Hamas & Iran: enemies of peace
The deadly unprovoked cross-border attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7th is just one of several attempts by the terror organization that rules Gaza to sabotage the hopes for peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The bloody history of Hamas that is backed by Iran is the key to understanding the tragic events that we are now seeing in the news.
In 1993, Israel signed onto the Oslo Accords that created the Palestinian Authority. As a result, Israel withdrew from the major cities of the West Bank. It was a time of great euphoria, and the hopes for a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians were real.
In both 2000 and 2008, Israel agreed to two generous offers for peace through the two-state solution. Unfortunately, Palestinian leaders rejected both offers.
It was also during this period that the government of Iran and their Palestinian terror proxies did everything possible to literally blow up the hopes for peace.
Between 1993 and 2008, Palestinian terror organizations, primarily Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, carried out 168 suicide bombings on Israeli buses, in restaurants and shopping malls. These suicide bombings, and other terror attacks, killed more than 1,000 Israeli civilians and wounded many thousands more.
Although Hamas and Islamic Jihad provided the hateful ideology and the suicide bombers, it was Iran that provided the financial means and technical support to commit mass murder and destroy the hopes for peace.
Iran’s Middle East strategy calls for supporting the “Axis of Resistance.” The goal is to surround Israel with terror proxy forces like Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran uses these proxies for “resistance” to the very existence of Israel.
Gaza is an important part of Iran’s strategy.
When Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, there was an agreement signed between Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and the European Union on open borders between Gaza, Egypt and Israel.
Here was an opportunity for peace and prosperity for the people of Gaza. In fact, there was an opportunity for Gaza to become “the Singapore of the Mediterranean.”
Everyone was happy with the agreement except Hamas and their backers in Iran.
In 2007, Hamas took over control of Gaza by violently expelling the Palestinian Authority. It then turned Gaza into an enemy territory by firing thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians and digging terror tunnels under the border.
Since 2007, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have fired more than 30,000 rockets at Israeli civilians.
That’s why in 2007 Israel put in place a naval blockade to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. And to be clear, this was a naval blockade and not a military siege, because every day there were tons of food, clothing, medicine and humanitarian goods that came into Gaza through the Israeli border crossings.
The tragic events we witnessed on October 7th were another obscene expression of the longtime obsession of Hamas and Iran with the destruction of Israel.
The timing of the attack was not coincidental. Many Middle East experts have claimed that the attack was motivated by the government of Iran to use Hamas to sabotage the hopes for a peace deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
By massacring over 1,400 innocent Israeli men, women and children and taking 199 hostages, the Hamas leadership has brought even more suffering to the peoples of Israel and Gaza.
To be clear, the attack on October 7th was not just another “cycle of violence” as some analysts claim in the media. This is part of a war for the destruction of Israel instigated and perpetrated by Hamas with the support of the government of Iran. Israel is defending itself against this war of destruction.
Now is the time to empower those who seek peace and coexistence and not make excuses for groups like Hamas that pursue war and destruction. At the end of the day, Arabs and Jews are both children of Abraham. Both peoples deserve to live in peace, safety and dignity.
To achieve that goal, now is the time for moral clarity. You can be pro-Palestinian and pro-peace. You can be pro-Israel and pro-peace, but you cannot be pro-peace and pro-Hamas.
This article was originally published in the South Bend Tribune and The Observer.
Community Relations Director