Hamas is now a threat to America’s national security, and the United States must act accordingly.
The 1973 Yom Kippur War began as a surprise attack on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. On Oct. 7, 2023, history repeated itself.
On Saturday, Hamas, an Iran-backed terror group, launched a surprise attack by land, sea and air—including thousands of rocket strikes in the first 20 minutes. On the ground, Hamas terrorists punched through the border fence and drove through two checkpoints that Israel keeps open for humanitarian supplies. They attacked armored vehicles, and waged gun battles with police and Israeli reservists for hours. Neighborhoods became battlefields. Dozens of civilians and soldiers have been taken hostage. Updated reports say more than 800 Israeli civilians were murdered, at least 2,300 wounded and an unconfirmed number taken hostage. It was the largest Hamas combined-arms campaign in history.
Within hours of the invasion, Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, in a solemn televised address, concluded: “We are at war, and we will win.”
Saturday was Simchat Torah, a holy day of celebration, which translates as “joy of the Torah.” On this day, observant Jews do not work, drive, write, or use electronic devices. A perfect day to attack a quietly celebrating democratic nation.
Already, social media is polluted by those trying to justify the unprovoked barbarity of the surprise attack. Some said that Israel should give land for peace. This ignores that Hamas planned these attacks from the Gaza Strip, which Israel handed over in 2006 to make peace. Others talked of the “humiliation” of Gazans having to show their identification at the border fence just as millions do at border crossings and airports all over the world. Still others talk about self-determination—forgetting that Palestinians elected the leaders in Gaza who ordered these attacks.
And all this babble ignores the human view: wives who watched their husbands die outside their homes, children lost in rocket attacks, slain by machine gun rounds or taken captive. The suffering is immense.
The Abraham Accords, which brought peace between Israel and four Arab nations, offered historic hope. Finally, it seemed, Arab nations and Israel would work together to focus on improving the lives of ordinary Palestinians who, like the Israelis, want jobs, housing, health care and schools for their children.
But Iran had other plans, supplying vast amounts of rockets, mortars, guns and ammunition to the Gaza Strip by ship, plane and truck. (Some of those deadly cargoes were intercepted by the U.S. Navy and diverted to Ukraine.) Iran wanted war and Hamas complied.
Hamas has killed more Americans than any other terror group except for Al-Qaeda. It has access to underground warehouses of weapons, platoons of drones, squadrons of rockets, thousands of fighters, and training facilities to produce more. Hamas plans, promotes and encourages terrorists and then lionizes them as “martyrs.”
Its war with Israel could last longer than the Yom Kippur War.
If we tolerate extremism, it will erode the rock of security and ultimately destroy all U.S. efforts to stabilize the Middle East.
Hamas’s leader, Ismail Haniyeh, should no longer be received as a hero in Arab capitals. The U.S. Treasury must sanction Haniyeh and his loved ones and deprive them of travel and international payments.
It is also not normal that Hamas continues to be supported by a series of non-state initiatives and foundations, some of which are based in Europe.
This terrorist attack comes as the United States works to negotiate a historic deal that normalizes relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which could transform the Middle East. Perhaps that was the real target of this attack.
U.S. President Joe Biden expressed his support for Israel in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after Hamas’s assault. “We stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel,” Biden said in a statement.
This is important, but the United States must do more. When the smoke clears, it is likely that American citizens will be among the dead, wounded and captured. Hamas is now a threat to America’s national security and its attempts to bring peace to the region.
Originally published by the Jerusalem Strategic Tribune.
Image: The funeral of IDF Col. Jonathan Steinberg at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem on Oct. 8, 2023. Photo by Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90.