With violence once again causing carnage in both Gaza and Israel, I wanted to take a look back at the beginnings of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement that now controls Gaza after it took over control from its rival Fatah in early 2007, after winning the majority of seats in Palestine's January 2006 elections. As a result of the manoeuvrings, Fatah remained in control of the West Bank, becoming the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah and Hamas controlled the Gaza Strip.
Hamas, an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawana al-Islamiya or Islamic Resistance Movement, was formed in December 1987 by its founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin who was born in Ashkelon and spent years in Gaza as a refugee after 1948. You may recognize him from this photograph:
Sheikh Yassin was paralyzed at the age of 12 in a sporting accident and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Sheik Yassin was an activist in the Muslim Brotherhood when he was studying in Cairo. In the late 1960s, Yassin preached and performed charitable work in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, both of which were seized by Israeli forces in 1967. In 1973, Yassin established al-Mujamma'al-Islami (the Islamic Centre) to co-ordinate the Muslim Brotherhood's political activities in the Gaza. Hamas was formed during the first Intifada when Palestinians rose up against Israel's occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Hamas is a Sunni Islamist group with strong community ties; of its estimated $70 million annual budget, approximately 90 percent is spent on a program of social services including orphanages, food banks, soup kitchens, schools and medical clinics as well as cultural activities which offer assistance to residents of Gaza. By doing this, Hamas filled in where Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Liberation Organization/Fatah had failed.
Yassin was first arrested in 1984 and sentenced to 13 years in jail for the illegal possession of arms and for establishing an organization that called for the annihilation of Israel. He was release in May 1985 as part of a prisoner exchange with Israel. After his release, Yassin transformed the Islamic Organization into a militant organization named Hamas with a more militant goal; kidnapping and killing Israeli soldiers in an attempt to use them as bargaining chips to gain the release of Hamas prisoners held by Israel. He was arrested, tried and sentenced to two life sentences by Israel who held him from May 1989 to October 1997 when he was exchanged for two Mossad agents.
Eventually, his luck ran out. Sheikh Yassin, along with many other members of Hamas, was assassinated at the age of 66 by the Israeli military; on March 22, 2004, a helicopter-fired missile hit his car as he was leaving a mosque in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.
On August 18, 1988, Hamas published its official charter, moving itself away from the Muslim Brotherhood's non-violent approach, favouring a military approach rather than a political approach to the "Israel Issue". Here is the wording of the opening of the Hamas Covenant:
“In The Name Of The Most Merciful Allah
Ye are the best nation that hath been raised up unto mankind: ye command that which is just, and ye forbid that which is unjust, and ye believe in Allah. And if they who have received the scriptures had believed, it had surely been the better for them: there are believers among them, but the greater part of them are transgressors. They shall not hurt you, unless with a slight hurt; and if they fight against you, they shall turn their backs to you, and they shall not be helped. They are smitten with vileness wheresoever they are found; unless they obtain security by entering into a treaty with Allah, and a treaty with men; and they draw on themselves indignation from Allah, and they are afflicted with poverty. This they suffer, because they disbelieved the signs of Allah, and slew the prophets unjustly; this, because they were rebellious, and transgressed." (Al-Imran - verses 109-111).
Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).
"The Islamic world is on fire. Each of us should pour some water, no matter how little, to extinguish whatever one can without waiting for the others." (Sheikh Amjad al-Zahawi, of blessed memory)."
Here are some key Articles contained within the Covenant that relate to the raison d’etre of Hamas and its relationship and attitude to Israel and the outside world. Please note that all phrases that are highlighted in bold characters have been selected by me to emphasize Hamas’ philosophy:
The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinguished Palestinian movement, whose allegiance is to Allah, and whose way of life is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist in security and safety where their lives, possessions and rights are concerned. In the absence of Islam, strife will be rife, oppression spreads, evil prevails and schisms and wars will break out.
The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?
This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement.
Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight. "Allah will be prominent, but most people do not know."
Now and then the call goes out for the convening of an international conference to look for ways of solving the (Palestinian) question. Some accept, others reject the idea, for this or other reason, with one stipulation or more for consent to convening the conference and participating in it. Knowing the parties constituting the conference, their past and present attitudes towards Moslem problems, the Islamic Resistance Movement does not consider these conferences capable of realising the demands, restoring the rights or doing justice to the oppressed. These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Moslems as arbitraters. When did the infidels do justice to the believers?
"But the Jews will not be pleased with thee, neither the Christians, until thou follow their religion; say, The direction of Allah is the true direction. And verily if thou follow their desires, after the knowledge which hath been given thee, thou shalt find no patron or protector against Allah." (The Cow - verse 120).
There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with…
For a long time, the enemies have been planning, skillfully and with precision, for the achievement of what they have attained. They took into consideration the causes affecting the current of events. They strived to amass great and substantive material wealth which they devoted to the realisation of their dream. With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.
You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.
The imperialistic forces in the Capitalist West and Communist East, support the enemy with all their might, in money and in men. These forces take turns in doing that. The day Islam appears, the forces of infidelity would unite to challenge it, for the infidels are of one nation.
The Zionist invasion is a vicious invasion. It does not refrain from resorting to all methods, using all evil and contemptible ways to achieve its end. It relies greatly in its infiltration and espionage operations on the secret organizations it gave rise to, such as the Freemasons, The Rotary and Lions clubs, and other sabotage groups. All these organizations, whether secret or open, work in the interest of Zionism and according to its instructions. They aim at undermining societies, destroying values, corrupting consciences, deteriorating character and annihilating Islam. It is behind the drug trade and alcoholism in all its kinds so as to facilitate its control and expansion.
Arab countries surrounding Israel are asked to open their borders before the fighters from among the Arab and Islamic nations so that they could consolidate their efforts with those of their Moslem brethren in Palestine.
As for the other Arab and Islamic countries, they are asked to facilitate the movement of the fighters from and to it, and this is the least thing they could do.
We should not forget to remind every Moslem that when the Jews conquered the Holy City in 1967, they stood on the threshold of the Aqsa Mosque and proclaimed that "Mohammed is dead, and his descendants are all women."
With the Hamas Covenant in mind, we can see how difficult it will be to negotiate a lasting end to the ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas. Both sides are firmly entrenched in their belief systems and neither is willing to relinquish what they have "accomplished".
Let's close with the Slogan of Hamas:
“Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.”