Hamas

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Hamas

Hamas (Arabic: حركة حماس "zeal") is a radical Islamic political and militant organization in Gaza and the West Bank. The group is regarded as a terrorist organization by the United States, the EU, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Jordan and moderate Islamic leader Faisal Abdul Rauf. The name Hamas is an acronym of Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya (Islamic Resistance Movement). Hamas combines Palestinian nationalism with Islamic fundamentalism, and "regards the territory of the present-day State of Israel — as well as the Gaza Strip and the West Bank — as an inalienable Islamic waqf or religious bequest, which can never be surrendered to non-Muslims."[1] Its charter commits the group to the destruction of Israel, the replacement of the Palestinian Authority with an Islamist state on the West Bank and Gaza, and to raising "the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine."

Before Arab Spring, Hamas had its headquaters in Damascus, Syria under the protection and support of that country's dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Hamas also receives much support from theocratic Iran.

Contents

Name

Hamas is an acronym of the Arabic phrase حركة المقاومة الاسلامية, or Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya or "Islamic Resistance Movement". Ami Isseroff on MidEast web states that the acronym is also the Arabic word for "zeal".[2]

History

Hamas was founded by terrorist Sheik Ahmed Yassin as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's local political arm in December 1987, following the outbreak of the first intifada. Hamas published its official charter in 1988. From the 1990s it achieved notoriety for its use of the tactic of suicide bombing, principally against civilian targets in Israel. Hamas members started carrying out terrorist attacks starting in the late '80s, at first in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The first Hamas suicide bombing took place on April 26 1993, when Saher al-tamam attacked two Israeli buses in front of a coffee shop in Mehola, killing and injuring several Israelis. It is believed to have killed more than 1500 people in more than 350 separate terrorist attacks since then.

Opinion of Fatah

It also set itself in opposition to the secular Fatah movement. In the 2006 elections to the Palestinian Authority legislature Hamas gained a majority of seats; its government was dissolved in June 1997 by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas following the military takeover by Hamas of the Gaza Strip after several days of fighting between Hamas and Fatah.

On the other hand, Hamas has also cooperated with the Fatah in its campaign of terror against Israel. For example, after the failure of the 2000 peace talks former leader of the Fatah movement Yasir Arafat ordered Hamas to start launching attacks against Israel.[3] In his later years Arafat also sought to create an leadership organization which would have included the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements.[4]

Islam

Like the Muslim Brotherhood, which Hamas branched off from, Hamas believes the rules of Islam, or the Sharia to be a sufficient guide for all areas of life. Since Hamas sees Islam as a sufficent guide for all areas in life, and as a way of life, they, as the Covenant of Hamas says, tries to make Islam its programme.[5]

Freemasons, Lions Club and the Rotarians

Hamas views the Freemasons, Lions Club, and the Rotarians as groups that help support Zionist interests, and it believes that they were created with zionist money and are driving forces behind the drug trade and alcoholism.[5]

Anti-Semitism

The group has anti-semitic beliefs such as Jews as plotting to control the world, Jews acquire wealth by stealing, that the Jews control the media, government and finance.[6] Also, the co-creator of Hamas said that the Holocaust is the greatest of lies created by the Zionists.[7]

Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades

In 1991, Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades became the armed branch of the group Hamas. It is names after Ezzedeen Al-Qassam, an Islamic militant who was killed in 1935. The stated goals of the brigade are as followed:to fight Israel, take over Israel, and invoke a spirit of Jihad among the Palestinians. The group is made up of many different cells. Secrecy is important, and sometimes cells do not know what other cells are doing. The group said by September of 2000, more than 800 of its members had been killed. The leader of the militant wing is Muhamad Deif.[8]

Social Programs

Hamas conducts numerous social welfare actions, known as Dawa, including relief and education programs, school funding, soup kitchens, and sports leagues. These programs are viewed as propaganda and recruitment exercises, or both. In December 2001, the Bush administration seized the assets of the Holy Land Foundation, the largest Muslim charity in the United States, upon finding proof it was funding Hamas.[9]

Popularity

Hamas is still fairly popular among many Palestinian people, but it is not as popular as it was at one point in time. Their total unwillingness to negotiate with the nation of Israel has weakend Hamas's support. The people are starting to get weary of the violence there. [10]

In January of 2006 the political wing of Hamas won many seats in the Palestinian elections.[11]

Palestinians inspect homes in Gaza, 2009.jpg

Palestinians inspect homes destroyed near the border with Egypt in Gaza, 2009.

Mosab Hassan Yousef

The revelation that Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a founder and leader of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, had spied for Israel for 10 years, and that he had also converted to Christianity, sent reverberations through the Middle East. Mosab worked alongside his father in the West Bank from the second Intifada to the current stalemate, and during that time he became one of the top spies for Israel's internal security arm, the Shin Bet.

