Learn more about Hamas
|Leader||Khaled Mashaal, Ismail Haniya|
|Political ideology||Islamism, Nationalism, Populism, Religious Conservatism|
Hamas (Arabic: حركة حماس; acronym: Arabic: حركة المقاومة الاسلامية, or Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya or "Islamic Resistance Movement"; the Arabic acronym means "zeal") is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist organization that currently (since January 2006) forms the majority party of the Palestinian National Authority.<ref name="HamasVictory">"BBC NEWS" Hamas sweeps to election victory </ref>
Created in 1987 by Shaikh Ahmed Yassin of the Gaza wing of the Muslim Brotherhood at the beginning of the First Intifada, Hamas is known outside the Palestinian territories chiefly for its suicide bombings<ref name="suicide bombings">"Best known for the violence it launched against Israel through suicide bombings and rocket attacks... " (Murphy, John. Hamas aims for political might, The Baltimore Sun, January 22, 2006); "To the outside world, Hamas is best-known — infamous — for its reliance on suicide bombers." (Palestinian territories:Inside Hamas,PBS FRONTLINE:World, May 9, 2006); "Defined as a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union because of its suicide attacks on Israeli civilians..." (Karon, Tony. , "Hamas Explained", Time Magazine, December 11, 2001); "Hamas is best known abroad for the scores of suicide bombings it has carried out and its commitment to the destruction of Israel." (Barzak, Ibrahim. "Israel blames Iran, Syria for bombings", ABC News, January 20, 2006, p. 2); "...the militant organization, best known abroad for its attacks against Israeli civilians..." (Musharbash, Yassin. "Could Victory be Undoing of Hamas", Der Spiegel, January 27, 2006); "Although Hamas is best known for its suicide attacks..." ("Palestinian Political Organizations", PBS FRONTLINE, April 4, 2002); "...is perhaps best known for its suicide bombings against Israeli targets." (Lynfield, Ben. Hamas gains grassroots edge, Christian Science Monitor, December 27, 2004); "...it was best known in Israel and abroad for the suicide attacks it used..." ("After the Hamas earthquake", The Guardian, January 27, 2006).</ref> and other attacks directed against Israeli civilians, as well as military and security forces targets. Hamas' charter (written in 1988 and still in effect) calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.<ref>"The Hamas charter calls for Israel to be destroyed and replaced by an Islamic state." Myre, Gred. "Israeli Official Says Hamas Has Made Abbas Irrelevant" The New York Times, February 27, 2006. </ref><ref>"Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction" Dinnick, Wilf. "High-Stakes Political Poker: Forcing Hamas' Hand", ABC News, June 6, 2006.</ref><ref>"Hamas's charter uncompromisingly seeks Israel's destruction." "Palestinian Rivals: Fatah & Hamas", BBC News, May 25, 2006.</ref> The charter states: "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad."<ref name=Covenant>"The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas)", MidEast Web, August 18, 1988; "The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement", The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, retrieved April 22, 2006. </ref>
Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by Australia,<ref>Listing of Terrorist Organisations, Australian Government Attorney-General's Department, 27 January 2006. Accessed July 31, 2006.</ref> Canada,<ref>Keeping Canadians Safe, Public Security and Emergency Preparedness Canada, National Security, Listed entities. Accessed July 31, 2006.</ref><ref>"Hamas is listed as a terrorist group in the Criminal Code of Canada." Tibbetts, Janice. Canada shuts out Hamas ,The Montreal Gazette, March 30, 2006.</ref> the United Kingdom,<ref name="UKTerrorList">"UK Home Office" </ref> the European Union,<ref name="EUTerrorList">"Council Decision" Council of the European Union, December 21, 2005</ref> Israel, and the United States,<ref name=SD1>"Country reports on terrorism", U.S. State Dept., April 27, 2005.</ref> and is banned in Jordan.<ref name="Star1">Karmi, Omar. "What does the Hamas victory mean for nearby Jordan?", The Daily Star, February 18, 2006</ref> According to the US State Department, the group is funded by Iran, Palestinian expatriates, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.<ref name=SD1/> In a 2002 report, Human Rights Watch stated that Hamas' leaders "should be held accountable for the war crimes and crimes against humanity" that have been committed by its members.<ref>Erased In A Moment: Suicide Bombing Attacks Against Israeli Civilians V. Structures and Strategies of the Perpetrator Organizations, Human Rights Watch, October, 2002. ISBN 1-56432-280-7</ref>
Since the death of Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, Hamas' political wing has entered and won many local elections in Gaza, Qalqilya, and Nablus. In January 2006, Hamas won a surprise victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, taking 76 of the 132 seats in the chamber, while the ruling Fatah party took 43.<ref>"Who are Hamas?", BBC News, January 26, 2006.</ref> Vehemently anti-Israel and according to many anti-Semitic,<ref name=NAS>Aaronovitch, David. "The New Anti-Semitism", The Observer, June 22, 2003.</ref> Hamas's militant stance has found a receptive audience amongst Palestinians; many perceived the preceding Fatah government as corrupt and ineffective, and Hamas's supporters see it as a legitimate resistance movement fighting the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.<ref>"Who are Hamas?", BBC News, January 26, 2006.</ref> Hamas has further gained popularity by establishing extensive welfare programs, funding schools, orphanages, and healthcare clinics, throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.<ref>Hamas activities Council on Foreign Relations</ref> Since Hamas has taken control, the Palestinian territories have experienced a period of sharp internal conflicts, known as Fauda (anarchy), in which many Palestinians have been killed in internecine fighting.<ref name=Newsweek1> "The Gangs of Gaza", Newsweek, June 26, 2006.</ref><ref>"...they find themselves on the brink of civil war in a power struggle between the governing Hamas movement and President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah group. In two days of fighting between the two rival and well-armed factions, 12 Palestinians have been killed and more than 100 wounded, and there are few signs the months-long political dispute at the centre of the violence is about to die down." al-Mughrabi, Nidal and Assadi, Mohammed. Palestinian in-fighting provokes despair, frustration, Reuters, October 3, 2006.</ref>
The name has bad connotations to Jews and Israelis, because in Hebrew Hamas sounds exactly like the old word חמס, meaning "violence, injustice, harsh wrong" (Oxford University Press Hebrew-English dictionary). This word is quite common in the Hebrew Bible, such as in Genesis 6:11, "...the earth was filled with violence" ("ותמלא הארץ חמס…").
The military wing of Hamas, formed in 1992, is known as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades to commemorate Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, the father of modern Arab resistance, killed by the British in 1935. Armed Hamas cells also sometimes refer to themselves as "Students of Ayyash", "Students of the Engineer", or "Yahya Ayyash Units",<ref>Kushner, Harvey W. (2002). Encyclopedia of Terrorism, p.160 Sage Publications, ISBN 0-7619-2408-6</ref> to commemorate Yahya Ayyash, an early Hamas bomb-maker killed in 1996.<ref>"Who are Hamas?", BBC News, January 26, 2006.</ref>
Founded in 1987, Hamas was the Gaza Strip branch of the Pan-Arab (Sunni) Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement founded in Egypt. Hamas is opposed to the existence of Israel and has denounced the 1993 Oslo Accords, the foundation of the failed peace process, as a "betrayal of God's will". But in 2004 Hamas offered a 10-year truce, or hudna, in exchange for several conditions including a complete withdrawal from Israeli-occupied territories (see below).
Hamas 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. It asserts that struggle (jihad) to regain control of the land from Israel is the religious duty of every Muslim (fard `ain). Hamas does not recognize Israel as a sovereign state, unlike the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which has recognized it since 1988, and calls it the "Zionist entity", a common hostile term in Arab political rhetoric. Its charter calls for an end to Israel. During the election campaign, Hamas did not mention its call for the destruction of Israel in its electoral manifesto.<ref name="guard1">"Hamas drops call for destruction of Israel from manifesto", The Guardian, January 12, 2006.</ref> But several Hamas candidates insist that the charter is still in force and often called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" in campaign speeches. On January 25th, 2006, after winning the Palestinian elections, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar gave an interview to Al-Manar TV denouncing foreign demands that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist.<ref>"Hamas Leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar: We Will Not Give Up the Resistance; We Will Not Give Up a Single Inch of Palestine; We Will Not Recognize Israel's Right to Exist", The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), January 25, 2006.</ref> After the establishment of Hamas government, Dr Al-Zahar stated his "dreams of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it...I hope that our dream to have our independent state on all historic Palestine (including Israel). This dream will become real one day. I'm certain of this because there is no place for the state of Israel on this land". He also "didn't rule out the possibility of having Jews, Muslims and Christians living under the sovereignty of an Islamic state, adding that the Palestinians never hated the Jews and that only the Israeli occupation was their enemy".<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
Hamas's charter calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic Republic in place of Israel.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Hamas sees this view as an Islamic religious duty and prophesy which comes directly from Hadith. Although it has not set a specific date, Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, has mentioned the year 2027 as the possible date for destruction of Israel.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The group has not issued a clear statement about how it would deal with the current population of Israel, should it succeed in overthrowing Israeli and secular Palestinian government. Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, one of its co-founders, stated that the movement's goal is "to remove Israel from the map".<ref> "New-look Hamas spends £100k on an image makeover", The Guardian, January 20, 2006. </ref> However, on February 13, 2005, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal declared that Hamas would stop armed struggle against Israel if Israel recognized the 1967 borders, withdrew from all Palestinian territories and accept the demand for Palestinian "Right of Return" (see below).
According to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hamas views the Arab-Israeli conflict as "a religious struggle between Islam and Judaism that can only be resolved by the destruction of the State of Israel".<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Hamas uses both political activities and violence to pursue its goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel and the secular Palestinian Authority. Israeli military operations during the al-Aqsa Intifada in 2002 put pressure on Hamas in the West Bank following several bombings in Israel for which Hamas claimed responsibility. Hamas has also engaged in peaceful political activities, including running candidates in West Bank Chamber of commerce elections.
