Although many concentrate on its death-cult worship, its bloodthirsty killing of adversaries, or its contempt for women, Christians and homosexuals, it is this aspiration for genocide that is at the root of Hamas's activities. It is the primary reason why Hamas, the governing regime in Gaza, will never recognise or accept a peace accord with Israel in any form.
Since Israel left Gaza in 2005, thousands of rockets have rained down on Israeli cities and towns in deliberate contravention not just of international law, but also of all humanity and morality. Although some might suggest that the so-called blockade is the cause of the attacks, it is actually a consequence.
The restrictions were implemented only years after Israel left Gaza, when it was clear that, instead of building a "Singapore of the Middle East", Hamas was interested in importing stockpiles of weapons from places such as Iran. Instead of building a future for its people, Hamas built an open-air prison for the million-and-a-half inhabitants who fell into its grasp.
However, Gaza was never enough for an organisation whose raison d'être is the annihilation of Israel and whose charter begins with the ominous warning that "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it".
Every rocket from Gaza is a double war crime. First, the rockets are aimed at civilians; second, they are fired from built-up civilian areas, often close to schools, mosques and hospitals. And about 10% of Hamas rockets do not reach Israel, exploding in Gaza. Mohammed Sadallah – a four-year-old killed on Saturday, his body displayed in a press conference with Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's leader – was, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, most likely killed by an errant Hamas rocket.
Hamas leaders frequently declare that their people actively seek death. Fathi Hamad, a senior member of Hamas, stated in 2008 that, "for the Palestinian people, death became an industry at which women and children excel. Accordingly, we created a human shield of women, children and elderly. We seek death as you [Israelis] desire life."
Time to act
Hamas seeks conflagration and war. Death and destruction is seen as a win-win calculation, because any Israeli death is considered a glorious achievement and every Palestinian death that of a "holy martyr", providing badly needed propaganda. Seemingly, there are not enough deaths for them, so Hamas's military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, has been sending out pictures of massacres in Syria, claiming they were taken in Gaza.
Israel has been left with little choice but to root out this nest of hate and destruction. No nation on Earth would allow a third of its population to live in constant fear of incessant fire from a neighbouring territory. Our government exercised restraint. We gave the international community time to act. However, there was a deafening silence, demonstrating to Israelis that we had to take action to protect our citizens.
Those who refused to condemn the attacks on Israeli citizens have no right to condemn Israel's response to establish peace and quiet for its citizens. This is the basic obligation of any sovereign nation and we will continue taking any action necessary to achieve this aim.
In the face of this undeniable truth, the usual accusation is that Israel is responding with "disproportionate force" or carrying out "collective punishment". I urge all who make this accusation to consider that Israel has successfully targeted in excess of 1 300 weapons caches, rocket launchers and other elements of Hamas's terrorist infrastructure. Yet, despite this, the number of Palestinian casualties remains about one for every 13 strikes, the majority killed being active members of Hamas and combatants.
Israel will not allow its citizens' lives to be endangered. The international community must call on the Palestinian leadership in the Gaza Strip to take the same approach towards its own people. – © Guardian News & Media 2012
Danny Ayalon is Israel's deputy minister of foreign affairs