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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The Hamas Threat to the West Is No Different from ISIS

Filed under: Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinians, Radical Islam

The outgoing head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, asserted at the Aspen Security Forum in July 2014 that the fall of Hamas in the Gaza Strip would probably lead to a worse alternative along the lines of the Islamic State (ISIS), which has been established in large areas of Syria and Iraq.1

ISIS members in Gaza

Flynn’s assessment is based on the implicit assumption that Hamas is more ideologically moderate than ISIS and does not pose a severe threat to U.S. allies in the Middle East or to the West in general.

Yet scrutiny of the stances taken by Hamas, along with its modes of warfare in the current round of conflict reveals the ideological and operational likeness between Hamas and ISIS.

From the start, Hamas directed its massive and ongoing missile offensive at civilian targets, seeking to inflict casualties as indiscriminately and on as large a scale as possible. Like ISIS, Hamas has demonstrated that its terror policy knows no moral bounds.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashal denied claims that Hamas’ missiles were intended to kill Israeli civilians; in his view, all the Jews living in “Palestine” are actually warriors rather than civilians. As Mashal said in a speech in Qatar on July 23, “They accused us [Hamas] of attacking civilians [Jews] and of continuing to attack civilians daily. Do not say that the settlers [the Jews] are civilians. They [the Jews] live on occupied land, which is not legal for them, they are armed, they kill and they cause destruction.”2

On July 25, Hamas’ official Al-Aqsa TV broadcast the weekly Friday sermon from the mosque in Deir al-Balah in Gaza, in which the imam called for the total annihilation of the Jews:

Our doctrine in fighting you [the Jews] is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive, because you are alien usurpers of the land and eternal mercenaries. You are the mercenaries of all times. Research the history, my brothers. Wherever the Jews lived, they spread corruption.3

Threats to subject the Jews of “Palestine” to genocide also occur in statements by the leaders of Hamas and of its military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades.4 For example, in an Al-Qassam Brigades propaganda video in May, the Jews were warned to hurry up and leave “Palestine” or their fate would be death.5

Hamas’s genocidal mindset is evident in its choice of targets for attack. At several points Hamas has expressed pride in aiming long-range rockets at strategic targets in Israel including the nuclear reactor in Dimona,6 the chemical plants in Haifa,7 and Ben-Gurion Airport.8 Operating under the authority and command of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad targeted Soreq nuclear reactor south of Tel Aviv.9 These attempted strikes, if successful, could have caused thousands and possibly tens of thousands of casualties. Hamas hardly appears different from ISIS, which decrees a policy of the genocide of infidels without any moral constraints.

Organizations ideologically associated with ISIS, such as the “Islamic State in Beit al-Maqdis,” have also taken part in the campaign against Israel.  Hamas, while holding the reins in Gaza, provides a comfortable haven to all the Palestinian terror organizations and allows al Qaeda and ISIS groups to operate freely so long as they do not defy its rule.

On the ideological level, there is no difference between how Hamas and ISIS view the West and the worldwide Islamic revolution. Hamas, too, calls for the founding of the Islamic caliphate with its capital in Jerusalem. This is meant to be part of the worldwide revolution whose ultimate objectives (in line with Muhammad’s prophecy) are the liberation of Spain (Andalus) and Rome (capital of the Vatican) and the implementation of global Islamic rule.10

The laws of Islam are being applied in Gaza, and Hamas members of parliament have already prepared a proposal for a law that would revise the existing criminal law to punish grave violations of Islamic law enabling executions including crucifixions; the amputation of limbs for thieves; and flogging for drinkers of alcohol.11

Hamas and ISIS differ on only two important issues: the alliance Hamas has forged with Shiite Iran, which has outraged Egypt and Saudi Arabia who view Iran as a strategic threat, and secondly, Hamas’ willingness to play the political and diplomatic game within its ideological boundaries. Unlike ISIS, Hamas is prepared to cooperate with human rights organizations in pursuit of its own objectives, particularly, at this stage, constraining the IDF in attacking targets in Gaza, which would grant Hamas a “license to kill” Israelis while hiding behind human shields.

In sum, the threat Hamas poses to the West is not fundamentally different from the threat posed by ISIS and its branches. Both organizations seek to overthrow the pro-Western regimes in the Middle East, eject Western influence from the region, and establish an Islamic caliphate to wage holy war (jihad) against the West and Christianity, which are considered the cardinal enemies of Islam. The rise of radical Islam in the Middle East, and the creation of the caliphate and other Islamic “emirates” (official and de facto) along with the toppling of existing governments, could gradually foster the conditions leading to a jihad front against Western interests and allies.

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