: Hamas is an acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement.

However, Muqawama is more accurately translated as “persistent warfare”.

Muqawama Doctrine adherents strategise in terms of hundreds of years and see Israel the same way they regard the Crusader Kingdoms of the Middle Ages — a foreign element established through force of arms, which was eventually forced to go back to where it came from.

They believe that, ultimately, they can achieve the same outcome against the Jewish state through Muqawama.

This, of course, ignores inconvenient facts, including that Jews are actually indigenous to Israel and have lived there for thousands of years, while the majority of Israel’s Jews came either from Israel or from Arab countries they can’t return to.

Nonetheless, they believe that if they can convince Israel’s Jews that they will never be safe in Israel, they will leave.

This is why the Hamas October 7 massacres featured such calculated brutality.

The terrorists had detailed instructions from their masters to not just kill as many Israelis as possible but to inflict and document through body cameras horrendous atrocities, including raping, torturing, beheading and burning victims alive.

The idea was that Israelis would be traumatised and intimidated and, Hamas hoped, decide they would be better off elsewhere. It is also why Hamas leaders have vowed to continue such attacks and why they should be believed.

However, armed struggle is only part of this strategy. Hamas not only knew Israel would respond with a strong military campaign that would result in the deaths of many civilians in Gaza, it welcomes this response.

Hamas also hopes to weaken Israel and the resolve of its people by delegitimising and isolating it on the world stage.

It therefore commits the war crime of hiding amongst, and under, its civilians to make Israel’s military campaign more difficult but also to make it impossible for Israel to target Hamas military infrastructure without civilian casualties — they are an inevitable consequence of Hamas’ human shield callousness.

For Hamas, its civilians’ lives matter far less than the cause of destroying Israel.

Similarly, it knows Israel would never target hospitals or mosques if Hamas wasn’t using them militarily. But damaged hospitals and dead and wounded civilians make for great propaganda. When Israel set up evacuation routes to allow Gaza civilians to flee to the south of the strip, Hamas blocked the roads and even shot some of those fleeing.

Similarly, when Israel evacuated a hospital Hamas was using for military purposes, Hamas gunmen shot at some evacuees.

Hamas-supplied casualty figures should therefore be treated with extreme caution, especially claims about the numbers of women and children killed, which appear to have been fabricated. On some days, the Hamas figures show more women and children killed than the overall casualty count,

In fact, military experts say Israeli efforts to avoid civilian casualties, including by giving millions of warnings through phone calls, voice messages and texts, exceed what other Western armies would do.

Israel estimates it has killed about 9000 combatants, which would mean the percentage of civilians killed as against combatants is actually lower than in similar urban warfare campaigns, such as those fought by Western forces against ISIS in Mosul and Raqqa.

If the International Court of Justice (ICJ) finds in favour of South Africa’s ludicrous and cynical claims of genocide against Israel, this Hamas strategy of undermining Israel internationally will have achieved peak success.

It will also make effective military campaigns, by Israel or anyone else, against terror groups similarly entrenched among civilian populations all but impossible.

Hamas will continue to sacrifice the lives of Gaza civilians as long as it benefits from doing so.

To stop this, the international community must repudiate this evil strategy and unequivocally place the blame for these deaths where it belongs — with Hamas for its war crime of using human shields.

Strong interventions in the ICJ case would be a good place to start.

Otherwise, Gaza civilians will continue to die needlessly, in this and any other further Israel-Hamas conflict.

Moreover, Hezbollah, which is preparing for an even more intense war against Israel at a time of its and Iran’s choosing, will no doubt also use Lebanese civilians as sacrificial lambs in any such conflict.

Jamie Hyams is a senior policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.

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