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Sunday, October 15, 2023

What Hamas Was Really Out To Do

After the Hamas atrocities, experts scurried to explain why it had embraced “ISIS tactics”. Many saw the attacks purely as a way of sabotaging Israel’s talks with Saudi Arabia. Others argued that Hamas had tried for a small attack that escalated when Israel failed to promptly respond. Some express bafflement at what Hamas could have hoped to gain from such an attack.

The experts as usual are wrong because they don’t understand Hamas. And their ignorance stems from their inability to grasp Islamic terrorism because they don’t understand Islam.

Hamas, like the PLO and other Islamic terrorist groups, had spent much of its existence promising to do exactly what it tried to do, invade Israel, and seize and occupy its territory, taking Jewish villages and towns by stages over the years until one day besieging Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority, funded by American taxpayers, still airs Arafat’s old speeches in which he calls for “millions of martyrs marching to Jerusalem”. Americans and Israelis refused to take such rhetoric seriously. The cost was over 1,200 lives when Hamas tried to carry it out.

In operational terms, Hamas transitioned from a terrorist organization to a guerrilla force like ISIS or Hezbollah. Israel had been conditioned to expect small hit and run raids. It was not expecting an actual invasion. A hit and run raid with this many Jihadists makes no sense.

This wasn’t a hit and run raid.

Israeli military leaders are now saying that Hamas had not come just to attack, but to occupy and take over the Jewish communities that it invaded. It brought heavy firepower and some of its best trained Jihadists to not just attack, but to hold, fortify and annex those areas.

What the world witnessed was mostly the first stage of a three stage plan. In the second stage, Hamas Jihadists would have secured the captured communities while in the third stage, Hamas civilians, especially women and children, would have been brought in to occupy them. The Israeli military would have had to choose between firing on enemy civilians crossing the border or trying to fight Hamas once it was operating from behind its own human shields.

The captured villages would have been functionally annexed. Even if Israel had recaptured them, it would then have to expel the Muslim civilians now living inside them. Human rights groups and international pressure might have prevented Israel from taking such a step.

Fortunately Hamas never reached the third stage of its plan. Israel managed to destroy the invaders before they were able to fortify themselves and complete the second stage.

But there is every reason to think that Hamas or other Islamic jihadists will try it again.

The Hamas attacks were predictable when viewed in the context of Israel’s history and of the tactics of Islamic groups like ISIS, the Taliban, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Qaeda and ISIS affiliates in Mali, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Houthis in Yemen, to name just a few.

Terrorism is only the first stage of Islamic warfare. Once they have the numbers and the firepower, Islamists transition to guerrilla warfare, seizing and holding territory that they then expand outward from, killing and driving away non-Muslims and unaffiliated Muslims.

The Hamas attacks followed that same strategy. Even the vicious cruelty, the rapes, the beheadings, the torture and the dead children, are part of the standard Islamic playbook. Beyond gratifying their followers and gaining new recruits, atrocities are used to drive away the non-Muslim populations so that Muslim populations can be brought in to replace them. .

Terror was used to depopulate Kashmir of Hindus. The Islamic crimes included raping and sawing a Hindu teacher in half while she was still alive. ISIS employed similar tactics as do the Islamic Jihadis operating in Africa. Rape and the murder of children are used to panic non-Muslims into fleeing and leaving the area to be colonized and occupied by Muslims.

Muslims had used these same tactics against Jews before the State of Israel was reborn. During the Hebron Massacre in 1929, Muslims tortured, killed and mutilated women and children to destroy the Jewish community in the historic city. During Israel’s War of Independence, Muslim forces, similar to those deployed by Hamas, tried to overrun Jewish communities and butcher their inhabitants. The difference is that the typical ‘kibbutz’ back then was heavily fortified and its residents were able to hold out even against superior numbers.

While some of the ‘kibbutzim’ targeted by Hamash held out this time around, others were unprepared for an attack of this kind. Their limited security forces were overwhelmed by superior manpower once the Hamas terrorists were able to get past their security barriers. What would not have worked against a kibbutz in 1948 has succeeded tragically well in 2023.

What went wrong in Israel was not just an intelligence failure, but a conceptual failure.

Hamas views itself as a successor to the Arab Muslim forces that had attacked Jews in the 20’s and 30s, not to mention the 40s, using these same tactics. Its jihadist force is known as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades after a Muslim cleric who had tried to conduct his holy wars in Syria and Libya, before coming to Israel where his ‘Black Hand’ targeted Jewish communities.

Israel, like America, treated the actions of terrorists as relevant, but their ideological worldview as irrelevant, even though the only way to predict their actions is by understanding what they believe. This schizophrenic approach to terrorism is necessary to avoid dealing with the Islamic beliefs that motivate the Jihadists to do what they do. Every time government officials around the world claim that the terrorists have nothing to do with Islam, they are blinding themselves.

