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Hamas won

Hamas has won the war it started on Oct. 7.

How could I possibly say this? Thousands of Hamas fighters have been killed. An undetermined number of its terror tunnels have been destroyed. Israel has located all or most of its other tunnels and has plans to destroy them. Israel has destroyed significant quantities of Hamas’ weaponry, and significant numbers of Hamas’ military commanders have been killed. Israel is pursuing the rest of them aggressively. Hamas’ power to invade Israel has been wiped out.

So, when I say Hamas won, I don’t refer to its concrete losses on the battlefield.

Beyond Hamas’ concrete losses, Hamas has suffered other grievous losses. Its mentality has been undermined, as it thought it had Israel on the run. Its reputation for bloodthirsty savagery has been confirmed. The danger to Israel — and to Palestinians — from Hamas is now widely understood, except, of course, by the bigots who defend Hamas’ savagery.

So, when I say Hamas won, I do not refer to its military losses or to its reputation. Nor do I refer to its concrete wins that are known only too well:

• The murder of 1,200 Israeli lives, the kidnapping of 240 Israeli hostages and the wounding of thousands of more Israelis on Oct. 7.

• The loss of Israeli soldiers in battle, a loss that itself is far larger than the number of soldiers lost, for each loss confirms for hundreds of thousands of more Israeli soldiers the dangers they face.

• The long (lifelong?) mental horrors that released hostages face; and the painful rehabilitation that soldiers and civilians wounded by Hamas face — that is, if they can be rehabilitated; many face lifelong physical injuries.

• The disruption of the Israel-Saudi Arabia rapprochement.

• The “inspiration” that Hamas’ Oct. 7 has given Hezbollah.

So, if Hamas’ losses are many and grievous, and if its wins are history, what do I mean by, “Hamas won?”

I mean this:

In coercing Israel to defend itself, and not only that, but to defend itself on a scale and ferocity that even Hamas itself never imagined, Israel has, out of necessity of self-defense, laid the seeds of hatred of Israel in countless Gazans for a long time to come.

The mind games that Hamas plays with the hostages are but a microcosm of the bigger mind game that Hamas plays. With the hostages, Hamas puts Israel, and Israelis, in the position of choosing between defending itself in war and harming itself in war so as to free hostages, whose suffering is unimaginable. Hamas pits Israelis against Israelis. Most Israelis want to prosecute the war to destroy Hamas, while the families of the hostages want Israel to focus on their freedom, even if it means compromising the pursuit of Hamas.

Not to mention, Hamas puts Israel in the position of mistakenly killing Israel’s hostages, deepening the pain of this war searingly.

Perversely brilliant as the wicked hostage strategy of Hamas is, it is actually Hamas’ smaller game. We know how enormous and agonizing this small game is. It is evil incarnate.

The big game is this: Hamas forces Israel to attack innocent Gazans.

Hamas builds no bomb shelters. Hamas stations its fighters among civilian homes. Hamas builds command centers in and underneath hospitals, schools and other civilian locations. 

We can all see this.

The images of suffering in Gaza touch every Jew I know. The death of innocents in Gaza is not something any Jew I know wants. It is something every Jew I know is deeply pained by. That is the wickedness of the choice that Hamas has foisted on Israel and, by extension, on the Jewish people: the choice between surviving as a Jewish state, with its unavoidable killing of innocents in the pursuit of the wicked, and between halting the pursuit of the wicked to preserve the innocent, the citizens of Israel.

That is Part I of Hamas’ win: this choice, grounded in evil, foisted on Israel.

It is only Part I because, of course, Israel is going to choose to survive. Israel will not commit national suicide to protect the innocent Gazans whom Hamas should have protected all along by building a viable, thriving, Palestinian state, instead of a terror state and vast terror tunnel network.

Given that Israel must pursue Hamas, it must also play into Hamas’ evil plan for harming innocent Gazans. Yes, this is by design — Hamas’ design. Otherwise, Hamas would not fight from within homes and hospitals, and would build bomb shelters for Palestinians.

Israel’s pursuit of Hamas will come home to haunt Israel for years to come. Many Gazans will remember their suffering at the hands of Israel, not their status as pawns in Hamas’ evil scheme, because many Gazans already have been educated to hate Israel and Israelis. Countless Gazans have turned “Israel” into a curse word; for evidence, look no further than the murders, beheadings, rapes, burnings and kidnappings of Oct. 7. Hamas has commanded the loyalty of tens of thousands of Gazans; for evidence, look no further than how long it is taking Israel to root them all out.

Yes, on the scale of evil that Hamas constructed, Hamas won.

Even if, as I fervently hope, every Hamas terrorist is wiped out, Hamas won.

Copyright © 2023 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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IJN Executive Editor | [email protected]

One thought on “Hamas won

  1. Rubin

    It is a Pyrrhic victory at best, a self own, stepping on the proverbial rake. That’s what “winning” is for HAMA$. Strength is what matters in the ME. Weakness is provocation.


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