The West’s useful idiots are Hamas’s last hope

Stanford students and Pro-Palestinian protesters gather at Stanford University
Stanford students and Pro-Palestinian protesters gather at Stanford University

With all the criticism that is being directed at Israel over its conduct of the war in Gaza, one essential fact is constantly overlooked: Hamas, the terrorist group responsible for provoking this conflict in the first place, is on the brink of suffering a catastrophic defeat.

When, back in October, Hamas launched the most devastating terrorist attack in Israel’s history, it had around 24 battalions of trained militants. Equipped with hundreds of thousands of weapons, which were predominantly supplied by Iran and included advanced rocket launchers, explosive drones and heavy machine guns, the organisation had developed into a fully fledged terrorist army.

The sophistication of Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure was evident during the early salvoes of its October 7 attack. Drawing on the detailed intelligence Iran’s Revolutionary Guard had compiled on Israel’s military listening posts around the Gaza border, Hamas succeeded in knocking out Israel’s early warning systems, leaving the Israeli military in the dark about the true extent of the tragedy rapidly unfolding on its southern border.

Today, thanks to the unrelenting military campaign undertaken by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), that terrorist infrastructure lies in tatters.

The latest Western intelligence assessments indicate that at least 18 of Hamas’s original 24 battalions have now been destroyed as effective fighting forces. Around half its fighters have been killed – accounting for a sizeable proportion of the 30,000-odd “civilian” fatalities in the conflict.

This includes a number of senior field commanders. Hamas has been reduced to a small cadre of guerrilla fighters, primarily based in the southern city of Rafah. They can still conduct hit and run attacks, but are no longer able to maintain the constant barrage of rocket attacks against Israel that took place at the start of the war.

Nor is there any sign that the Israeli military is willing to ease up in its effort to achieve Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declared aim of wiping Hamas off the face of the earth. This is despite the constant barrage of criticism the IDF has encountered over its conduct of the war, much of it motivated by a decidedly anti-Israeli political agenda.

On Wednesday Israeli tanks pushed deeper into eastern Rafah as part of their attempts to destroy the four Hamas battalions still located there. Nor has Hamas achieved much success with its attempts to provoke a wider war in the Middle East.

If Hamas’s aim in launching the October 7 attacks was to incite a large-scale Arab revolt against the Israelis, it has failed miserably to achieve its objective. The support provided by other members of Iran’s so-called “axis of resistance”, such as Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Yemen’s Houthi rebels, have made no significant impact on Israel’s military campaign.
Indeed, Israel’s carefully-calibrated response to Iran’s rash decision to launch a missile and drone barrage against Israel last month, when Israeli warplanes successfully neutralised a state-of-the-art Russian air defence system, has had the desired effect of putting the Iranians back in their box.

Another Hamas objective, to end efforts to normalise relations between Israel and the Arab world under the Abraham Accords, has similarly made little impact. Given the choice between supporting Hamas or backing the US-led military intervention to protect Israel from Iran’s missile barrage, moderate Arab regimes, including Jordan and several Gulf states, opted to target Iran, instead of backing Tehran’s band of Islamist terrorists in Gaza.

Faced with the very real prospect of annihilation at the hands of the Israelis, it is hardly surprising that the only card Hamas has left is to maintain its propaganda campaign, which has gained traction in Western liberal circles, for an immediate ceasefire, a move which is about its only hope of surviving Israel’s uncompromising offensive.

This would explain the movement’s deliberate attempt to embarrass the Israelis by claiming it would accept an immediate ceasefire, even though Hamas leaders knew full well that the terms offered would never be agreed to by the Israelis.
Hamas’s willingness to play fast and loose with the ceasefire terms has even prompted reports that the Qataris, who have given Hamas’s political leaders asylum in Doha, have finally lost patience with the Palestinian Islamists. Senior Qatari officials complain that Hamas had been exploiting the talks for its own “narrow political interest”. Many senior Hamas leaders have decamped from Qatar to Turkey.

The many setbacks Hamas has suffered during the past seven months mean that critics of Israel’s approach have been reduced to arguing that, while the IDF may succeed in destroying Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure, it will not destroy the movement’s Islamist ideology.

This may be true, but eliminating the ability of Hamas, and other Islamist terror groups like al-Qaeda, to conduct acts of terrorism will certainly help to dissuade impressionable young men and women from joining their ranks.

Just as al-Qaeda no longer has the ability to threaten the West, the world will be a far safer place once Israel has completed its destruction of Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure.