He demanded it, and he got it: 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.” It’s hard to believe the Most Beloved President in History could hold that coherent a conversation, but whatever may be the truth behind this, Biden’s handlers got their ceasefire. According to Reuters on Thursday, “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said his security cabinet had voted unanimously in favour of a ‘mutual and unconditional’ Gaza truce proposed by Egypt.” Nevertheless, the chief beneficiary of the respite is not Israel, but Hamas.
Taher Al-Nono, media adviser to Hamas top dog Ismail Haniyeh, sounded a decidedly tepid note with a hint of a threat, saying: “The Palestinian resistance will abide by this agreement as long as the Occupation (Israel) does the same.” Abu Ubaida, the spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing, was less successful in hiding his enthusiasm: “With the help of God, we were able to humiliate the enemy, its fragile entity and its savage army.”
Abu Ubaida doesn’t have anything he can point to in order to justify this claim of victory. Netanyahu stated: “They received blows that they didn’t expect. And I have no doubt we set them back years.” There is no reason to doubt his word. While Hamas did succeed in firing more rockets at Israel than ever before, most of them were stopped by the Iron Dome Missile Defense System; few did serious damage.
However, the chief indication to which Abu Ubaida can point in order to justify his claim that Israel has been humiliated is the fact of the ceasefire itself. This is because an Islamic army, which Hamas undoubtedly is, 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.”
If this is true, it means that Hamas knew it was losing, and was able to snatch victory, or at least survival, from the jaws of defeat and possible annihilation by getting the ceasefire. The idea that an Islamic army should not seek a ceasefire unless it is losing is 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 wants a 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 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.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 21 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest book is Did Muhammad Exist?: An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins―Revised and Expanded Edition. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.