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What are Hamas fighting for in their war with Israel?

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What are Hamas Fighting for

Image Credit: Flash 90

The Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a devastating attack on Israel over the weekend, killing over 1,300 people. This brazen assault brings the motives of Hamas back into focus. What does the extremist Islamist group hope to achieve through its violent campaign against Israel?
Understanding what Hamas is fighting for provides critical context for the militant group’s ongoing war with Israel.

Hamas’ Roots and Resistance Goals in the War with Israel

Hamas grew out of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist organization founded in Egypt in 1928. Formed in 1987 at the start of the first Palestinian uprising against Israel, Hamas seeks to establish an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel, which it refuses to recognize.

Hamas has been labeled a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and other Western nations. Its primary goal is the destruction of the Jewish state. “Hamas has only one agenda, to destroy Israel and to murder Jews,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The group is led by Ismail Haniyeh and its military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is commanded by Marwan Issa and Mohammed Deif. Hamas receives funding and weapons from Iran to wage its war against Israel.

Hamas’ Control of Gaza


Hamas has long been active in the Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory bordered by Israel and Egypt. In 2006, it won legislative elections in Gaza and the West Bank. After a clash with the Fatah party, Hamas seized control of Gaza.
In response, Israel imposed an economic blockade and restricted travel between Gaza and Israel. The blockade’s impact on Gazans fuels Hamas’ war with Israel and factors into what they are fighting for.
During this time, Hamas built smuggling tunnels and periodically fought wars with Israel. The Islamist group remains popular among many Palestinians frustrated with poor economic conditions in Gaza.

What is Hamas Fighting for in Its Ongoing Struggle with Israel?
The massive assault on October 7th came with little warning. Hamas kept plans for the attack secret, catching Israel off-guard. Senior Hamas official Ali Barakeh stated it was a fight for “Israeli crimes” against Palestinians, aimed to break the Gaza blockade, free prisoners, and resist occupation.


Experts agree the attack was meant to inspire Hamas supporters and demonstrate the group’s capabilities despite Israeli defenses like the Iron Dome. However, Hamas likely did not expect territorial concessions. Hamas seized over 180 hostages during the attack, providing them with bargaining power to free jailed Palestinians.
Hamas hopes to gain relevance and prove it can still threaten Israel. With more radical groups in Gaza, it cannot appear passive. The attack also allows Hamas to claim victory in standing up to Israel.

The Evolving Hamas-Israel War


Israel has tried various strategies against Hamas over the years – from negotiation to blockade to military attacks. For a time Israel eased some Gaza restrictions, hoping to contain Hamas. But Hamas used this opening to plan a major attack, exposing the limitations of the approach that did not address what Hamas is fighting for.
Past Israeli invasions of Gaza aimed to degrade Hamas’ capabilities. However, the group has repeatedly recovered to launch new attacks. It is very likely that Israel wants to fully dismantle Hamas now, but that raises questions about governing Gaza after.

Hamas Receives External Support


Experts disagree over Iran’s role. Hamas denies direct Iranian involvement but does acknowledge support. While training likely took place locally, Iran probably provided equipment. Hezbollah may also coordinate with Hamas going forward.

Hamas kept plans hidden, trained fighters, and convinced Israel it did not want escalation. Tunnels allowed moving weapons and operatives undetected. Israel focused on the West Bank rather than Gaza defenses. Combined, these enabled Hamas’ surprise.

What’s Next in Hamas’ War with Israel?


Israel has begun heavy airstrikes against Gaza, signaling a ground invasion may follow to oust Hamas. A diplomatic solution seems unlikely, given the hostages taken. The conflict could spread if Hezbollah opens a second front. Hamas appears ready for a prolonged fight, but Gaza will pay the highest price, as what Hamas is fighting for remains a key obstacle to peace.

