Hamas and Innocent Palestinians

Marc Ash / Reader Supported News

The premise that there are “innocent Palestinians” that have nothing to do with Hamas is rapidly becoming axiomatic. It is an oversimplification at a moment when nuance is vital.

Let’s begin with an analysis Hamas’s video of the abduction of Noa Argamani, that went viral worldwide.

The first thing that draws the eye in the Argamani Video is her horror and desperation. However we can learn a great deal by examining the other less central actors and visual evidence in the video.

As the camera pans over the scene we see images of perhaps at least a dozen other figures, almost all young men. About half of the men are directly engaged in forcibly transporting Argamani and her boyfriend Avi Nathan into Gaza. The others appear to be acting in a less direct, more passively supportive role. They are not armed and do not appear to be hardened Hamas members. They however do appear to be supportive and somewhat elated by what they are witnessing, if not directly participating in the actual abduction.

Clearly there are truly innocent civilians in Gaza in dire need of humanitarian aid. However separating Hamas members from passive supporters and innocent civilians is a daunting task. Nonetheless if we are to judge by the mass pro-Palestinian demonstrations that erupted worldwide in the aftermath of the October 7th slaughter of unarmed Israeli civilians then support for the goals of Hamas throughout the Islamic world would seem overwhelming.

Humanitarian Aid and Hostages

There are many voices calling for aid to the people of Gaza but few voices calling for the release the hostages being held in Gaza. That is not only an inequity, but also more likely to impede progress than lead to a solution.

Caring for humanity begets caring for humanity. The best approach to progress is one that addresses the horror that both sides are experiencing. Yes humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people is necessary, equally as necessary as the release of Israeli hostages.

Link the two issues. It makes achieving a humanitarian solution easier and more likely, not less. Hostage negotiations can be a powerful form of diplomacy. Positions and counter positions must be stated, common ground must be identified, solutions must be found.

The door appears open. The New York Times reporting on statements by Osama Hamdan a spokesman for Hamas’s political bureau in Lebanon notes the following:

“Mr. Hamdan said Hamas was seeking a broad prisoner exchange and was requesting that Israel free women, children and hundreds of Palestinians who have been held without trial. Israel is currently detaining at least 1,100 Palestinians without trial, the most since 2003, according to HaMoked, an Israel-based human rights organization.” … “Everyone knows that we have tried to free the Palestinian prisoners,” Mr. Hamdan said. He added, “This isn’t a Hamas issue, but a Palestinian one.”

Such a discussion could be the basis for humanitarian progress. The Palestinians need aid, the Israelis need their hostages released. It is a negotiation with significant of potential to benefit both sides.

But it does little to address the threat of Hamas. Hamas is precisely what the Israelis say it is, a hard core terrorist organization, with no limits on what tactics it will engage in. Hamas has identified itself as a threat that must be eliminated, not tolerated.

Benjamin Netanyahu Must Be Relieved of Command

For US President Joe Biden to stand shoulder to shoulder with with the Israeli head of state at a time of such conflict makes perfect sense, except for one problem, the Israeli head of state is Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu is exactly what his critics said he was when he came back into power again, “the worst guy at the worst time.” The consequences have been as we now know, devastating. Not only has Netanyahu utterly failed Israel, but it gets worse now that Israel is under direct fire.

Netanyahu is Israel’s Donald Trump, a quintessential bellicose, right-wing populist who will do anything to hold onto power. In no world should Netanyahu not be relieved of command. Following his leadership as Israel moves forward into the most treacherous waters in its history is to invite complete disaster.

Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.