Position of DAAM Party: October 7th Massacre: crime against humanity!

On October 7, 2023, Hamas perpetrated crimes against humanity by targeting civilians, children, the elderly, women, and men in the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip. The actions of Hamas on that day resulted in a staggering toll of 1,300 fatalities, thousands injured, and some 200 hostages. However, the long-term impact of these actions is likely to be even more severe. In the long run they represent not only an assault Israelis, but also against Palestinians as they target the fabric of a future life. The DAAM Party stands for the right of both Israelis and Palestinians alike to a life of freedom and dignity in this land. DAAM opposes the Israeli military rule over the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 and has consistently strived, sometimes in challenging conditions of isolation, for a just resolution that ensures equal rights for Palestinians.

Simultaneously, DAAM has consistently condemned the Islamic extremism that Hamas represents. We have observed with concern the domination of Hamas over the Palestinian scene and the destructive discourse that has subsequently developed within it. We have acted and hoped for the resurgence of a democratic Palestinian force that opposes this extremist ideology, grounded in hatred and which denies any possibility of a political solution and peace between the two peoples.

All Israeli governments have preferred Hamas to be the influential, ruling faction in Gaza. Despite recurring cycles of violence and the assurances of Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders, Israel has consistently acted to provide Hamas with legitimacy. It has perceived Hamas as an effective sub-contractor, ignoring the organization’s dangerous ideology and the terror it has exerted upon Gaza inhabitants themselves.

This disaster could have been prevented

DAAM opposed the 1993 Oslo Accords, arguing that they lacked any basis for establishing a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority, established within the framework of the Oslo Accords, quickly revealed itself as a corrupt entity incapable of providing the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza with an alternative to Israeli occupation. The Palestinian Authority acquiesced to continued settlements and rightly incurred the wrath of the Palestinian street. Hamas exploited the weaknesses of the Oslo Accords and the Palestinian Authority. It began disseminating its poisonous ideology among the Palestinians, accompanied by suit side bombings of buses and a campaign of terror against Israeli civilians. This grim reality nourished and strengthened the Israeli right. The October 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin was a pivotal moment in the history of the conflict, solidifying the dominance of the Israeli far right.

In 2005, PM Ariel Sharon implemented the Disengagement Plan from Gaza. This unilateral withdrawal plan, implemented without an agreement with the Palestinians, was in essence a gift to Hamas. Sharon’s goal was to leave Gaza and thus solidify Israel’s hold on the West Bank, neutralizing any political move that would necessitate a withdrawal and dismantling of settlements there. The policy of separating Gaza from the West Bank (the “isolation principle”), was henceforth adopted by all Israeli governments. It was meant to provide security for Israelis, relying on a form of ceasefire (“hudna”) with Hamas. Thus, the terrorist organization in Gaza became a partner to Israel in managing Gaza. Even recurring cycles of violence with Hamas did not alter the perception that Hamas controlled Gaza and had to be dealt with accordingly.

On October 7th, 2023, Israel reaped the bitter fruits of this misguided and destructive policy. Now, after 18 years, the circle has closed. Israel finds itself with no choice but to reassert control over Gaza. Hamas’s barbaric attack was a strategic, military, social, and political blow that horrified Israel and transformed it entirely.

The future ground incursion into Gaza will come at an incomprehensible cost to both Israelis and Palestinians. From the Israeli side, a protracted and ruthless war, which could develop to include multiple fronts, will claim the lives of many young people, impact the economy, and destroy resources that could have been directed towards welfare and development. From the Palestinian side, there will be thousands of innocent victims and an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Already today (October 18th), there are over half a million displaced people in the Gaza Strip, fleeing to the south in the hope of escaping the crossfire.

This human tragedy will be seared into the consciousness of both peoples for many years to come. The direct culprits are Hamas and the Israeli government. As noted, the preservation of Hamas as the post-disengagement ruler in Gaza was a joint interest of Hamas and the Israeli right. Despite the perceived autonomy of Gaza under Hamas’s governance, in reality Gaza remained closed and entirely dependent on Israel. The supply of electricity and water, issuance of identity documents, the shekel as the official currency, and the import of food and fuel —key to all aspects of life in Gaza- remained in the hands of Israel. All Israeli governments, with support of the international community, played a part in creating this quagmire, which shattered in the unimaginable display of terror by Hamas on Israeli soil.

