After 50 days of relentless Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip and more than 20 days of ground operations, Israel was shocked to see Hamas release its captives from the besieged and occupied coastal enclave.
While passing through the city centre, which was destroyed before the start of the ground operation, looking for some food, I found people gathering around a number of vehicles. At first, I thought they were getting food or assistance, but when I got closer, I found members of Al-Qassam Brigades with their arms and uniforms standing with a team from the International Red Cross (ICRC).
I asked a member of the ICRC team what was happening and was told: “We are picking up the Israeli captives.”
Just minutes later, members of the Palestinian resistance opened the doors of their vehicles and released the Israelis and three Thai workers, and handed them over safely and peacefully to the ICRC team amidst chants hailing Hamas and its military wing Al-Qassam Brigades.
This impressed me very much for many reasons. After 50 days of brutal air, sea and ground bombing that has turned Gaza into rubble, people still showed support for Hamas. They didn’t get angry with it despite the efforts of the Israeli and international media to blame Hamas for the destruction of Gaza and starvation of its people.
The situation brought to mind the remarks of the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borell that Hamas is not just a group of individuals but an idea and ideology that cannot be killed. It seems that the Palestinian people have already adopted this opinion and are ready to bear the consequences of their choice.
I was also surprised to see the number of people who had stayed behind in Gaza City in spite of the occupation’s repeated calls for them to leave their homes and head south, and the carpet bombing of the city which killed thousands of civilians as they sheltered in their homes.
The Israeli occupation leadership must now reassess its policies and strategies and its stated goals of ending Hamas and releasing its captives using lethal force.
Israeli columnist Amos Harel wrote in Haaretz that the scene of where Israeli prisoners of war were released in Gaza City showed that Hamas succeeded to prove it had not been defeated.
Yedioth Ahronoth thought that Hamas has another reserve army that it has not fully utilised.
Israeli journalist Ayala Hassoun said: “I was shocked when I saw Hamas fighters with their guns and vehicles standing in the centre of the north to release Israeli prisoners.”
This is a clever move, but it proves that Hamas is really an ideology based on the will to liberate Palestine, and this ideology is one every Palestinian adopts even those who are affiliated to other Palestinian factions.
Hamas represents the Palestinians who stick to their rights and are ready to die to regain them.
Hamas represents the new Palestinian generation which refuses the repetition of the Palestinian Nakba.
My advice to the Israeli occupation leadership is to give up on its genocide of the Palestinian people and its plans to take over their land because the Palestinian people’s roots are firm and they are steadfast. No amount of bloodshed will make them give up on their homeland. Acceptance of this will also mean the US administration and other international players who support the occupation will cease from doing so and help bring stability to the region.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.