Why Israel will not Defeat Hamas: The Illusion of Total Victory – by the Israeli Hadash Coalition

Hadash is the electoral Front in Israeli politics (the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality) and has respresentation in the Israeli Knesset (parliament). Article has been translated from Hebrew. Find original article on Hadash’s website.

On October 7, there was a murderous surprise attack by Hamas on the southern settlements of Israel. In response, Israel embarked, no less, on a murderous war, with mass killings of civilians, unprecedented destruction of the Gaza Strip and damage to hospitals, universities, mosques, historical monuments and more.

The war has been going on longer than anyone thought. Thousands of innocents were killed in Gaza and Israel, and hostages are still being held by Hamas. At best, these innocent hostages are not really of interest to Israel’s right-wing government. In the worst case, the government abandons them, so they can establish the reoccupation of the Gaza Strip and to reestablish the Gush Katif settlements.

The continuation of the war raises difficult questions about Israel’s policy towards Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. The war has been going on for almost six months, and it is still unclear when and how it will end. Prime Minister Netanyahu and his spokespeople are talking about a “war until absolute victory”, which is expected to continue until, as they say, the “final victory”. What will this “final victory” include? Does Netanyahu himself know?

Many people ask these days, “Why is Israel unable to defeat Hamas?” There are several possible answers to this, but I would like to offer the simplest answer – the Netanyahu government is frankly not interested in defeating Hamas.

Even before the outbreak of the war, Israel had the ability and if it wanted to eliminate the leaders of Hamas and neutralize its military capabilities, they could have done it. In my opinion, the Israeli government is not interested in the complete elimination of Hamas because this organization serves the interests of Israel and the US in the Middle East. It continues the intra-Palestinian division and the perpetuation of the occupation.

As far as Israel is concerned, the main benefit of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip is preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state. The rule of Hamas allows Israel to claim that the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state in the territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will lead to terrorist attacks on its territory, and therefore there is no solution other than Israeli control of these territories. In other words, the continuation of the occupation. The Israeli right has tried, is trying, and will continue to try to bury the two-state solution in this way.
Instead of a political solution, the Israeli right-wing is marketing the illusion to the public, as if the conflict can be ended through a “defeat”. That is, using force to defeat the Palestinians as an alternative to negotiation and compromise. The idea of this decision has several faces. One of them is the strengthening of the Palestinian forces that support an uncompromising armed struggle. To achieve this, Israel strengthened Islamist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, with the aim of weakening Fatah and the PLO and pushing them from the leadership position. Israel preferred to strengthen Hamas, which aspires avowedly to establish an Islamic state in the entire area between the Jordan River and the [Mediterranean] Sea, and not negotiate with the PLO.

The concept that ruled Israel until October 7 was a strategy that “silence will be met with silence.” Israel would condemn Hamas but it would not launch an all-out rocket attack on the Gaza Strip. Also, much has been said about Netanyahu implementing a policy of transferring Qatari money to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. This money was ostensibly intended for humanitarian purposes and improving the lives of the citizens in the Strip, but in fact strengthened the Hamas organization. Netanyahu believed that if he transferred millions of dollars to the Gaza Strip, he would receive long-term political and military peace in return. But the huge sums that Netanyahu authorized Qatar to transfer through it allowed Hamas to equip itself with many weapons, with which the murderous terrorist attack on October 7 was carried out.

The policy of strengthening the radical Islamist organizations at the expense of progressive national forces is not unique to Israel. This policy characterized colonial projects in the past and characterizes them today, and it always blows up in the face of its perpetrators. A well-known example of this is the cooperation of the USA with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda against the government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and against the Soviet Union. From this cooperation, one of the darkest Islamist regimes in history and a global terrorist organization became a reality, which on September 11, 2001 carried out the deadliest attack in the history of the United States.

To those who support the continuation of the war until “total victory” I say: such a victory will never be achieved. It will not be achieved because the Netanyahu government does not want an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas aspires to continue to control the Gaza Strip, and official Israel needs Hamas to continue to gain ground in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The price of the war is paid by them and by us – the members of both nations. Until an independent Palestinian state is established on the side of Israel, we will continue to kill, be killed and bleed in the name of the Zionist vision of Jewish supremacy from Jordan to the sea.

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