The symbiotic relationship between Israel and Hamas

In January 2006, Hamas won the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council. Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas, became the head of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza. Instead of acting as the leader of a responsible political entity, however, the Hamas organization used its position to strengthen its military power. In June 2006, armed members of the organization abducted Gilad Shalit. In June 2007, within the chaotic reality that ensued after the abduction, the Israeli siege and continuous military pressure, Hamas militants attacked Fatah activists in Gaza and seized all institutions, employing brutal violence against their opponents.

Hamas opposed the Oslo Accords, which did not prevent it from participating in the Palestinian parliament elections that were held based on the Oslo Accords. Hamas used the Oslo Accords as a platform to take control of the Gaza Strip, hoping, eventually, to gain control over the entire Palestinian people in the West bank too.

In 2011, under pressure from the Israeli public demanding release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli government finally relented and agreed to a prisoner exchange deal. In exchange for the release of one soldier, Gilad Shalit, more than a thousand prisoners were freed, including Yihya Sinwar, who became the leader of Hamas in Gaza and orchestrated the October 7 terrorist attack.

Thus, Hamas built its power. From an organization that held a limited number of mortars in 2007 with a maximum range of 2 kilometers, Hamas has evolved into a formidable military force, equipped with thousands of missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and Haifa. By constructing an underground city of tunnels in Gaza, Hamas has positioned itself as the official and exclusive representative of the Palestinian people, akin to the PLO in its time. Its leaders, based primarily abroad, are received as esteemed guests in the Arab world and in countries including Russia and Iran. The Palestinian Authority, which failed in managing the territories it received from Israel and became corrupt and disconnected from the people, failed to compete with Hamas and establish its supremacy.

The absurdity in Israel’s policy, which instead of distinguishing between residents and the leadership that took control of them, and viewing Hamas as a cynical terrorist organization that exploits the Palestinians in Gaza as pawns, allowed Hamas to rule Gaza and strengthen its military power.

Hamas’s policy was based on the premise that in case of an Israeli military attack, the ensuing humanitarian disaster would trigger global pressure globally, isolate Israel, lift the siege from Gaza, and increase Hamas’s legitimacy. This enabled the organization to continue embezzling humanitarian aid funds intended to assist Gaza residents and instead use it to produce missiles.

As a fundamentalist, deterministic organization not aimed at advancing a political solution, Hamas had no problem linking the fate of the Palestinians to Iran’s Ayatollah regime, a regime lacking any historical connection, whether religious or national, to the Palestinian people. In 2012, Hamas leaders left Damascus after condemning Assad regime’s massacre carried out against the Syrian people, the majority of whom belong to the Sunni sect, to which most of the Palestinian people also belong. This rupture plunged Hamas into a crisis in its relations with Iran, which had been providing it with patronage and support together with the murderous regime in Damascus. The crisis concluded in 2022 with a visit by Hamas leaders to Damascus and the renewal of relations with Iran.

Hamas’s attitude towards Israel presumed that Israelis are fools. First, because they are democrats, an idea that is not accepted by extremist Islam, which perceives democracy as a weakness. And second, because they are liberals, a phenomenon deemed despicable by the same perception, as it sanctifies consumerism and is disconnected from spirituality.

Indeed, in the name of that “spirituality,” Hamas agents committed a barbaric massacre against defenseless civilians. Hamas spokespeople deny the massacre and all the atrocities which have taken place. However, all atrocities committed were documented and captured in the detailed instructions received by the “Al-Nukhba” forces sent out for the Jihad war. The Arab press ignores the massacre and collaborates with Hamas in brainwashing millions around the world. The facts, however, cannot be hidden. 1,300 bodies, including 500 bodies burnt alive by the insurgents, remain unidentifiable. There are living testimonies and evidence that prove the crimes committed by Hamas operatives.

In the long run, Hamas miscalculated. The organization’s leadership overestimated its role as Israel’s subcontractor. It failed to understand that without Israel, it has no existence in the region. Perhaps it assumed that Hezbollah and Iran would come to its aid and launch the battle of Gog and Magog against Israel. The Hamas leadership’s inflated sense of security led it to conclude that by inflicting a strategic blow to Israel, it would become an independent power. It did not consider that such an action would leave Israel no choice but to annihilate the organization.

