To the Hamas fighter:
Oct. 7, 2023, was a big day for you. You broke through the border fence between Gaza and Israel, you had your way in towns in the south of Israel, you went on a killing spree and committed unspeakable acts against Israelis, including babies and the elderly. You kidnapped and forcibly dragged hostages back into Gaza. You felt powerful and victorious.
How do you feel now? The Israel Defense Forces have reduced most of Gaza to rubble. They are methodically and deliberately destroying Hamas, its every instrument and infrastructure of power and control, including its underground tunnel network, its every offensive capability. They are finding and killing or capturing Hamas fighters and Hamas leaders. Sooner than later, they will find and kill you.
Where is your leader, Yahya Sinwar? He is hiding and using hostages and civilians as human shields. He is using you to protect him. He considers you expendable. Sinwar plans to save his own skin at your expense, to sneak out of Gaza and live to foment terror and mayhem another day. He plans to abandon you. Abandon him first.
You are being used by your leaders and by the mullahs of Iran. The Shiite theocrats in Tehran, who supplied your weapon, consider you, a Sunni, to be an infidel. If they ever ran out of Jews to kill, you would become their enemy.
You have been brainwashed. You are being used.
All of your life you have been lied to – by your teachers, your preachers and your political leaders. They lied to you about Israel, they lied to you about the Jews, and they lied to you about martyrdom. Do you really believe that there are seventy willing virgins awaiting you in the next world? I am sad for you if you believe this lie, meant to manipulate you into serving corrupt, evil despots and squandering your life while murdering Israelis who only want to live in peace in their land and never wanted to hurt you.
If martyrdom is so great, why don’t Sinwar and other top leaders of Hamas step out into the open and embrace it? Why are they hiding? Why are they using you, the civilian population of Gaza and their Israeli hostages as human shields? What could be more cowardly? Is this who you are following and taking orders from? Why?
You have only two choices: Surrender or die. There is no other choice. Make the right choice, the smart choice, the choice to survive, the choice to have a better future.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking there is another possibility other than surrender or die. Do you think that the Israelis will withdraw from Gaza and leave Hamas in place? Not going to happen. Oct. 7 fixed the resolve of Israel to eliminate Hamas once and for all. They will not stop until Hamas is gone. Where will that leave you? Dead or captured.
Consider that the surrender option is not only your best choice, but much better than you imagine. The Israelis will treat you humanely. Cooperate with Israel and you will be rewarded. The sooner and the more extensively you cooperate, the more you will be rewarded.
An Israeli prison will be an improvement in your living conditions. You will have a bed in a climate-controlled room, three healthy meals a day, clean water, freedom from the fear of being bombed or shot at any time, and opportunities to learn and to play, to exercise and have recreation.
Don’t want to go it alone? Talk to your closest buddy. Given that the choice for both of you is to surrender or die, what does your buddy choose? If your buddy tells you he chooses martyrdom and that you should too, don’t just hear those words. Look into his eyes and ask yourself: Are you sure he means it? Or is he just saying what he thinks he has to, or is expected to say? Look deep into your buddy’s eyes and see if you can find a human being who wants to live. See if you can find a way to connect with that human being and save both your lives.
You respect power. Israel is now the power in Gaza, not Hamas. Look around. This is now the reality. It is time for you to adjust your thinking to the new reality.
You are afraid. That is understandable. That is why when you surrender, you should surrender with your buddy, or better yet, with your entire fighting unit. There is safety and comfort in numbers. You are afraid to surrender. You should be more afraid of what happens to you, your friends and your family if you do not surrender.
You must now do these four things to end the misery and the fear, to survive and to have a future to which you can look forward: lay down your weapon, surrender, cooperate with Israel, and bring your comrades along with you.
The Israelis will interrogate you. Maybe the word “interrogate” sounds scary. You need not be scared. It just means they will talk to you and ask you questions. Talk. Answer the questions. Tell them everything you know. You will find the Israelis very interested in hearing you talk and very interested in what you have to say. You are now a “big man” who speaks and commands attention, whose words are important to people with power, not an expendable grunt whose only role is to take orders that will lead to your certain death.
You may even find the Israelis to be your new best friends because of what they can do to reward you for your cooperation. You likely will not be in Israeli prison for the rest of your life. In the Israeli prison, you will have an opportunity to learn skills other than murdering Jews and be able to join the productive economy. You have a chance at a happy, productive, meaningful and peaceful future. That chance goes through Israel, through your cooperation with Israel. Take that chance.
You are young, healthy and strong. You have the potential for a bright future. That future begins with you opening your eyes now and seeing reality, seeing the inevitability of Hamas’ defeat, and doing the right thing for yourself, for your family and for Gaza. Save your own life. Lay down your weapon. Surrender. Cooperate. Convince your comrades-in-arms to join you.
Make the right choice. Choose life. Do it today. Salaam.
Robert Nash, a member of Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria and Congregation Adat Reyim in Springfield, is a retired analyst in the U.S. departments of Justice and Defense. His opinions are exclusively his own.