Israel holds its people accountable, Hamas does not – Nicholas Woode-Smith

In the prelude to the tragic events of October 7th, South African leaders condemned Israeli forces while turning a blind eye to the rampant atrocities committed by Hamas. Despite evidence and admissions of guilt, Hams denies its crimes, contrasting sharply with Israel’s accountability for individual wrongdoing. The stark difference exposes Hamas’s true nature as a terror organization.

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By Nicholas Woode-Smith*

Long before the devastating events of October 7th, anti-Israel pundits, notably in South Africa’s government, have depicted Israeli law enforcement and IDF personnel as serial abusers. The West Bank, they argue, is an apartheid state, constantly being harassed by capricious soldiers.

Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Foreign Minister, has seemingly repurposed her entire mandate over condemning Israel, often at the expense of South African Jews. Many editors, journalists and media personalities have also jumped on the bandwagon of condemning Israel.

A common assertion is that Israeli detention centres are facilities rife with torture and sexual abuse. And for these reasons, they often argue that Hamas is either not so different, or far more virtuous in comparison. Perhaps, to justify the absurd fact that South Africa’s government maintains friendly relations with a group that is considered a terrorist organisation.

There is no doubt going to be abusive soldiers in war. Individuals who engage in violence are not all going to be as disciplined or ethical as we would like them to be. But we cannot judge an entire nation by the actions of its malcontents. Rather, we must examine how a country’s institutions treat such criminals.

On October 7th, countless Israeli men, women, and children were raped, tortured, and murdered by Hamas and their jihadist allies. The UN, after many months of ignoring the testimonials, forensic evidence, and admissions of guilt from boasting Hamas fighters, finally admitted that there is evidence that sexual violence occurred on October 7th on a mass scale.

The fact that videos published by Hamas depicting their crimes (including a video of a beaten, assaulted teenager being paraded through the streets), witness testimony and the corpses of victims (many of whom had their pelvis bones broken from repeated assault) weren’t enough to convince many people is still a tragedy for the world.

Already, irresponsible, corrupt, and downright evil media houses are trying to spin the report to mean anything but the blatant truth. Anti-Israel protesters will repeatedly shift the blame to Israel, even going so far as to claim that sexual violence should be allowed to go unpunished.

Hamas has since denied that any of its thousands of fighters engaged in sexual violence and brutality. They even claim that they didn’t kill any noncombatants. A claim debunked by an unfathomable amount of evidence – much of which was published by Hamas itself. A group which has genocide of the Jewish people as one of its founding missions.

I am doubtful that Hamas told its horde of thugs to refrain from raping anyone. But even if they did, it is undoubtable that many rapes and atrocities did occur. And never stopped for the hostages who are still being held in the Gazan terror dungeons.

Hamas had an opportunity to at least pretend to be a responsible organisation. It could have owned up to the fact that rogue individuals committed crimes during a military operation that it deemed legitimate. It could have found the perpetrators of these atrocities and brought them to justice.

But it didn’t. Rather, Hamas exploits the downright gullibility of the ignorant, and denies any crimes done under their authority. Yet, it is the IDF and Israeli officials who are accused of harbouring abusive personnel.

When an IDF soldier kills in self-defence, perceived or genuine, he or she is condemned. It doesn’t matter that their comrades have been killed by suicide attackers, knife murderers and assassins. In the heat of battle, or when faced with the constant stress of possible enemy attacks, only a naïve fool would expect perfect reactions from a soldier. Insurgencies burn at the sanity of security forces, and Israel has had to face a brutal insurgency for decades.

But every single one of these killings is investigated. They are probed, as they should be. And if the IDF soldier is found guilty of an unjust killing, they are punished. In October 2023, an off-duty soldier was arrested for shooting a Palestinian olive farmer. Three soldiers were sent to prison for abusing a Palestinian man in May 2023. A military officer was arrested in 2016 for raping Palestinian men and women, and was later sentenced to 11 years in prison.

All of these crimes were perpetrated by individuals within the Israeli military. But unlike Hamas, these individuals were held accountable. They were arrested, investigated, tried, and sentenced. Of course, there will be criminals who slip through the cracks. This isn’t a perfect world. But the fact of the matter is that Israel’s institutions do not support the killing of innocents or the sexual assault of anyone. Those found committing such atrocities will face justice.

Israel is a country governed by the rule of law, respecting human rights and modern notions of morality. Hamas has proven again and again that it rules Gaza as a dictatorship, governed by morals that should have died a thousand years ago.

South Africa has a lot to learn from Israel. But the ANC is unlikely to want to hold its own people accountable. Perhaps, this is the reason the ANC finds so much commonality with Hamas.

The isolated crimes of individuals within Israel are in no way comparable to the institutionalised and governmentally condoned atrocities of Hamas. There is no justification for rape. Ever. And the fact that Hamas simultaneously boasts about it, while denying all the evidence, should be reason enough to reveal them for who they truly are. An evil terror group, that needs to be destroyed.

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Nicholas Woode-Smith* is an economic historian, political analyst, and author.

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