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Why Hamas Loves Death (and Cease-Fires)
No less than 20 rockets were fired into Israel Wednesday (11/21/12) night within the first three hours after the cease-fire understanding between Israel and Hamas ostensibly began at 9 p.m. local time. Despite inauspicious beginnings, following an overnight calm, by Thursday morning (11/22/12), senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officials maintained they believe Hamas and Islamic Jihad intended to implement the cease-fire with Israel, and prevent other jihadist factions from firing into Israel.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak clarified that the cease-fire was not an agreement with Hamas, but rather a document of "understandings" -- between Israel and Egypt, on the one hand, and Egypt and Hamas, on the other. During an interview with Israel Radio, Barak insisted, "There is no agreement. I am holding the paper in my hands." Moreover, Barak and the IDF believe that despite Hamas' public triumphant crowing, the Gaza regime was privately aware of the significant level of damage its jihadist infrastructure had sustained during Operation Pillar of Defense.
Hamas' renewed jihadist violence against Israel was punctuated, initially, by messages extolling their "love of death" to terrorize and demoralize the Israelis, then suing for a cease-fire when the Israelis retaliated with devastating effectiveness. These actions epitomize the archetypal jihad tactics of Islam's founder Muhammad, idealized as the eternal model for behaviors that all Muslims should emulate.
Nearly six decades ago (in 1956), Arthur Jeffery, a great modern scholar of Islam, reviewed Guillaume's magisterial English translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, the oldest and most important Muslim biography of Muhammad. Jeffery's review included this trenchant observation:
W. H. T. (Canon) Gairdner, in 1915, highlighted the dilemma posed by Islam's sacralization of Muhammad's timeless behavioral role model, revealed in such pious Muslim biographical works:
As recorded by Palestinian Media Watch, Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades -- named after the murderous 1930s jihadist Izz al-Din al-Qassam -- issued a November 18, 2012 message which addressed to Israeli soldiers, which stated:
Such macabre, hideous sentiments are intrinsic to Hamas' ideology, and deeply rooted in Islamic theology.
The Preamble to Hamas' 1988 foundational covenant plainly affirms its abiding, ancient commitment to jihad "martyrdom," in the context of re-conquering all of historical Palestine:
And the specific motif of Muslims as "loving death" more than infidels, especially perfidious Jews, love life, also dates back to the advent of Islam.
According to Islam's seminal early historian, al-Tabari (d. 923), during Abu Bakr's reign as Caliph (i.e., immediately after Muhammad's death), his commander Khalid b. al-Walid's wrote a letter in 634 to a Persian leader in Iraq identified as "Hurmuz," warning of a prototypical expansionist jihad campaign, spearheaded by Muslim warriors enamored of death.
"Martyrdom operations" have always been intimately associated with the institution of jihad. Professor Franz Rosenthal, in a magisterial 1946 essay (titled, "On Suicide in Islam"), observed that Islam's foundational texts sanctioned such acts of jihad martyrdom and held them in the highest esteem:
Koran 9:111 provides an unequivocal, celebratory invocation of martyrdom during jihad:
And Muhammad himself celebrated jihad martyrdom as the supreme act of Islamic devotion in the most important canonical hadith collection [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Numbers 53 and 54]:
Imbuing such tactics with supreme "holiness," Muhammad became the ultimate prototype sanctioning jihad terror, as recorded in this canonical hadith (Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 220):
Muhmmad, well-practiced at his own canonical dictum, "War is deceit" (from Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 267), also conceived the tactical doctrine of a temporary truce, or "hudna," when infidels thwarted the Muslims' jihad depredations, and had them at a military disadvantage. This doctrine is based upon what Islam's classical legists characterized as "the truce which the Prophet concluded with the unbelievers in the year of Hudaybiyyah." Later, Muhammad unilaterally broke this agreement, when the Muslims regained military superiority, and vanquished the Meccan "unbelievers." As I conveyed to a confused Charles Krauthammer during 2009 when Hamas' previous sustained jihad campaign was reversed by the IDF, such bellicose dogma was described lucidly by Antoine Fattal (in 1958), a seminal Lebanese scholar of Islamic and modern international law:
Abiding the teachings of Islam's prophet Muhammad, Hamas' leadership, jihadist rocketeers, and homicide bombers, fully supported by the pious Muslim masses who empower Hamas, continue to demonstrate they "love death" -- especially if their "martyrdom" kills or terrorizes Israeli Jews. Also consistent with Muhammad's example, and the actions of jihadists worldwide across space and time, when these tactics of jihad terror are thwarted, Hamas pleads for a cease-fire (or "hudna"), to regain a tactical advantage, pending renewal of its jihadist aggression.
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