During the election campaign the organisation toned down criticism of Israel in its election manifesto, stating only that it was prepared to use "armed resistance to end the occupation".<ref>Template:Cite web (Swedish)</ref>
The Covenant of Hamas
The thirty-six articles of the Covenant detail the movement's Islamist beliefs regarding the primacy of Islam in all aspects of life. The Covenant identifies Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and considers its members to be Muslims who "fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors." Hamas describes resisting and quelling the enemy as the individual duty of every Muslim and prescribes revolutionary roles for all members of society; including men and women, professionals, scientists and students.
The slogan of Hamas is "God is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Qur'an its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of God is the loftiest of its wishes." Hamas states that its objective is to support the oppressed and wronged and "to bring about justice and defeat injustice, in word and deed." Hamas believes that "the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf (trust) consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day," and as such, the land cannot be negotiated away by any political leader. Hamas rejects "so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences" as incapable of realizing justice or restoring rights to the oppressed, believing "there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad."
The Covenant outlines the organization's position on various issues, including social and economic development and ideological influences, education, as well as its position regarding Israel. Amongst many other things, it reiterates the group's rejection of the coexistence principle of the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
Preface: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." (A quote by Imam Hassan al Banna)
Article 6: "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..."
Article 11: "The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgment Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up."
Article 13: "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."
Article 28: "The Zionist invasion is a vicious invasion ... 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 ..."
Article 31: "The Islamic Resistance Movement is a humanistic movement. It takes care of human rights and is guided by Islamic tolerance when dealing with the followers of other religions. It does not antagonize anyone of them except if it is antagonized by it or stands in its way to hamper its moves and waste its efforts. Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions - Islam, Christianity and Judaism - to coexist in peace and quiet with each other."
Article 32: "After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
Suicide attacks are an element of what the group sees as its asymmetric warfare against Israel. Since the group considers all Israel to be a "militarized society" (there is mandatory military service for most Jewish men and women) and Israelis to be participants in an illegal occupation of Palestinian land, Hamas does not distinguish between Israeli civilian and military targets . The fact that this group does not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants and the group's willingness to target civilian facilities including buses, supermarkets, and restaurants is one of the main traits which supports its classification as a terrorist movement (although Hamas claims being a national liberation movement).
Hamas' position on other social and political issues:
Article 16 (education): It is necessary to follow Islamic orientation in educating the Islamic generations in our region by teaching the religious duties, comprehensive study of the Koran, the study of the Prophet's Sunna (his sayings and doings), and learning about Islamic history and heritage from their authentic sources. This should be done by specialised and learned people, using a curriculum that would healthily form the thoughts and faith of the Moslem student. Side by side with this, a comprehensive study of the enemy, his human and financial capabilities, learning about his points of weakness and strength, and getting to know the forces supporting and helping him, should also be included. Also, it is important to be acquainted with the current events, to follow what is new and to study the analysis and commentaries made of these events. Planning for the present and future, studying every trend appearing, is a must so that the fighting Moslem would live knowing his aim, objective and his way in the midst of what is going on around him.
Article 18 (on women): Woman in the home of the fighting family, whether she is a mother or a sister, plays the most important role in looking after the family, rearing the children and imbuing them with moral values and thoughts derived from Islam. She has to teach them to perform the religious duties in preparation for the role of fighting awaiting them. That is why it is necessary to pay great attention to schools and the curriculum followed in educating Moslem girls, so that they would grow up to be good mothers, aware of their role in the battle for liberation. She has to be of sufficient knowledge and understanding where the performance of housekeeping matters are concerned, because economy and avoidance of waste of the family budget, is one of the requirements for the ability to continue moving forward in the difficult conditions surrounding us. She should put before her eyes the fact that the money available to her is just like blood which should never flow except through the veins so that both children and grown-ups could continue to live.
Article 21 (on civic culture and social responsibility): Mutual social responsibility means extending assistance, financial or moral, to all those who are in need and joining in the execution of some of the work. Members of the Islamic Resistance Movement should consider the interests of the masses as their own personal interests. They must spare no effort in achieving and preserving them. They must prevent any foul play with the future of the upcoming generations and anything that could cause loss to society. The masses are part of them and they are part of the masses. Their strength is theirs, and their future is theirs. Members of the Islamic Resistance Movement should share the people's joy and grief, adopt the demands of the public and whatever means by which they could be realised. The day that such a spirit prevails, brotherliness would deepen, cooperation, sympathy and unity will be enhanced and the ranks will be solidified to confront the enemies.
Accusations and denials of Anti-semitism
Anti-Semitism is a recurring theme in the Hamas Covenant and speeches of its leaders. The Covenant cites The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, describing it as "the embodiment of the Zionist plan to usurp Palestine". Other examples of Anti-Semitism in their Covenant include:
Introduction: Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps. The Movement is but one squadron that should be supported by more and more squadrons from this vast Arab and Islamic world, until the enemy is vanquished and God's victory is realised.
Article 7: ... the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of God's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, God bless him and grant him salvation, has said: "The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O slaves of God, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharqad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews."
Article 28: ... 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." Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Moslem people. "May the cowards never sleep."
