Hamas wants Palestinians to be killed

Dan Perry
9 min readMar 27, 2024

It’s shameful that so many are confused about the genocidal mafia masquerading as a champion of the Palestinians

Five months into the Israel-Hamas war, as fiercely contradicting narratives about the conflict have seized the global imagination — so much so that they may be changing the course of elections in the United States and United Kingdom — it’s worth reminding the world that Hamas is not a friend of the Palestinians.

Instead, it’s an Islamic fundamentalist mafia whose primary goals are to prevent a two-state solution — the realization of which would involve a verboten acknowledgment of Israel as a legitimate state — and to spread Islamic theocracy. This dismaying truth has been lost in progressive spaces, where Hamas is widely portrayed as a force of mainstream Palestinian resistance. Those on the left should understand that Hamas is not trying to achieve a Palestinian state or justice for Palestinians — but to prevent those very outcomes by moving Israelis to the political right through terrorist attacks.

Part of the blame lies with the media, which in its zeal to avoid taking sides often ends up obfuscating the essence when one of the parties to a conflict is as irredeemably abhorrent as in the case of Hamas. The vast majority of Western coverage of the conflict — while generally acknowledging that Hamas started it with its Oct. 7 massacre — omits the critical background from which understanding may spring forth. So I’ll endeavor here to make up for that deficit.


Hamas’ original 1988 covenant was a fanatic’s manifesto par excellence: “Jihad is (our) path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes,” it declared. A statement of principles from 2017 was softer, but maintained the posture of absolute opposition to compromise and peace: “There shall be no recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist entity… Hamas believes that no part of the land of Palestine shall be compromised or conceded, irrespective of the causes, the circumstances and the pressures and no matter how long the occupation lasts.”

The group thrives on conflict and mayhem, but its leadership does understand a central fact of life: Between 14 and 15 million people live in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza overall (which is what they mean by the land of Palestine), and fewer than 8 million are Jewish. The partition of the Holy Land is most necessary for Israeli Jews, for Zionists who support the Jewish state idea, because a one-state outcome comprising the entire territory would very likely become a majority-Arab country. Basically, once partition becomes impossible and as tensions and violence spread to every community those Jews with means (the vast majority of whom support the partition-seeking opposition) will start leaving, and the exodus will become a stampede. That is the Hamas vision, and it is less implausible than the vision of the Israeli right (which is to maintain control of the disputed territories and to somehow subjugate the Arab population there forever).

By provoking Israel into expanding its reach into Gaza and the West Bank — thereby imperiling chances for a two-state solution — Hamas undermines peace and prospects for a two-state solution, but also provokes Israel into acting against its best interests. So this war, ruinous though it is for Gazans, is exactly what Hamas wanted.

When Israelis elect racist lawmakers who will deepen conflict, and whose policies will lead to further suffering for civilian Palestinians, Hamas is happy, not sad.

When the Israeli government builds more West Bank settlements, making a clear partition between an Israeli and Palestinian state more difficult to bring about, Hamas receives that not as a punishment, but a gift. When Israeli ultranationalists speak of reestablishing settlements in Gaza, Hamas could hardly be more pleased.

And when civilian Palestinians are killed in a conflict that Hamas started, bringing global demonization of Israel, the group is delighted, not outraged: The more distant the prospect of peace, the more desperate and radicalized people on all sides become, the more Hamas’ goals are served. The devastation civilian Palestinians have faced through this war is by Hamas’ design — a feature, not a bug. It could stop everything in about a second — by coughing up the hostages it holds and laying down its arms, allowing the PA to rule Gaza — if it cared a whit about the lives of Palestinians.

Israel’s awful government of inept ultranationalists, elected by a fluke in November 2022, is obscuring the bigger truth about the odiousness of Hamas.

The Hamas project began in earnest immediately after signing of the Oslo Accords, in Sept. 1993. The following weeks saw a string of deadly attacks in the West Bank by Palestinian rejectionists, and by early 1994 Hamas, which was first founded in 1987 as an Islamic charity with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, was claiming responsibility for suicide bombings against civilians in Israel itself, at first on buses, and then in cafes and shopping malls and on streets.

This was not a negotiating tactic to pressure Israel in its then-ongoing talks with the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Rather, it was an effort to get Israel to walk away from the negotiations, because Hamas viewed any compromise over the Holy Land as an abomination under its maximalist interpretation of Islam, which aims for the creation of a caliphate in the Middle East and beyond.

In effect, Hamas was exploiting a critical mistake by then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Instead of working quickly after the signing of the Accords to create irreversible change on the ground, even during his 1992–1996 term, Rabin implemented a cautious five-year interim period to be followed by a permanent deal.

That slow approach gave enemies of a two-state solution — like Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party in Israel, and Palestinian rejectionists led by Hamas — ample opportunity to derail the process. The unspoken symbiosis was clear: Hamas would blow up buses, and Netanyahu would appear at the scene within minutes, attacking the government as his henchmen compared Rabin to the Judenrat — Jews who collaborated with the Nazis.

Rabin’s assassination by a far-right Israeli in 1995 helped ensure that symbiosis would continue for decades to come. Netanyahu edged out Shimon Peres, seen as Rabin’s natural successor, by a few thousand votes after a Hamas suicide bombing campaign in the weeks before the May 1996 election. He then dutifully hit the brakes on anything resembling a good-faith peace process with the Palestinian Authority.

