Hamas’s Goal—“Obliterating” Israel—Will Fail
Their charter rejects the very existence of Israel. On October 7, they attempted their goal of Israel's destruction. They failed—and may have ensured their own obliteration.
As Operation Iron Swords unfolds, the carnage perpetrated by Hamas on the Israeli people is nothing short of evil. Israeli soldiers have been decapitated; women, children, and babies have been savagely beaten and murdered; towns near the Gaza border and in the southern Negev have been bombed; and victims slain or kidnapped. Hamas attacked a music festival in Re’im, near the Gaza border, wantonly killing 260 people. On this fifth day of the war, over 1,200 Israelis have died, 3,400 been injured, and more than 100 remain abducted . At least 14 Americans are dead, with several held hostage. Thousands of missiles have been launched from Gaza into southern and central Israel, while Hamas displays their atrocities to the world on social media.
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) represent terrorism. Both are Palestinian offshoots of the radical Islamic Muslim Brotherhood, dedicated to the eradication of Israel. Hamas’ charter clearly states that their goal is to “obliterate” Israel, and “jihad [is] its way, and death … its loftiest desire.” These groups do not cherish life as does western democracy. The lives of their own citizens are willfully used as tools to destroy the Jewish people.
Hamas declared war on Israel exactly fifty years and one day following the Yom Kippur War. Understanding its significance requires a step back to May 14, 1948, when Israel became a nation following UN Resolution 181 that created the Partition Plan. The Palestinian Arabs had the option to become a nation, along with the Israelis, but refused. They wanted all the land of Israel. Israel accepted half the land to build a nation. The very next day, a coalition of five Arab countries declared war on Israel. Israel won the battle against these nations. In 1950, Jordan formally annexed the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In 1967, during the Six Day War, Egypt and Syria invaded Israel, with Jordan’s involvement. Once again, Israel defeated these nations and gained additional land including the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. Three months after the Six Day War, the Arab nations met in Khartoum, Sudan, where they resolved the Three No’s Policy: no peace with Israel, no negotiations of Israel, and no recognition of Israel.
In retaliation for their defeat in the Six Day War, Egypt and Syria along with nine other Arab nations attacked Israel again in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In 1979, Egypt and Israel negotiated a peace treaty in exchange for returning the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, leaving Gaza under Israeli jurisdiction. In 1988, Jordan renounced control of the West Bank, already under the jurisdiction of Israel. In 1994, Jordan and Israel completed a joint peace treaty.
The Oslo Accords, also signed in 1994, would eventually bring self-governance to the Palestinian portions of the West Bank and Gaza. Israel transitioned Gaza to self-governance in 2005. Hamas was elected to govern the region in 2006, taking over fully by 2007.
Hamas’s charter to “obliterate” Israel began with the Palestinian Arabs claiming that the land of Israel belonged to them and the rights of the Jewish people to establish a state would never be recognized. According to political Islam, when land fell within the earlier Islamic and Ottoman empires, it became “dar al Islam” (House of Peace), signifying once part of Islam, always part of Islam. Aligned with this fundamentalist belief system, Hamas’ goal has been to destroy Israel.
Although not felt by many, this depth of passion and hatred by Palestinian Gazans for Israel’s destruction is real. Granted most democratic nations have come out in defense of the Jewish people, yet it is very difficult for those in the West to understand the profound adherence to this radical conviction.
Maybe it is because Israel as a democracy stands as the only counterweight to dictatorships and authoritarianism in the Middle East. Maybe it is because Israel is economically successful. With over nine million people in a region the size of New Jersey, it ranks first in the world for per capita dollars spent on research and development. Or maybe, it is because the Jewish people cherish life and will defend themselves as a nation against its enemies, while Hamas and PIJ show no concern for their own people.
Israel must be serious about destroying all Hamas targets. The time for talk is over. For any nation or group to believe that Israel must act diplomatically is a charade. Israel must defend itself; it has both the right and the obligation to do so. Hamas has called for a truce, but this cannot happen. As a bargaining strategy, they may kill hostages for every military strike that occurs. This will be the most painful outcome to swallow.
Under Operation Iron Swords, the southern towns near Gaza and regions at risk of attack have been cleared of nearly all terrorists. Attacks by Israel against Gaza then began with defined heavy bombardments. Our hearts cry out for those Israelis who have lost their lives, who have suffered, or who have disappeared. The carnage is devastating.
After civilians in Gaza have been told to leave, Israel must attack Hamas on all fronts. As of this writing, widespread air attacks have started throughout Gaza, razing buildings and neighborhoods. All Hamas militants and missile sites must be targeted and destroyed, both inside and outside of Gaza. Electricity, fuel, food, and supplies have been cut off. All Hamas enemy leaders need to be eradicated—even in other countries. Israel can no longer afford to give this enemy another chance.
Of concern are the many Hamas terrorists who still reside in the West Bank and in other nations. They, too, must be fully rooted out if Israel is to remain safe. Given that Iran is behind the Hamas attacks, stocking them with missiles and equipment, Israel has to be concerned with Iran’s proxies to the north. Iran funds Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, as well as missile bases in the region. All can reach Israel. The nation is on alert for infiltration by terrorists and isolated strikes. Only time will tell if there will be a second wave of attacks from this front.
Cultural ethicist Faye Lincoln is author of the book Values That Shape the World: Ancient Precepts, Modern Concepts (Dialog Press, 2021). She analyzes the values-based implications of US and Middle Eastern policies based on history, religion, economics, and public policy.