As the March 10 start of Ramadan nears, international pressure has significantly increased on Israel to reach a ceasefire agreement with Hamas in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages. While the idea of advocating for a ceasefire with a genocidal terrorist organization is fundamentally misguided, the notion that Israel should halt its military efforts to respect Ramadan is even more perverse.

Historically, Palestinian terror groups have used Ramadan as a bargaining chip to pressure Israel into making concessions in exchange for calm—a ploy that the Biden administration has bought wholeheartedly. Those who support Israel’s making such concessions argue that failing to appease Palestinians during Ramadan might incite further terror.

The data, however, don’t align with that contention. As Hill Frisch from the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security wrote in 2023, “Almost none of the most tumultuous periods of Palestinian violence occurred during the month of Ramadan.” Frisch even argued that “A reading of the data strongly suggests that the dangers [of disproportionate violence during Ramadan] are grossly exaggerated, if not entirely false.” In other words, according to Frisch’s research, American and Israeli officials’ concerns about Palestinian terror during Ramadan are at least overstated.

While Frisch’s research suggests that Palestinians are not more likely to commit terror acts during Ramadan, that doesn’t mean that such attacks never happen. Historically, such Ramadan-tied incidents typically follow Palestinian leaders’ prolonged incitement efforts, which culminate in their exploiting the holiday for a preexisting political objective. This time, that objective would be Hamas’s survival.

Palestinian leaders consistently intensify their rhetoric around Ramadan to rile up their population. In the leadup to last year’s holiday, for example, Hamas military deputy commander Marwan Issa threatened “a regional earthquake.” Former Hamas chief Khaled Mashal, recently assassinated Hamas deputy political leader Saleh al-Arouri, and other senior officials made similar statements. Palestinian terror groups even produce carefully crafted television specials every year intended to incite violence during Ramadan.

This rhetoric and propaganda sometimes precipitates violence, as in in the weeks preceding Ramadan in 2019, when Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets at Israel, launched incendiary devices, and were increasingly violent at the Gaza security fence, seeking to coerce Israel into sending Hamas additional Qatari funds so that the group could pay its Gazan members.

While it would unfortunately affect Palestinian noncombatants in Gaza as well, from a moral standpoint, granting terrorists temporary amnesty during Ramadan would be unacceptable. Strategically, allowing Hamas time to re-arm and re-organize before inevitably reneging on the ceasefire whenever it sees fit is foolish. Considering that the Hamas-led October 7 massacre was executed on the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, such suggestions are offensive.

This Ramadan, like others before it, Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups are using the false charge of Israeli misdeeds at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and the need to “liberate” the compound as a pretext to threaten further violence. This is the Palestinians’ go-to excuse for terror. In fact, it’s the same one they used to justify the October 7 massacre itself—which they dubbed the “Al-Aqsa Flood”—even though sources close to Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades allege that initial planning for the attack began as early as 2014. It’s even the same faux excuse the Palestinians used to launch the Second Intifada in the early 2000s, a murderous uprising during which more than 1,000 Israelis were murdered.

Hamas, now essentially the leading voice for Palestinian factions, seeks to utilize Ramadan to galvanize support amid Israel’s highly effective military campaign. Given the group’s limited options in its final stronghold of Rafah, Hamas is desperately trying to leverage the holiday to counter Israel’s military pressure.

Israel’s security should remain paramount, however, even in the face of international pressure. Conceding would not only embolden Hamas but also set a dangerous precedent, potentially inviting further aggression during religious periods.

Instead of pressuring Israel for concessions, the Jewish state’s allies, particularly the Biden administration, should recognize and reject terror groups’ manipulative tactics during Ramadan. Supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, regardless of the season, is crucial in maintaining its security and stability in the region.

Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP via Getty Images


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