Netanyahu Bolstered Hamas

Benjamin Netanyahu, Youtube screengrab.

Since the start of the Gaza war, more than 200 hundred aid workers have been killed. As a result, the health situation of the civilian population, still reeling from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)’s attacks, has worsened considerably, since many aid operations have been cancelled. One cannot but wonder what is crossing Netanyahu’s mind who is unable to see the suffering of hundreds of thousands of human beings, a situation that is mainly his responsibility.

It doesn’t escape anybody that, to a large extent, this has to do with Netanyahu’s desire to escape accountability for his actions. What is becoming increasingly evident is that absolute power has transformed him, making him even more ruthless and more impervious to criticism or to the calls for human kindness.

When he took office as prime minister for the second time in 2009, Netanyahu developed a perverse political doctrine that held that increasing the rift between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority would be to Israel’s advantage. That way, the diplomatic paralysis created would eliminate the possibility of negotiations with the Palestinians about the division of Israel into two states.

“Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas. This is part of our strategy –to isolate the Palestinians in Gaza from the Palestinians in the West Bank,” he declared years later. Consequent with this strategy, between 2012 and 2018 Netanyahu gave approval to Qatar to transfer a total of approximately a billion dollars to Gaza, half of which went to Hamas, including its military wing.

On May 5, 2019, Gershon Hacohen, an Israeli major general in reserves, had told the Ynet news website, “We need to tell the truth. Netanyahu’s strategy is to prevent the option of two states, so he is turning Hamas into its closest partner. Openly Hamas is an enemy. Covertly, it’s an ally.”

Confirming Hacohen’s point of view, on October 8, 2023, Tal Schneider, an Israeli political commentator, wrote in The Times of Israel, “…Israel has allowed suitcases holding millions in Qatari cash to enter Gaza through its crossings since 2018, in order to maintain its fragile ceasefire with the Hamas rulers of the Strip. Most of the time, Israeli policy was to treat the Palestinian Authority as a burden and Hamas as an asset.

On October 24, 2023, Iris Leal, an Israeli journalist, showing a remarkable capacity to anticipate events, wrote in Haaretz, “If we don’t want to show weakness, the goals of the war must be logical: a heavy blow, but not the insanity of flattening and occupying Gaza that has seized everyone. We have to rehabilitate, not spill more blood. We must concentrate our efforts on a major hostage deal and make time for the process of recovery and the defascization of Israeli society. It will begin with bringing down the government and its leader and establishing a commission of inquiry for the events of Black Saturday, the events of the black year that preceded it, and the rot of the years of Netanyahu’s rule that led to them.” Those words are as valid now as when they were written more than five months ago.

Writing in Pagina 12, an Argentine newspaper, Julián Varsavsky, an Argentine essayist and communications expert said, “Netanyahu and Hamas are mortal enemies that oppose the existence of two states. That symbiosis requires both to be in power. Hamas’ suicide attacks strengthened Netanyahu in 1996: the anti-terrorist struggle gets votes.”

This situation will haunt Netanyahu for years to come. He is showing the characteristics of a psychopath, unable to listen to anybody’s opinion but his own, particularly when his own political survival is at stake. Psychopaths suffer from a personality disorder manifested, among other features, by shallow emotions, absence of regret or remorse, impulsivity, inability to distinguish right and wrong, and behavior that conflicts with social norms, all of them present in Netanyahu.

The relentless IDF’s bombardment of the civilian population remind me of the poem The Pilot,

by the Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai, translated by Peter Cole.

The Pilot

When next you circle

in your chopper

over Jenin,

pilot, remember the children

and old women

in the homes at which you fire.

Spread a layer

of chocolate across your missile,

and do your best to be precise—

so their souvenir will be sweet

when the walls start to fall.

Netanyahu’s unchecked arrogance makes him interested in a never-ending conflict with the Palestinians. As Haaretz columnist Bradely Burston has stated, “He wants the world to accuse Israel of genocide and apartheid, violent occupation and ethnic cleansing” to make Israelis believe “the world hates us, and he is the only one who can save them.”

Israel will survive Netanyahu’s ruling. However, the damage that he has caused to the social and juridical fabric of Israel has been immense. After the most ruthless and indiscriminate bombing of civilians in recent times, all that is left of Gaza are terrified survivors, a ravaged land, and the devil’s footprints.

Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”