In recent interviews recorded for the English-speaking world, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has sought to present a less radical side of Hamas, one that is unworthy of the "terrorist" moniker. The reality is that Hamas remains a terrorist organization, as the most recent interview clearly reveals.
During an interview with Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News posted on August 22nd, Meshaal, the political leader of Hamas who lives safe and secure in Qatar, rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's assertion that ISIS was like Hamas and Hamas like ISIS, stating, "We are not a religious, violent group," calling ISIS (also known as the Islamic State) a "totally different phenomenon." As he explained, "We are fighting against aggression in our land."
Why then did the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, send this tweet out on August 16? "We are continuing our struggle. ALLAH IS OUR GOAL, THE PROPHET IS OUR LEADER, JIHAD IS OUR WAY, AND DEATH FOR ALLAH IS OUR MOST EXALTED WISH." (Caps in the original.)
That sounds pretty religious and violent to me. In fact, it sounds totally religious and violent.
Not only so, but to anyone familiar with the infamous Hamas Charter, this mirrors the slogan found there, as noted on Israel's IDF Blog, which rightly stated that, "This recent tweet serves as a reminder of Hamas' radical Islamist nature so enshrined in the terror group's charter."
In the interview, Meshaal acknowledged for the first time Hamas' role in the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers, something that foes of Israel had been denying for the last two months.
He did specify that the operation was carried out by a lone Hamas cell rather than by the direct command of their leadership, but rather than renounce the cold-blooded murders for what they were, he sought to justify them: "We were not aware of this action taken by this group of Hamas members in advance," he said. "But we understand people are frustrated under the occupation and the oppression, and they take all kinds of action."
Yes, they take all kinds of actions, like kidnapping and killing three unarmed rabbinical students. As Meshaal explained, "Our view is that soldiers and settlers on the West Bank are aggressors, and they are illegally living in this occupied and stolen land. And the right to resist is the right of Palestinians."
So, since the boys lived in a West Bank settlement, the Hamas operatives had "the right" to kidnap and murder them.
That, Mr. Meshaal, is the language of terrorism, plain and simple, and it is no better than the attitude of ISIS.
Meshaal, to be sure, wanted everyone to know that Hamas does not target Israeli civilians (unless, of course, they happen to be unarmed Jewish teenagers in the backseat of a Hamas car?), claiming, "We do not target civilians, and we try most of the time to aim at military targets and Israeli bases." (Most of the time? Really?)
But, he explained, the weapons they have are not sophisticated enough to aim properly; leading him to request better weaponry so they could aim better. (I'm not making this up. Here's the exact quote: "We promise that if we get more precise weapons, we will only target military targets." He also made the preposterous claim that they try to warn Israeli civilians before firing at them.)
What then of the terror tunnels that Hamas spent so many millions of dollars building? What of the fact that some of them reportedly led directly to Israeli kindergartens? What of the large amounts of explosives found underground near these kindergartens, along with the equipment needed to carry out mass kidnapping? If these were not the plans of a terrorist organization, what can they be called?
And what can be said of an organization that executes its own people – at last count, more than 50 since July – for allegedly collaborating with the Israelis, rounding them up and then shooting them or hanging them publicly, without any trial or legal representation?
The truth is that Hamas remains a terrorist group, and the biggest difference between Hamas and ISIS is not so much one of religion or even violence but rather of purpose: Hamas wants to drive out (or exterminate) the Jews from Israel; ISIS wants to reestablish an Islamic Caliphate (and ultimately take over the world).
If Hamas really cares about the Palestinian people and really wants to distance itself from Islamic terror, then it should issue a new charter, renouncing its founding charter, formally recognizing Israel's right to its own state in former Palestine and calling for peaceful negotiations to determine borders and the nature of their cooperative relationship for the good of all living in the region.
Until then, as long as Hamas attempts to build terror tunnels, executes its own people, slaughters unarmed Israeli teens in cold blood, and reaffirms that "JIHAD IS OUR WAY, AND DEATH FOR ALLAH IS OUR MOST EXALTED WISH," they will rightly be recognized as terrorists.