Not long before the ceasefire was concluded, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this about Hamas: “They received blows that they didn’t expect. And I have no doubt we set them back years.” Although there was no reason to doubt Netanyahu’s word, others were framing the outcome of the conflict differently. Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei, tweeted: “I thank God for His aid and the honor bestowed on Palestinian fighters. I extend my congratulations for victory over Zionist criminals.” He wasn’t just putting a good face on the imbroglio. He had good reason to claim victory.
Nor was Khamenei the only one who did so. According to Iran’s Press TV, “Chief of Hamas’ Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh congratulated Palestinians on ‘this strategic, divine’ victory, which was achieved by the ‘courageous’ resistance forces.” And Abu Hamza, spokesman for Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades, crowed that the Palestinians had placed Israel in “unprecedented existential, historic trouble.” He added: “We managed to restrain the enemy and his herds of settlers,” and praised the Islamic Republic of Iran, saying to it, “You are partners in our victory.”
Abu Ubaida, the spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing, was likewise exultant: “With the help of God, we were able to humiliate the enemy, its fragile entity and its savage army.”
How can all these jihad leaders claim victory when Hamas has been set back years, as Netanyahu said? Chiefly because of the reality of the ceasefire itself. In Islamic law, an Islamic army, which Hamas and its allies undoubtedly constitute, doesn’t ask for or want a ceasefire unless it is losing. And Hamas, according to Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen, was “begging for a ceasefire.”
Who jumped to give Hamas what it wanted? Joe Biden’s handlers, of course. CNN reported Wednesday that according to the White House, Old Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “‘that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire’ in the raging violence. The statement was a signal Biden is losing patience with Netanyahu, a leader he has known for four decades.” Was Old Joe really that coherent? Doubtful, but whatever really happened, Biden’s handlers got their ceasefire.
Hamas wanted a ceasefire so much because it knew it was losing, and was able to snatch victory, or at least survival, from the jaws of defeat and possible annihilation by getting a breather. The idea that an Islamic army should not seek a ceasefire unless it is losing is also based on Islamic law, which stipulates that “if Muslims are weak, a truce may be made for ten years if necessary, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made a truce with the Quraysh for that long” (Reliance of the Traveller, o9.16).
Note that this can only be done if “Muslims are weak.” The same legal manual also quotes this verse of the Qur’an: “So do not be fainthearted and call for peace when it is you who have the upper hand” (47:35). So Hamas would not be “begging” for a ceasefire at all if its leaders believed that they were in a position of strength. “Interests that justify making a truce are such things as Muslim weakness because of lack of numbers or materiel, or the hope of an enemy becoming Muslim…” (Reliance of the Traveller, o9.16).
Hamas isn’t thinking that Israel is about to become Muslim. But it’s entirely possible, if not likely, that they’re suffering from a lack of numbers or materiel, or both.
The bottom line: Hamas is feeling the heat and wanted this ceasefire in order to regroup and emerge in a stronger position. But Biden’s handlers and other mainstream Western analysts and policymakers do not know or care about what Islamic law says, and they have no idea of the importance of Islamic principles and precepts in shaping and prolonging the conflict. If they did, and if they supported Israel, which they certainly do not, Biden’s handlers would understand that Hamas’ “begging for a ceasefire” did not mean that it was time for a ceasefire, but time for Israel to press forward against a weakened enemy, in order to achieve a decisive victory.
On the other hand, maybe Biden’s handlers do understand all this, and that’s why they wanted the ceasefire: so that their friends in Hamas can gather strength to fight again another day. Either way, the outcome is the same: the jihadis win.