Hamas bombards Israel with rockets to end the “occupation.”
“The Palestinians are only resisting occupation” is a favorite talking point of apologists for Palestinian terrorism, and Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population are no exception. This fallacy was proven when Israel evacuated all troops and civilians from Gaza in 2005 and was rewarded with increased terrorism instead of peace. Still, Palestinians and their advocates maintain that “the occupation” is the primary motivation for terrorism against Israel.
Unlike Mahmoud Abbas, who makes moderate statements when he wants to win public relations points and extreme ones when speaking to his constituents, the message of Hamas is unequivocal and consistent. As stated in the organization’s covenant, the Islamic Resistance Movement “strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine” and “there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad.”
The head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshal, spoke plainly during a 2012 rally in Gaza:
Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on any inch of the land...We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation, and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel.5
While Israelis lament the loss of innocent Palestinian lives, Hamas rejoices whenever Israelis are murdered. For example, on July 13, 2014, Hamas released a music video celebrating the bombing of an Israeli school bus that killed 16-year-old Daniel Viflic.6
This is not the behavior of resistance fighters grudgingly forced to take up arms in defense of their homes and families but a culture of martyrdom in which killing the enemy’s children is praised and admired.
Palestinian Christians in the territories live under similar conditions, and yet they do not engage in terrorism or call for Israel’s destruction. This is also true of many other suffering peoples living in far more difficult circumstances than the Palestinians. The intentional murder of civilians is a horrendous abuse of human rights and a war crime; Palestinians are the only people who believe terrorism is a legitimate tactic.
If Hamas were interested in ending the “occupation,” it would join rather than oppose peace negotiations. Peace, however, has never been the goal of Hamas. The group’s true objective is expressed in the title of a book written by the political adviser to then-Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas: “The End of the Jewish State: Just a Matter of Time.”