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July 28, 2015 / 12 Av, 5775
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Not the Moment for ‘Restraint’ Against Hamas

Nothing short of a stroke that will decapitate the leadership of this group will convince the Palestinians that Hamas has made a mistake.
Jonathan S. Tobin is Senior Online Editor of Commentary magazine.

Jonathan S. Tobin is Senior Online Editor of Commentary magazine.
Photo Credit: Commentarymagazine.com

In a sentiment that was echoed across the Israeli political spectrum, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed today that “Hamas will pay” for the murders of three Israeli teenagers kidnapped two weeks ago. What exactly Netanyahu meant by this phrase isn’t yet known. But given the track record of both Israel and the Palestinians and the efforts by President Obama to head off any tough action by Netanyahu, the leaders of the terror group may not exactly be shaking in their boots.

In the wake of the discovery of the victims’ bodies, anger against the Islamist terror group is widely felt and it is likely that Netanyahu’s government will have wide political leeway to hit Hamas hard, both in the West Bank and Gaza. But the question facing Israel is not so much whether to launch air strikes at Hamas headquarters or to round up even more of their supporters. Rather, it is whether if, after an interval of a week or two, Hamas is still functioning and is still part of the ruling coalition of the Palestinian Authority. If, after absorbing a pounding from the Israeli army, the Islamist movement’s leadership can claim that it not only shed more Jewish blood but also survived another Israeli counterattack, then despite all of the fearsome rhetoric coming out of Jerusalem, Hamas will have won.

President Obama’s condemnation of the deaths of the three Israeli teens was appropriate but it was accompanied by the standard call for “all sides to exercise restraint.” Which is to say that the U.S. is making it clear to the Israelis that anything beyond a minimal retaliation that will not make a difference will be condemned as worsening the situation. But, like all past efforts to enforce restraint on Israel, such counsel merely ensures that this tragedy will be played out again and again.

It must be understood that while the gruesome crime committed against three teenagers may damage Hamas’s already shaky reputation in the West, the willingness of the group to commit this atrocity may increase its popularity among Palestinians. In the last year, Hamas’s political stock has fallen as the cash shortfall caused by its rift with Iran and the closing of smuggling tunnels to Egypt undermined its ability to maintain local support. Where once it was seen as a viable alternative to the Fatah kleptocracy that rules over the West Bank, it is now seen as merely an Islamist version of the same corrupt model. Its willingness to maintain a rough cease-fire with Israel along the border with Gaza also robbed it of its mantle as the standard-bearer of the struggle against the Jewish state. It was for these reasons that it was forced to sign a unity agreement with Abbas’s Fatah.

Should a determined Israeli offensive take out some of its leadership and undermine its capacity to function, perhaps that decline will continue. But Hamas and its backers also know that violence has always been the main factor legitimizing Palestinian political parties. Should the kidnapping lead to another round of violence in which Hamas could portray itself as the true defender of Palestinian honor, then the incident could give it a new lease on life even as its members duck for cover.

That may incline some to counsel Israelis to avoid what in the past has been considered a “disproportionate” response to Palestinian provocations. Since Israeli attacks may actually undermine Abbas and boost Hamas, some (especially in the United States) may advise Netanyahu to make some noise but then get back to business as usual as quickly as possible lest a new counter-terror campaign serve to create a new generation of terrorists.

About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.


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47 Responses to “Not the Moment for ‘Restraint’ Against Hamas”

  1. Go my people finish what they started

  2. Go my people finish what they started

  3. Not the moment for restraint, Mr. Obama… They count on that from us – but we are very capable of surprising them. A red line has definitely been crossed with the murder of these 3 sons of Israel…

  4. Linda Plue says:

    Lop off the head of the snake and get it over with. They are already positioning their caliphate to bring your demise.

  5. Linda Plue says:

    Lop off the head of the snake and get it over with. They are already positioning their caliphate to bring your demise.

  6. DAMM OBAMA HUSEIN BIN LADEN IS A MUSLIM TERRORIST ING UP OUR COUNTRY..
    WE AS THE PEOPEL HAVE TRIED TO STOP THAT DAMM COOONE..
    WE HAVE ALL GUNS+SWORDS.
    BUT YET HE HAS TO MANNY PROTECT HIS ASS…

  7. DAMM OBAMA HUSEIN BIN LADEN IS A MUSLIM TERRORIST ING UP OUR COUNTRY..
    WE AS THE PEOPEL HAVE TRIED TO STOP THAT DAMM COOONE..
    WE HAVE ALL GUNS+SWORDS.
    BUT YET HE HAS TO MANNY PROTECT HIS ASS…

