Do Hamas’s supporters in the West know what this organisation really stands for? The reality is that Hamas is no liberation movement in search of a Palestinian nation. Instead, it seeks the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic empire on its ruins. How do we know? Because senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar has said so:
Islamic and traditional views reject the notion of establishing an independent Palestinian state… In the past, there was no independent Palestinian state… This is a holy land. It is not the property of the Palestinians or the Arabs. This land is the property of all Muslims in all parts of the world… [Hence] our main goal is to establish a great Islamic state, be it pan-Arabic or pan-Islamic.
Understanding this makes it clear that the most recent bout of fighting — in which thousands of rockets have been fired and dozens killed — has little to do with freeing Palestinians from Israeli domination. It is inspired instead by the idea of freeing the Holy Land from Israel.
When Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, called off the first elections in 15 years last month — fearing that Hamas might seize control once again — Islamist groups swiftly played up the age-old conspiracy of a Jewish threat to the al-Aqsa mosque. First, Hamas drew thousands of rioters to Temple Mount. Then it fired a barrage of rockets at Israeli towns near Gaza under the false pretence of protecting the Jerusalem rioters.
Israel’s restrained response indicated a clear reluctance to escalate. The government used minimal force to restrain the Temple Mount rioters. But Hamas upped the ante and threatened a missile strike on Jerusalem.