It's Time to Target Hamas for Elimination

Operation Protective Edge is underway, and it’s turning into a full-scale ground operation. No thinking person can blame Israel’s leaders for taking steps to protect their citizens from the tens of thousands of unprovoked rocket attacks that have been launched in their direction by Hamas from Gaza.

Now, rewind to 2012 and Operation Pillar of Defense. The central characters are the same, and the critical events are the same. Now, rewind to 2008 and Operation Cast Lead. The critical events are the same, but the central characters are different.  In 2008, George W. Bush was President of the United States and Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister of Israel, otherwise the variables are essentially the same. All along, Hamas has been waging war against Israel.

If we think about Operation Protective Edge, Operation Pillar of Defense, and Operation Cast Lead as independent events, we will fail to see the big picture. All of these military operations are related and they were made necessary because of Ariel Sharon’s “unilateral” withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 which resulted in Hamas taking control.

The salient point is that Israel handed Hamas control of the Gaza Strip in 2005 to placate Western leaders. Since that time, Israel has had nothing but trouble, and it keeps getting worse by the day. I know that there was bitter resentment inside Israel in 2005 because the tiny country was forced to defend “settlers” in Gaza at great cost, but that was nothing compared with the cost of the three major military operations since withdrawal. In fact, Israel would have been much better off if she had never relinquished control -- better off in terms of shekels spent and lives lost. That’s the truth, like it or not.

Through it all, Hamas has remained what Hamas is and always has been -- a terrorist organization whose only reason for being is to annihilate Israel. Hamas has taken a page out of Yasser Arafat’s playbook. This is what Arafat said:

“Peace for us means the destruction of Israel.  We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations.  Since January 1965, when Fatah was born, we have become the most dangerous enemy that Israel has…. We shall not rest until the day when we return to our home, and until we destroy Israel.” (El Mundo, Caracas, Venezuela, February 11, 1980)

For Hamas, “peace” is nothing more than a time for preparing for the next active phase of the war. Hamas’ leaders have played Western leaders like a fiddle, and they have been so effective because Western leaders have been too ambivalent about Israel. Some of them are openly hostile to the Jewish state, but regardless of their true beliefs, the outcome for Israel has been the same -- war followed by war followed by war with brief respites in between so the enemy can reload and take care of their wounded.

This is the bottom line: Israel is at war with Hamas, has been at war with Hamas since the day it came into existence, and will be at war with Hamas until one of them ceases to exist. Those are the facts, leading to this inescapable conclusion: it’s time to target Hamas for elimination. I’m not talking about knocking out a leader here and there to send the survivors a message. It’s obvious that they don’t get the message, or if they do get it, they don’t care.

This may sound extreme, but I don’t think it is. It won’t cost Israel any friends, and it won’t increase the number of her enemies.  Those two groups are pretty much set in stone at this point. But it will expose people’s true inclinations. Those in the middle, those who can be reasoned with, need to be educated. They need to understand that Israel is the West’s frontline against radical Islam. Israel is their primary target now, but Islamists have the rest of us in their crosshairs.

That’s exactly what Islamists are saying and they are saying it openly. After Israel, we’re next -- probably Europe first, then the U.S., then Russia, then China. It’s the world against radical Islam. They started it, and we are foolish if bury our heads in the sand and pretend it isn’t so.

Neil Snyder is the Ralph A. Beeton Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog,, is posted daily.