Hamas categorizes the Freemasons, Lions Club, and the Rotarians as organizations promoting "the interest of Zionism." It accuses those organizations, and the "Zionist invasion" in general, of being "behind the drug trade and alcoholism in all its kinds."
Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, co-founder of Hamas, reiterated beliefs of Holocaust denial as recently as one year before his 2004 death, contending that the Holocaust was a Zionist - Nazi collaboration for the purpose of encouraging emigration to Israel.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
In 1998, Esther Webman of the Project for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Tel Aviv University wrote: "...the anti-Semitic rhetoric in Hamas leaflets is frequent and intense. Nevertheless, anti-Semitism is not the main tenet of Hamas ideology. Generally no differentiation was made in the leaflets between Jew and Zionist, in as much as Judaism was perceived as embracing Zionism, although in other Hamas publications and in interviews with its leaders attempts at this differentiation have been made."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
According to Meir Litvak's 2003 study, "In Hamas' literature, anti-Semitism became almost dominant. Earlier anti-Semitic motifs are developed time and again in their magazine Falastin al-Muslama. Almost every issue contains anti-Jewish articles using elements from the Islamic tradition. Judaism is presented as a religion based on lies, which from its origin called for aggression against others and their exploitation."<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas choice for Palestinian Prime Minister, has stated:
We do not have any feelings of animosity toward Jews. We do not wish to throw them into the sea. All we seek is to be given our land back, not to harm anybody.
We won't allow any Wailing Walls [that the Jews might return to] on our blessed land.
Also, according to the chief of Hamas' political bureau, Khaled Meshaal:
Our message to the Israelis is this: We do not fight you because you belong to a certain faith or culture. Jews have lived in the Muslim world for 13 centuries in peace and harmony; they are in our religion "the people of the book" who have a covenant from God and his messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him), to be respected and protected.
Our conflict with you is not religious but political. We have no problem with Jews who have not attacked us — our problem is with those who came to our land, imposed themselves on us by force, destroyed our society and banished our people.<ref>"'We shall never recognize... a Zionist state on our soil'", The Guardian, February 1, 2006.</ref>
Provision of social welfare and education
The organization is particularly popular among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, though it also has a following in the West Bank, and to a lesser extent in other Middle Eastern countries. Since its formation in 1987, Hamas has conducted numerous social, political, and military actions. Its popularity stems in part from its welfare and social services to Palestinians in the occupied territories, including school and hospital construction. The group devotes much of its estimated $70-million annual budget to an extensive social services network, running many relief and education programs, and funds schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues. According to the Israeli scholar Reuven Paz "approximately 90 percent of the organization's work is in social, welfare, cultural, and educational activities".<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> These programs are viewed variously as part of a sincere social development agenda, an integrated para-state policy, as propaganda and recruitment exercises, or both. In any case, Hamas has significantly increased literacy in areas where it is active. Hamas also funds a number of other charitable activities, primarily in the Gaza Strip. These include religious institutions, medical facilities, and social needs of the area's residents. The work of Hamas in these fields supplements that provided by the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA). The charitable trust Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was accused in December 2001 of funding Hamas. Hamas is also well regarded by Palestinians for its efficiency and perceived lack of corruption compared to Fatah.<ref>"Why Rising Popularity Poses a Dilemma for Hamas", Time, January 23, 2006.</ref><ref>"The Palestinian Authority held a democratic election and Israel and the rest of the world must accept that Hamas was the victor", Jewish Virtual Library, No date.</ref>
Children's web site
Al Fateh is Hamas' web site for children . The web magazine, whose name means "conqueror," says it is for "the young builders of the future." It is known for making demands in its most recent issue the return of the Spanish city of Seville to the "lost paradise" of Al Andalus, as the Muslim part of Spain was called during its existence between 711 and 1492.
According to Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America "Issue number 38 of Al-Fateh, includes a photograph of the decapitated head of a female suicide bomber. The caption reads "Zaynab Abu Salem who carried out the suicide bombing attack. Her head was severed from her pure body and her headscarf remained to decorate her face. Your place is in heaven in the upper sky, Zaynab ... sister [raised to the status of heroic] men." Abu Salem had killed two Israeli border policemen and wounded 17." The Al Fateh web site contains images of graphic violence that may be shocking to some. Some of the sites reviewing the Al Fateh site contain examples of those images.,,,News report
According to the U.S. State Dept,<ref name=SD1/> Hamas is funded by Iran (led by a Shiite Islamic regime), Palestinian expatriates, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. The party is known to support families of suicide bombers after their deaths.
In 2005, Hamas announced its intention to launch an experimental TV channel, "Al-Aqsa". The station was launched on January 7, 2006, less than three weeks before the Palestinian legislative elections.<ref>"Hamas launches “Al-Aqsa”, an experimental TV channel intended to improve its propaganda and indoctrination capabilities", Center for Special Studies, January 22, 2006.</ref> It included a TV show for children.
Military Activity and Terrorism
Hamas' first use of suicide bombing occurred on April 16, 1993 when a suicide bomber driving an explosive-laden van detonated between two buses parked at a restaurant. It was Hamas' 19th known attack since 1989 (the others being shootings, kidnappings and knife attacks).<ref> Hamas attacks (1988-2002) The Institute for Counter-Terrorism</ref>
Hamas continued to launch suicide attacks during the Oslo Accords period (see List of Hamas suicide attacks).
