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The Gaza War: Targeting Hamas is Not the Solution

posted on: Jun 12, 2024

Photo: Wikki Commons/Naaman Omar, APA Images

By: Ghassan Rubeiz / Arab America Contributing Writer

Over the past two weeks, several important developments have taken place in the Gaza war. While some events have given Prime Minister Netanyahu a temporary boost, the overall direction of these developments has not helped him.

At the end of May, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives invited Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, scheduled for July 24.  The invitation, co-signed by the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, was announced as the Israeli cabinet faced mounting public protest and rising international condemnation – particularly from the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.

A few days later Netanyahu received less encouraging news from the US. On Friday, June 7th, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) urged the Biden administration to stop sending weapons to Israel and called for a permanent ceasefire. The statement may not have an immediate impact on the war, but it could make a significant contribution to the wider Palestinian issue. The African American community played a significant role in ending apartheid in South Africa. As the Arab American community builds coalitions with African American advocacy groups, the NAACP could help in finding a just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The next day, on Saturday, June 8th, the Israeli Defense Forces managed to free four hostages in Gaza. This initially sounded like a breakthrough for Israel’s war machine, and there was profuse jubilation over the weekend over the freedom of four innocent Israeli civilians. But soon the eyes of the world community turned to the heavy human cost of rescuing the captives: 274 Palestinians died and over 800 were injured in the battle to free them.

On Sunday, Benny Gantz, the leader of the National Unity Party and a member of the Israeli war cabinet, resigned. Gantz, a former General in the Israeli army, has been a strong critic of Netanyahu’s handling of the war; he pushed hard for the cabinet to formulate a plan for the day after the war ends. Gantz’s plan “included the return of hostages in Gaza, demilitarizing the region and ending Hamas’ control over it, and supporting efforts to normalize Israel-Saudi Arabia relations. The plan would also set up a temporary U.S.-European-Arab-Palestinian system of civil administration for Gazans while Israel retains security control”. Netanyahu Responds After Benny Gantz Resigns (  His departure will weaken Netanyahu’s government, add fuel to public protest, and support the White House efforts in dealing with the Middle East crisis.

Encouraged by the resignation, Brigadier General Avi Rosenfeld, Head of Israel’s Defense Forces Gaza Division, resigned over the “failure of October 7”. Will these two resignations lead to additional departures of high-profile figures?

On Monday the 10th, the United Nations Security Council approved a three-phase ceasefire resolution proposed by the US. The plan begins “with an immediate cease-fire, the release of all hostages in exchange for Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons, the return of displaced Gazans to their homes, and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza”. The plan has some promising features: “The second phase calls for a permanent cease-fire with the agreement of both parties” and rejects “any attempt at demographic or territorial change in the Gaza Strip, including any actions that reduce the territory of Gaza.” The resolution is vague on logistics, however, and both Hamas and Israel remain hesitant to express unconditional approval, with each side interpreting it to suit their positions. Gaza: Security Council adopts US resolution calling for ‘immediate, full and complete ceasefire’ | UN News

Over the weekend we also learned that the Biden Administration is close to signing a security and cooperation deal with Saudi Arabia. The deal covertly factors in the normalization of Saudi Arabia’s relations with Israel and the promise of a path to a Palestinian state. The US is relying too much on Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman (better known in the West as MBS) to strengthen the role of the Arab Gulf in resolving the Palestine question. Not long ago Biden lambasted MBS for his alleged role in the murder of Saudi American journalist Adnan Khashoggi; and for the past eight months the US president has been highly critical of Netanyahu’s policies without taking any firm action to reduce injustice.

Meanwhile, the White House team is shuttling around the capitals of the Middle East, attempting to persuade Netanyahu and Hamas to accept the terms of a new ceasefire plan, a proposed deal whose authorship has been the subject of intense debate and commentary.   Biden dispatches top aides to press Hamas as Israel grapples with cease-fire plan (

Despite their differences, Biden and Netanyahu agree that the road to peace starts with defeating Hamas. Netanyahu aims to finish with Hamas by continuing the war, whereas Biden wants to accomplish the same aim indirectly, through regional pressure to be achieved through an alliance with Saudi Arabia. However a vague ceasefire would not guarantee either the permanent end of the war or the survival of Hamas. To ask Hamas to accept a risky agreement that would lead to its demise is unrealistic. In a stalemate, a ceasefire is tantamount to meeting the enemy halfway. The terms of Hamas for a ceasefire are close to the expectations of the international community: Israel is being asked to stop the fighting and withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

It is important to note the extent to which Israel’s colonial policy paved the way for Hamas’s current authority. Hamas is where it is today partly because Israel brutally suppressed civil Palestinian dissent; assassinated or jailed Palestine’s most promising leaders; and manipulated the Palestinian Authority into becoming a proxy in the occupation. Until October 7, Hamas had been indirectly supported, off and on, by Netanyahu himself. In response, Hamas evolved to become both a political party and a provider of social services. In a sense, Hamas is a response to the growing Kahanist movement in Israel.

Currently, there is no other party to assume the leadership of the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority is corrupt and unpopular. There is no road map for Palestinian statehood. President Biden has no concrete proposal for a two-state solution. And Palestinians are far from coalescing into a united political front, scattered as they are across the West Bank; Gaza; East Jerusalem, refugee camps in the Arab world; emigrants in dozens of countries; and Israel itself as Arab citizens.

The only way to diminish Hamas’s authority is through a democratic process. Continuing the killing and destruction in Gaza, while pursuing the mirage of ending a movement, is a crime against humanity. There is a way to eventually neutralize Hamas’s power: an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces, an international force to protect Palestinians, funding for reconstruction, arranging for national elections, and finding a political solution for the two peoples to live peacefully as neighbors.

Ghassan Rubeiz is the former Middle East Secretary of the World Council of Churches. Earlier he taught psychology and social work in his country of birth, Lebanon, and later in the United States, where he currently lives. For the past twenty years, he has contributed to political commentary and delivered occasional public talks on subjects related to peace, justice, and interfaith. You can reach him at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Arab America. The reproduction of this article is permissible with proper credit to Arab America and the author.

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