Muslim Palestine: The Ideology of Hamas

The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement HAMAS
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There would be an internal leadership which resided in Gaza and an external Political Bureau which resided first in Amman, but later in Damascus, after relations began to improve between Jordan and Israel in As a result, later attacks and arrests put Hamas in the limelight for many Palestinians, but did not fatally damage Hamas as they had before until the 2 nd Intifada.

Resistance: Antagonism and Escalation.

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The Goldstein Massacre in , for example, sparked or excused a wave of Hamas attacks. It is important to note though that if the Palestinians mood becomes out of touch with sustained aggression, or this position becomes damaging to Hamas itself, Hamas has been willing to back down, e. Assassination attempts created a personal vendetta within Hamas amongst those left behind whose close colleagues had been killed by Mossad.

However, by the end of the 2 nd Intifada in , almost the entire senior leadership within Gaza had been killed, threatening to tear the movement apart. These attacks also strengthened Palestinians support for Hamas, but this was not unconditional. The ceasefires Hamas did offer though were on terms unacceptable to Israel. Towards the end of the 2 nd Intifada for example, plans offering a 10 year cease-fire plan were offered in exchange for a return to the borders, pre-occupation.

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In order to legitimize his rule and the Palestinian representatives for the final status negotiations, the first general elections within the territories of the Palestinian National Authority were scheduled on 15 January Israel has rejected some truce offers by Hamas because it contends the group uses them to prepare for more fighting rather than peace. USA Today. While support for Hamas and Hizbullah was previously something that united much of the Middle East, both groups now find themselves on opposite sides of a deepening sectarian divide. Ironically, Qutb joins in this perception with many Western orientalists and anthropologists who have to fight the reproach of essentialising.

Similar cease-fire offers were made in the following years but Israel believes that demands would not stop there it sees Hamas as an extremist, Pan-Islamic group set on its destruction. Hamas has played a central role in cementing a hostile, paranoid attitude to Palestinians since the s, and is portrayed in Israel and by Israel to the West as a Pan-Islamic group embedded in a close relationship with Iran and al-Qaeda affiliates across the Middle East.

This has had consequences in internal Israeli politics. Any ceasefire offers will be met with a high degree of scepticism. The Israeli controlled Karni crossing into Israel severely limited transport, bringing the economy to its knees. Although Egypt managed to broker a cease fire in the summer of , its inability to tackle the root causes of the growing tension or its inability to meet the aims of either side merely signalled to Hamas and Israel that violence was the only way to achieve their aims.

Hamas is still in power and the blockade is still in place. As illustrated in the previous sections, Hamas seeks to lead the resistance movement against Israel without provoking a response that would fatally cripple them. What is also clear though is that there are many different opinions within Hamas as to how to approach this.

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Since Hamas has faced further challenges as a governing body — many have questioned whether it is compromising its Islamic credentials in favour of democracy, whilst others complain that they do not want to be governed by extreme political Islam. To maintain unity and its position at the head of the Palestinian movement, Hamas has to court all of these different demands. As explained earlier, Hamas is made up of independently functioning leaderships: the internal, external and military. Each one courts a different group of people who make different demands of Hamas.

Very generally, the external leadership has to pose as more extreme when securing resources from Iran and Syria, whilst appearing more moderate when seeking a relationship with Europe. The internal leadership however needs to convince the Palestinian people that it can make a difference to their lives. This means meeting violence with violence, but also working towards a long-term solution, resistance to injustice, but not war without end.

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The military wing however attracts the more extreme elements of Palestinian society and it is here that the voices of extreme Pan-Islamism are often heard. Formation, Consolidation and Resistance — The first ideological commitment by Hamas was its founding Charter, released during the 1 st Intifada. This document aimed to assert the status of Palestine as Islamic land [38] that was to be liberated from Israel through violence. The high leadership had immediately recognised the folly of an all out, never ending Jihad.

Indeed, as early as , Sheikh Yassin had written an open letter offering the possibility of a long term ceasefire. Though characterised by pragmatism, the political structure has given rise to various views within the movement. The elections issue were illustrative of how Hamas is forced to straddle different positions. The offer to participate in the elections was received positively by many within the internal Gaza leadership, but rejected by those in the external leadership.

Muslim Palestine: The Ideology of Hamas by Andrea Nusse

The issue was resolved by four bomb attacks in March that year, increasing tensions and making electoral participation impossible. The attacks however were carried out by an unknown cell and were brought to an end by an order from the Qassam Brigades leadership, who nevertheless stated that the actions came from outside their jurisdiction. This was then confirmed by Muhammad Nazzal in Amman. It seemed that both the external and internal leaderships were vying for the loyalty of the Qassam Brigades. Episodes such as this threatened to tear Hamas apart.

With the release of Rantisi, Marzouq and Sheikh Yassin in the following years, stressing the unity of the movement became increasingly important to the Hamas leadership. The challenge of how to approach Israel was combined in with the challenge of how to govern. The issues of democracy and Islam have been added to those of long term peace treaties and negotiations with Israel. Hamas has done well to recognise the power of international sympathy when Israel acts aggressively.

By presenting itself as more moderate than the Israeli characterisation does, Hamas presents itself as a victim. However, another challenge halts its progress towards moderation. Commentators have been obsessed with the rather irrelevant Hamas Charter which, as already noted is out of touch with the way in which the Hamas leadership think. But it may not be out of touch with how many of its grassroots members think, especially those in the Qassam Brigades, despite the fact that it may not be well-known amongst them.