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Hamas Tactics: A Cycle of Violence That Needs to End

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Hamas-Terrorists

Hamas Terrorists. Credit: ‘כאן חדשות’ FB page

Over time, Hamas has honed techniques designed to do maximum damage while preserving its assets and troops. The latest deadly fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas has once again shown Hamas’s complicated and disturbing tactical methods. 

Hamas is applying military lessons from previous conflicts. The organization researches Israeli capabilities and weaknesses and incorporates their findings to optimize and perfect their method. Hamas used deception as a base for many of their military tactics. In Gaza, mock structures resembling Israeli settlements have been constructed as training grounds for terrorists to rehearse simulated attacks. Fake social media profiles and altered films offer a false sense of security, allowing Israel to relax its watch. Economic incentives for workers fund military preparedness. These techniques are designed to fool Israeli intelligence services and conceal Hamas’s genuine capabilities and goals.

Terror tunnel networks provide for covert movement and supply connections. Hamas tactics include urban warfare strategies, ambushes, IEDs, snipers, and hit-and-run provocations. The terror tunnel networks also have a psychological impact since they keep Israeli troops constantly guessing when and where potential future attacks and kidnappings can occur.

A tunnel built by Hamas

A tunnel built by Hamas to penetrate Israel. Credit: ‘ישראלים מצייצים’ FB page.

Human shields are yet another contentious Hamas strategy. Hamas utilizes the population of Gaza as a shield from Israeli counter-attacks by operating and hiding weapons in heavily populated civilian areas. Using civilian homes for weapon storage, building their terror tunnels underneath schools, and even creating rocket launching sites in hospitals and cemeteries. This shows their complete lack of respect for their dead and ensures civilian losses, which Hamas will subsequently use to sway public opinion against Israel. Similarly, the group’s tactic of kidnapping Israeli troops and holding them prisoner underground has frequently put the captives’ lives in jeopardy during Israeli rescue efforts.

These tactics alter a conflict’s dynamics. Israel, or any other moral, democratic nation, must use restraint in its actions due to ethical concerns over civilian losses. However, this merely gives Hamas greater leeway to continue its deadly provocations. With the desire to weaken Hamas’ capabilities, heavy blows on a regular basis are in order. However, these attacks’ high toll on innocent people fuels more radicalism. Conversely, doing nothing would allow Hamas to build up its weapons and undertake increasingly lethal assaults over time.

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Israel Palestine War

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IDF Tank and helicopter. Credit: Nitsan Saddan

IDF Tank and helicopter. Credit: Nitsan Saddan

Hamas Launches Another Attack

In the early hours of October 7th, 2023, Hamas, a Palestinian group based in Gaza, initiated a new round of conflict. They employed an extensive barrage of thousands of rockets, advanced technology, and aggressive tactics to breach Israel’s heavily fortified border. This attack targeted both military installations and civilian areas, including a music festival where thousands had gathered. The death toll continues to rise, with thousands losing their lives. Hamas also took over 200 people hostage, including civilians including children, soldiers, and foreigners visiting Israel. Tragically, individuals from at least 36 different nationalities are either dead or missing.

Childrens bedroom after being attacked by Hamas on Oct 7th. Credit: סמדר תל חי FB page.

Childrens bedroom after being attacked by Hamas on Oct 7th. Credit: סמדר תל חי FB page.

Hamas’s Motivation

Hamas’s motives for the attack were numerous and multifaceted: the terrorist group aimed to boost their anti-Israel credentials and relevance in the region; relieve domestic pressure coming from Gazans who were fed up with Hamas’ corrupt, inhumane, and incompetent rule; and finally, the October 7th Massacre was Hamas’s attempt to revive sympathy for the Palestinian cause amongst the international community through a deliberately false, and manipulative public relations campaign focused on establishing a false moral equivalence between the Army of the State of Israel and a terrorist organisation who slaughters innocent men, women, and children apparent glee. The question of why Hamas chose to launch this attack now is complex, with historical, geographical, religious, political, and power dynamics at play. We’re here to break it down for you.

