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Rawan Osman

Hamas had no alternative. Really?

I watch the Arab news wholeheartedly condemning Israel and compare it to Israeli and Western reporting. There is a deep, wide valley between both camps. What the first camp calls black, the second calls white.

At first, I wondered why Piers Morgan would allow voices such as Mohammed Hijab on his show. But bearing the deep, wide valley in mind, I grew fond of him highlighting the sharp contrast between both sides of the conflict, as well as between their supporters.

Never have I imagined that an organization worse than ISIS existed. Yet, on the 7th of October, Hamas proved they are worse and that is a point they wanted to make. Their bullets spared no one, no matter how old or young. They filmed what they had done, be it mutilation, rape, arson, murder, abduction and even humiliating and laughing at small children. They then posted the footage on social media to further shock and hurt the Israelis, and to boast among their fellow Islamists worldwide – except when they occasionally switched to gaslighting the Israelis and denied targeting any Israeli civilians or even blamed their death on Israeli forces.

But above all, Hamas shared the atrocities they committed in order to provoke the Israelis and draw them into a war.

For the sake of preventing Saudi Arabia from joining the Abraham Accords and pushing for a Palestinian State, Hamas was willing to sacrifice thousands of Gazan civilians. Hamas and the Iranian camp are not interested in a two-state solution. They want one state: Palestine, from the river to the sea.

The attack on the 7th of October was so brutal, it compelled almost everyone to react. As if the attack was meant to polarize the world. On that day, Hamas obliterated many bridges. The dream of living together, of co-existing as Israeli and Palestinian neighbors was set alight on the outskirts of Gaza.

It is astonishing to listen to those justifying Hamas’s actions. I wrestled with some viewpoints and was baffled until my brain built an analogy between the know-it-all woke crowd and the living martyrs on one side and myself on the other.

There was a time during my teenage years when I was impressed by Che Gevara and Hassan Nasrallah. I suppose I was “woke” and thought human beings are all equal and the same because I was simply naïve. I perceived myself as a citizen of the world, a world which neither needs man-made borders, nor man-made rules imposed by the strong on the weak. A little like the rules my parents wanted to impose on us.

However, I grew older to understand that my parents were not my oppressors when they oversaw my life. They had more power being more experienced and wiser. To become independent, I did not need to be inspired by the likes of Gevara and the imposter of Hezbollah. All I needed was to grow, learn and assume responsibility. I think that the moment we realize and admit that we don’t know it all marks the beginning of the process of maturing. A process desperately needed among the fans of Hamas’s “freedom fighters”.

Many voices among the pro-Palestinian crowd claim that Hamas had no alternative. Really? Is Hamas rich or poor? They have access to large sums of money since they can build a sophisticated network of tunnels under Gaza and never seem to run short of rockets. They also have connections. Their leaders regularly move between Qatar, Turkey, Iran, Lebanon and Syria.

If Hamas wanted to negotiate a solution for their people, they would find partners and mediators. But they don’t want to. Their mission is to kill all Jews and annihilate Israel. Their enemies include moderate Muslims. The 7th of October was a conformation that their updated charter of 2017 was nothing but a bluff designed to deceive public opinion in the West.

Do the Palestinians have any alternative if Hamas won’t concede power? I think they do. There are millions of Palestinians worldwide. If they really wanted the two-state solution and genuinely oppose violence, why haven’t their brightest minds – and they have many – created a global congress and developed a comprehensive, realistic, viable and sustainable plan for a durable peace? They could present it through mediators or directly to the Israelis thereby bypassing Hamas in Gaza and the corrupt authority in the West Bank. They could ask the UN, for example, to help rid the Palestinians of any rogue armed terrorist group. That is a project I would support anytime, any day. That is one alternative to terrorism.

Some voices justify the attack because they think that the oppressed are bound to burst. Let’s imagine the following: a boy called Paul is born in the US, his father abandons his mom, and the mom dies while he’s a small child. He has a physical disability and people treat him badly all his life. He is poor and has never been loved or given a chance to improve.

If ever, Paul were to storm into a party and murder those enjoying their time, those who seem to be more fortunate than he is, would he be excused from a legal point of view? Also from a social perspective, would any community think that what he’s done was justified? Would any community struggle to sympathize with the victims because the murderer was miserable? Obviously, Paul needed an urgent, long-term solution. But when he commits a crime, his situation becomes only worse.

We should not reverse into romanticizing bloodshed. We have to move forward to a world where killing to make a point becomes obsolete. There are various methods to resolve a conflict and terrorism is not and should not be one of them.

Does Israel have an alternative? Absolutely not. What other than war on Hamas could destroy them? Especially since they signaled no intention to ever reconcile by carrying out a horrendous massacre. Not even a ceasefire is an alternative at this stage. In honor of the innocent who lost their lives on both sides, Israel cannot but finish what it started.

I wonder though, why the Arab and Muslim countries which are condemning the death of civilians in Gaza haven’t offered to receive Gazan refugees. Surely, rumors circulated about Israel wanting to force the transfer of Palestinians outside of Gaza. But using that as an excuse to leave helpless families under shelling is absurd and shameless. The terms of their return could be made clear and legally binding on an international level.

Israel could easily be forced to allow them back, therefore “the forced transfer” propagated by Hamas is not a valid argument, but there are a few legitimate ones. One concern would be that many Gazans might not want to return to Gaza. Another would be that Gazans are trained to resort to violence when dissatisfied which might jeopardize the national security of their hosting country. Also, it would be difficult to know if terrorists infiltrated the refugees like ISIS members did when they mingled among Syrians who flocked to Europe in the last decade.

However, saving innocent civilians requires the bravery of any country up to the challenge of hosting the Gazans who want to get out of Gaza during the war, and clearing the way for the Israeli Forces to rid the region of the evils of Hamas.

It is very strange to hear the Israelis requesting that the civilians get out of harm’s way while Hamas urges them and sometimes even forces them to stay. Even stranger is Hamas refuting the accusations of using the Palestinian civilians as human shields, and then accusing the Israeli forces of waging a genocide against the Palestinians and of committing crimes against humanity.

The horrendous scenes of the victims and the helpless survivors stranded on the streets in Gaza are heart-wrenching. But let’s not forget how this war started and who the actors are: It is the Israeli army versus a state-sponsored terrorist organization that waged a meticulously planned assault against Israel which has one of the world’s most sophisticated armies.

There is a colossal difference between both actors: the Israeli army follows instructions and plans. It could be held accountable for its actions which are documented and could be investigated, clarified and even condemned. If the IDF swapped terrain with Hamas, the Israeli civilians would be those sheltered underground, and not the fighters.

About the Author
Rawan Osman is a Syrian-Lebanese peace activist, currently writing a book about her perception of the Jewish people and Israel before and after leaving the Middle East. Formerly with the PeaceComms Institute, Osman is studying Jewish and Islamic Studies at Heidelberg University, Germany. She is fluent in Arabic, French, English and German. She can be reached at rawan.osman@writing4peace.de
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