To Defeat Hamas Slowly, Divest From A Major Donor

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is seeking arrest warrants for the leaders of both Israel and Hamas on charges of crimes against humanity. By equating Hamas with Israel, the ICC has highlighted the responsibility of Hamas for precipitating the war in Gaza on Oct. 7 by massacring and kidnapping Israeli civilians. Israel’s attempt to defeat Hamas militarily while minimizing harm to civilians and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid has to date been unsuccessful. Hamas is too deeply embedded in and under civilian infrastructure, eschews military uniforms, uses civilians as human shields, and denies civilians entry to its network of underground tunnels.

Since Israel has failed to achieve its goals of eliminating Hamas and freeing the hostages by relying on military force, supporters of Israel would be wise to emulate the tactics of pro-Palestinian demonstrators who demand divestment from Israel. Several nations donate money to Hamas. Qatar is the largest donor. During the past decade the Israeli government facilitated the transfer of over $1 billion dollars from Qatar to Hamas. This money is used by Hamas to deliver humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza and to purchase military equipment. Much of Qatar’s donations are in cash and cryptocurrency. Only Hamas knows how the funds are divided between civilian and military expenditures.

Hamas has maintained an office in Qatar for its leaders since 2012. Qatari officials serve as mediators in negotiations between representatives of Israel and Hamas. Qatar is also host to the largest U.S. military base in the region. Suppose that humanitarian aid to Gaza provided by Qatar can be replaced by aid delivered by UNWRA, the U.S., Europe, and friendly Arab countries. In that case, why doesn’t the Israeli government ask the government of Qatar to terminate donations to Hamas? This request would be strengthened if the U.S government would be a partner to it. If donations from Qatar can be stopped, Hamas will be unable to replenish its military arsenal. If Qatar declines to cooperate, then a brave minority of pro-Zionist college students can peacefully protest to demand the release of the hostages and divestment from Qatar. An Israeli legal advocacy organization, Shurat HaDin, is filing lawsuits against cryptocurrency companies and banks in Qatar which provide funds to Hamas.

About the Author
Ted Sheskin is a professor emeritus of industrial engineering at Cleveland State University, and the author of a textbook, Markov Chains and Decision Processes for Engineers and Managers. He has published peer-reviewed papers on engineering systems and mathematical algorithms. His letters to editors addressing politics, economic policy, and issues facing Israel and American Jews have appeared in the NY Times, Daily News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland Jewish News, Jewish Week, the Forward, and Jewish Voice.
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