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Hamas’s slaughter of innocent Israelis demands its rule comes to an end

Nov 3, 2023 | Colin Rubenstein

Israeli hostages taken by Hamas (Screenshot)
Israeli hostages taken by Hamas (Screenshot)

The Australian – November 3, 2023

 

Hamas’ savage rampage on October 7, which wiped out more than 1400 Israelis from 22 civilian communities and led to the kidnapping of 239 more, horrified and shocked all civilised people around the world.

However, on a certain level, you cannot call it truly surprising. Anyone who has looked at Hamas’ ideology and record would know that it was morally capable of the unmitigated evil we saw on October 7.

That day put paid, once and for all, to the lie being peddled by some that Hamas has somehow moderated over the years. Today’s Hamas looks just like the old Hamas – only better-armed and organised, thanks largely to considerable Iranian financial and military assistance.

Lest we forget, this is the group that dispatched waves of suicide bombers into Israeli cities for the decade following the 1993 Oslo Accords, killing hundreds of innocent people on public transport and at bus stops, in cafes, bars, nightclubs and shops.

Since the mid-2000s, Hamas has committed tens of thousands of individual war crimes by launching explosive-laden rockets into Israeli towns and villages aiming to kill civilians. At the cost of untold millions of dollars, Hamas dug hundreds of kilometres of concrete-lined tunnels, including some into Israel to facilitate mass terrorist infiltrations, until stymied by the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Yet they managed to achieve the same goal at ground level on October 7.

This traumatic event has been described as Israel’s September 11. In reality, it was far worse. An Israeli was proportionally 25 times more likely to have been killed on October 7 than an American was on September 11. There is hardly a family in Israel not directly or indirectly impacted by what happened on that Saturday.

An Israeli State Commission of Inquiry into how this catastrophe happened is inevitable, but we can already say that October 7 was the single most catastrophic military and intelligence failure in Israel’s history.

Some pundits are insisting that it was the lack of a Palestinian state alongside Israel that fuelled Hamas’ Islamist ideology and caused this attack. This is completely upside down – this attack was the clearest demonstration possible as to why it has proven impossible to create a Palestinian state despite sincere and repeated Israeli peace offers.

Hamas-run Gaza has for the last 17 years been the closest thing to a fully-fledged Palestinian state that has ever existed, Yet it is precisely in Gaza where terrorism flourished, presenting a mortal threat to Israel’s citizens. This is what necessitated Israel’s blockade of Gaza to try to limit entry of arms – obviously with limited success.

Imagine duplicating the Gaza situation in the West Bank – where the “Green Line” is more than six times longer than Israel’s Gaza’s border, much more mountainous and convoluted and immediately adjacent to all of Israel’s main population centres. That would be an exponentially worse threat to Israel’s survival than the already extreme one emanating from Gaza.

The only reason the West Bank poses no similar threat today is because there are Israeli troops there to stop such a situation developing.

Those who imagine that forcing an Israeli pullback to the 1967 lines would satisfy Palestinian demands and thus bring peace are being wilfully blind. Not only was Gaza not “occupied” when Hamas took it over and made it into a dedicated terror statelet, Hamas is absolutely clear that similar “armed resistance” would continue even if Israel were to give up every inch of the West Bank.

The increasingly weak Palestinian Authority which rules the West Bank is regrettably not much better as a candidate to run a future Palestinian state. In the aftermath of the October 7, the PA cheered on the Hamas slaughter and spread anti-Semitism and continues to subsidise terrorists with its “pay for slay” policies.

Despite the terrible events of recent weeks, the Australian Jewish community has been reassured and heartened by the bipartisan outpouring of support for Israel and Jews, at home and abroad.

Yet important as those supportive messages were in the immediate aftermath of the massacre, it’s even more important they continue. Such support is needed not only to pressure Hamas to free the hostages, but also to allow Israel to complete what will likely be a long, complex and bloody military campaign to remove the Hamas threat from Gaza.

It’s a very dark time – but the only hope to advance to a better one is for the rule of Gaza by bloodthirsty, Iranian-supported Hamas terrorists to be dismantled. Australia’s longstanding bipartisan goal of helping achieve a two-state peace is simply inconceivable without this being achieved, a reality Australia’s political leaders should keep in mind in the difficult weeks to come.

Colin Rubenstein is executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council.

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