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The illegitimacy of Hamas rule in Gaza

Peace and safety for Israel are impossible until its right to exist is accepted by the Arab/Palestinians and the murderous fanatics such as Hamas, Hezbollah and other jihadists are defeated. As a major wing of a ruthless, authoritarian and determined Islamic offensive to destroy Israel, Hamas is a beacon for jihadists. With religious certainty, a substantial body of willing fighters at its disposal, considerable popular backing and a vast hinterland of support throughout the Arab and Muslim world and elsewhere, there is no clear reason why it would betray its own stated principles by making a compromise with Israel.

At best, its theology permits only temporary cease-fires or an Islamic truce. This has the religious function of allowing it to build its forces to break the truce when it is in a better position to continue its war. In essence, Hamas is a genocidal, racist and terrorist organisation of war criminals who are fanatically committed to a whole series of totalitarian positions:

  1. the establishment of an Islamic state and restoration of the caliphate;
  2. the subservience of democracy to theocracy;
  3. the institution of an apartheid system for women and non-Muslims;
  4. the execution of religious heretics and gays;
  5. the elimination of basic human rights;
  6. genocidal attacks on Jews;
  7. the elimination of Israel.

With absolutely nothing resembling a modernising, progressive, liberal or democratic program, Hamas is an organisation saturated with anti-Semitism, hatred for Israel and hostility to Jewish rights. Its core values are antagonistic to pluralism, democracy, equality and respect and tolerance for minorities. Convinced of its divine right to impose a totalitarian Islamic rule, it has launched a war to destroy Israel and establish an Islamic state as part of its view of the divine right of Islam to dominate the region. There is no place for a common Arab-Jewish solution in this scheme.

The illegitimate rule of Hamas

The political platform of Hamas is in clear conflict with the stated objectives of the UN, the Quartet and others in the international community who support a peace agreement. Successive statements from the international community see a fundamental contradiction between the militia activities of armed groups, the establishment of a peace agreement and the formation of a democratic Palestinian state alongside Israel. Additionally, democratic theory views the use of peaceful means and the rejection of violence as critical for democratic governance.

An accumulation of international statements, including the ‘Road Map’, insist that all participants in the democratic process need to accept the right of Israel to exist, renounce violence and terror, and disarm the militias. Yet despite this Hamas was permitted to contest the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 2006 which brought it to power. The continued refusal of Hamas to give up its weapons, end its campaign of violence, murder and terror in pursuit of its political aims and to drop its commitment to the destruction of a member state of the UN, are all incompatible with the 2-state solution or indeed any compromise agreement.

Furthermore, even in periods of ‘quiet’ the ‘collateral damage’ of its murderous dictatorship of Gaza is far too serious to allow. The cost of not crushing Hamas poses severe threats to Israel:

  • by failing to stop Hamas rocket attacks it endangers the lives of Israeli citizens over an ever widening area;
  • it risks a continuation of the build-up of more powerful rockets and weapons in the hands of Hamas;
  • it is fatal for the development of moderates among the Arab/Palestinians;
  • it allows Hamas a virtual veto over Palestinian political development;
  • it provides a practical demonstration of the successful use of terror and thus provides encouragement to other fanatics who wish to destroy Israel.

No international measures to disarm Hamas

Despite its repeated declarations against the presence of armed militias in the democratic process and its assertion that Israel’s right to exist should be recognised, the international community neither takes steps to disarm such groups nor supports the only apparatus that could do so: the IDF. Successive international declarations merely condemn terror and appeal for its end. The ineffectiveness of this is obvious.

Yet there is no moral or legal requirement for Israel or any state to allow attacks on its territory and citizens with impunity. Nor is there any requirement for Israel to sit back and commit suicide by waiting for an enemy which has the explicit intention of destroying it to acquire ever deadlier weapons.

Therefore, in the absence of effective international measures to impose agreed conditions of non-violence and the renunciation of terror as the basis for a peace agreement and lacking any other viable option, the immediate policy of Israel should be to destroy the Hamas regime in Gaza. Legal justification for this is further provided by Article 51 of the UN Charter which acknowledges that states have a moral and legal right to defend themselves against attack.

Killing moderation

There are further reasons why eliminating the rule of Hamas in Gaza is a requirement for a successful peace agreement. Not to do so would be in direct contradiction to the often repeated desire to promote moderates among the Arab/Palestinians. The problem is that Hamas not only terrorises Israel but it also terrorises other Palestinians. During Operation Cast Lead it brutalised Gaza citizens by a combination of murder, torture, beatings and the coercion of Palestinian families into becoming ‘human shields’.

If it is permitted to survive and benefit from its terror, the political ground will be again cut from under the feet of its more moderate rivals. This will encourage further fanatical behaviour by providing a practical lesson that fanaticism works. After all, if intransigence, threats and violence are successful, why change? Additionally, it teaches the fanatics and everyone else that they will not be made accountable or punished. As a result, further intransigence and violence are the inevitable consequences and the development of moderation will be undermined.

In reality, instead of decisive measures against terror, Israel, the UN, the US and the EU effectively reinforce and subsidize terror by the policy of funding and supplying Gaza. As a result, the Hamas dictatorship is propped up by being effectively removed from the real duties and responsibilities of government. Uniquely, it is freed from normal governmental obligations of providing a framework for a stable society and economy. This is the very opposite of the frequently expressed desire of the international community to build Palestinian institutions of civil society. Instead, this policy rewards Hamas for atrocious behaviour and effectively pays and supplies them to fight Israel. In this way Hamas is rescued from the consequences of its own fanaticism. This prolongs the conflict.

Building the institutions of Palestinian civil society

An absolutely critical issue here is this: how is it possible to build institutions of civil society, democracy, human rights, a free press, the rule of law and the respect and toleration for minorities when violent militias remain free to terrorise, intimidate and sabotage such efforts? Neither practically nor in democratic theory is this possible. Therefore, leaving Hamas to continue its murderous rule is both fatal for the development of Palestinian moderates and a cast-iron guarantee that war and ruin will continue. In short, the veto Hamas has over Palestinian political development by its ability to make any potentially more sensible and accommodating agreement with Israel unworkable needs to be ended.


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