THE MEDIA (e.g., CNN, MSNBC, Fox News) are saturated with reports of damage and death inflicted by Israel on Gaza. Thousands have died. Whole neighborhoods have been destroyed. Food, water, electricity, and fuel are dangerously scarce. As Israel’s incursion to rescue hostages and eliminate Hamas proceeds, thousands more Gazans and Israeli soldiers will die, as may many hostages still held by Hamas. There are calls for a ceasefire by the UN and others to avoid a hu- manitarian catastrophe.
According to this narrative, Hamas has no say in this. But that is not true. Hamas holds over 100 hostages, whom they are strategically releasing to gain time. But their time is limited. They are surrounded by a superior force. They can stall, they can inflict damage, but they cannot win. They can hide among and below their citizens, inflicting death and destruction, not just on Israeli soldiers but inviting the same for themselves and innocent Gazans who live in their midst. They gain time to do this better by the pauses they are buying with innocent human beings they should never have kidnapped in the first place.
As a founding member of People4Peace (www.people4peace. net), an organization created after October 7, I offer a different narrative, one that will save thousands of lives and safeguard the remaining hostages: Hamas can sue for peace and surrender. They would champion their cause by showing, through this self-sacrifice, that they care about their fellow Gazans. This would garner world sympathy at a lower human price than they are now exacting. Through an intermediary that both sides can work with, Hamas can release all the hostages. Further, they can offer to aban- don their tunnels and let the Israeli troops in. The members of Hamas would then be allowed to leave Gaza, alive. The Gazans can return to their homes. After they return, a third party can take over. Israel will have the right to inspect for weapons but be sub- ject to oversight by that party so that everything Israel does is above board. Israel destroys all rockets, tunnels, weapons, and ammunition. After a certain time, Gaza gains autonomy and even self-rule, perhaps in conjunction with the West Bank, if they agree to remain unarmed.
Israel is coming. In the end, after bloodshed and destruction, the tunnels, rockets, and weapon caches will be destroyed. All Hamas can gain by continuing to delay and fight is to kill more Israelis, but at the cost of the lives of the innocent Gazans they live among. Is killing Israelis (a goal explicitly stated in Hamas’s charter) worth the lives of their fellow Gazans? Are their fellow Gazans innocent civilians or just mere hostages to be sacrificed on the altar of their “cause”?
If Hamas were to make such a deal, they would eliminate Israel’s reason for bombing and unleashing its armed forces in Gaza. The destruction of life and property ends. Israel gets what it says it wants. Hamas saves its fellow Gazans and becomes the self-sacrificing peacemaker. Gazans gain security and self-rule.
All Hamas needs do is sacrifice their power to save their fellow Gazans. Will they? Are they worth more than the people they claim to be doing this for? If they don’t surrender, they are saying that their control of Gaza is paramount. We all know that Hamas will not consider, let alone offer, such a solution. For Hamas, the only solution is destruction of the Jewish state, as explicitly stated in their charter. So Hamas will insist on fighting a war they instigated and which they will lose, where the main casualties are their own people.
Hamas consciously chooses death and destruction for its people to prolong its power.
But this time, we all know their days are numbered.
So why impose death and mayhem on innocents? ■
Joel Weinberger is a clinical psychologist, professor, and author of the award-winning The Unconscious: Theory, Research and Clinical Implications. His work has appeared in Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, and Tedx Talks.
View on Page 8 of The Jerusalem Report ( December 25, 2023 issue available beginning 2023-12-13)