The Americans and the protest take control

Hamas’s attack found Israel amid an existential internal struggle over its character – whether it would be a democratic liberal state or an emerging dictatorship. An unprecedented protest movement stood up against a dangerous coalition of messianic, fascist right-wingers, including dangerous religious leaders and power-hungry, corrupt politicians. While we identified in the protest movement a source of hope and an opening for correcting Israel’s misguided and aggressive policies, Ismail Haniyeh and the Hamas leadership saw it as a weakness to be exploited.

The Israeli military relies on both technology and intelligence, as well as air power based on the professionalism and motivation of its pilots. The erosion in the motivation of Israel’s air force pilots, because of the government’s attempted regime change, appeared to Hamas’s leadership as a golden opportunity. Additionally, Hamas’s intelligence successfully gathered information about Israel while concealing its own plans from it. Hamas operatives knew exactly how to reach the Israel’s Gaza Strip command center thanks to an accurate map in their possession (Ronen Bergman, NYT). Hamas operatives knew everything that could be known about the communities in the vicinity, as well as the cities of Sderot and Netivot. Every group of Hamas operatives that infiltrated Israel knew exactly where they were going and what they were doing.

The Israeli army was stunned and struggled to function for 48 hours. Those who saved residents were the police and border guards, as well as other civilians who went to the battlefield themselves to rescue loved ones. The Israeli public was hit by an existential anxiety due to the army’s disappearance and the political leadership’s hollowness.

Into this governmental void entered the American administration, which acted to prevent any possibility of Israel’s collapse. The Churchillian speech of President Biden showed what leadership should look like in a place empty of leadership. He expressed unconditional support for Israel and warned those, such as Iran and Hezbollah, who wanted to exploit the situation that it would be better for them to be careful.  “DON’T” was the word he repeated twice. Biden declared that Hamas poses an existential threat to the Israeli people, thus emphasizing the justification of Israel’s defensive war.

From the moment of Biden’s election, we argued, despite many critics, that he is the sole force in the world standing against dictatorships and fascism. Once again, Biden understood that he had to intervene, as Israel’s collapse would pose a threat to democracy worldwide and to the national security of the Americans themselves. Hamas’s victory is a victory for the axis of Iran, Putin’s ally, and thus, also threatens Ukraine.

The Israeli right-wing had been flirting with Putin and refused to support Biden in the uncompromising war for Ukraine. Hamas’s attack revealed that there are now two opposing camps confronting each other: the United States, Europe, Ukraine, and Israel on one front, with Russia, Iran, Syria, and perhaps even China on the other. The American deployment of its Sixth Fleet to the Mediterranean and spreading of its defensive umbrella over Israel were intended to save Israel. It restored security to Israelis and, for the first time, a consensus was formed in Israel on the courageous leadership of Biden.

Since 2011, DAAM has closely followed events of the Arab Spring in Syria, a spring which transformed into a cruel winter. Russia and Iran came to Assad’s aid and helped him massacre the Syrian people. A huge wave of refugees was created, many of whom reached Europe. When Putin invaded Ukraine, we supported Ukraine without reservation, as those defending democracy against dictatorship. The elimination of Hamas, from Biden’s administration’s perspective, is also necessary in the face of the axis of evil comprising Russia, Iran, and their regional affiliates. Biden declared his support for Israel because this democracy is important not only for Israelis, but also for Palestinians and the possibility of the Arab Spring’s return. The forces that emerged during the Arab Spring will not be able to strengthen and change the face of the Middle East while it is ruled by fundamentalist or monarchical dictatorships. In the United States itself, a war over the soul of democracy is still being waged. The Trump camp, supported by Putin and demonstrating admiration for Hezbollah, is a threat to the American people and humanity.

Many young people in the Arab world, including prominent intellectuals, still judge reality according to the old paradigm: Russia = anti-imperialism – is on our side; the United States = aggressive imperialism – is the enemy of the people. This perception also shapes the bias in favor of Hamas and Hezbollah, defining these organizations as freedom fighters. Many supporters of the FREE PALESTINE movement fall into this trap. The fate of the Ukrainian and Syrian peoples testifies to the great lie at the core of this perception. When Israel today embraces the leadership of the United States, it is essentially departing from the path led by Netanyahu, which linked it to the axis of dictatorships.

A decisive role for protest organizations.

