Israeli attempts at denigrating Hamas are sometimes indecent. The terrorist group is accused of cowardice because its guerrillas did not go out to fight Jews in the open. You know, that’s what is called tactics. Jews, mind you, also did not attack Hamas in the manner of romantic knights: two equally armed men fighting each other openly. Rather, Israel struck at night with overwhelming force. Should Hamas have acted “bravely” by marching with rifles against tanks? British generals of WWI did just that, to their eternal shame and to historians’ ridicule. Since WWI, troops no longer fight in the open: digging in against enemy fire is a morally legitimate tactic.

Some accuse Hamas of using human shields. Go on, accuse the British: they employed Arabs as human shields when entering Palestinian towns during riots. If the British are immoral, then you might want to reconsider your standards of morality. Not long ago, the Israeli Supreme Court barred IDF from using Arab human shields, a decision which greatly endangered Jewish soldiers. If anything, it is more moral to use one’s own for a human shield than enemy civilians; Hamas uses its own people, most of them willingly. The human shield tactic is fairly safe for participants because IDF refrains from firing at houses full of Palestinian civilians. Israel fulminates at this tactic precisely because it is so efficient. Hamas does not even violate the rules of war by deploying human shields because the affected civilians are not really endangered.

It is not generally true that Hamas fights without uniforms; sometimes it does. What would the uniforms change? An armed Arab is clearly a target, uniformed or not. Many Hamas guerrillas wear flak jackets, which are as good for identification as uniforms. When IAF bombs Gaza, the pilots don’t see uniforms—and most of the collateral damage occurred during air strikes. In many areas, IDF troops received an order to shoot at anything that moves, whether uniformed or not.

Israeli newspapers ridiculed Hamas leaders for hiding in bunkers during the war while IDF chiefs also went underground in their Tel Aviv headquarters despite the absence of any danger whatsoever. While the IDF’s top brass hid in bunkers, Tel Aviv bomb shelters remained full of illegal African migrants, making them useless for Jews in case of attack.

In several cases, Hamas’ top commanders personally led their troops into battle. Heroism? A sign of disintegration, according to the Israeli media: the commanders led the charge in order to rally their cowardly troops. The media lied, despite hundreds of soldiers who testify to the contrary: Hamas guerrillas were unorganized but fought with a bravery verging on suicidal.

On this, too, the public opinion is warped. Jews want Hamas to fight suicidally, in uniforms and out of towns against helicopters, but ridicule the guerrillas for their suicidal urge. The detractors do not even know about the thousands of essentially suicidal missions undertaken by Jewish soldiers in WWII, the War of Independence, and less frequently since then. Hamas’ fighters are desperate, just as Jewish soldiers were six decades ago, and have much the same attitude toward their own and enemy civilians’ lives.

This brings us to Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israeli population centers. We do not need to argue whether Israeli civilians, most of whom are reservists—and reservists were called up in this war—are a legitimate target. In any war, population centers are targeted: any claims to the contrary stem from romanticism. Israel would gladly carpet-bomb Gaza and only refrains from doing so because of world opinion—which is anti-Israeli regardless.

Hamas is undoubtedly an enemy. So are Fatah, Egypt, and Lebanon, and just about every other Muslim entity. They hate us, we hate them, and there will be no permanent peace. The problem with Hamas is that we cannot destroy it: it is too deeply entrenched in Palestinian society. Israel can quench Hamas activity for some time with exhaustive police work, but do we want to re-occupy Gaza and govern the criminal neighborhood which Egypt so wisely abandoned? The only way to eradicate Hamas and other militant groups is by depopulating Gaza, which is not a workable option with any foreseeable Israeli government. Overwhelming retaliation also won’t work: after the worst retaliation plausible in January 2009, Gazan guerrillas quickly resumed their attacks.

Short of annihilation, we need an understanding with Hamas. That truce would not hold: some groups would violate it, and Israel will retaliate—but the border violence will remain tolerable.

IDF must respect Hamas fighters, though killing them