During the second Intifada, Hamas, along with the Islamic Jihad Movement, spearheaded the violence through the years of the Palestinian uprising.<ref> "Victory leaves Hamas with a dilemma (Opinion)", The Telegraph, January 27, 2006. </ref> Since then Hamas has conducted many attacks on Israel, mainly through its military wing - the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. These attacks have included large-scale suicide bombings against Israeli civilian targets, the most deadly of which was the bombing of a Netanya hotel on March 27 2002, in which 30 people were killed and 140 were wounded. This attack has also been referred to as the Passover massacre since it took place on the first night of the Jewish festival of Passover. Overall, from November 2000 to April 2004, 377 Israeli citizens and soldiers were killed and 2,076 wounded in 425 attacks by Hamas. (Source: IDF website.) The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains a comprehensive list of Hamas attacks.
A few female suicide bombers, including a mother of six and a mother of two children under the age of 10 have also executed suicide bombing.
Shelling and Rocket Attacks
Hamas shelled the Gush Katif Israeli settlements in Gaza with homemade mortars. About 5500 mortar shells have landed in Gush Katif, killing 3 people before the settlements were dismantled.
Since 2002, Hamas has used homemade Qassam rockets to hit Israeli towns in the Negev, such as Sderot. The introduction of the Qassam-2 rocket has allowed Hamas to reach large Israeli cities such as Ashkelon, bringing great concern to the Israeli populace and many attempts by the Israeli military to stop the proliferation and use of the rockets.
Hamas has made great use of guerrilla tactics in the Gaza Strip and to a lesser degree the West Bank.<ref>"Report: Hamas weighing large-scale conflict with Israel", Ynet News, October 3 2006.</ref> Hamas has successfully adapted these techiniques over the years since its inception. Various ambiguous yet continuing remarks coming from inside Hamas indicate that they have earmarked a large percentage of their resources into importing into the territories the types of weapons and techniques used in Iraq against coalition forces as well as those used by Hezbollah in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.<ref>"Report: Hamas weighing large-scale conflict with Israel", Ynet News, October 3 2006.</ref>
Successful use of IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices) and anti-tank missiles against Israeli Military incursions into the Gaza Strip have proven highly effective in both casualties inflicted upon the Israeli forces, as well as slowing or stopping these incursions in their tracks. Furthermore, the IDF has a difficult, if not impossible time trying to find hidden weapons caches in Palestinian areas - this due to the high local support base Hamas enjoys in Gaza.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
In addition to killing Israeli civilians, Hamas has also attacked Israeli military and security forces (occasionally inside Israel), suspected Palestinian collaborators, and Fatah rivals. <ref>Fatah, Hamas gunbattles kill 7 (Toronto Star) October 1, 2006</ref>
On June 5, 2006 the Israel Defense Forces projected that it is headed toward another violent round of clashes with the Palestinians since Hamas came to power in recent legislative elections. This prediction follows a period of relative calm, although many explosives and suspected suicide bombers have been caught at Israeli security checkpoints.
Call to attack United States targets
On November 8, 2006 the military wing of Hamas called on Muslims around the world to attack American targets. "America is offering political, financial and logistic cover for the Zionist occupation crimes, and it is responsible for the Beit Hanoun massacre. Therefore, the people and the nation all over the globe are required to teach the American enemy tough lessons," Hamas said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-led Palestinian government said, however, that the group had no intention of attacking American targets. <ref>"Hamas to Muslims: Attack US targets", The Jerusalem Post, November 8 2006.</ref>
- 1984 Arrest of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, condemned to 12 years of prison after the discovery of an arms cache. Yassin is freed the next year.
- 1987 Creation of Hamas by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
- 1987-1993 First Intifada.
- 1988 Hamas Covenant.
- 1989 Israel outlaws Hamas and imprisons Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
- 1991 Gulf War.
- 1992 Creation of the military branch Izz ad-Din al-Qassam.
- 1993 Oslo Accords.
- April 1993. First Hamas suicide bombing at Mehola Junction.
- Palestinian legislative and presidential election, 1996. Hamas boycotts them, allowing the Fatah, led by Yasser Arafat, a large victory.
- January 5, 1996. Assassination of Yahya Ayyash, Hamas bomb maker.
- February-March 1996. 47 Israelis killed in three different bombings.
- October 1997. Freed by Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for "humanitarian reasons" (actually, due to the botched assassination attempt on Khaled Mashal, in September 25, 1997 by the Mossad in Jordan, a deal was brokered by Bill Clinton between Israel and Jordan) Sheikh Yassin is acclaimed as hero at his return to Gaza.
- September 2000. Beginning of Al-Aqsa Intifada.
- July 2002. Assassination of Salah Shahade, leader of the Ezzedeen-al-qassam brigades.
- January 6, 2004. 10 year truce (hudna) offered by senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in exchange of Israel's complete withdrawal to the 1967 borders.