The second factor that saved Israel was the protest movement, which since October 7th has led the massive home front aid campaign. From the outset, the protest understood that Biden is a trustworthy ally, and therefore raised the American flag alongside the Israeli one during the demonstrations in Kaplan St. (Tel Aviv). The movement’s leadership demanded that Biden not meet with Netanyahu. The protest movement has now transformed into the backbone that holds Israeli society together. This is crucial as the alliance between Israel and the United States completely deteriorated in Netanyahu’s tenure, during which Israel behaved as an independent force, detrimental to the alliance of democratic nations.

When DAAM decided to support the protest movement, we did so because it was a movement that flew the flags of democracy and equality. The predominance of the Israeli flag in the protests was problematic in our view, as it prevented creation of a common denominator with the Arab society. Nevertheless, we understood that at its core, the protest is a democratic movement that does not exist in the Arab world.

Biden does not support Israel because he is a Zionist. The annihilation of Hamas as a terror entity is an interest of the entire democratic camp, including Europe and Israel. Israel’s past approach was that Biden does not understand what he is doing. We Israelis are tightrope walkers who know how to walk a thin line, and we will succeed in outsmarting Hamas and leveraging all sides to our advantage. We have no one to rely on but ourselves. The war initiated by Hamas on October 7th put an end to this approach. Israel realized it needs democratic allies.

DAAM’s position: Get rid of the Israeli fascist right and also of Hamas, with which it collaborated

Anyone who sees what is happening in Gaza today and says it is a human tragedy is right. One million residents have been thrown into the streets, and forced to evacuate to the southern part of the Gaza Strip. The fate of women, children, and helpless elderly people is uncertain. We oppose the extremist voices in Israel demanding revenge, those who do not distinguish between Hamas and the Palestinian people. We call for action to prevent harm to civilians to the extent possible and to ensure humanitarian corridors that will allow UN forces and others to protect the lives and peace of Gaza residents.

The big question is whether Israel can totally eliminate Hamas, given the prevailing political situation and the moral blow it has suffered. This question has yet to be settled. Another strategic question that will arise once Israel completes its military operation is who can replace Hamas and take control of Gaza. On the other hand, the Palestinians and their supporters need to honestly ask themselves whether they are in favor of a Hamas victory over Israel and whether they are actually willing to live in a state with a fundamentalist regime, like Iran, or Iraq.

We want Hamas to be defeated, but do not believe that victory can be achieved under the leadership of Netanyahu and the fascist settler group that, to our delight, has lost all public support. Israel will need to establish a government led by members of the protest movement, which has defined the parameters of a democratic state. The protest leaders and their supporters are tirelessly engaged in assisting citizens day and night, filling the void created by the government’s dysfunction, and they tell Netanyahu: If we win the war, it will be despite your leadership and not because of it.

Immediately following the end of the fighting in Gaza, a critical struggle for the removal of Netanyahu and his associates from power will unfold within Israel. We are preparing for that moment and will try to assist and promote this struggle with all our might. The victory of the democratic protest movement over the fascist forces in Israel will also open a new chapter in Arab-Jewish relations. The Palestinian arena without Hamas, will hopefully undergo a significant transformation. In the past two decades, Hamas has managed to suppress all free discourse, silencing any liberal opinion. Any collaboration with Israelis was defined as normalization. If we succeed in removing Hamas and the fascist right in Israel, all possibilities for examination of a shared peace will be opened. Therefore, this is a crucial battle on both fronts.

It is important to note that many Israeli residents living in “the Gaza envelope”, those killed and abducted, supported a political settlement with the Palestinians, including with Hamas. The idea that peace could be achieved based on siege and separation, and reconciliation with the existence of a terrorist regime just a few kilometers away from your home, collapsed on October 7. The concept of two states, of which one is a democracy, and the other is ruled by a “lawless” regime (which so called “fits the mentality” of the Palestinians), has also crumbled disastrously. We must recognize that Gaza and the West Bank are also tied to Israel, geographically and economically. We have been living for years in a one state reality, where an apartheid regime of national discrimination exists between Israelis and Palestinians. Until we are ready to live in equality with the Palestinians, in one democratic state in the geographic space between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, this terrible bloodshed will not be resolved.

About Da'am: One State - Green Economy

Daam proposes an Israeli/Palestinian Green New Deal, both as a response to the current political-economic crisis and to create a basis for true cooperation between the two peoples. It is a plan that can end the conflict, abolishing the apartheid regime that Israel has imposed since 1967. It can replace the Occupation with a partnership based on civil justice, which will grant full civil rights to Palestinians equally with Israelis in the framework of a single state.