On Nov. 30, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar took to the media, stating that “October 7 was just a rehearsal.” With these words, Sinwar, the mastermind behind the Oct. 7 attack that saw the rape, murder, and brutalization of 1,200 Israelis and the kidnapping of roughly 240 people, has promised to repeat these same atrocities, at an even larger scale, if given the chance.
Sinwar, previously sentenced by Israeli courts to five life sentences for his terrorist activities but released as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in 2011, emphasized Hamas’s aim of continuing to engage in its atrocities against Israeli citizens. He speaks not as a member of a fringe terrorist group that acts outside the bounds of the law in Gaza, but as the leader of the ruling party in Gaza — a party that conceived, planned, and executed the deadliest day in Jewish history since the Holocaust. And if Sinwar were to get his way, the heinous acts committed just two months ago would be but Phase 1 of an onslaught that would end only with the death of all Israelis.
Sinwar is not alone, but one of a unified front of Hamas leaders that has echoed the same genocidal rhetoric not just since Oct. 7, but throughout the course of over 16 years during which Hamas has been in power in Gaza. The next time a Hamas leader speaks publicly, listen for his calls for peace or desire for coexistence with Israel — you will not find them. You will only hear calls for Jewish genocide.
And it is for this reason that a long-term ceasefire simply cannot be on the table at this point in time, or for as long as Hamas is the ruling party in Gaza.
The enactment of a ceasefire necessitates the negotiating parties have peace as an end goal. An agreement that the laying down of arms will create stability and quiet in the wake of war. But if Israel were to take a seat at this hypothetical negotiating table, it would be staring in the face of those who have expressed a desire for the exact opposite of peace. A face of terror that has made it abundantly clear that it plans to execute a litany of similar crimes when given the chance. What terms, exactly, are Israel expected to accept at this supposed “negotiation?”
Those who argue for Israel to lay down its arms at this time demonstrate either a willingness to accept further slaughter of Israeli civilians, or a conscious refusal to accept the reality of the threat that Hamas has expressed: that it will work to exterminate all Jews. The former is purely evil, the latter an unconscionable, willful ignorance. Hamas has promised further attacks on Israel — ones that will not discriminate between soldier and civilian, young and old. Given the events of Oct. 7, why would Israel not believe Hamas’s words?
A ceasefire would reward Hamas by giving time and space to retool, plan, and execute further attacks such as those of Oct. 7. Israel’s signing of a ceasefire treaty is tantamount to signing its own death warrant, given Hamas’s current leadership role in Gaza.
The current war can end in one of two ways: With the complete destruction of Israel, or with the eradication of Hamas, a terrorist group that just committed crimes against humanity in the most unspeakable form.
How can Israel be asked to do anything other than defend itself, given these circumstances? Not doing so would embolden, strengthen, and revitalize Hamas, leaving Israeli citizens vulnerable to further atrocities committed at the hands of a genocidal government. Self-defense is the only moral answer. The threat posed by Hamas to the people of Israel is not just right under our noses — it is being screamed in our faces.