The false notions that there are “moderate” and “extremist” Islamic terrorists or that the various terrorist groups are just reacting to something we did, rather than advancing their beliefs, has made it impossible for nations to accurately predict future Islamic attacks.

Modern counterterrorism is reactive, training on what the terrorists are doing now, and learning to prevent it, with no ability to anticipate when the terrorists change their tactics, as Al Qaeda did when it switched from centrally planned long-range attacks to ‘lone wolf’ attacks locally. These transformations can only be anticipated by understanding the purpose of Islamic warfare.

The Jihad is a colonial settler project to subjugate the world under Islamic law. Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar said last year that “we are not talking about liberating our land alone… the entire 510 million square kilometers of Planet Earth will come under [a system] where there is no injustice, no oppression, no treachery, no Zionism, no treacherous Christianity.” Seizing Israel is just another stage toward seizing all 510 million kilometers.

Experts fail to comprehend Islamic terrorism because rather than understanding how Jihadists think, they project their own tendency toward unnecessary geopolitical complexity onto them. Unable to admit that the only way to meet ruthless armed force is with ruthless armed force, they overthink everything and assume that Islamic terrorists want us to ‘react to them’.

Islamic terrorists cannot be trusted when it comes to negotiations, but they should be taken at their word when they describe what their ultimate goals are. Hamas has been telling us all along what its goals are. Over the last 5 years, it proposed a ‘March of Return’, urged Gazans to cut through the border fence and promised that they would conquer Israel and seize Jerusalem.

The failure to take Hamas at its word about its intentions is what led to this nightmare.

Israel’s political and military leadership needs to fundamentally reorient its thinking. Hamas partially succeeded in its invasion. That means that if left to control Gaza, it will do it again. The success it achieved will spur a wave of recruits and money. Already the propaganda images have allowed Hamas to temporarily eclipse ISIS as the leading jihadist organization in the world.

Hamas has always made its intentions clear. It is out to mobilize all of Israel’s Arab Muslim population and those of the surrounding countries to provide it with money and manpower to attack, invade and destroy Israel. After long years of shelling, it launched a first major invasion to depopulate and then seize Jewish communities within range of the Gaza border.

Some Jewish communities have now been depopulated. While some residents will rebuild, others will leave. Hamas is celebrating such departures as a validation of its strategy that with enough terror all the Jews of Israel will leave the land. And the Muslims will take over.

Hamas leaders gambled that hiding behind civilians would allow them to survive any Israeli retaliation. After enough bombs have been dropped on empty buildings and the media accuses Israel of devastating Gaza and killing civilians, Biden will threaten to cut off support. Previous Israeli retaliations have consistently played out this way and this one may too unless a united Israel is willing to defy the Biden administration and finish the job. Otherwise Israel should anticipate that Hamas will rebuild bigger and stronger than ever with more wealth and a flood of new recruits motivated by tangible evidence of what horrors they can accomplish. The hostages will be traded for terrorists once family members level enough pressure on the government. And Hamas will resume planning for another invasion. And this one may succeed.

The experts will go on getting it wrong because they don’t understand Islam. And without understanding an enemy’s worldview and beliefs, predicting their actions is very difficult.

Intelligence failures are rooted in a materialistic reading of the enemy. Israel was nearly destroyed 50 years ago during the surprise attack of the Yom Kippur War because its intelligence head was convinced that the timing made no tactical sense. And he was right. But the Egyptian invaders prioritized attacking on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

The Yom Kippur War timetable may have made no secular strategic sense, but it made sense to those who understand that the purpose of Islamic warfare is to assert the supremacy of Islam over all other religions. A mandate embodied by the Islamic cry of, “Allahu Akbar”.

From a secular strategic perspective, the Hamas invasion baffles experts, but scheduled on the day of Simchat Torah, the joyous conclusion of the Jewish High Holy Days, it makes perfect sense. It was not a terrorist attack, but an invasion meant to fulfill the Islamic mission of reconquering Israel, driving out the Jews and colonizing their towns and cities, killing most, taking captives for ransom, and others as slaves, which is the entire purpose of Hamas.

And of every Islamic terrorist group operating in and around Israel.

The next time, Hamas will try to reach its third stage, to fortify, occupy and annex communities within Israel. And then the enemy will no longer be ‘out there’, but beginning its conquest of Israel, seeking to link up with Arab Muslim towns and villages for the final campaign of Jihad.

Unless Israel finishes Hamas now, it will be fighting Hamas deep inside the Jewish State.

Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine.

Thank you for reading.


  1. Anonymous15/10/23

    If Hamas is driven by Islam, why trust the civilians who follow the same rotten tenets? I mean, this is simple big thumb logic, isn't it Daniel? Bottom line: you have muslims, you have problems. You have a lot of muslims, you have a lot of problems.

  2. what about judea and samaria? i don't trust there- are they jihadist as well?



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