And here we are today. Several moments when peace seemed more or less possible have passed in the last three decades. But the fundamental equation has remained in place: the Israeli right, still led by Netanyahu, and the Palestinian hardliners, still led by Hamas, both reject partition — and in their mutual rejection, both aid the other in holding onto backing from the gullible (or the radical) among their publics. They’re very different (the Israeli right are not terrorists nor, generally, religious fanatics) — but in this key way each is the mirror image of the other.

That’s why for years Netanyahu saw some value in allowing Hamas to stay in control in Gaza, after the group staged a coup against the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Netanyahu calculated that having Hamas rule Gaza weakened the West Bank-based PA, enabling Israel to prolong its de facto control of that territory.

So Israel (and the craven Arab countries) looked the other way while Hamas stole countless millions to build a network of tunnels, while it installed a brutal Islamist police state, and while it brainwashed an entire generation into devoting their lives to hating Jews, fighting Israel and waging global jihad. Occasionally the group would fire one too many rockets at Israel, sparking a mini-war. Now it has sparked a major one.

I am not writing here necessarily in defense of the way the war has been carried out — though I will note that few of Israel’s critics have proposed practical alternatives to fixing a disastrous situation or making urban warfare less awful when one side uses human shields. I myself attempted, arguing to delay the war and then proposing ways to end it. But that doesn’t mean the goal of removing Hamas is unjustified.

The world seems accurately aware of Netanyahu’s bad faith: It’s widely accepted, both within and outside Israel, that his motivations in pursuing and prolonging the war are deeply linked to his own desire to maintain a grip on power despite his extraordinary unpopularity and ongoing criminal trials. Once the war ends, he’s expected to step down on account of his responsibility for the Oct. 7 disaster. If he agrees to the US proposals to end the war and get peace with Saudi Arabia in exchange for restarting peace talks with the Palestinians, he will be brought down by his far-right allies and probably lose elections. Either way, he would face his ongoing bribery trial as a regular citizen far less able to machinate stalling tactics. His vulgar schemes are clear.

But around the world, people struggle to grasp that Hamas is vastly more despicable.

Hamas wants to kill Jews, subdue Palestinian “infidels,” and promote a jihadism that would take over the entire planet if allowed. Any territory that falls under its control will experience a reign of terror, as Gaza has, and will be used as a base for aggression. There is absolutely no reason for anyone but a supporter of these aims to back them. Unlike the Israeli right, Hamas is not even pretending to want peace.

The main problem is in the Arab world, where self-reflection has not been encouraged in the post-colonial era by cynical regimes. There is a strong disinclination to see simple things for what they are, and a widespread type of overthinking that feeds a predilection for conspiracy theories. All this gives Hamas a major pass.

Some countries, of course, are just cynical hypocrites. Leading the pack is Russia, which continues to assault Ukraine hoping to increase its territory which is already the largest on the global map; representatives of its criminal government, wearing a straight face, insist on an “immediate” Gaza cease-fire in the circus called the UN.

In the West, meanwhile, ignorance about Hamas and even admiration for the group seems strongest among progressives who have been duped into mindlessly equating the vile miscreants of Hamas with the quite reasonable broader Palestinian cause for enfranchisement and peace. They will forgive the most heinous parties as long as there is some sort of “decolonization” narrative, usually based on assumptions about race and various other stereotypes. And then there is laughable cluelessness: Blue-haired gender-nonbinary youth in the West do not seem to know that the Islamic caliphate Hamas envisions would have a quite lethal type of intolerance for them.

And as for the global media, it seems not to know that there is little reason to believe and pass on the civilian casualty figures being reported out of Gaza by Hamas — not without solid proof or validation by outside parties. The war has been brutal beyond a doubt, but that doesn’t make the Hamas-run Health Ministry credible. Moreover, the media also conflates Hamas with the more reasonable broader Palestinian cause. It is an outrageous dereliction of journalistic duty — bothsidesism at its most pathetic.

And then there is academia. It’s troubling that elite US universities have, in the course of the war, refused to treat active support for Hamas — a group that purposely murdered almost 1,200 people in one day in an unprovoked invasion — as being outside the bounds of reasonable free speech. Columbia, where I earned my Master’s Degree (in engineering, not in journalism) is a particularly egregious case in point.

Early on in the conflict, 100 Columbia professors signed a letter defending the rights of students who back Hamas. Then the university president agreed. And now, even though the university is under investigation and facing lawsuits for abetting antisemitism, comes word that it has hired a professor who has openly declared himself a Hamas supporter. Similar shameful foolishness happens all over.

As a liberal (Americans misuse the word, alas), I value free speech, and believe in a high bar for regulating it. I fully understand opposition to Israel, and don’t consider criticism of the country to automatically be a reflection of antisemitism.

But there is a reason that hate speech is regulated, even in countries — and social environments — in which the freedom of expression is a fundamental value. Free speech should not protect supporters of mass murderers who kill Jews in order to prevent the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and impose brutal theological restrictions on their own people.

The misdeeds of the Israeli right and the complications on the ground do not change a fundamental truth: Hamas will bring only misery to the Middle East, and is part of a broader jihadi movement that is at war with everyone else in the world. Support for such evil should be treated the same as calls for white supremacy, the restoration of slavery, or declaring homosexuality a capital offense. Let’s end the confusion.



Dan Perry

Journalist and comms professional who led the Associated Press in the Middle East, Africa, Europe & Caribbean. Author of Israel & the Quest for Permanence.