- March 22 2004, assassination of Sheikh Yassin. Yassin, then an old man restricted to a wheel-chair due to his life-long paralysis was assassinated in an Israeli missile strike. Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi replaced him as the leader of Hamas. On March 28, Rantissi stated in a speech given at The Islamic University in Gaza that "America declared war against God. Sharon declared war against God, and God declared war against America, Bush and Sharon" .
- April 17, 2004, assassination of Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi. Rantissi was also assassinated in an air strike by the Israeli Air Force, five hours after a fatal suicide bombing by Hamas. Khaled Mashal, the leader of Hamas in Syria, said Hamas should not disclose the name of its next leader in Gaza.
- April 18 2004, Hamas secretly selected a new leader in the Gaza Strip, fearing he would be killed if his identity were made public. However, it was speculated that the new leader is Mahmoud al-Zahar; the second-in-command, Ismail Haniya; and third-in-command, Sa'id A-Siyam.<ref>"Next Hamas Leader Confirmed", Arutz Sheva, April 26, 2004.</ref>
- September 2004. Israeli army Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon said that Israel would "deal with [...] those who support terrorism", including those in "terror command posts in Damascus".
- September 26, 2004. Assassination of Izz El-Deen Sheikh Khalil. Sheikh Khalil was assassinated by a car bomb in Damascus, Syria. Khalil was described variously as "mid-level", "senior", a "distinguished member", and believed to be in charge of the group's military wing outside the Palestinian territories. Although the Israeli government offered no official confirmation, anonymous Israeli officials acknowledged responsibility for the attack. In a statement released in Gaza, Hamas threatened to target Israelis abroad in retaliation.
- October 2004. Assassination of Adnan al-Ghoul, assistant of Mohammed Deif, the leader of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam brigades.
- November 11, 2004. Death of Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and president of the Palestinian National Authority.
- January 2005 Palestinian presidential election. Hamas boycotts them. PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas elected to replace Yasser Arafat.
- Palestinian municipal elections, January-May 2005. Relative success of Hamas, which took control of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza, Qalqilyah in the West Bank and Rafah.
- March 2005. Hamas proclaims tahdiyah, a period of calm.
- January 25, 2006. Victory of the Hamas at the legislative election, which took 74 seats of the 132 seats.
Before 1987 - Palestinian Islamic activities prior to the creation of Hamas
Sheikh Ahmed Yassin returned to Gaza from Cairo in the 1970s, where he set up Islamic charities, founding Hamas in 1987 as an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. According to the Israeli weekly Koteret Rashit (October 1987), "The Islamic associations as well as the [Islamic university - founded in 1978 in Gaza] had been supported and encouraged by the Israeli military authority" in charge of the (civilian) administration of the West Bank and Gaza. "They [the Islamic associations and the university] were authorized to receive money payments from abroad." By the end of 1992, there were 600 mosques in Gaza. Hamas attracted members through preaching and charitable work before spreading its influence into trade unions, universities, bazaars, professional organizations and local government political races beginning in December 2004. “Thanks to Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad (Israel’s Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks), the Islamists were allowed to reinforce their presence in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, the members of Fatah (Movement for the National Liberation of Palestine) and the Palestinian Left were subjected to the most brutal form of repression”, according to L'Humanité.<ref name = "Humanite" /> Indeed Israel supported and encouraged Hamas' early growth in an effort to undermine the secular Fatah movement of Yasser Arafat.<ref name="Le Canard"/> According to UPI, Israel supported Hamas starting in the late 1970s as a "counterbalance to the Palestine Liberation Organization".<ref name="UPI"/> At that time, Hamas's focus was on "religious and social work". The grassroots movement concentrated on social issues such as exposing corruption, administration of waqf (trusts) and organizing community projects.
1987 - The establishment of Hamas
The acronym "Hamas" first appeared in 1987 in a leaflet which accused the Israeli intelligence services of undermining the moral fiber of Palestinian youth as part of Mossad's recruitment of what Hamas termed "collaborators". The use of violence by Hamas appeared almost contemporaneously with the First Intifada, beginning with the beating of Palestinians working with the Israeli government, progressing to attacks against Israeli military targets and moving on to violence aimed at civilians. As its methods have changed over the last twenty years, so has its rhetoric, now effectively claiming that Israeli civilians are "military targets" by virtue of living in a state with universal military conscription. The first Hamas suicide bombing was committed in April 1994 at Hadera.
1991 - The Persian Gulf war
Between February and April 1988, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin raised several millions dollars from the Gulf states, which had withdrawn their funding from Fatah following its official support of Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War. In prison since 1989, Yassin was released under “humanitarian reasons” by Prime Minister Netanyahu following a failed assassination attempt on Khaled Mashal, and expelled to Jordan, from where he was allowed to return to Gaza in October 1997. The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military branch, was created a year before the Oslo Accords, in an attempt to block those negotiations.
