Day 58. I awoke on Friday morning last to learn that the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel had come to an end after 7 days. Hamas was responsible for failing to release the remaining women and child hostages and further, sending rockets into Israel from Gaza. I confess to being surprised because Hamas appeared to be getting what they wanted: a lot of positive publicity for releasing hostages. In addition, there was a sense that the longer the ceasefire lasted, the better the prospects it would become permanent.
So why quit whilst they were ahead? Then it was suggested to me that the reason they didn’t release the remaining women and children was because they couldn’t. That either Hamas didn’t hold them any longer because of some ghastly trade with another terrorist group, or that they are no longer alive or even well enough to be moved. I should say now that I sincerely hope that none of these scenarios are correct; that in fact Hamas are playing some nasty psychological game for their reasons which cannot for the time being, be determined.
Of course, as has already been said by Benjamin Folkinshteyn),a fellow TOI blogger from Greater New York), the benefit to Hamas from releasing the hostages was that it worked as a significant distraction from the reason the war began in the first place, the hideous murders of 1,200 people on the 7th October. Let’s not forget that it was that act which was the start of the war. An invasion of a sovereign state by the armed forces of a neighbouring territory.
The attack not only amounted to an act of war in itself, but the murder of civilians and abduction of citizens from Israel were both war crimes. The opportunity then to distract the world from this must have been heaven sent. So why lose that benefit? True enough, there are several media outlets continuing with their critical reports of Israel’s actions as the war continues, but these don’t appear to be carrying the weight they recently did. The accounts from some of the released hostages and the appalling statements of what happened at the Supanova music festival have served to remind the world as to who we are dealing with.
The level of Hamas’s brutality is beyond comprehension. For all the demands for a ceasefire and the disgraceful description of Hamas and Israel being ‘both sides’ as if there is some level of equivalence, it is slowly becoming clear that there is no equivalence, that Hamas is as evil as some of us have been saying for years, and truly there cannot be peace whilst that organisation continues to run Gaza or even exist.
So why break the ceasefire? Even allowing for the slight change in attitude towards Hamas, they still have a goodly number of supporters around the world generally and the UK in particular. Here is another theory to add to those suggested to me. They made a mistake. Nothing more complicated than that. This isn’t the first time. The first was when in my view they believed that Israel was wholly divided over going to war and that when they attacked the response would be lacklustre. They believed the claims from those protesting against the judicial reforms and further, thought that Jewish communities in the diaspora were faltering in their support for Israel as a result of their criticisms of the reforms.
Here in the UK many people and some communal organisations felt they had to speak out about the reforms. Why is a mystery but that is not important. What is important is that this was another factor (however small) Hamas may have taken into account when deciding the 7th October would be the right day for the attack.
What they missed though was the despite the posturing in Israel and abroad, that the attack, the single worst of its kind since the Shoah, had the effect of unifying everyone with one desire, to see Hamas eliminated. Substantial mistake.
And now, I think they have done it again. Hamas bought themselves a lot of positive publicity over the 7 days of the ceasefire and thought that they didn’t need to continue to release hostages. Why give away their bargaining position any further when they didn’t need to when they can keep the hostages and then start the whole process again when Israel makes further gains in South Gaza. Maybe, but the accounts from the hostages and the survivors from Supanova have just reinforced Israel and her people’s determination to destroy Hamas.
Hamas, like other terrorist groups in the Middle East see humanity as a weakness. Their mistake is that it is that very humanity which they despise so much is driving Israel and its supporters to see an end to this abhorrent organisation. Ultimately then, it doesn’t matter very much why Hamas broke the ceasefire, what does matter is that Israel finishes the job. For those murdered, for the remaining hostages, and for the rest of us who just wish for a time when the Palestinians stop wanting to kill us.