Palestinians protest near the Israel border in Khan Yunis, Gaza, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, also known as Day of the Catastrophe, in which they were forced from their land in 1948, and against the U.S. relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. May 16 2018.
South Africa's withdrawal of its ambassador to Israel, Sisa Ngombane, hands a momentary victory to Hamas in its war of deception and terror. Hamas, the Islamic government and terror group, rules the Gaza Strip with an iron fist without regard for human or civil rights — including the persecution, torture and killing of Palestinian Christians.
While the South African government likely views the Gazan side as the weaker and therefore “just” party regardless of terror actions or declarations of jihad against the Jews, Hamas' terror crusade has sent young Gazans to their deaths by inciting and compensating them thousands of dollars to penetrate the Gaza-Israel border fence in to kill innocent Israeli citizens, including children, to “retake Palestine” from the Jews.
South Africa must understand that its diplomatic break from Israel merely strengthens the Islamic Republic of Iran's hidden hand guiding Hamas' Gaza jihad and weakens the cause of peace, justice and self-determination for Palestinians and Israelis.
Hamas has long proved its terror bona fides in line with its 1987 covenant expressing its religious duty to destroy the Jewish people and its nation state. Since 1993, Hamas has killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in mass-casualty suicide attacks throughout Israel. Hamas' current terror crusade in Gaza has been engineered by Muslim Brotherhood groups in Europe and by Yahiya Sinwar, Hamas' new president, who has been a commander in the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, Hamas's military wing.
Sinwar is widely considered Hamas' most ruthless leader since the organisation's founding in 1987.
Is Pretoria aware that the Iranian regime has put Gaza “in play” as a chess piece as part of its regional strategy to destroy Israel and subvert countries across the Middle East? Accordingly, Tehran's $100-million funding of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in 2018 stands behind the Hamas terror campaign as the Islamic Republic's southern front to destroy Israel. Simultaneously, the regime has placed some 175,000 Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, pointed at the Jewish state, while tens of thousands of Iranian military operatives are ready to attack from Syria.
Only if South Africa uses its diplomatic influence to convince Hamas to stop incentivising its youth to commit terror attacks and instead create a secure and stable and flourishing society based on human rights and equality…
Iranian operatives under the command of Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, together with Sinwar and the Hamas leadership, have been planning, financing, inciting and compensating tens of thousands of Hamas supporters, many of them young teenagers, to storm the internationally recognised border fence with Israel even at the risk of death. Their stated intention is to kidnap and commit mass murder of Israeli women and children living as close as 400 metres on Israel's side of the Gaza border in Jewish communities such as Netiv Ha' Asera and Nahal Oz.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, referring to the Jews living in southern Israel near the border with Gaza, said on April 6: “We will tear down the border and we will tear out their hearts.” Hamas operatives, camouflaged in civilian clothing to appear like innocent civilians, reportedly receive $1,000 to commit cross-border attacks. Hamas pledged $3,000 to the families of those killed by Israeli fire.
Palestinians injured by Israeli troops in the clashes receive $200-$500 in compensation, depending on the level of injury, while the Palestinian Authority pays thousands of dollars monthly for life if they are captured or killed, in line with PA legislation. It may seem surprising that Hamas's cash incentive system has generated fewer than 100 self-declared “martyrs” who have been killed, out of a population of some 1.8-million Gazans.
This is not a popular protest; it is part of Iran and Hamas's grand strategy in its war of attrition to destroy the Jewish state. Hamas leader Mahmoud Al Zahar confirmed Hamas' strategy in a May 13 interview on Qatar's' Al Jazeera network. He said: “The Gaza protests are not peaceful resistance… It is supported by our weapons.”
In fact, Iran is using Gaza's civilians to execute a new “popular warfare” strategy. According to a senior Palestinian Authority security official in Ramallah, Iranian elite Quds Force officers are entrenched in Gaza tunnels assisting in the overall strategy and execution of the fence-storming terror campaign.
Three major Israeli independent daily newspapers have reported based on Palestinian sources that Hamas' plan is to destroy the fence and clear a path for thousands of Hamas operatives to carry out terror attacks in Israel with knives, bombs, firearms, wire cutters, drones, and incendiary kites that have already ignited wildfires in kibbutzim fields. These claims are evidenced by Palestinian statements on YouTube at Palestinian Media Watch and MEMRI.
Breaching or tearing down an internationally recognised border fence to enable thousands of Palestinians to stream into Israel with the intention of killing, maiming, and kidnapping Israeli citizens poses an acute threat to innocent people.
Sinwar himself confirmed Hamas' intentions to the U.K. Independent newspaper on May 11. saying: “What's the problem if hundreds of thousands storm this fence which is not a border of a state? What's the problem with that?” Sinwar added that he, “did not recognise the border” between Gaza and Israel.
For Israel's part, Pretoria is likely unaware of the self-imposed open fire restrictions that constrain the Israel Defence Forces.
IDF “Purity of Arms” principles mandate that: “The Israel soldier shall not employ his weaponry and power in order to harm noncombatants or prisoners of war, and shall do all he can to avoid harming their lives, body, honour and property.”
Supreme Court justice Esther Hayaut has already said that Hamas-led protests have placed IDF soldiers in an impossible and life-threatening position of being overwhelmed (overrun and possibly killed) by thousands of Palestinians operating according to Hamas orders.
To be sure, breaching or tearing down an internationally recognised border fence to enable thousands of Palestinians to stream into Israel with the intention of killing, maiming, and kidnapping Israeli citizens poses an acute threat to innocent people.
Israelis of all political stripes are disappointed in South Africa for withdrawing its ambassador. Pretoria may have noticed that neither Egypt nor Jordan have taken such actions. These two Arab neighbours and allies have also suffered from Hamas' long and bloody record of terror and deception. That is why Egypt has outlawed Hamas as a terror organisation and Jordan expelled Hamas' founder, Sheik Ahmad Yassin, to Gaza in 1996.
Only if South Africa uses its diplomatic influence to convince Hamas to stop incentivising its youth to commit terror attacks and instead create a secure and stable and flourishing society based on human rights and equality — values South Africa has struggled for — can Gaza's youth realise a promising future. Israel is waiting to assist its neighbours to achieve those dreams.
Dan Diker, former secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress, is project director of the Program on Political Warfare at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.