By Gregg Roman
“Complete victory will be the only possible outcome of this battle. We will not only collapse Hamas military and governmental capabilities but ensure that they will not be able to revive themselves afterward.”
These were Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi’s remarks on Oct. 14, and they could not have been more correct. The Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom is a paradigm-shifting event that must result in the extirpation of Hamas.
Hanegbi admitted he had been wrong to think that Hamas had been deterred by previous Israeli operations. Hamas is a genocidal death cult that has reveled in the slaughter, rape, abduction and humiliation of innocent people.
Israel cannot live with such a group in power at its doorstep: It cannot accept Hamas as a “sovereign entity in the Gaza Strip.”
Hanegbi stated that “there is no way” Israel could negotiate with Hamas about the 150-200 hostages captured by the terrorist group. He also echoed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and former Defense Minister Benny Gantz: “Israel will not hold negotiations with an enemy that we have vowed to wipe from the face of the earth.”
Just last month, Hanegbi had sounded positive notes about present and future Israeli-Palestinian relations.
So much has changed.
Hamas’ founding charter calls for the genocide of the Jews. The document strongly evokes Hitlerian views on Jews and world history. Hamas has no interest in living side by side with Israel: It wants to destroy the Jewish state, kill its inhabitants and to connect what had been Israel to a global Islamic empire.
So when you see Black Lives Matter, college leftists and “progressive” congressional representatives making excuses for, or positively reveling in, Hamas’ murderous attacks on Oct. 7 — the bloodiest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust — it is important to keep that in mind.
A ground invasion of Gaza, which has been made into a warren of terrorist tunnels and where weapons are purposely placed among civilians, will be difficult for the Israel Defense Forces. But there is a precedent that Israeli leaders can hearken back to.
After Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists were thrown out of Jordan after waging war against King Hussein in (“Black”) September 1970, they made their home in southern Lebanon. There they built a state within a state (as they had done in Jordan) and were a significant factor in starting the Lebanese Civil War.
The PLO used southern Lebanon as a base for launching terrorist attacks into Israel. PLO terrorists abducted and murdered Israeli schoolchildren in Ma’alot in 1974 and hijacked a bus, murdering 38 passengers, including 13 children, in what became known as the Coastal Road Massacre in 1978. After that attack, Israel invaded Lebanon up to the Litani River before being forced to withdraw by the United Nations.
After an assassination attempt on Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon again. The goal was to eradicate the PLO’s power base. The PLO was forced to flee, and Israel held a buffer zone in southern Lebanon until 2000.
Yasser Arafat and his cronies slunk into exile in Tunis, where they were mostly forgotten until the Israeli government brought them back into the picture during the Oslo Accords negotiations.
This must be the precedent Israel has in mind. The goal must be, and has been articulated to be, the unconditional surrender and destruction of Hamas as a political and military entity and a complete, unequivocal Israeli victory over the terrorist group.
Anything less than a decisive Israeli victory would be a strategic victory for Hamas and the likes of Iran and Hezbollah, who would see Israel as a paper tiger. That would incentivize more horrific attacks. The United States, which has done an excellent job so far at signaling support for Israel, must continue to stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with Israel in the trying days, weeks and months ahead.
After the gleeful murder and ritualistic humiliation of Israelis, so evocative of past pogroms and the Holocaust, Israel must ignore any calls it might hear to sheath its sword. It must be motivated by two words, and two words alone: End Hamas.
Gregg Roman is the director of the Middle East Forum. He previously served as an official in the Israeli Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.