As I see article after article, tweet after tweet, and video after video referring to Hamas as freedom fighters involved in anti-colonial resistance, I am struck with the devastating weight of this lie. It is an insult to Palestinians to refer to these terrorists as our freedom fighters.
Jewish people are currently enduring horrors not seen since the Holocaust. And, like the Nazis, Hamas does not view Jewish people as human beings. According to their charter, every Jew must be eradicated from this earth. Their goal is not the genocide of Jewish people in Israel, their goal is the genocide of all Jewish people, period.
And to add salt to open wounds, after these massacres were posted all over social media, celebrations erupted worldwide. Jubilant crowds cheered in every major city in the West. Hamas declared the murder of more than a thousand people to be a “historic achievement” “illustrating the most magnificent images of heroism and sacrifice”.
The horrors Hamas have unleashed upon the people of Israel is all in the name of Palestinian resistance. But that is a lie. Palestinians, especially those in Gaza, are the first victims of Hamas. Hamas has long used the Gazan people as human shields. They position rocket launchers from the homes, schools, and hospitals of the Gazan people. Missiles that, more often than not, end up detonating on Gazan soil and claiming Gazan lives. Hamas steals from the Gazan people and uses the money to build tunnels to attack Israel or to build themselves mansions.
But no one under their tyrannical rule dares to criticise. As one Palestinian human rights activist, Bassem Eid put it, “People are killed, people are slaughtered, people tortured, people disappeared, and no one can speak a word about what is going on in the Gaza Strip." Hamas doesn’t care about the safety and prosperity of Gazans. They care about killing Jews. To call them Palestinian freedom fighters is an insult to reality.
My father was born and raised in Gaza and lived there until he went to Egypt to attend university. Although he left Egypt for San Francisco and then later moved to Montreal, my dad always carried Gaza in his heart. When I was born, he named me Filistine - the Arabic word for Palestine; he wanted his homeland to continue to live through me. He had a Facebook page and a YouTube channel dedicated to sharing images and videos of Gaza before it was overrun with terrorists. There is nothing he hated more than Hamas.
“Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are the ugly face of the Palestinian struggle everywhere,” he wrote in a post shortly before he died. He hated that Hamas had dominated the conversation and positioned themselves as the face of Gaza.
He would not be surprised to see the massacres of families, of babies, of the elderly by Hamas because he knew their brutality already. Like many people from Gaza, my father knew that if you spoke up against their tyrannical oppressors, you were dealt with swiftly, and your family too, for good measure.
Hamas has never shied away from violence. To throw all Gazans in the same bucket as Hamas is a grave insult - one that both sides of the political spectrum are committing.
There are those who are determined to conflate Gazans, or even all Palestinians, with Hamas. Both sides of the political spectrum, and Hamas itself, benefit from that conflation, so they all perpetuate it.
Those on one side do so and then deem them all the oppressed. They are the minority group: They are all the victims, they are all the besieged.
Hamas is happy with this misguided and confused perspective because it allows it to hide under the umbrella of “the oppressed” as it positions itself as one and the same as the people of Gaza. Its operatives would of course prefer to be seen as freedom fighters rather than as terrorists.
It serves those on the opposite side of the political spectrum to consider all Palestinians to be Hamas because that way they can justify flattening all of Gaza. Cutting power and water to civilians is unacceptable, and against international law, but cutting water and electricity to terrorists is justified.
It makes it easier to see the world in black and white because it keeps things as clean as a Disney movie.
The truth is, Hamas is not Gaza and Gaza is not Hamas. Gaza is an area of land with people who are trying to do the best that they can to survive under abysmal circumstances.
Hamas, on the other hand, is a genocidal terrorist group not unlike Al-Qaeda or Islamic State.
They are all three peas in a pod and must be recognised as such. All three are Islamist terrorist groups that follow genocidal hadith (a report of what the Prophet Muhammad said or approved) like the one cited in Hamas’s charter: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
Asking why the Palestinians don’t fight back is like asking why slavery lasted so long in the US. Why did it take 40 years for us to finally hear the voices of Iranian women? The fact is, women have been fighting against that regime since day one. And since day one, women have been imprisoned and executed. But you never got to hear their voices. You only got to see the faces of the regime and its cronies.
When you live under a brutal regime you have to shut your mouth to survive. You have to support the tyranny so that your family can survive. Anyone who dared protest, would be killed.
“But they voted them in so they must love them” is a common refrain I hear from one of the freest countries in the world, the United States. What’s more, even in the US, huge swathes of your country hate Trump or Biden. It is possible for people that you hate to get voted in - the big difference is, you can vote them out.
Hamas were voted in 18 years ago. Since then, the Gazan people have suffered daily with no clean water, hours without electricity, and no hope of reprieve. Do you think there are fair and democratic elections with terrorists?
Of course, large parts of Gaza support Hamas. Either out of fear for what might happen if they don’t or because they bought Hamas’s propaganda and lies. I have absolutely zero sympathy for Hamas. They are a genocidal group no different from Islamic State. But my heart does break for the 300,000 people now homeless in Gaza because of Hamas.
Let me be clear: I believe Israel has every right to protect its people from a vicious, violent, and ugly threat that sees them as vermin. The Jewish people are not like the rest of us. Their history is fraught, generation after generation, with groups of people wanting to eradicate them. Hamas is just the most recent in this long line. After surviving what they have survived, can anyone be surprised that they are refusing to gently board the train to their demise a second time?
I am heartbroken, of course, that Gazans will now have to pay the price for Hamas’s depravity. It is brutal and horrific. War always is. It was also brutal and horrific when Al-Qaeda was responsible for the loss of so many Iraqi lives or when Isis was responsible for the loss of so many Syrian lives.
Islamist terrorists wreak havoc globally, but they always cause the longest rivers of blood at home. Hamas will not be hurt by any of this. Its funding will still flow in from Iran or Qatar, it will rebrand under a different name as these terrorist organisations always do. Like a hydra, it will grow two heads when this one is cut off. It is Gazans who will never recover. It is Gazans who will have to give up on their dream of a homeland forever.
When my dad died, I mourned mostly for what could have been for my relationship with him. And now I do the same. I am mourning for what could have been for his homeland. It could have been so different. Ignorance and religious zealotry ripped away the chance that Gaza had. Mercifully, my dad died thinking that one day his dream of freeing his homeland from the clutches of Hamas so the Gazan people could breathe and flourish might be realized.
He didn’t have to endure the heartbreak of accepting that it is over. None of us will ever get to see Gaza as an independent state freed from the clutches of terrorists. I will never see our two family buildings that he so desperately wanted me to visit. They probably won’t be left standing. I will likely never set eyes on his beloved olive trees. They will return to the earth as he has. Everything is over now.
Yasmine Mohammed is the author of Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam and the founder and president of the non-profit organisation Free Hearts Free Minds.