Editor’s note: Aviva Klompas is the former director of speechwriting at the Israeli Mission to the United Nations and co-founder of Boundless Israel, a nonprofit organization that partners with community leaders in the United States to support Israel education and combat hatred of Jews. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own. Read more opinion at CNN.
A Hamas command center that the Israeli military says is under Al-Rantisi children’s hospital offers a chilling glimpse into what Gaza will continue to look like if the growing global calls for a ceasefire are heeded.
Inside hidden rooms, Hamas reportedly stored rocket-propelled grenades, an explosive vest and even a motorcycle believed to be used to kidnap Israelis on October 7, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Diapers and baby bottles found there suggest Hamas imprisoned its youngest hostages at the site, the IDF says.
Hamas also has a command node under Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza’s largest hospital, says a US official with knowledge of American intelligence.
The secret tunnels and command center that Israeli forces point to are part of an elaborate terror infrastructure that Hamas has spent 15 years constructing in the heart of Gaza. If that infrastructure is not fully destroyed, Hamas, which remains intent on destroying Israel, will retain the means to continue attacking Israeli civilians while hiding behind Palestinian civilians.
Accepting a ceasefire now will cost many more lives in the long run.
The sheer cruelty of Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, including the burning and mutilation of bodies, recalls the atrocities perpetrated against Jews by Nazi Germany and against Americans by ISIS. With a death toll of about 1,200 people, it was the second-largest terror attack globally since 9/11.
Israel waited three weeks to begin a ground offensive to allow time for Palestinian civilians in Gaza to evacuate from the war zone, recognizing this would require time and coordination for families. When it did send troops into Gaza, Israel was explicit in its goals to dismantle the Hamas war machine and rescue more than 200 hostages.
For the last week, the IDF has taken the unprecedented step of providing four-hour daily humanitarian pauses in fighting to enable civilians to leave harm’s way. The rising toll on civilians is a devastating reality of this conflict.
Yet Hamas leaders have instructed Palestinians not to evacuate, demanding they remain in northern Gaza.
These critics forget, or ignore, that Hamas broke the Western-brokered ceasefire that was signed a few months before October 7. They continue to redefine insanity by entertaining the idea that a new ceasefire will reform Hamas and bring about peace.
Just the opposite is true. A ceasefire would be a de facto victory for a nihilistic jihadi terrorist organization that is financed and backed by Iran, one of whose leaders recently stood on American soil and warned that “new fronts will be opened up against the United States.”
Any truce would leave Hamas’ leadership, military, weapons and deadly ideology — along with its network of tunnels – intact. It would also broadcast a message to Iran and its other proxy terror groups that there are no real consequences for committing large-scale atrocities.
For 15 years under Hamas, Gaza has had no elections, no free speech, no political parties, no free press, no due process, no human rights. Instead, it has had arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and executions.
A ceasefire won’t free the Palestinian people from this long-term brutality or cruelty. If the IDF is successful in destroying Hamas, it will have done more to help the Palestinian people than any government or human rights group has ever done.
Otherwise, we are likely to see more bunkers dug beneath more hospitals from which more massacres are launched for generations to come.
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