The Hamas Lion that did not Roar

On September 13, 1939 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth narrowly avoided death when Nazi German bombs landed on part of Buckingham Palace when they were there. The royal couple, by staying in London throughout World War II, were determined to show they would share the same dangers from Nazi attacks as the rest of the British people. Their defiant decision not only illustrated courage but even more importantly symbolized solidarity with the population and the symbols of national resistance.

Whatever else can be said of the qualities of the political leader of the terrorist group Hamas, his absence from the scene of danger has not illustrated a similar profile in courage. We know the Hamas leader, Khalid Meshaal, is a busy man. From his luxurious hotel rooms in Dota, Qatar he goes, always well dressed, to the grated Hamas media office to give interviews to the BBC, Charlie Rose, and other media outlets. Like a gyroscope he is always spinning, but not really going anywhere, least of all back to the Gaza Strip which he has not visited for some time.

Meshaal interprets every military loss by Hamas as a victory. As a result, this 58 year-old leader, safe in Qatar, has issued his “demands.” Israel must stop its aggression in Gaza, lift the siege, open cross borders, while the “free world” has the duty of reconstructing Gaza. His absence from Gaza has not prevented him from offering advice on August 25, 2014 to President Barack Obama to stop the Israeli “holocaust” against the Palestinians. Meshaal explained there was no difference between Israeli actions in Gaza and what “the Nazis did in the 1930s and the 1940s.”

Meshaal perhaps does not drink alcohol, but he certainly doesn’t drink from the fountain of knowledge. He believed that the war that Hamas had provoked by its endless firing of hundreds of rockets, was “forced on us, but we were on the way to liberation.” He also spoke of what Israel had done in Gaza in “targeting mosques, destroying hospitals, and UNWRA schools.” He did not know, as foreign journalists knew, that all these places had been used as launching sites for Hamas rockets and missiles against Israeli civilians.

Nor did he know, when asked, how many rockets Hamas had, though every objective analysis calculates it to be about 10,000 before Israel retaliated. Meshaal explains: “I am the head of the political bureau. I direct the policies and the positions, but not the details when it comes to military issues.” Apparently the 10,000 rockets possessed by Hamas are merely one of the “details.” So are the 33 tunnels built by Hamas that the IDF destroyed and the large number, perhaps 1,000, of the Hamas terrorists killed.

It is likely that Meshaal engages in dream dancing or lives in a fantasy world. He did know that Gaza had “dazzled the world with her victory… and that victory is only a milestone to reaching our objective.” From his secure base in Qatar he declared that Hamas would not cease resisting Israel until all its demands are met. Thus, he opposed any proposal for Hamas to be disarmed.

Meshaal may or may not have accurately counted the destruction and casualties caused by Hamas aggression. He was really inaccurate or deceitful in description of his own role. He explained this in his conversation with Charlie Rose on July 31, 2014. At that moment he remarked, “We (Hamas) are one single movement. When the political leadership commits to something, then the military wing will commit itself too.”

It is now an open question whether there are now significant differences among the Hamas terrorists in the roles they play and their personal rivalries. It is said that Meshaal telephoned Mohammed Deif, the chief of the Izz-el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing, during the fighting, thus giving away to Israeli intelligence the location of Deif’s home in northwest Gaza. Within a short time Israeli planes bombed the house, though it is still not clear if Deif escaped. However, no one dare assert that Meshaal’s indiscreet call was linked to the Israeli Mossad in any way.

Meshaal’s policies are stark and unqualified. The Gaza Strip must not be disarmed because it must continue to resist. The weapons of the resistance, he said, are sacred. Somewhat surprisingly, though suggesting it was not an act of official policy, Meshaal justified the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli teenagers since all Israelis in the West Bank are aggressors and illegally living in these occupied and stolen lands. Therefore, it is the right of Palestinians to resist them, a euphemism for killing schoolboys.

The Hamas Charter is clear in stating its objectives: killing Jews and eliminating the State of Israel. In his mildest statement, Meshaal has declared he is not a fanatic, and is not against Jews because of their religion, though he stopped short of saying that some of his best friends are Jews. But he has made clear regarding the possibility of coexistence with Israel that he will not coexist with occupation, with settlements, or with Judaization.” Meshaal with considerable temerity called on Egypt to open the Rafah border into Gaza and urged the United Nations to draw up a timetable for “the Israeli occupation of Palestine” to end.

Unlike Meshaal who continually speaks of “resistance”, the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas did not call for “resistance,” but for truce talks to avoid more casualties and sacrifices. The ceasefire discussions were in fact initiated by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, a strong opponent of Hamas, the ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. Abbas has never been the epitome of a policy of complete coexistence with Israel, nor of tolerance towards Israelis. His statement of July 28, 2010 is still memorable: “I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land.”

Abbas cannot be considered an ally of Israel but on the Gaza issue he was accurate. He blamed Hamas for causing thousands of unnecessary deaths by prolonging the fighting in Gaza. He now doubted that the unity government he had formed earlier in 2014, that was backed by Hamas, could survive. It is imperative that Fatah and the Palestinian Authority divorce itself from Hamas. It should reenter the Gaza Strip and govern the population as Hamas has done for seven years.

Finally, the Palestinians should accept the helpful suggestion of French President François Hollande. He proposed that the European countries could help oversee the destruction of the remaining Hamas tunnels that the terrorists planned to use against Israeli civilians, and that they could monitor the Gaza border crossings with Egypt and Israel. That would be a step on the road to peace that the Palestinians should follow.