Giovanni Giacalone
Eyes everywhere

Negotiating with Hamas is wrong, negotiating with terrorism is wrong, period.

Yahya Sinwar in the tunnels underneath Gaza. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law

Negotiating with terrorists is always wrong, for several reasons: because negotiations allow the terrorist organization to acquire political legitimacy, elevating it to a legitimate interlocutor, both at a national and international level. Once this happens, it becomes more difficult to scale it down to what they truly are, killers who deliberately target civilians to achieve their political ends.

Hamas is a clear example of this. In 2006 the Palestinian terrorist organization was cleared and elevated as a “legitimate political expression of the Palestinian people” and what was the result? The genocide of October 7, 2023. The use of millions of dollars in the construction of tunnels and underground terrorist bases, hidden under schools, hospitals, mosques, and humanitarian centers (often colluded with Hamas). rocket attacks against the Israeli population.

Today, many among the International community are still seeing Hamas as a legitimate political actor, and its leaders, Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Meshaal, are still free and in their seats, while they should be locked up. The ideology of Hamas spread throughout college campuses in the United States, the UK, Europe. This is also the result of political legitimization.

Secondly, negotiation incentivizes terrorists to repeat the atrocities committed, perhaps raising the stakes, aware of the fact that the strategy is functional to their objectives and their cause.

Thirdly, terrorists are criminals, assassins by nature. They do not hesitate to murder anyone if they believe it will serve their cause. In the case of Hamas, it goes far beyond being murderers in the name of a cause, because blind hatred and fanaticism take over regardless of the cause. This was seen on October 7 with the atrocities committed against defenseless Israeli civilians: women, children, elderly.

Just the idea of ​​negotiating with them is something aberrant. But beyond this, it is essential to keep in mind that Hamas, precisely because of what it represents and commits, is absolutely unreliable. Hamas’ word counts less than zero.

Reaching a deal with Hamas would mean handing the victory to the terrorist organization, and that is something that Israel cannot afford to do.

Additionally, it is also naive to believe that Hamas will free the hostages, because they are the only guarantee they have for survival.

As US national security analyst, Irina Tsukermann, said: “

“I am particularly concerned given that the hostages are the last remaining leverage for Hamas and they have no real reason to give them up so this proposal could be a trap. Hamas needs Israel to leave Gaza, and especially Rafah, to regain access to tunnels and smuggling and rearm. Hamas will continue recruitment and regrouping in cleared parts of Gaza but with fewer weapons”.

And again:

It’s exceptionally naive to trust #Hamas on any issue or think that a pause to release hostage could turn into a permanent #ceasefire given how many times #Hamas has violated previous “permanent ceasefires“.

Hamas wants to be sure that it will remain in power in Gaza, that Israel will leave the Strip and that the leaders will not be hunted down. Indeed, Israel cannot afford any of these options, because it would mean handing the victory over to Hamas.

There is something called “reason of State” and it cannot be set aside for internal political disagreements nor for other reasons. Emotional naivety and false hope must be put aside. It is worth remembering that Hamas, last October 7, perpetrated the worst pogrom against Jews since the Shoah. Hundreds of IDF soldiers have died in operations to eradicate Hamas. Negotiating makes no sense and will not lead to anything good, because Hamas will do it again, and they said it.

Israel must do what it needs to be done to eradicate Hamas, especially now that the IDF is fully into Rafah. It doesn’t matter if the Biden administration wants a deal with Hamas. It’s Israel’s war and yes, Hamas can be defeated, both physically and ideologically.

This is not just a war between Israel and Hamas; this is a war against antisemitism, against Islamist fanaticism and it closely concerns  everyone, not just Israel. We have all seen the wave of extremism occurring in Europe, in the US, in the UK, in Australia. How can we call for unity against these fanatics if Israel is the first one to negotiate with them?

About the Author
Giovanni Giacalone is a senior analyst in Islamist extremism and terrorism at the Italian Team for Security, Terroristic Issues and Managing Emergencies-Catholic University of Milan, at the Europe desk for the UK-based think tank Islamic Theology of Counter-Terrorism, and a researcher for Centro Studi Machiavelli. Since 2021 he is the coordinator for the "Latin America group" at the International Institute for the Study of Security-ITSS. In 2023 Giacalone published the book “The Tablighi Jamaat in Europe”.
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