2004 - A 10-year truce
On January 26 2004, senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi offered a 10-year truce, or hudna, in return for a complete withdrawal by Israel from the territories captured in the Six Day War, and the establishment of a Palestinian state (it remade the same offer after winning the majority in the PLC, accepting the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative<ref> (French) "Le Quartet cherche une solution à la banqueroute palestinienne", Le Monde, May 9, 2006. Retrieved on May 9, 2006. </ref>). Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin stated that the group could accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Rantissi confirmed that Hamas had come to the conclusion that it was "difficult to liberate all our land at this stage, so we accept a phased liberation." He said the truce could last 10 years, though "not more than 10 years".
From the time of an attack on the Israeli southern town of Be'er Sheva in August 2004, in which 15 people were killed and 125 wounded, the truce was generally observed. Hamas violated once, in August 2005, with an attack on the same bus station, wounding seven, and in several attacks on Israeli motorists - killing six in several attacks.<ref>"Deadly Hebron cell caught", Y Net News, February 6, 2006.</ref><ref>"Shin Bet cracks Hamas terror cell", The Jerusalem Post, February 6, 2006.</ref>
End of January 2004, Steve Cohen, US civil servant mandated by the State Department and Colin Powell, assisted to a meeting with Hamas officials, according to the French newspaper Le Canard enchaîné. The mission was not only in informing itself about the objectives of the movement, according to the newspaper, but also to evaluate if Hamas could represent a counter-balance to al-Qaeda. In exchange, Hamas officials asked for the end of extra-judicial "targeted assassinations" practiced against them by the Israeli military.<ref name="Le Canard"/>
While the group boycotted the 2005 Palestinian presidential election, it did participate in the 2005 municipal elections organized by Yassir Arafat in the occupied territories. In those elections it won control of over one third of Palestinian municipal councils, besting Fatah, which has traditionally been "the biggest force in Palestinian politics".<ref>"Hamas success in Fatah heartland", BBC News, May 13, 2005.</ref> With this electoral success behind it, Hamas contested the 2006 elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council as the main component of the List of Change and Reform.
2005 - Israel's unilateral disengagement plan
In 2004, in a prelude to Israel's unilateral disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces carried out a number of military attacks on Gaza cities and refugees camps, seeking to draw out and kill Hamas-affiliated gunmen. Awareness of high casualties during such incursions has led the Hamas leadership to instruct its activists to avoid putting themselves needlessly in the line of fire. On 12 September 2005 IDF withdrew from the Gaza Strip and declared an official end to Israeli military rule in Gaza, though Israel still retains control of the airspace and of the sea. However, the Palestinan Authority argues that the occupation is on-going, as complete sovereignty includes control of both airspace and seaways. The Gaza strip has been called an "open-air prison".<ref>Joel Beinin. "Breakthrough or Blockade in Middle East Peace Process? Why Hamas won, and why negotiations must resume", San Francisco Chronicle, February 8, 2006.</ref>
Hamas claimed that this unilateral withdrawal was a victory for its armed struggle and pledged to liberate all the occupied territories, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Fatah, on the other hand, viewed Ariel Sharon's unilateral plan as proof of the Palestinians' failure to obtain international recognition. Both criticized the disengagement plan, citing Sharon's simultaneous encouragement of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including Ma'ale Adummim, a large settlement east of Jerusalem.<ref>"Israel: Sharon the blessed", Le Monde Diplomatique, February 2006.</ref>
In April 2005, an advisor of hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu, principal right-wing opponent of Ariel Sharon, secretly negotiated with a Hamas representant, according to the Le Canard enchaîné. The meeting was about the "possibility of an administrative co-gestion with the Hamas in the occupied territories", which is already the case in some Hamas-controlled cities of the West Bank, according to the French newspaper, which continues saying that: "But, in both sides, participants to such a dialogue keeps their mouth shut (bouche cousue). It is impossible to admit that one has met and negotiated with his sworn enemy."<ref name="Le Canard"/>
January 2006 - Winning the legislative election
While Hamas had boycotted the January 2005 presidential election, during which Mahmoud Abbas was elected to replace Yasser Arafat, it did participate in the municipal elections held between January and May 2005, in which it took control of Beit Lahia in Gaza, Qalqilyah in the West Bank and Rafah. The January 2006 legislative elections marked another victory for Hamas, which gained the majority of seats, defeating the ruling Fatah party. The "List of Change and Reform", as Hamas presented itself, obtained 42.9% of the vote and 74 of the 132 seats.<ref>The CEC announces the final results of the second PLC elections</ref>
Political decisions and consequences on economy
- Further information: Palestinian economy
The result of the election was regarded as a major setback for governments attempting to mediate the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The George W. Bush administration immediately declared that it will not deal with Hamas until it renounces its support of suicide bombings and violence, and accepts Israel's right to exist. Israeli president Moshe Katsav and Israel's ex-prime minister Shimon Peres both said that, if Hamas will accept Israel's right to exist and give up violence, Israel should negotiate with the organization. President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would not support any efforts to cut off financial assistance to the Palestinians, stating that Hamas gained power by democratic means. He invited some Hamas leaders to Moscow beginning of March 2006, and in May, repeated that cutting funds to the Hamas was a "mistake".<ref name="Oxygen"> "Une bouffée d’oxygène pour les Palestiniens", RFI, May 10, 2006. Retrieved on May 10, 2006. (French) </ref>
