Over the last few weeks, Hamas terrorists have renewed their terrorist tactics against Israeli civilians, firing thousands of rockets into the civilian population and even using secret tunnels in an attempt to invade and unleash deadly terrorist attacks in Israel itself.
As this conflict erupted, Hamas terrorist apologists have come out of the woodwork, some Anti-Semitic as we have seen in violent protests in Europe and some woefully naïve, manipulated by less than accurate and honest media coverage or the lack thereof.
Most of us who understand Israel is under attack and has a right to defend itself as a nation have run into these Hamas apologists among acquaintances or on social media. Here are three simple questions you can pose to cut through the disinformation. In most cases they will quickly elicit responses that will either show their naivety or intentional misrepresentation of the facts.
Is Hamas a terrorist group?
Many are unaware of this fact because the mainstream media and the Hamas apologists on the Left often omit this fact.
Since 1997, Hamas as been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. If the designation isn’t enough, here is the summary from the State Department’s annual report to Congress:
Prior to 2005, Hamas conducted numerous anti-Israeli attacks, including suicide bombings, rocket launches, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, and shootings. Hamas has not directly targeted U.S. interests, although US citizens have died and been injured in the group’s attacks against Israeli targets. . . .
Hamas fought a 23-day war with Israel from late December 2008 to January 2009. From November 14-21, 2012, Hamas fought another war with Israel during which it claims to have launched more than 1,400 rockets into Israel. Prior to the confrontation, approximately 750 rockets had been fired into Israel from Hamas-governed Gaza, including one that killed three civilians in Kiryat Malachi. Despite the Egypt-mediated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in 2012, operatives from Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad coordinated and carried out a November bus bombing in Tel Aviv that wounded 29 people. In 2013, the Government of Israel continued to hold Hamas, as the dominant organization in effective control, responsible for the attacks emanating from Gaza; and Israeli officials point to these attacks as additional proof that Hamas has not abandoned terrorism.
Not only has Hamas used terrorist tactics against Israel and constantly advocated for its utter destruction, Hamas’s charter specifically states that the entire purpose for the organization is to eviscerate Israel.
Some of the most poignant passages from the Hamas charter include:
- Israel will arise and continue to exist until Islam abolishes it, as it abolished what went before.
- The time [Judgment Day] will not come until Muslims fight the Jews and kill them and until the Jew hides behind the rocks and trees, and [then] the rocks and trees will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew hiding [behind me], come and kill him.
- Jihad is its [Hamas’] path and death for the sake of Allah is the most exalted wish.
- [Diplomatic] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences to find a solution to the Palestinian problem, contradict Hamas’ ideological position.
(You can read more of the ACLJ’s analysis of Hamas’s charter here.)
Unfortunately, you won’t see or hear any of this information from Hamas’s apologists on the Left and in the mainstream media. The evidence is overwhelming that Hamas is a radical Islamic terrorist group. The current conflict cannot be understood without understanding this uncontroverted (though often ignored) fact.
Is Hamas targeting civilians?
The evidence of Hamas’s intentional targeting of civilians (on both sides) is overwhelming.
First, Hamas has fired more than 2,000 rockets at Israeli civilians in the last two weeks. In the last week alone Hamas rockets hit an Israeli kindergarten and have been indiscriminately fired into heavily populated civilian areas. The fact that Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has (thankfully) blasted a number of these rockets out of the sky does not change the fact that Hamas targeted those rockets at Israeli civilians.
In fact, Hamas rockets have hit near Israel’s Tel Aviv airport, a major civilian transportation hub, forcing the U.S. to shut down all civilian flights into Israel. The targeting of the airport is especially troublesome this week after a civilian airliner was shot down last week on the border between Russia and Ukraine. The world’s outrage at that targeting of civilian airliners hasn’t deterred Hamas in any way. Every civilian target is an open target for these terrorists.
Israel on the other hand takes extreme measures to limit civilian casualties as they attempt to defend their own citizens. These efforts have been well documented (just not by many in the mainstream media).
One example is how the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) warn civilians before targeting a terrorist hive and even withhold fire where civilian casualties would be too high.
Second, Hamas not only targets civilians in Israel, it uses Palestinian civilians as human shields. Hamas uses the common terrorist tactic of hiding amongst the civilian population, intentionally using the ensuring civilians casualties as propaganda against Israel.
Hamas intentionally fires rockets at Israeli civilians from civilian areas such as hospitals, mosques, and playgrounds ensuring that any attempt by Israel to neutralize and end the attacks on its civilians will cause civilian casualties. Here is just one example of some of the Hamas rocket launch sites:
In fact the United Nations (no friend of Israel) has reported that Hamas rockets have been found at two separate U.N. schools.
Each of these terrorist tactics constitutes war crimes committed by Hamas (you can read a full ACLJ legal analysis here). Yet, if your reading many of the mainstream media accounts you wouldn’t know any of this.
For example, in one Huffington Post Hamas puff piece quoting the New York Times, the reader is led to believe that Israel has absolutely no reason to be engaging in military action in Gaza because there aren’t any rockets being fired by Hamas:
And why did Netanyahu decide to go on another rampage in Gaza? As Nathan Thrall of the International Crisis Group points out [in the New York Times], the real motive is neither vengeance nor a desire to protect Israel from Hamas’ rocket fire, which has been virtually non-existent over the past two years and is largely ineffectual anyway.
Hamas rocket fire has been “virtually non-existent over the past two years”? In the past two weeks, over 2,000 rockets have been launched into Israel by Hamas terrorists. That’s not “virtually non-existent.” That’s the kind of misdirection and lies that are all too common in the mainstream media today.
Does a nation have a legal right to defend its citizens from terrorist rocket attacks on its civilian population?
So if Hamas is a terrorist organization with the stated goal of destroying Israel and the Jewish people and is firing rockets at Israel’s civilians, doesn’t Israel have a right and obligation as a nation to defend its people?
The answer is obviously yes. Every nation has a right to defend its people from terrorism. Period.
You can read the ACLJ’s legal analysis of Israel’s right of self-defense over the years here, here, and here.
After asking these three questions, the conversation will most likely go in one of three ways: 1) a reasonable person is surprised by these facts and seeks more information about the truth and why they have been lied to; 2) they shut up and walk away with no answers because no rational defense can be made of Hamas; or 3) the argument becomes a clear anti-Semitic rant, blaming Israel for all the ills of the Middle East, ignoring the true intentions of radical Islamists, and attempting to incomprehensibly rehabilitate the plight of the terrorists to the aggrieved party taking the only action they can against Israel, which they will then call the real terrorists.
If they delve into that third category, then at least you know who you are dealing with and how much credibility to give them.
The only weapon we often have against both the naivety and the deception is the truth. If you stand with Israel in their fight against these radical terrorists, the truth is on your side.
Matthew Clark is Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.