Is Hamas Only in Gaza?
Israel has set its primary objective in the current war as the elimination of Hamas as a military threat and a political entity in Gaza. But vanquishing Hamas in Gaza will not end the threat of its genocidal ideology as its tentacles stretch far beyond Gaza. In fact, its ideological center and active supplemental arena is Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city.
Hamas employs a precise methodology that spreads its ideology and gains new terrorist recruits. This is an old pattern that imitates the practice of the Muslim Brotherhood which has long been the incubators of radical Islamic movements across the Middle East and beyond, including Hamas. The Muslim Brotherhood, now almost a century old, wins the hearts and minds of Arabs by providing legitimate social and cultural services and using that to gain entry into general society.
For example, Hamas won the Gaza legislative elections in 2006, one year after Israel withdrew all its soldiers and communities from Gaza and handed control to the Palestinian Authority. Hamas handily defeated the PA’s Fatah Party in the first (and only) elections, and a year later violently expelled Fatah from the Gaza Strip. Western media outlets reported that Hamas’s 2006 campaign made little reference to its charter that explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel and the extermination of all Jews. Instead, Hamas promised to crack down on crime, clean up the corruption that epitomized the Palestinian Authority’s governance in Gaza, and improve social services and economic opportunity for its beleaguered population. It was a winning formula. Subsequently, it did nothing to end corruption or improve social services, and the only economic opportunity it provided was enlisting tens of thousands of Gazans to its terror army.
What Hamas did accomplish by seizing control of the economy of Gaza was to provide a “legitimate” source of income for some workers and serve as a breeding ground as terrorists for others. Hamas does sponsor various organizations and associations that ostensibly facilitate daily life, such as religion, education, sports, culture, welfare, economic aid, leisure, and charity. This modus operandum has been duplicated across the Middle East and has existed for years in Jerusalem, right under the eyes of the Israeli government which, to date, has been ineffectual in countering it. As such, Hamas’s influence is growing in Israel’s capital with a corresponding increase in terrorist activities.
How Are They Funded?
In Jerusalem, many of these Hamas-affiliated groups are funded by Turkey and Qatar, which remain the primary foreign hosts for Hamas entities. For example, a group called Bureij Al-Laklak is funded from Turkey, operates sports clubs in Jerusalem, and incites to terror. It has disseminated a board game to children who compete to see who can murder the most Israeli soldiers. TIKA, financed directly from the office of Turkish President Recep Erdogan, provides financial assistance as a cover for its nefarious activities; it was expelled in 2018, and now has returned.
Kulana Maryam, an educational group in theory, recruits anti-Israel Arab Christians. Miratana provides educational services. None of these organizations’ activities are innocuous. Through them Hamas maintains a significant presence in Jerusalem, spreads its ideology, and recruits future terrorists. There are more than 300 Arab non-profit organizations in Jerusalem, some with tax exemption, which function with minimal monitoring by the Israeli government, and many of them allegedly funnel money directly to Hamas for the perpetration of terror acts.
Duplicating the Gaza Model
The methodology Hamas used in Gaza to win over the civilian population is the same Hamas is using today in Jerusalem to win over the 350,000 Arab residents of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem’s Arabs have thus become more and more radicalized and terror has increased. There are numerous Arab public and private schools that incite to terror through their curriculum. Much, if not most, of the terrorism in Jerusalem in the last several years has been perpetrated by young people who are nurtured in these organizations, imbued with hatred of Israel and the Jewish people, and affiliate with Hamas. The so-called “lone wolves” who suddenly decide to shoot, stab or ram innocent Jewish civilians are most often the products of these sports clubs and social associations.
Israeli law is currently ill-equipped to deal with these threats. The malevolent activities that take place are shielded by apparently legitimate cultural, educational, and charitable endeavors. The law must be amended to allow the authorities free rein to shutter these groups whose true purpose is to support terror and destroy the State of Israel.
Terrorist organizations across the world exploit the liberties and freedoms of democracies to bankroll their cruel operations, promote their evil agendas, and recruit the next generation of terrorists. They have discovered loopholes in the laws of many nations that allow them to slide under the radar and continue to wreak havoc across the world. That cannot continue, certainly not in Israel.
Israel must learn the same lesson and uproot terror at its very source. Defeating Hamas in Gaza will not end Hamas’ activities. Its branches are clearly visible in Jerusalem. Those must be cut off as they pose an existential threat to Israel’s capital and its citizens.
How to Confront These Threats?
The Jerusalem Center for Applied Policy (JCAP) proposes the following recommendations:
- Israel must shutter private Arab schools in Jerusalem whose curriculum incites to terror.
- Israel must closely monitor the curricula in Jerusalem’s government-funded schools in the Arab sector, withhold funding and fire educators and principals guilty of incitement and encouragement of terror.
- Schoolbooks need to be more closely monitored and, if don’t recognize Israel, must be banned from all schools.
- Inflammatory activities of the religious institutions, the imams, and many of the non-profits must be stopped and the guilty sent behind bars or expelled. Funding must be stopped.
- Terror sponsors and supporters must be stripped of their Israeli citizenship or Jerusalem residency.
- Moderate elements in the Arab sector should be cultivated as the next generation of leaders.
- Surviving perpetrators of terror should spend the rest of their lives behind bars and their families expelled from Israel, after their homes have been demolished.
Hamas is already in Jerusalem. Now is the time to deal with that ruthless terror organization, and not just in Gaza.
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