Netanyahu tries to link Hamas, IS

Jerusalem - Israel's prime minister is trying to capitalise on the gruesome video of an American journalist's beheading by the Islamic State extremist group, saying Hamas is an equally vicious foe as he tries to rally international support in Israel's war in the Gaza Strip.

But the comparisons between Hamas and Islamic State are being met with reservations by Israel's allies and enemies alike.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu always has prided himself on his ability to attract media attention. Netanyahu, who grew up in the US and speaks fluent English, often uses catchy quips, props or visual aids in public speeches or briefings to journalists.

A day after the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, posted the video of journalist James Foley's killing, Netanyahu debuted his latest catchphrase: "Hamas is ISIS. ISIS is Hamas." He voiced the slogan at a news conference, on Twitter and even at his weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday.

As Israel's military campaign against Hamas in Gaza nears its eighth week, Netanyahu is fighting an uphill battle for international support.

While the international community generally supports Israel's right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket fire, the world has grown increasingly uncomfortable with the scenes coming out of Gaza.

Hundreds of Israeli airstrikes, along with tank and artillery fire, have killed more than 2 100 people and caused widespread destruction. UN and Palestinian officials say most of the dead have been civilians, including about 500 children.

'Human shields'

With powerful images of flattened buildings and dead children coming out of Gaza each day, Israel's argument that the civilians have been used as "human shields" by Hamas seems to be making little difference to perceptions abroad. Sixty-eight people have been killed on the Israeli side, all but four of them soldiers.

"There is complete agreement, almost a consensus, that [the Islamic State group] is a monstrous organisation. But there is no international agreement that Hamas is a monstrous organisation," veteran Israeli television commentator Moti Kirschenbaum said.

Perhaps with this distinction in mind, Netanyahu has tried to frame the military operation in Gaza not as a local conflict, but as part of a broader global fight against a unified Islamist threat.

"Many countries in the region and the West are beginning to understand that this is one front," Netanyahu said on Sunday. "They are branches of the same poisoned tree."

He said both groups had carried out extra-judicial killings, a nod to Hamas' public shooting on Friday of suspected spies for Israel.

But his pairing of Hamas and the Islamic State group has hit bumps.

When asked about Netanyahu's comparison last week, US state department spokesperson Marie Harf said the US considers both groups terrorist organisations, but said: "I think by definition they are two different groups. They have different leadership. And I'm not going to compare them in that way."

Netanyahu's office posted a graphic on Twitter of an image from the Islamic State video of journalist Foley kneeling next to his killer, paring it with a 2012 photo of a Hamas motorcyclist dragging an accused spy's corpse. But it quickly deleted the tweet amid world criticism over images of the video being shared on social media.

In subsequent tweets, Netanyahu's office replaced the image with a picture of the black Islamic State group's flag.


Israeli journalist Amir Tibon, writing on the news website Walla, called the comparison hypocritical because Israel has held negotiations with Hamas over a long-term cease-fire, while the US refuses to negotiate with the Islamic State group - and because Hamas has not beheaded American journalists in Gaza.

"Journalists who strayed from Hamas's strict line and reported on rocket fire at Israel, were threatened, and in extreme cases, expelled from Gaza, but none of them ended their lives like James Foley," Tibon said.

Hamas itself condemned Netanyahu's comparison, saying its battle is against Israel, not against the entire West.

Hamas official Izzat Risheq said James Foley was "executed in a brutal matter".

Hamas is a "national liberation movement" whose forces are "freedom fighters who are seeking the liberation of the Palestinian people and their civil rights", Risheq said.

Since Hamas overran the territory in 2007, it has cautiously attempted to enforce its deeply conservative version of Islam and has at times placed some restrictions on women's behaviour. But it has refrained from passing sweeping Islamic legislation and rescinded certain orders, apparently fearing a public backlash.

Hamas also claims it protects religious minorities. But under its rule, Christians have felt embattled and their numbers have dwindled through emigration.

Yoram Schweitzer, a researcher at Israel's Institute for National Security Studies, said unlike the Islamic State group, Hamas believes in postponing full implementation of Islamic religious law to a later stage and has taken part in democratic elections, he said.

"In this sense Hamas is more pragmatic," Schweitzer said. But he added that "Hamas, whether ISIS or not ISIS, is a very brutal organisation."

Read more on: is hamas palestine israel gaza
Ennio Morricone 2014/08/25 05:18:21 AM
And now its clear to everybody that Hamas are freedom fighters & not a terror org, as Bibi wants us to,
Alan Yates 2014/08/25 05:43:29 AM
IS=Hamas=Muslim Brotherhood, From Mosul's exiled Bishop: "“Please, try to understand us. Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here. You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles. You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.”...Islam Jihad and Sharia is the real issue...
Will Homeby 2014/08/25 05:45:45 AM
Headlines should read, apartheid is real, apartheid israel
Boooo 2014/08/25 05:52:20 AM
Didnt this goalith try to link hamas to alqeada? It didnt work. Nw is IS lol.
Alan Yates 2014/08/25 05:55:19 AM
HAMAS and IS do the same crimes that Islam Ideology's father did at Banu Quraysh. Summary beheadings and executions...In IS and HAMAS of Islam's Muslim brotherhood we see the continuation of Desert Tribesman Mo's 1400 year old war on non Muslims.
Alan Yates 2014/08/25 06:03:15 AM
Islam links IS and HAMAS. The Muslim Brotherhood spawned both. Bibi is stating the obvious so even the ignorant can see.
Cyberfriend 2014/08/25 06:30:29 AM
Israel, whose government intentionally targets, tortures, and murders civilians, including children, including with chemical weapons, and whose government uses Palestinian civilians as human shields, and whose government is the last entity on Earth carrying out old-style ethnic cleansing and colonization of foreign countries, is the single biggest recipient of US aid, at over three billion dollars a year and huge amounts of lethal weaponry such as attack helicopters and white phosphorous chemical explosives.
Rafique Ebrahim 2014/08/25 06:41:27 AM
A picture that tells a thousand words, the look of the devil becomes you netanyahu. Th only correct link that exists and for which the world is waking up to is that of apartheid Israel to apartheid SA and that sentiment just gets confirmed every time by white wing statements which do more to advance the Palestinians cause.
Cyberfriend 2014/08/25 06:41:56 AM
Islam believes that "There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab and for a non-Arab over an Arab; nor for the white over the black nor for the black over the white except in piety. Verily the noblest among you is he who is the most pious."
Enig Ma 2014/08/25 06:50:09 AM
Easy to link. Both endeavour for an islamic state!