The History, Politics and Ideology of Hamas

To the extreme members within Hamas this would be an appalling development, one that could split the movement in two, and Hamas is perhaps wary of losing members from its military wing to the slowly emerging, small Salafi-Jihadist movements. Problems of unity also stem from the moderate concessions Hamas makes to a population which generally does not want to be forced into the excesses of political Islamism. For example, in , a senior official declared that Hamas would force women to cover up.

That is not to say that society is becoming secular, indeed it is becoming more religious, particularly in the Gaza Strip. What is relevant here is that Hamas responds to popular feelings. We can perhaps place Hamas within the wider context of the trend within many other Islamist movements towards an acceptance of some aspects of democracy, the argument being that the voice of God should be heard through the voice of the people. This certainly presents one solution to how Hamas is to straddle Islamism and democracy. Thus to counter the vast array of opinions present in Hamas, the leadership must make ideological concessions on many issues and the willingness to do so illustrates that above all, Hamas is concerned with unity rather than dogma.

To maintain its popularity and thereby survive to achieve this in the face of the wide array of opinions it faces, of fundamental importance has been the idea of unity throughout the movement. In retaliation, Israeli forces targeted some of the group's senior officials, killing military commander Saleh Shehada and founder Sheikh Yassin among a number of others. Khaled Meshaal, the current leader of Hamas, emerged as the leading figure of Hamas after Yassin's death in In the first layer are the local leaders whose primary responsibility is to gain local support for the group's activities.

The second layer, including Meshaal, comprises of Hamas' external leadership that operates as a "political bureau," and liaises with international leaders and financiers. The final layer involves the Muslim Brotherhood's most senior international leaders, who are believed to hold significant influence in determining Hamas' strategy.

This third layer has meant that events in Egypt have a significant impact on the group, with the government of President Sisi declaring it a terrorist organisation at the same time as taking action against the Muslim Brotherhood leadership within Egypt.

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The official end of the second intifada was not recognised by Hamas, which has continued to launch barrages of rockets since, interspersed by intervals of quiet. The group's charter will not allow anything more than a temporary truce with Israel, although it makes extensive use of truces when they are in its interests. Nevertheless, the group's actions have led to several Israeli incursions in Gaza, including in , , and , with thousands of resultant casualties.

Two Israeli offensives failed to rescue him, but many were killed on both sides, including senior Hamas leaders. Hamas operations are not, however, restricted to Gaza. But despite the high casualties and damage to infrastructure incurred, Hamas has emerged from most clashes stronger and with a more active support network.

This has helped Hamas consolidate its public portrayal across the Palestinian territories as an effective means of countering Israel.

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The ideology of Islamic fundamentalists is of central importance in the modern world, but it is often distorted or misunderstood by the international media. Editorial Reviews. Review. Lucidly written, this book makes a valuable contribution to college and university collections in Arab-Israeli and Islamic studies.

Even so, as Hamas has not held elections in the Gaza Strip since its landslide victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, it is hard to judge the extent of its popular support. Not long after this warning, an Israeli couple was gunned down in the West Bank. Meanwhile, much of Hamas' own financial support comes from Palestinian expatriates and private donors from the oil-rich Gulf nations who sympathise with its cause.

However, the aftermath of the Arab uprisings has not left Hamas untouched. Iran has supported the group for many years , via Syria and Hizbullah, its Lebanese proxy. Despite recent reports that it is stepping up its funding, the Syrian civil war has disrupted the supply network and imposed some ideological obstacles. Hamas, with the broader Muslim Brotherhood, supported the uprising against Bashar al-Assad. The organisation's leader-in-exile, Khaled Meshaal, moved from Syria to Qatar. Hizbullah and Iran, in contrast, supported Assad both militarily and financially. Hamas' relationship with its longstanding ally Iran has become increasingly strained over recent months. Not only has Hamas refused to lend its support to the Iranian-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, it has also started to establish more cordial relations with two of Iran's biggest regional foes, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Reports from Tehran suggest that Iran is looking at backing alternative groups in the Gaza Strip, allies who would demonstrate greater loyalty than Hamas.

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While support for Hamas and Hizbullah was previously something that united much of the Middle East, both groups now find themselves on opposite sides of a deepening sectarian divide. Turkey , which is also close to elements of the Syrian opposition, has also supported Hamas. Another effect that the Syrian civil war has had on Hamas is in the development of a rival Islamist group in the region.

ISIS condemned Hamas for its crackdown on Salafis in Gaza and what it considered to be the group's failure to adequately implement the Sharia. There was further condemnation for Hamas' willingness to deal with Iranian authorities and Hizbullah, both of which are Shia, as well as Hamas' relations with nationalist, secularist, and communist factions. While there is some doubt that ISIS is in a position within Gaza to overthrow Hamas, this nevertheless poses a threat to the group. While Hamas viewed the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi as a strong ally, the group's relationship with the Sisi government has been rather different.

In February an Egyptian court listed Hamas as a terrorist organisation after accusations of support an insurgency northern Sinai.

Islamic Jihad

Though not openly declaring Hamas as the intended target, the Egyptian government has been escalating its efforts in safeguarding the country's border in the restive Sinai Peninsula with the Gaza Strip. Hamas' use of a network of tunnels on the border has been well documented, though the purpose of such channels have been criticised. While Hamas insists the tunnels provide a vital lifeline for supplies to reach the Gaza Strip, Egyptian authorities have accused the group of fuelling the insurgency in the Sinai region by providing logistical support to the ISIS' Egyptian affiliate, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis.

Meanwhile, repeated wars with Israel have left living conditions in the Gaza Strip very poor. If Hamas fails to demonstrate to citizens of the territory that it is the power most able to help them, the allure of ISIS' repeated successes elsewhere may grant it a foothold in the territory.