The younger Mr. Yousef's disillusionment with Hamas and Islam came as a result of his continued exposure to Hamas cruelty in prison. In 1996, Mosab was arrested by the Israelis for buying weapons, and while he was beaten and tortured badly in custody, he was more shocked by the way the maj'd, Hamas's security wing, dealt with other prisoners in the Megiddo prison in northern Israel. By agreeing to work with the Shin Bet, he got out of prison early..

"Every day, there was screaming; every night, torture. Hamas was torturing its own people!" he writes. The Muslims he met in jail "bore no resemblance to my father" and "were mean and petty . . . bigots and hypocrites."

The Shin Bet approached him in prison after his arrest and asked him to spy for Israel, and being a double agent appealed to him as a way of gaining revenge on Israel from the inside. He accepted and stayed on Shin Bet's payroll for a decade, and in the early years they encouraged him to study and be a model son.[12]

According to a review by New York Times best-selling author Joel C. Rosenberg of Mosab's book, Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices,

Mosab hated the Jews. He cheered when Saddam Hussein fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel during the 1991 Gulf War, and was disappointed when Israel wasn't destroyed. He wanted Hamas to seize back all the land of "Palestine" from the Jews. But in 1996, at the age of 18, he was arrested by the Israelis for buying automatic weapons to kill Jews. He was sent to an Israeli prison. There he was stunned at what he saw: Muslims torturing Muslims. "I had never heard a human being scream like that guy did. What could he have done to deserve that." (p.97) Months later, after being released from Israeli prison, Mosab was walking past the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. Someone [a British cab driver] -- not knowing who he was -- invited him to a Bible study. Curious, he attended. They studied the New Testament, and gave Mosab a copy to read for himself.

I began at the beginning [in the Gospel According to Matthew], and when I got to the Sermon on the Mount, I thought, Wow, this guy Jesus is really impressive! Everything He says is beautiful! I couldn't put the book down. Every verse seemed to touch a deep wound in my life. It was a very simple message, but somehow it had the power to heal my soul and give me hope. Then I read this: `You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.' (Matthew 5:43-45)....I was thunderstruck by these words. Never before had I heard anything like this, but I knew that this was the message I had been searching for all my life." Five years earlier, I would have read the words of Jesus and thought, What an idiot! and thrown the Bible away....But now, everything Jesus said on the pages of this book made perfect sense to me. Overwhelmed, I started to cry." (p.122-123) [13]

"I converted to Christianity because I was convinced by Jesus Christ as a character, as a personality. I loved him, his wisdom, his love, his unconditional love. I didn't leave [the Islamic] religion to put myself in another box of religion."[14]

After the deceased PLO chief Yasser Arafat turned down the Israeli offer of 90% of the West Bank with East Jerusalem as the capital of a new Palestinian state, a outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000 led to Mosab being fully activated as a spy.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Matthew Kaminski reported,

Mr. Yousef tells me that he was horrified by the pointless violence unleashed by politicians willing to climb "on the shoulders of poor, religious people." He says Palestinians who heeded the call "were going like a cow to the slaughterhouse, and they thought they were going to heaven." So, as he writes in the book, "At the age of twenty-two, I became the Shin Bet's only Hamas insider who could infiltrate Hamas's military and political wings, as well as other Palestinian factions." The motivation, he says, was to save lives. "I'd seen enough killing. I was a witness to lots of death . . . Saving a human life was something really, really beautiful . . . no matter who they are. Not only Israeli people owe me their lives. I guarantee many terrorists, many Palestinian leaders, owe me their lives—or in other words they owe my Lord their lives." His handler—a "Captain Loai," now retired from the Shin Bet—corroborated many of these stories to Haaretz. The paper said the Shin Bet considered Mr. Yousef "the most reliable and most senior agent."[15]

Gideon Ezra, formerly deputy leader of Shin Bet and now a member of the Knesset for the Kadima party, told BBC World Service that Mosab had been one of its agents. Mosab Hassan Yousef was considered Shin Bet's most reliable source in the Hamas leadership, earning himself the nickname "the Green Prince". One of his Israeli "handlers" told the paper that he had saved many lives, with one of his insights "worth 1,000 hours of thought by top experts" "The amazing thing is that none of his actions were done for money".

Mosab Hassan Yousef converted to Christianity, and he later moved to the United States in 2007.[16]

The United States is currently in the process of determining whether he qualifies for political asylum, as Islam requires the death of those who convert.

In an Associated Press interview, Mosab stated,

"To be honest with you, being killed is not the worst thing that can happen." "I know this is very dangerous and this will offend many people. The more you follow the steps of the prophet of Islam and the God of Islam, the more you get close to being a terrorist." Later adding, "Muslims are good people. But their God is absolutely bad."

Sheik Hassan Yousef said in a letter that his family had renounced "the one who was once our eldest son, who is called Mosab."[17]

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