There should be no debate over the language we use to describe Hamas and its depraved Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
Hamas is a terrorist organization, and the acts of its agents on Oct. 7, when they crossed the border into Israel with the express intent of killing and kidnapping civilians, were terrorism.
That makes them terrorists.
While some have suggested Hamas’ political role in Gaza means it is not a terrorist organization, it is clearly targeting civilians for political ends, which is the very definition of terrorism.
The danger in using euphemisms such as “militants” to describe terrorists is that it normalizes heinous acts of terrorism and implies that the deliberate targeting of civilians is a military act and that Hamas at large has some other, less despicable objective.
But let’s be clear: Hamas’ stated goal in its founding charter calls for the obliteration of the state of Israel. The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada have all formally designated Hamas a terrorist organization. It should not be confused with Palestine or the innocent Palestinians now suffering in Gaza.
Hamas’ terror attack on Israel is clear and indisputable proof that Hamas continues to be committed to its original goal, despite its 2017 charter revisions.
The grisly details that have emerged in the days since the attack leave no doubt.
Terrorists stormed Israeli towns, killing and kidnapping anyone they encountered. They recorded the atrocities on body cameras and posted the video to social media sites.
Footage compiled by the Israeli government shows civilians shot in bedrooms, bathrooms and yards.
At a music festival celebrating “friends, love and infinite freedom,” terrorists gunned down 260 revelers and took an unknown number of hostages.
Authorities also released photographs of slain babies, their bodies shot and burnt.
In Be’eri, over 100 are known to have been killed and others were taken hostage. News reports describe homes riddled with bullet holes and cars reduced to burnt husks. In kibbutz Nir Oz, at least 20 people were murdered and upwards of 80 were kidnapped.
In response to all of this, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin described the atrocities committed by Hamas as “worse than what I saw with ISIS.”
Hamas currently holds more than 200 hostages from their Oct. 7 attack on Israel and has promised to begin executing them if Israel retaliates.
There is a word to describe the intentional targeting of civilians to political ends, and that word is “terrorism.” Those who commit acts of terrorism are terrorists.
To call these acts or their perpetrators anything other than terrorism and terrorists is not only intellectually disingenuous, it also risks normalizing such acts by obfuscating the essential truth of their nature.
This editorial is being published in all MediaNews Group/Tribune Publishing newspapers.