Blame Hamas, not Israel for the situation in Gaza

Over the weekend, Israel began initial ground operations in Gaza, which its leaders have indicated was the start of a protracted campaign with the ultimate goal of destroying Hamas. We wish Israelis Godspeed in their righteous mission to protect their people from a repeat of the barbaric acts the terrorist group unleashed on October 7. Unfortunately, as difficult as the military task ahead is, Israelis face an even bigger challenge when it comes to sustaining operations for as long as needed in the face of international pressure for them to stop for “humanitarian” reasons.

On Friday, before Israel had even entered Gaza, and while rejecting a resolution condemning Hamas and calling for the release of all of its hostages, the United Nations overwhelmingly passed a Jordanian resolution calling for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce,” with 120 countries voting in favor and 14 countries, including the United States, voting against. Calling for a truce, on the cusp of Israel’s response to the worst single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, would be akin to offering a truce to Nazi Germany on the eve of D-Day. Even as the U.S. voted against the U.N. resolution, and despite President Biden’s vow on a trip to Israel that “we’re going to stand with you,” the Washington Post reported that the administration is “fully in favor” of so-called humanitarian pauses and is pressuring Israel behind the scenes to agree to them. Keep in mind that Hamas killed more than 30 Americans and still is holding as many as ten more hostage.

Though there are undeniably humanitarian concerns facing the population of Gaza, the framing of the conversation by the U.N. and, sadly, increasingly the Biden administration is that shortages of food, water, fuel, and electricity, and the general lack of infrastructure, are completely Israel’s responsibility.

This is wrong.

Israel withdrew from Gaza unilaterally in 2005, dismantling settlements and relocating thousands of Jews who had called it home. In 2006, Hamas won the elections there and drove out rival Fatah the following year. How is it that the group solely responsible for governing the land for the past 16 years has escaped blame for conditions there?

Billions of dollars of aid have flown into Gaza while it has been under Hamas’s control, but instead of going to help alleviate the suffering of its people, the money has been diverted by Hamas to fund its terror operations. The group has dug up water pipes to repurpose them as rockets to fire at Israeli civilians and built an incredibly elaborate series of tunnels that are really more like an underground city. It has fired tens of thousands of rockets at Israel since taking power — launching them from schools, U.N. buildings, and residential areas. The group located its terrorist headquarters underneath a hospital. Hamas dares Israel to either do nothing, and allow Hamas to fire with impunity, or respond and thereby rack up civilian death numbers that drive international pressure on Israel. In spite of this, Israel has for years supplied water and free electricity to Gaza to help make up for the gap created by Hamas’s leadership failures.

Even the New York Times, no friend of Israel, acknowledged that Hamas was hoarding a massive stockpile of supplies while the population it is supposed to govern is scrounging for basics. Specifically, the Times reported that “Hamas has hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel for vehicles and rockets; caches of ammunition, explosives and materials to make more; and stockpiles of food, water and medicine.” The article also quotes a senior Lebanese official as saying the terrorist group “had enough stocked away to keep fighting for three to four months without resupply.”

The current crisis, let us not forget, was caused squarely by the decision of Hamas to send an army of terrorists into Gaza to rape women, slaughter babies, and kill 1,400 people. And it could be alleviated were Hamas to hand over the hostages it still holds — more than 200 — and unconditionally surrender. Hamas is also denying the ability of Palestinians to leave Gaza, even as its own senior leadership lives in luxury in Qatar and declares, “No nation is liberated without sacrifices.”

Israel has a responsibility, in carrying out its operations, to take steps to minimize civilian casualties without compromising its military objectives. But the humanitarian issues in Gaza that are the direct result of years of Hamas governance and wanton disregard for human life should not be addressed at the expense of the security of Israeli civilians, who will never rest safely as long as Hamas still exists.

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