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June 21, 2018 7:35 am

Telling the Truth About Hamas

avatar by Joshua S. Block

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A Hamas military drill in the Gaza Strip in March 2018. Photo: Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.

Over the past few weeks, Gazans have sent hundreds of terror kites across the border with Israel, causing over 400 fires, destroying millions of dollars’ worth of agriculture, killing wildlife, and endangering human lives — all on top of extensive environmental damage.

These are not a peaceful protest. Rather, they are an appalling and dangerous action, which should be condemned by all decent, level-headed people. These “kites” are a form of terrorism meant to frighten, injure, and kill Jews.

Last week, it was reported that Israeli police sappers exploded a balloon launched from Gaza carrying the message “I ♥ You.” On Monday, there were reports that Hamas squads were now using condoms with flammable liquids to attack the Jewish state instead of balloons or terror kites.

These terror kites and their successors mark a new phase in Hamas’ war against Israel.

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Over the years, Hamas has shown itself to be adaptable. Whether it was suicide bombings from the 1990s to early 2000s or rockets, kidnappings, and terror tunnels, the organization — which exercises complete military and political control over the Gaza Strip — has changed its methods of attacks against Israel. But it has never renounced its genocidal goal of the total annihilation of the Jewish state.

Israel, fortunately, also has been adaptable. To fight the rocket attacks, Israel developed the Iron Dome system, which has proven an effective tool against terror from the sky. And to fight the threat of attacks through terror tunnels, Israel has developed cutting-edge barrier technology.

Though Hamas has spent millions if not billions of dollars to replenish its arsenal and rebuild its tunnel structure since its 2014 war against the Jewish state, Israeli countermeasures have thus far blunted the threat that Hamas’ rockets and tunnels present.

Given the little leverage that it has left against Israel, Hamas sought to turn the tide by announcing that it would launch a “Great March of Return,” attempting to overwhelm Israel with sheer numbers. Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, could not have been clearer about his goal: “We will take down the border and tear out their hearts from their bodies.”

Hamas wanted people to forget that the misery of Gaza’s citizens is the direct result of their squandering of hundreds of millions in foreign aid on tunnels and rockets to attack Israel. They also wanted to win the public relations battle with Israel. By presenting the march as “peaceful,” but knowing that no nation would tolerate having its borders breached, Hamas knew that the Jewish state would have to fight back — and that the deaths of purportedly unarmed “protesters” would harm Israel’s image.

The cynical strategy worked and Israel found itself condemned by a UN General Assembly resolution earlier this month, even though even Hamas acknowledged that the vast majority of those killed by Israel were indeed members of the terror group itself. Several more of the fatalities were claimed by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The Kuwaiti-sponsored resolution at the UN, however, didn’t even mention Hamas. Aside from the public relations boost that Hamas sought and received, it appears that the violent riots may have been a distraction from an underlying plan to infiltrate and carry out terror attacks in Israel.

Even as the violent weekly riots were ongoing, Israel detected and destroyed terror tunnels. On April 15, Israel destroyed a tunnel described as the “longest and deepest” discovered to date. An army spokesman said at the time, “The violent disturbances are a cover for terror attempts above and below ground.”

Though the weekly Hamas-led violent riots have subsided somewhat during the past month, the fiery attacks carried out by terror kites and balloons have persisted and increased. According to the latest estimates, hundreds of fires have been ignited, consuming thousands of acres across farms, forests, and nature reserves in southern Israel.

And Israel continues to find terror tunnels. The latest was the first one detected that went underwater. The apparent goal of this tunnel was to allow Hamas “frogmen” to go out into the Mediterranean undetected and then land in Israel to carry out a terror attack.

Aside from the danger that the terror-kite squadrons could get out of control and endanger even more lives, these attacks could very well be cover for Hamas’ attempts to launch a daring and devastating terror attack into Israeli territory.

One thing, however, is certain: Hamas, in its efforts to fulfill the terms of its genocidal charter, will continue to inflame the region with riots, fires, and terrorism, in the same way that it has during the “Great March of Return.” The means may change, but the goal of Hamas remains the same.

The international community and all those who truly care about peace must unequivocally hold Hamas responsible for these cowardly acts of violence.

Joshua S. Block is CEO and President of The Israel Project. He is a former Clinton administration official and spokesman at the State Department’s USAID. He got his start on Capitol Hill in the office of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and was a spokesman for the Clinton/Gore and Gore/Lieberman presidential campaigns. Follow him on Twitter @JoshBlockDC.

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