Hamas once again has provoked a crisis with Israel to advance its revolutionary agenda by exploiting the misery that its own policies have forced upon the Palestinian people and blaming Israel for everything that has happened. Hamas ended the six-month ceasefire (that it never fully enforced anyway) and resumed its indiscriminate bombardment of Israeli civilians, while its terrorists hid among Palestinian civilians. The sad truth is that Hamas and other Palestinian extremist organizations are more interested in killing Israelis than in protecting the interests of their own people. As long as Hamas remains in power, there is no chance of ever reaching a durable Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.

Israel initially showed great restraint but was compelled to respond forcefully to protect the lives of innocent civilians. It continues to strike at Hamas targets while seeking to minimize the losses of civilians who have been put in great danger by Hamas’s hostile policies. The U.S. government correctly has blamed Hamas for the eruption of fighting and has called on it to halt its rocket terrorism. But the extremist Islamist organization, backed by Iran and Syria, is unlikely to end its attacks anytime soon.

Hamas will seek to prolong the fighting as long as possible to mobilize popular support for its radical agenda in the Arab and Muslim worlds, transform itself into the “victim” of Israeli “aggression,” and politically undermine moderate Arab governments that have supported peace negotiations with Israel. Until Hamas has been defeated and its radical ideology is discredited, there is no hope for a genuine peace in the Middle East.