'This is an Offensive War': An Inside Look at the Campaign to Take Down Hamas
GAZA BORDER, Israel-- The demilitarization of Hamas is the only solution in the Israel Hamas conflict. This is the clear message here in Israel. This conflict is different than previous conflicts. "It will be ceasefire after ceasefire if you don't demilitarize Hamas" said retired IDF General Gideon Avidor. "Hamas is not fighting to protect its people, but only to terrorize and kill Israeli's, as long as they continue to fight against us, we must fight back."
"The local population in Gaza understands that Hamas does nothing for them" said Avidor. "It is not only a military solution, but will take a political and economic solution" to support the people of Gaza to be free from the government of Hamas that has instilled fear and has oppressed the people since being elected in 2005. Hamas was elected in democratic elections in 2005 but never held elections again.
"The population in Gaza is starting to realize that Hamas can't govern, but the population is afraid of them because Hamas is not afraid to kill and terrorize its own people. They are waiting for someone else to do it because they are scared," said Avidor. "We must reduce the power of Hamas to such a degree so the population can replace them with someone else, this will take the help of the international community." He said that Gaza has the potential to become an area to build industry and tourism. "Gaza has beautiful beaches and agriculture, the people are smart and can turn Gaza into a better place to live".
Former IAF Lt Col Reuven Ben-Shalom spoke to Breitbart News about the atrocities of Hamas: "The people in Gaza are not free civilians. Hamas uses civilians as human shields." The IDF throws thousands of leaflets on Gazan civilians before they invade an area calling them to take their families and leave the area. The leaflets state that Israel is "fighting the terror organization of Hamas." Hamas threatens the citizens by warning that if they leave, they will beat or kill them.
An IDF soldier told Breitbart News on the condition on anonymity that Hamas is dangerous to Palestinians because "Hamas wants the Caliphate. Palestine means nothing to them. They only care about the global caliphate... Since 2012, Hamas has planned this war, for two years. This is an offensive war." Hamas started building the tunnels from Gaza into Israel two years ago, he explained, and "these tunnels are funded by Israel and the United States taxpayer." The United States and international community pushed for reconstruction of Gaza since 2010, pressuring Israel to send in supplies. Israel has been sending cement and steel to Gaza, but instead of Hamas giving the supplies to the people of Gaza, they used that cement to build tunnels from Gaza into Israel.
Hamas has built over 30 tunnels with 60 different entry points that have been discovered so far from Gaza into Israel directly targeting the civilians of Israel. "These tunnels can have access right into a living room of someone's home" said another unnamed IDF member; "They have to go house to house in Gaza and check each floor of each room for the tunnel access." The IDF have found heavy weapons such as anti-tank missiles, machine guns, and handcuffs in the tunnels. "Israel prevented a massive, massive tragedy in Israel" by discovering the tunnels," they explained.
One access from a tunnel was found by the IDF directly into the dining room of a Kubutz. "Hamas's plan was to terrorize using the tunnels in September during the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah when everyone is celebrating. Imagine you could be having dinner and a commander unit from Hamas literally emerges from the ground."
The Israeli Army has destroyed 11 of the 31 tunnels they have discovered but they believe there are over 60 total entry points into the tunnel system. I spoke to a family in Israel that lives 3 kilometers from the Gaza border who have endured years of war. "Up until 3 years ago, we had no protection at all, now we have 7 seconds to get into a safety room," the mother of the family explained. The family have six children and 3 grandchildren and live on a Kubutz that has been there for 66 years. "There is no normality here." Their 3-year-old grandchild is in such stress due to the rockets that they had to take the child out of the area. "You get used to it but it is still very scary," the mother explained. "Even the dogs run into the safety room when the alarm goes off."
Another family on the border said they hadn't been able to sleep for weeks until the IDF soldiers came and protected them. Families on the border live in constant fear not only of Hamas' rockets firing into their homes, but Hamas members actually rising up from the ground in their living room, kitchen, bedroom with the purpose to kidnap or kill them.
"We used to go to Gaza to go to the sea and shop; the Arabs living there want a quiet life. There has been no peace, no normality since Hamas took power. There are enough people in Gaza to remove Hamas, but Hamas will shoot anyone who speaks out against them," a member of the family said.
"The Gaza people are living miserable lives. We are living miserable lives. This is Hamas's fault. They won't let the people work or find jobs." Israel provides Gaza with 80% of electricity and provides trucks of humanitarian assistance. "Everything Israel gives to Gaza, Hamas uses for the tunnels and for themselves, the people of Gaza don't get any of the aid," explained one Israeli.
Israelis say it was an "act of God" and "divine intervention" that Hamas didn't accept the initial ceasefire which led to the ground invasion into Gaza discovering the networks of tunnels. Israel had no idea about the extent of the tunnels from Gaza into Israel. Hamas planned mass murders in September against innocent civilians. If Hamas had accepted the ceasefire, Israel wouldn't have led a ground invasion and discovered the tunnels. The people here are shocked and so thankful that these tunnels were discovered in advance before there were mass casualties.
"These terrorists groups are Armies, not just organizations" said an unnamed IDF officer. "There are no European countries that have the anti-tank capabilities that Hamas and Hezbollah have. They are well trained and well financed coming from Qatar and Iran. Jihadists have come out of Iraq and Syria and have come into Gaza. A lot of the weapons have come from Libya from the 2011 revolution and removal of Gaddafi".
To demilitarize Hamas, the international community, including the United States, needs to undermine and cut off Hamas's funding. Qatar is one of the strongest funders of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other Islamist extremist groups. It is time for the United States to put pressure-- in the form of sanctions-- on Qatar to stop them from financing terrorism. Instead, Secretary Kerry is in Paris meeting with them today. Qatar is no different than Iran in funding radical Islamist terrorist groups, but instead of putting sanctions on them, the U.S. signs a $11 billion arms deal with them-- the largest deal of the year. Qatar is a country with a military that has a population of 11,800 people and only 30% of their military are Qatari civilians. We should be putting sanctions on Qatar, not providing them with masses of weapons.
This war is not between two equal states. It is between a terrorist organization and America's ally. We must stand with Israel until they complete their mission in demilitarizing Hamas and destroying every single tunnel. Israel would do well to say "thank you, but a big no thank you" to Secretary Kerry and instead take the necessary means to accomplish their mission and remove the tunnels. They have to provide security and protection for their people. When will the United States stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies and start to support those that are fighting terrorism, like our allies Israel and Egypt?
To win a war, you have to break the will of the enemy. Yesterday, Hamas was weakened. Reports of up to 80 Hamas members at a time would surrender to the IDF. Walking around the Kubutz at the Gaza border, a local resident said, "yesterday at this time, we couldn't walk for 5 minutes without having to take shelter because of the rockets. Tonight is calm for the first time in 2 wks. Hamas is weakened."
Above photo: Hamas hides thousands of rockets in civilian areas in Gaza. Photo: Tera Dahl.