Giovanni Giacalone
Eyes everywhere

The current hostage-deal proposal could be a disaster for Israel

Hamas’s Gaza Strip leader Yahya Sinwar in a tunnel in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, October 10, 2023. (IDF Spokesman)

The latest “hostage-deal” proposal, as exposed by Israel National News in reference to an article published by the Lebanese newspaper “al-Akhbar”, would be a major defeat for Israel.

First and foremost, Hamas shouldn’t even be in the position to make a choice but it should rather be forced to release the remaining hostages. Indeed, this situation is in large part due to the inadequate international pressure on its leaders in Doha and Gaza. The international community is far more concerned about pressuring Israel not to eradicate Hamas, with the excuse of the “humanitarian issue”.  A concern that we did not see during the campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali, talking about double standards.

Hamas is not just a terrorist organization anymore, it has become an ideology that is widespread all over the West, as recently explained by Noor Dahri, Director of the British think tank “Islamic Theology of Counter-Terrorism”.

From a counter-terror perspective (placing politics aside), the last thing that should be done is negotiate with terrorism and Israel knows this very well since it has been a major pillar of the Jewish State’s position since 1948.

There is one main reason for this, by negotiating with terrorists, recognizing them and surrendering to their demands, we encourage further terrorist actions. It’s logical and obvious, because the terrorists see that their modus operandi achieves results and they will perpetrate it again and again.

October 7th taught us exactly this; letting Hamas prosper by treating it as a legitimate political interlocutor and letting huge funding from Qatar enter Hamas’s pockets led to the death of over 1200 people and the seizure of 240 hostages, many of whom were later killed.

Unfortunately, it seems that the lesson hasn’t been learned, because once again, Hamas is still calling the shots, surviving in Rafah and it hasn’t been eradicated, as theoretically planned by the Netanyahu leadership.

To complete an effective counter-terrorism campaign, as Dr. Boaz Ganor teaches in his IICT courses, it is essential in the short term to fully destroy the operational capabilities of a terrorist organization and in the medium-long term to neutralize its motivation (through a series of measures aimed at attacking propaganda and replacing it with constructive alternatives, an aspect that needed to be taken care of after having eradicated Hamas).

In this case, the Netanyahu government is about to do the exact opposite, leaving several Hamas battalions intact, freeing the territory which will therefore return to the hands of the terrorists who now have a very high motivation to counterattack, both due to the offensive they have suffered but above all because they feel like winners following negotiations that only benefit them.

A military campaign that does not disable the operational capabilities of the organization is ineffective and will only increase terrorist motivation, exposing civilians and military personnel to further attacks. This is exactly what is going to happen.

Then there is the issue of the Israeli soldiers and security members who died since October 7th. According to the numbers disclosed by the Times of Israel, 604 soldiers, police officers, and reservists died since October 7th  (262 during the offensive in Gaza). Did all these brave men and women die in vain? There are Israelis who lived abroad and left their studies, jobs, and loved ones to go and fight. For what?

The eventual “deal” will also hurt the Jewish diaspora, already largely under threat at the hands of the Islamists supported by the extreme left who will have the opportunity to claim victory and become even more aggressive thinking, perhaps not so wrongly, that the demonstrations of hatred in West have contributed to increasing pressure on the Israeli government.

What about the hostages? The most important issue, indeed. Technically speaking, the IDF would be perfectly capable of entering Rafah, freeing as many hostages as possible, and finishing off Hamas and its leaders. The IDF managed Entebbe in 1976, it could surely manage Rafah in 2024. Of course, there are risks, but are they higher than the risk of trusting Hamas?

I believe that there is a much greater chance that the hostages can be freed with military intervention rather than by relying on a terrorist organization like Hamas, which burned newborns in ovens, raped women, and burned civilians alive. What value can the word of such genocidal criminals have? None.

It would have been way better to avoid making continuous proclamations about the attack on Rafah and to act by surprise, in silence. In counter-terrorism, media echo rarely goes along with action.

If this deal goes through, Hamas will find a way to slow down the release of the remaining hostages, gaining more time and knowing that it can afford it, for months, or maybe years, because the Palestinian terrorists are aware that the tactic pays off and that they can count on the international community’s “humanitarian concern”; in the meantime Hamas will start over with attacks on Israelis, and almost 2000 Israelis (soldiers, security forces, hostages) will have died only to see Hamas survive. Indeed, I hope I am wrong about everything.

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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