Hamas and Fatah: Why We’re Fighting Israel

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Why do the Islamic jihadist groups fight against Israel? Why do they believe that the shocking actions in Israel we witnessed on Saturday are the right and righteous thing to do, or even the just?

The world is horrified by the atrocities committed in the wake of the jihadi massacres that took place in Israel on Saturday. This includes the indiscriminate killings at a concert for peace, the beheadings of babies, and much more. Americans and Europeans find it difficult to understand how or why anyone would do these things.

Two jihadi groups, including Hamas (the group that carried out the massacres) and Fatah (the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abubas’ Fatah), have now issued statements clarifying what they believe they are doing. Both statements are chilling.

In three different passages of the Qur’an (2:53-65, 5:59-60, 7:166), Allah is said to punish Jews for breaking the Sabbath by turning them into apes or pigs.

Fatah’s call to jihad includes the following: “Fight and Allah shall punish them through your hands. He will lay them down and give you victory, he’ll heal the hearts and minds of those who believe.” This is also from the Qur’an (verse 9:14), and it expresses the main difference between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Qur’an says that while both Jewish (Deuteronomy 31:35) as well as Christian (Romans 12-19) tradition say that God is the only one who can take revenge for wrongdoing, it’s up to Muslims to do so. They are the ones to execute Allah’s wrath.

The jihadis killed Israeli civilians in large numbers on Saturday, believing that they were carrying out God’s will. They consider those they killed as enemies of Allah, the Muslims and therefore, they deserve everything that they get.

Fatah’s communiqué is therefore replete with Qur’anic allusions as if to stress that, for Muslims, the killing of Israeli civilians represents a holy battle. It is because of this that Muslims around the world have celebrated the bloody attacks rather than expressing disgust at them. Fatah knows that when it calls on Muslims to “strike sons of apes and pigs, kill all who are settlers, slaughter everyone who’s Israeli,” they will not only be able to do so without hesitation but also know this call is likely going to resonate with other Muslims around the world.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif hailed the beginning of what he called “Operation Al-Aqsa Deluge.” He said that the massacres of that day were just the “first strike,” and that much more was coming. Deif declared: “I say to the masses of the people and our nation, and to the free people of the world: Today, the wrath of Al-Aqsa has exploded – the rage of our people, our nation, and the free people of the world. I say to our pure mujahideen: This is the day that you make this criminal enemy understand that its time is up. ‘Kill them wherever you may find them.’” That also was a quotation from the Qur’an (2:191, 4:89, cf. 9:5).

Hamas’s and Fatah’s documents are not new. Hamas, its allies and the media always refer to their conflict with Israel using Islamic theological terminology. Yet this is one aspect that Western policymakers do not take into account.