As Israel prepares to launch a ground assault on Gaza to root out Hamas, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is voicing concerns that the action will layer another humanitarian catastrophe onto the existing one that exists in the region.
Instead of uprooting extremists, Kristof warns Israel could end up buttressing Hamas’ narrative of hatred of Jews and amplifying the venom that has been instilled in many young Palestinians.
While Israel has clear tactical superiority, Kristof asks, “what’s the strategy? Who will govern the rubble afterward? And how will the mass slaughter of Palestinian civilians possibly lead to harmony with Israel afterward?”
He notes of Hamas: “they are misogynist oppressors of their own people who commit atrocities against Israelis that lead to counterstrikes that kill civilians. Instead of helping Palestinians advance, Hamas enormously magnifies their suffering.
Gazans voted in Hamas in 2006 but have a mixed view of it, with a majority expressing some support but 70 percent saying in a July poll that they would like Hamas to hand over administration of the territory and its armed units to the much more moderate Palestinian Authority. Even a low-level Hamas official took me aside in 2015 and told me how much he hated the group because of its economic incompetence, and 62 percent of people in Gaza said this summer they wanted to continue the cease-fire with Israel.”
So why did Hamas break that cease-fire so spectacularly, Kristof asks. Perhaps, he says, it’s because it knew that Israel would then respond by inflicting even more suffering on Gazans in ways that would make Hamas more popular. ”
After clashes in 2021 that led to bombings by Israel, polls found Hamas surging in popularity among Palestinians — because when people see friends dying, their fury sometimes drives them to cheer anyone who appears to be fighting for them.”
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