COMMENTARY: Hamas continuously violates rights of civilian population
Over the weekend, the world witnessed a large-scale riot along Gaza’s border with Israel. Armed gunmen and terrorists attacked the security fence, attempting to breach it, as Israeli forces were the targets of a mass assault with gunfire, bombs, burning tires, stones and chaos. Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip, made clear its intention to draw mobs of tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, with embedded Hamas terrorists, to the border. Hamas sanctimoniously declared this bloody violence over the weekend a so-called peaceful “March of Return,” just one of Hamas’ many nefarious attempts at using innocent Palestinians as human shields for its operations of terror.
Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in a 2007 bloody coup only two years after Israel’s disengagement from the territory, calls for the destruction of Israel and the genocide of Jews in its governing charter. Hamas has long sought fulfillment of its murderous credo at all costs, and it is often innocent Palestinians in the Gaza Strip who pay the price.
During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Hamas notoriously exploited Palestinians in Gaza, stationing terrorist elements in hospitals, schools, mosques and residential domains as they indiscriminately fired thousands of rockets at civilian population areas in Israel. Hamas intentionally puts Gazan civilians in the line of fire and has long welcomed the death of Palestinians as a contribution to the propaganda-ridden vilification of Israel. Hamas could not have made this any clearer in its urban warfare manual, writing that a high count of Palestinian casualties “increases the hatred of the citizens towards the attackers.”
While the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) takes unprecedented measures to avoid civilian casualty in the urban warzone Hamas creates, including calling residents, dropping warning leaflets or firing harmless dud missiles before a strike urging evacuation, Hamas orders residents to stay in place. There is a report of Hamas locking civilians in their homes, murdering those who try to evacuate. Hamas has made it clear that it wants civilians to die. Commenting on this cowardly tactic of human shielding, Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri, praised its “success,” endorsing its continued practice. While Hamas fires rockets from its terror hubs shielded by civilians, it endangers the lives of millions of Jews and Arabs alike in the Gaza Strip and Israel. For Hamas, death, particularly of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, is a victory.
Hamas’ construction of a network of underground terror tunnels to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks against Jews again leaves the civilians of Gaza paying a hefty price. The IDF, which has sought to neutralize the vast network of terror tunnels threatening scores of innocent Israelis, estimates that the construction of these tunnels by Hamas costs millions of dollars each. Hamas neglects the civilians of Gaza, with more than $1 billion pledged for the aid and development of the Gaza Strip being used to fund Hamas terror tunnels, rockets, weapons and other means of terror. As the overall unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip reached as high as 44 percent in 2017, the terrorist organization continued funding its network of violence and terror, leaving its citizens in the midst of a Hamas-induced humanitarian crisis. In a decision between life and death, Hamas chooses death.
The violent demonstration at Gaza’s border with Israel over the weekend is simply another example of Hamas’ exploitation of Palestinians as human shields and as pawns. This was not a “march.” It was an aggressive upheaval of terror by Hamas marked by its egregious, well-demonstrated disregard for the civilians of Gaza. Rioters approached the security fence with young children, and one senior Hamas official is documented mercilessly carrying a baby to the frontlines of the de facto war zone created by Hamas. The IDF has repeatedly taken unprecedented measures to avoid civilian casualty, while Hamas takes every measure to ensure it. Hamas has even acknowledged embedding terrorists in this riot “side-by-side with their people,” recognizing them among those “killed” by Israeli forces during this violent episode of terror.
Hamas has shown no intention of ending its cowardly practice of hiding among civilians. It is Palestinians who pay dearly for the war crimes of Hamas. Hamas has shown no willingness to improve the ordinary lives of Gazans by investing in a future. Instead, it invests in death. While the Palestinians in Gaza continue to be exploited by a genocidal terrorist organization, one can only assume that Hamas’ atrocities will not cease until Gaza is freed from the terrorist elements that rule it with an iron fist.
Joshua Gannon is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in Middle Eastern Studies and political science.