  8. Moshe Cohen says:

    The kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teens has outraged and rocked Israel. The following video which discusses Arab celebration of this horrific act must be seen by all:

    http://machonshilo.org/en/component/content/article/34-featured/734-whats-with-the-three-fingers-islamist-barbarism-as-a-societal-norm?lang=eng

  9. Easy for Obama to say “restraint” ….is he still supporting Hamas/PA terrorists?

  10. The world will learn of the rage of the Lion of Judea

  11. The world will learn of the rage of the Lion of Judea

  12. YES HE IS ARIEL SNACHULE

  13. YES HE IS ARIEL SNACHULE

  14. AND TO YOU CAROLE MASON.
    DONT KNOW WHERE THAT PICE OF IS PROBLEY HIDING

  15. AND TO YOU CAROLE MASON.
    DONT KNOW WHERE THAT PICE OF IS PROBLEY HIDING

  16. Israel do what you have to do with my prayers of Psalms 91 to all the JEWISH People. Amen

  17. Israel do what you have to do with my prayers of Psalms 91 to all the JEWISH People. Amen

  18. Uzi Kattan says:

    Restraint is not a Jewish way. The Jewish way is to crush the terrorists and wipe them out. We’re not dhimmis!

  19. very true. This is a moment for action.

  20. very true. This is a moment for action.

  21. Those cowardly, murdering monsters have, through this horror, called down the thunder on themselves with this despicable act…and Hell is coming for them. LION OF JUDAH, ROAR!!!

  22. Loren Renee says:

    When a terrorist commits an act dozing his house is not enough. The land itself, or his family land even if a big apartment should be returned to the people of Israel. It must be truly counterproductive.

  23. JoAnn Morris says:

    Bibi stand strong…do not listen to Obama. You know what is best for Israel.

  24. and one of the young men was an American

  25. jews are the worst ppl on earth…they blieve fake yhvh made them divine ppl

  26. Even if you cut the head off hamas ( I will not capitalize hamas) someone else will come in their place. We need to make them scared to attack us again. We need to hit hard and not care what the international community thinks. How many times do they attack us?

  27. Russ Pitler says:

    Jewish people don’t think they’re “divine.” If you’re going to put down a whole group of people, you should at least know what you’re talking about. Anti-semites “are [one of] the worst ppl on earth.”

  28. white je w s are not semites…palestinians are.yhvh prophets ssid god made jews special ppl..thats why noone likes ppl who think they better than others

  29. the other way around…you need to read history

  30. I am an American Citizen and I am very ashamed and embarrassed at the current administrations lack of concern about the 3 kidnapped and murdered youths, even though one was American. Where was the support from the international community during the 18 days these boys were missing? Now that they have been found dead the international community only gives lip service but sends their message to Israel to use restraint as usual. Abbas talks out of both sides of his mouth and complains to the UN, Hamas runs their mouth then goes and hides but keeps shooting rockets into Israel. I have a solution to the problem? Since the Palestinians are way behind on paying their water and electric bills, turn their water and electric off until they surrender the kidnappers/murderers. Then Abbas will really have something to complain to his buddies at the U.N.

  31. God can arrange that. Hamas will know the wrath of an angry God.

  32. Pam Scott says:

    Hard to take your comment seriously, on the worth of others, when you can’t spell at a fifth grade level. And when you do learn to read, if you learn, you will find out that The God of the Torah and the Bible is very real.

  33. Pam Scott says:

    Hard to take your comment seriously, on the worth of others, when you can’t spell at a fifth grade level. And when you do learn to read, if you learn, you will find out that The God of the Torah and the Bible is very real.

  34. Mike Stewart says:

    Our government has never been so poorly led.

  35. Mike Stewart says:

    Our government has never been so poorly led.

  36. Mike Stewart says:

    Our government has never been so poorly led.

  37. Ben II says:

    Israel has already waited too long. I doubt they will do anything real or substantial to the Islamic terrorist nazis. Netanyahu is a pathetic joke and Shimon Peres and the Knesset traitors w no credibility.

  38. Ben II says:

    Israel has already waited too long. I doubt they will do anything real or substantial to the Islamic terrorist nazis. Netanyahu is a pathetic joke and Shimon Peres and the Knesset traitors w no credibility.

  39. Ben II says:

    Israel has already waited too long. I doubt they will do anything real or substantial to the Islamic terrorist nazis. Netanyahu is a pathetic joke and Shimon Peres and the Knesset traitors w no credibility.

  40. Since when has either side showed restraint? I don’t mean to start a riot but on the outside this seems constant.

  41. Morry Barak says:

    Bull, they’ve killed hamass leaders for years, and they’ve grown. WAR, WWII style!

  42. restraint my foot give them all you have

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