November 18, 2023
SOME QUESTIONS MAY SEEM INNOCENT OR UNINFORMED, but they can still provide valuable insights by revealing a different perspective. For instance, such a question could be: Why doesn’t Hamas give up and surrender? Or, in a similar vein, why aren’t more individuals asking Hamas to give up and surrender?
Hamas, a terrorist group, lacks proper political credibility. After Israel’s departure from Gaza in 2005, Hamas seized control through violence and imposed a dictatorial rule over the region’s 2.3 million inhabitants. Their ultimate goal is not to promote democracy or civil rights for Palestinians, but rather to destroy Israel and establish an Islamic state.
Currently, Hamas’s conflict is not only unfair, but also undoubtedly destined to fail. Deep inside their underground headquarters, the leaders of the organization must realize that their forces are facing heavy blows from an overwhelmingly more powerful Israeli military, engaged in what it perceives as a battle for its existence.
So far, there hasn’t been a widespread uprising among the Palestinian citizens of Israel or Palestinians in the West Bank, despite the call made by Hamas leaders on October 7. Similarly, there hasn’t been a regional rebellion, aside from significant anti-Israel protests in Jordan, Lebanon and other places. Iran and Hezbollah do not appear willing to come to Hamas’s aid, as the group had hoped, in order to escalate conflicts across the Middle East.
Even if Hamas currently aims for a more restricted objective, such as drawing attention to the Palestinian cause and disrupting a perceived compromise between Israel and Saudi Arabia that it believes undermines Palestinian interests, it had already reached a stage where its actions became less effective and beneficial.
Recent diplomatic efforts by Saudi Arabia strongly suggest that the country intends to establish ties with Israel following the war, although there may be additional expectations for Israel to make concessions towards the Palestinians.
Hamas’s war not only lacks any chance of success, but it is also being fought using entirely illegitimate methods. It commenced with the brutal massacre of 859 civilians (as of the latest count) from Israel and various other countries, in addition to around 300 Israeli soldiers, some of whom were killed while they were unable to defend themselves. This ruthless act of violence was accompanied by a constant barrage of rockets launched from Gaza, indiscriminately targeting innocent civilians in Israel.
It is true that Palestinians, including innocent civilians, have been unintentionally killed by Hamas’s own rockets, as well as those launched by other groups, such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. These deaths are likely included in the over 11,000 recorded Palestinian fatalities reported by the Gaza Health Ministry, which is under Hamas control, since Israel started its counter-offensive. However, it is evident that the majority of these deaths were caused by Israeli forces and, sadly, a significant number of them were noncombatants, including children.
Unlike Hamas, Israel does not deliberately aim to harm civilians. On the other hand, Hamas not only targeted civilians on October 7, but also purposely endangered Gazan civilians by placing their armed members in residential areas, schools and hospitals. It is evident that Hamas exploits these human guinea pigs to shield themselves from Israeli attacks and even benefits from the resulting deaths in terms of propaganda.
To put it simply, the fastest and most suitable way to save Palestinian lives, including those of Hamas fighters—who are often not recognized in the Gaza Health Ministry’s casualty figures—would be for Hamas to surrender. Given that Hamas has no realistic chance of achieving a significant victory, this would be the most reasonable course of action.
However, numerous individuals in the United States and globally, claiming to prioritize the protection of Palestinian lives, are advocating for a ceasefire that lacks clear terms, but seemingly entails Israel halting its military operations without insisting on Hamas relinquishing power or renouncing armed conflict.
This request appears to be just as impractical as asking Hamas to surrender, but with the crucial distinction that it is also much less fair. Israel has the legitimate right to protect itself through military means.
Naturally, there is valid discussion concerning the legality and appropriateness of Israel’s military operation, notwithstanding the challenges posed by Hamas’s use of human shields for Israeli forces. Constrained by legal obligations, public opinion and the moral principles of its soldiers, Israel endeavours to minimize harm to civilians. Even those who doubt the sincerity or effectiveness of these efforts must recognize that Hamas makes no attempt at all to safeguard civilians.
If the responsibility of ending the war is placed solely on Israel, it overlooks the fact that there was an existing ceasefire that had been agreed upon between Israel and Hamas prior to October 7. It was Hamas that blatantly and provocatively violated the ceasefire. Since Hamas initiated this conflict, they should be the ones to bring it to an end.
If Hamas were to surrender, various practical concerns would arise, such as dealing with the large number of prisoners of war, deciding on the trial of terrorist leaders for war crimes and implementing the reconstruction of Gaza. While these are crucial practical matters, from a moral standpoint, they are not essential.
The core issue at hand is this: Hamas refuses to surrender because it strongly believes that Israel has no legitimate right to exist, and it considers armed ‘resistance’ against Israel justified, regardless of the tragic human toll it inflicts on both Israelis and Palestinians.
That belief is endorsed—or at least not fundamentally challenged—by many so-called political pundits on university and college campuses, on different social media, or whipping up a hype on the streets of the world’s capital cities who are demanding, instead, that it is, in fact, Israel that should surrender. Talk about being naïve!