OpinionIsrael at War

De-Hamasification as a test of Israel’s moral clarity

In the face of Hamas’ evil, there can be no compromise. We must classify its atrocities not only as a crime against humanity but as a separate criminal category of evil.

Palestinians rally in Hebron in support of Hamas, Nov. 3, 2023. Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90.
Palestinians rally in Hebron in support of Hamas, Nov. 3, 2023. Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90.
Gabi Siboni
Gabi Siboni
Prof. Siboni was director of the military and strategic affairs program, and the cyber research program, of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) from 2006-2020, where he founded academic journals on these matters. He serves as a senior consultant to the IDF and other Israeli security organizations and the security industry. He holds a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in engineering from Tel Aviv University and a Ph.D. in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from Ben-Gurion University.
Kobi Michael
Kobi Michael
Prof. Kobi Michael is a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University and editor-in-chief of Strategic Assessment.

The events of Oct. 7 have confronted Israel with a new reality, and as a result the Jewish consciousness has returned to one of pogroms and annihilation.

What Jews in Israel and the Diaspora are going through as a result of Hamas’s atrocities can be compared to the sense of victimization and persecution of the Jews in exile, who were devoid of a state or protective force.

After a few days of identification with Israel and sincere participation in its grief, opinion makers in the West—intellectual elites, the media and politicians—have returned to the moral murkiness that feeds on antisemitism, blind identification with the Palestinians, political correctness and/or ideological and intellectual worship of the war against colonialism, or what they identify as such.

In the face of Hamas’s evil, there can be no compromise. Israel faces a harsh reality that requires moral clarity, determination and resilience. To ensure this, we must classify Hamas’s atrocities not only as a crime against humanity but as a separate criminal category of evil, much in the same way as happened after World War II and the Holocaust when an international court was established as part of the effort to de-nazify Germany. Under that law Nazi criminals were hunted to the four corners of the earth and prosecuted even in their old age.

One of the goals the Israeli government set for the war, which it conveyed as a political directive to the Israel Defense Forces and other security organizations, is the destruction of Hamas’s military and governmental capabilities. There is no room for casuistry. We must erase any public expression of Hamas ideology. There will be those who will continue to adhere to this ideology—and that cannot be prevented—but war must be declared on every manifestation of it.

Therefore, we must set as a goal the de-Hamasification of Gaza, and later on of Judea and Samaria. Just as it took many years to cleanse Germany of the remnants of Nazi rule, we must be ready and willing to undertake this long and arduous task. Achieving this goal will not be easy and will require a years-long military, political and legal struggle. But if we are resolute and unwavering we shall achieve our goal.

We should aspire to an internationally consensus, but even without such consensus, Israel should strive to accomplish this by itself.

A law must be passed to bring Hamas members and their collaborators to justice, just like Israel’s Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law. In a legislative and propaganda effort, Israel must act to bring all those who participated in Hamas’s Oct. 7 atrocities before a court of law. Others must be tried in absentia. Those found guilty should be sentenced to the maximum penalty under the law: death.

The magnitude of the disaster and the horror require a different legal and moral approach, one that will send a clear statement to Hamas, to Israel’s immediate surroundings and to the entire world that what happened on Oct. 7 cannot happen again. This process must serve as a message of Israel’s dedication to the sanctification of life and absolute determination to prosecute its war against the monsters who sanctify death.

Justice also requires that the conditions of Hamas operatives held in Israeli jails must be tightened to the minimum possible level allowed by accepted norms. Israel must understand that it is engaged in a war that necessitates that it take all possible measures to convey a deterrent message. Some will say that those who sanctify death are not afraid of it and are willing to devote themselves to it with messianic sacrifice. Still, most people desire life, and the evil must be deterred. Any hope of early release from Israeli prisons before a complete sentence is served must be quashed. Israel must be tough and prevent the release of Hamas operatives before their prison terms are over.

Hamas as a movement, its people, its ways and its actions cannot be judged and examined in the light of existing laws. If we desire life, then the movement and its spirit must be uprooted and eradicated. We must act with determination and in the spirit of the free world in its war against Nazism. It is not possible to eradicate an ideology, but it is possible to influence society as a whole. This is what happened in Germany, and this is what must happen with Palestinian society.

Without moral clarity on the Israeli side, this murderous ideological infrastructure will continue to penetrate the consciousness of broad segments of the Palestinian public and will lay the foundations for the same psychological infrastructure that gave rise to the Hamas monster.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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