How Israel Is Destroying Hamas, and Why the U.S. Must Pressure Qatar

Last week, the IDF released photos of its soldiers holding up an Israeli flag in what used to be the Gaza parliament building. Later, the building was destroyed. Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports have been circulating over the weekend of a possible deal to release some hostages in exchange for a five-day ceasefire. Meir Ben-Shabbat assesses these developments:

It is crucial that Hamas’s governing facilities not only be seized but also completely destroyed after being cleared. This is the way to disabuse Hamas of its hope that Gaza will return to the days before October 7. This must be done not only through military activity. Israel must destroy the Kerem Shalom and Erez border crossings, so as to make it clear there will never be a return to the situation in which Palestinians can enter Israel. . . .

The immediate goal of Hamas is to have Israel stop fighting while creating a channel that allows the terrorist organization to maximize its gains from the hostages it holds. Hamas is pinning its hopes on Qatari mediation efforts, internal pressure in Israel on this issue, and international pressure on Israel regarding humanitarian issues. As expected, with the assistance of Qatar—whose main interest is to ensure Hamas’s survival—Hamas has put out the bait and started waving with their assets to achieve their goals.

Accordingly, if Israel wants to get more opportunities to secure the hostages while lowering the price of a deal and increasing its likelihood, it is crucial to continue with the military campaign while ratcheting up pressure on Qatar. . . . It is time to change the policy towards Qatar by demanding that the United States act against it not only with “carrots” but also with “sticks,” [by threatening] to reconsider its relationship with the sheikhdom.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security, Qatar


Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion