What is Hamas?
Hamas is a genocidal terrorist group committed to the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews. Hamas was founded in Gaza in 1987 as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement dedicated to promoting Islamist extremism worldwide. They are a designated terrorist group in several countries, including the US, EU, Canada, Japan, Australia, Israel, and others. They are responsible for decades of violent terror attacks against Israeli civilians, including suicide bombings, stabbings, and shootings. They have also launched over 20,000 rockets into Israeli towns and cities. Their goals are outlined in their founding charter, which combines antisemitic conspiracy theories with the most toxic and hateful interpretations of Islamic theology.
Aren’t Israelis colonizers, and isn’t violence against them justified in the name of decolonization?
No. Applying the framework of “colonialism” or “settler-colonialism” to Jews in Israel is dehumanizing and inaccurate. Israel is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people, and this narrative erases 3,000 years of their history and identity. Historical and archeological records prove that Jews developed a unique civilization in this region over 3,000 years ago, and they have maintained deep ties to it ever since. Calling Jews living in their own homeland “colonizers” is part of an effort to dehumanize them, strip away their rights, and justify a horrific massacre by Hamas. No one can “colonize” their own home.
Doesn’t Israel control Gaza?
No. Israel does not “control” Gaza. Israel withdrew every Israeli soldier and civilian from Gaza in 2005. This was a unilateral withdrawal, meaning Israel took this step without first signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians. After winning the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, Hamas violently took over Gaza from the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2007. They have ruled Gaza ever since, and as a result terrorists have fired over 20,000 rockets at Israel from the territory, including over 6,700 since Oct. 7, 2023.
In response, both Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade to prevent weapons from entering Gaza. Despite ongoing threats from Hamas and other terror groups, Israel delivered thousands of tons of food, water, medicine, aid, and other materials to the territory every single week for years before the Hamas massacre on October 7th. Palestinian civilians in Gaza have still suffered tremendous hardships, mainly due to hostilities between Hamas and Israel. However, claiming that Israel “controls” Gaza means shielding the Hamas government from any accountability for the wellbeing of the people under its rule.
Isn’t Hamas just resisting the occupation, blockade, and other Israeli actions?
There are no Israeli policies or actions that could possibly justify intentionally murdering whole families, taking toddlers and the elderly hostage, or massacring hundreds of people at a music festival.
Israel (and Egypt) put a blockade in place to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas, after it violently took control of Gaza in 2007. Hamas could have ended the blockade at any point since then by stopping its terrorism against Israeli civilians, accepting Israel’s existence, and negotiating peace. If Hamas truly cared about the well-being of Palestinians, it would take these steps without hesitation.
Tragically, Hamas has chosen endless war against Israel instead of building a better future for their people. This is because Hamas does not exist to “resist the occupation” or help Palestinians achieve justice and peace. Their goals are clear; murder Jews, destroy Israel, and replace it with a brutally oppressive regime of religious supremacy. The current leader of Hamas in Gaza has said their goal is to, “wipe out Israel” and threatened to, “take down the border and tear out their hearts from their bodies.”
Hamas also gets massive funding and support from Iran’s regime – which regularly threatens Israel with annihilation. A major short term goal of this war for Hamas and their Iranian sponsors is reportedly to prevent Israel from making peace with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.
Israel has killed civilians in Gaza, so how are they different from Hamas?
The death of every Palestinian civilian in Gaza is a tragedy. There is no question that Palestinians have suffered immensely from violence between Hamas and Israel. However, there is a huge moral difference between the two sides of this conflict.
Hamas invaded Israel and massacred innocent people on purpose. In contrast, numerous legal and military experts have documented that Israel does not intentionally target civilians and goes beyond what the law requires by warning civilians before striking military targets.
The main reason why innocent Palestinians are still tragically killed and wounded during Israeli military operations is that Hamas and its terrorist allies have militarized Palestinian cities and neighborhoods. Terrorists fire rockets into Israel from crowded civilian areas in Gaza and embed military infrastructure in homes, schools, and hospitals. They place the people of Gaza directly in harm’s way, committing war crimes against both Israelis and Palestinians. In some cases, terrorist rockets from Gaza also misfire and kill Palestinian civilians.
The only way to prevent these tragedies is for Hamas and other terrorist groups to put down their weapons, stop attacking Israeli civilians, and negotiate peace.
Accusations of “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide”
Both Israelis and Palestinians have suffered immensely from the current Hamas-Israel War and the broader conflict. However, accusations of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” are dehumanizing and false.
The word “genocide” was coined in 1944 to describe the Nazi Holocaust – an industrial scale mass murder of 6 million Jews. In contrast, four times more people have been killed during the current Syrian Civil War than on both sides of the entire Arab–Israeli conflict since 1920. Both the Israeli and Palestinian populations have grown by millions since the conflict began.
The current war began with Hamas brutally massacring Israeli civilians. Hamas is a terrorist group driven by genocidal racism (see quotes below), and its leaders have repeatedly expressed their support for genocide and ethnic cleansing against Jews. However, Israel has been able to prevent Hamas from succeeding in these horrific goals.
Israel’s response to the Hamas massacre has been to strike terrorists, while warning Palestinian civilians to stay away from military targets and temporarily evacuate to safer areas in southern Gaza. Numerous legal and military experts have documented that Israel does not intentionally target civilians and often goes beyond what the law requires to avoid harming them.
Tragically, Palestinians in Gaza are still suffering immensely from this war. The main reason why innocent civilians are killed and wounded during Israeli military operations is that Hamas and its terrorist allies have militarized Palestinian cities and neighborhoods. Terrorists fire rockets into Israel from crowded civilian areas in Gaza and embed military infrastructure in homes, schools, and hospitals. They place the people of Gaza directly in harm’s way and urge them to ignore Israeli warnings, committing war crimes against both Israelis and Palestinians. In some cases, terrorist rockets from Gaza also misfire and kill Palestinian civilians.
While this war is horrific for civilians, Israel has repeatedly stated that it is fighting against Hamas and not intentionally targeting innocent people in Gaza. There is no comparison between Israeli strikes against terrorists and an effort to eradicate an entire ethnic group through genocide. Similarly, there is no comparison between encouraging civilians to temporarily evacuate part of Gaza for their safety on the one hand, and ethnic cleansing on the other. Those who use these terms to slander and dehumanize Israelis are only fueling more hatred and conflict.
Isn’t Israel to blame because it is more powerful than Hamas?
No. The “imbalance of power” narrative is misleading and harmful. Anyone who wants safety, freedom, and dignity for all people in the region should be thankful that Israel has more power than Hamas. The only reason Hamas hasn’t succeeded in murdering millions of Israelis is because Israel has the power to stop them. If Israel had less power, even more innocent people would be dying right now.
Hamas is a terrorist organization driven by genocidal racism against Jews. Its goal is not to “resist the occupation” but to kill Jews, destroy Israel, and replace it with a brutal regime of religious supremacy. The group rules Gaza with an iron fist. It uses its power to massacre Israeli civilians and oppress Palestinians under its control. Hamas is also funded and supported by at least three powerful governments: Iran, Qatar, and Turkey. None of them have shown any interest in changing the status quo, and Iran’s regime frequently threatens Israel with destruction.
Hamas could choose to end this conflict once and for all by stopping all violence against Israeli civilians, accepting Israel’s existence, and negotiating peace. If the group truly wanted a better future for Palestinians, that’s what it would do with its power. Unfortunately, Israel can’t make Hamas choose life over endless war, destruction, and death. If Israelis had the power to do that, the conflict would have been over a long time ago. There is no easy solution to this horrible situation. However this much is clear: one-sided approaches that blame Israel, try to strip away its power, and shield Hamas from accountability will only fuel more suffering and conflict. Those who want safety, freedom, and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians should not use the “imbalance of power” to empower Hamas or justify its massacre of Israeli civilians.
How can I identify misinformation?
Education is critical to identify misinformation, bias, and anti-Israel slander. Misinformation about Israel is unfortunately rampant during times of conflict. Much of this propaganda is amplified by powerful dictatorships such as Iran (the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism). The purpose of social media slogans that promote misinformation and false claims is not to uphold the rights of Palestinians to live in freedom and dignity. It is to make it harder for Israel to defend itself, strip away Jewish rights to self-determination, and end Israel’s existence. This is far from the first time that propagandists around the world have aided Hamas terrorists by twisting reality and manufacturing narratives that demonize and blame Israel alone for the conflict. There are several steps you can take:
Look critically at your sources. Is your information from a news outlet with reporters based in Israel or is this a post from a social media influencer?
Look at where news articles get their information and the language they use. Is the article or post referring to Hamas “fighters” or “militants” instead of “terrorists?” Do they leave out that the Ministry of Health in Gaza is run by Hamas?
Think critically about how issues are being presented. Are there broad or dehumanizing statements vilifying entire groups of people based on their nationality, religion, or ethnicity?
Stay informed. Knowing the facts helps you identify misinformation and bias when you see it. Follow @StandWithUs to stay up-to-date on the latest news and resources to help you understand what is going on.
StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, nonprofit, and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism. Through university fellowships, high school internships, middle school curricula, conferences, materials, social media, educational films, and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel.
Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters and programs throughout the U.S., in Australia, Israel, the UK, Canada, Brazil, and the Netherlands.
For more information: standwithus.com/situationroom
For more information contact Adam Marks, National Youth and Education Manager, StandWithUs Australia firstname.lastname@example.org