Hamas’s Control of Gaza

Hamas, a terrorist group that has been involved in acts of violence, recently took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Under their rule, LGBTQ+ Palestinians face persecution, and public music is banned. It’s essential to note that Israel, despite its conflicts with Hamas, has been a significant source of energy, food, and medical supplies for Gaza’s residents.

History of Gaza

 

Gaza Strip – on the left. Credit: CBS News’s FB page.

Israel’s control of Gaza has a history that dates back to the 1967 Six-Day War. However, in 2005, under the leadership of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel withdrew its soldiers from Gaza and evacuated over 5,000 Israelis. Unfortunately, the transition to Gazan self-government faced challenges, as Palestinian looters stripped and destroyed infrastructure left behind by the Israelis.

Hamas’s Escalations

Since Israel’s withdrawal, Hamas has engaged in a series of provocations, often marked by rocket attacks on Israeli cities and the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. Shalit remained a hostage for five years.

Recent Mass Hostage-Taking

Hamas’s recent large-scale capture of hostages has raised concerns about their use as human shields, a tactic Hamas has used to protect its military and political assets. The hostages may face additional abuse and torture.

Perspective from Palestinians

From a Palestinian perspective, the brutality displayed by Hamas is not new, as many Palestinians have suffered under their rule since 2007.

The Road Ahead

In the coming days and weeks, there will likely be significant repercussions for Hamas, and innocent Palestinian lives hang in the balance. Israel is taking steps to secure the release of its people. It’s important to distinguish the actions of Hamas from the broader Palestinian population.

A Call for Gaza’s Liberation

Many Palestinians believe that Gaza’s liberation from the grip of Hamas is long overdue and hope for a resolution to this ongoing conflict.

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Education in the Gaza Strip

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Kids in Gaza

Kids in Gaza. Credit: I love Allah’s FB page

According to several studies conducted by various human rights organizations, a review of Palestinian school textbooks and curricula reveals a number of human rights violations.  Recurring topics include the rejection of the State of Israel and denial of its right to exist, the demonization and incitement of violence against Jews, and a downplay of peace advocacy in favor of incitement. These schools have been inciting three generations of young Palestinians to hate and kill Jews, to revere martyrs and aspire to jihad. Parents of current students have been educated in the same schools, as have many of the 30,000 teachers employed by UNRWA.  Perhaps most importantly, the education curriculum teaches that the so-called Palestinian Right of Return is to be achieved by war. Under Hamas, Gaza’s educational system, which is heavily impacted by political allegiances and local disputes, faces a challenging environment. In order to steer the children of Gaza toward a more promising educational future, it is imperative that we comprehend the subtleties of this scenario.

Hamas’s Influence on Education

Kids in the Gaza Strip

Kids in Gaza strip. Credit: Avihai Shorshan’a FB  Page

Since its founding in 1987, Hamas, a strong political and militant organization, has had a considerable impact on Gaza’s educational landscape. The group’s goal of spreading its ideals and values, which are based on political and religious convictions, has permanently altered the educational environment. The son of a Hamas founder, Mosab Yousef, offers a distinctive viewpoint on the brainwashing that takes place within the educational system. He explains how youngsters are indoctrinated with the idea that, in order to establish an Islamic state, innocent people must be killed. Such instruction has a significant psychological effect on young Gazans, which raises questions about their early exposure to extreme beliefs.

 Moreover, Yousef highlights the lack of choice for the children of Gaza, emphasizing how they are shaped by the ideologies fed to them. This underscores the pervasive influence that Hamas has on the educational narrative, limiting the intellectual freedom of students and narrowing their worldview.

What Do Palestinian Children Actually Learn in School?

A new study of Palestinian textbooks finds that Palestinian children are being taught to glorify and value terrorism and violence. The study, called “Palestinian Elementary School Curriculum 2016–17: Radicalization and Revival of the PLO Program,” was conducted by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education. To an even greater extent than the 2014–15 textbooks, the curriculum teaches students to be martyrs and denies the existence of Israel and focuses on a “return” to an exclusively Palestinian homeland. 

According to the report, within the pages of the textbooks children are taught to be expendable. Messages such as: “the volcano of my revenge”; “the longing of my blood for my land”; and “I shall sacrifice my blood to saturate the land” suffuse the curriculum. Math books use numbers of dead martyrs to teach arithmetic. The vision of an Arab Palestine includes the entirety of what is now Israel, defined as the “1948 Occupied Territories.”

This is not the way to prepare children for peace. For example, here is how the grade 4 math textbook teaches math:

The number of martyrs of the First Intifada during 1987–93 totaled 2026 martyrs, and the number of martyrs of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Intifada in the year 2000 totaled 5,050 martyrs while the number of the wounded reached 49,760. How many martyrs died in the two Intifadas.

The following are more examples of the incitement, antisemitism, and violence found and promoted in Palestinian curricula:

In a fifth grade textbook provided by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of education, while teaching Arabic reading comprehension to girls, an entire chapter is dedicated to praising the martyr Dalal al-Mughrabi , who led a team of terrorists in the massacre of 38 Israelis, including 13 children, in 1978. She is glamorized and draped in the Palestinian flag.

According to a March 2023 report by UN Watch, teachers and schools at the UN agency that runs education and social services for Palestinians regularly call for the  murder of Jews, and create teaching materials that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis and incite antisemitism. For example, in September 2022, 5th-graders at a school in Gaza were taught to admire as a “martyr” and “hero” Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassem, the namesake of Hamas’ military wing, who had preached the murder of Jews. On November 20, 2022, photos of a classroom blackboard from Social Studies class in the 5th grade Class 9 of the fifth grade show a map labeled Palestine. The map includes the State of Israel – a UN member state, and marks areas and cities in Israel such as Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, and Beersheba as part of Palestine. In December 2022, the report found that an Arabic reading comprehension exercise for 9th graders celebrated a Palestinian firebombing attack on a Jewish bus as a “barbecue party.”

Another text taught to 9th-graders at the school posted in December 2022, demonized Israelis as sadistic predators looking for prey by teaching reading comprehension using graphic descriptions of Israelis brutally murdering Palestinians in entirely fictional stories. A “Zionist officer” deliberately shoots to death a Palestinian fisherman in front of his son in Gaza for being late to shore. The graphic text describes a “fountain of blood bursting from his chest.” In addition, 5th-graders at the school learned that martyrdom and jihad are “the most important meanings of life” through an exercise practicing vocabulary and grammar in Arabic language Learning material posted in September 2022.

A Palestinian social studies lesson posted in September 2022 instilled in 9th-grade students the message that “armed struggle” against Israel is a “divine right.” Another September 2022 9th grade social studies text spreads antisemitic propaganda by teaching the libel that Israel infects Palestinians with cancer by dumping toxic waste in the West Bank and Gaza. 

Asma Middle School for Girls B encouraged schoolgirls to liberate the homeland by sacrificing “their Blood” and pursuing jihad.  UNRWA-created Arabic language material posted in September 2022 for the 6th grade includes an exercise promoting sacrificing one’s life—“the most precious thing” a person has—for the homeland as an obligation and to sacrifice “their blood.”  A  grammar exercise states that “I will commit jihad to liberate the homeland” and “I will not give up a centimeter of my land.” The last sentence further indicates students are taught to reject any territorial compromise with Israel.

However, Hamas’s indoctrination of violence is not limited to the classroom and textbooks. The sae report found that Palestinian summer camps were, in some ways worse than the schools. In these summer camps, children are trained to be soldiers, a clear violation of international law.

By teaching the glorification of terrorism and violence, as well as the demonization of Jews, both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have ensured a generations of antisemitic terrorists who believe anything is justified in order for a so-called glorious return to Palestine, instead of a new generation of leaders who prioritize the prosperity of ordinary Palestinians over the total destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. Unfortunately, we have now witnessed the horrific results of this violent, anti semitic education on October 7th.  

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