The US and the EU cut all funds to the Palestinian Authority, with only Russia warning against the potential dangers of cutting out the PA from any western support. The EU (which gives $500 million per year to the PA) announced that future aid to the Palestinians was tied to "Three Principles" outlined by the international community — Hamas must renounce violence, it must recognize Israel's right to exist and it must express clear support for the Middle East peace process, as outlined in the 1993 Oslo Accords. Hamas does not seems to be ready to accept such conditions, and rejected them as "unfair".<ref name=BBC2>"Hamas rejects 'unfair' aid demand", BBC News, January 31, 2006</ref> At best, they would be ready to accept the Arab Peace Initiative formulated on March 28, 2002 during the Arab League Beirut Summit: full normalization of relations with Israel in exchange for Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 internationally recognized borders, implying Israeli evacuation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the return of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants.<ref name="LemondeA"> (French) "Le Quartet cherche une solution à la banqueroute palestinienne", Le Monde, May 9, 2006. Retrieved on May 9, 2006. </ref> Furthermore, the US has imposed a financial blockade on the PA's banks, impeding some of the Arab League's funds (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Qatar) from being transferred to the PA.<ref name="LemondeA"/>
Israel, on the other side, decided to cut transfers of the $55 million tax-receipts of the PA that it receives on the PA's behalf, since the PA doesn't have any access point to receive taxes. On February 19, 2006, interim Israeli Prime minister Ehud Olmert, who called the PA a "terrorist authority", decided to stop transfer of the $55 million tax-receipts to the PA, which accounts for a third of the PA's budget (two thirds of its proper budget) and insure the wages of 165 000 Palestinian civil servants (among them 60 000 security and police officers). The salary of the Palestinian civil servants permits a third of the Palestinian population to live.<ref name="LemondeA"/> Israel had already done that in 1991 and 1992, but international aid had covered up the budgetary losses. Israel also decided to increase controls on check-points, but finally decided against blocking Palestinians from commuting between Gaza and the West Bank and from prohibiting them to work in Israel. Criticizing these measures, moderate Labour leader Amir Peretz said that they were "indirect ways" to "get around Hamas and strengthen moderate forces" among the Palestinians.
In May 2006, following a World Bank report about the Palestinian economy, the Quartet agreed to transfer funds directly to the Palestinian population. Israeli minister of foreign affairs, Tzipi Livni, said the measure was "acceptable", while PA minister of foreign affairs, Mahmoud Zahar, welcomed the promise of aid but criticised attempts to bypass the PA: "We appreciate every effort in order to help the Palestinian people by legal channels... and the legal channel is the Palestinian Authority, whether the presidency or the government,".<ref>"Palestinians to get interim aid", BBC News, May 10, 2006</ref> The World Bank had already compared the 2001 and 2002 economic recession, due to the Second Intifada and Israel's refusal to transfer tax receipts, to the 1929 economic crisis. The UN underlined that unemployment, which was estimated to 23% in 2005, would increase to 39% in 2006, while poverty, estimated at 44%, would increase to 67% in 2006.<ref name="LemondeA"/> According to a World Bank report published on May 7, 2006, the delay in paying the PA's civil servants — whom haven't received their wages since March 2006 — is dangerous both on social and security plans. This convinced the United States to accept the EU proposal, supported by Russia and the Arab countries, of finding a way to transfer funds to the Palestinian society without passing by the Palestinian Authority. The Quartet on the Middle East thus accepted, on May 9, 2006, an "international temporary mechanism of limited range and length"<ref> "Une bouffée d’oxygène pour les Palestiniens", RFI, May 10, 2006. Retrieved on May 10, 2006. (French) </ref>
Last Fatah measures
Before the Israeli decision to cut transfer of tax receipts, Palestinian Assembly passed legislation giving to the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, the power to appoint a court that could veto legislation passed by the new Hamas-led parliament to be sworn in start of February. The constitutional court would veto legislation deemed in violation of the Palestinians' Basic Law, a forerunner to the Palestinian constitution. Palestinian deputies also backed a decree which automatically makes members of the incoming parliament members of the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) parliament in exile. Unlike the Hamas charter, the PLO charter recognises the legitimacy of Israel.<ref>"Palestinian Parliament Gives New Power", The Washington Post, February 13, 2006.</ref><ref>"Outgoing MPs boost Abbas' power", BBC News, February 13, 2006.</ref>
Hamas' declarations since the 2006 legislative elections
Although Hamas omitted its call for the destruction of Israel from its election manifesto, calling instead for "the establishment of an independent state whose capital is Jerusalem," several Hamas candidates insisted that the charter remains in force.<ref name="guard1" /><ref>"Hamas: Ceasefire for return to 1967 border", Y Net News, January 30, 2006.</ref>
On February 8, Hamas head Khaled Mashal speaking in Cairo had clarified that "Anyone who thinks Hamas will change is wrong", stating that while Hamas is willing for a ceasefire with Israel, its long term goal remains: elimination of Israel by Islam via a jihad against what Hamas sees as Zionist Jewish settler-colonial invaders in all of what he called Palestine.<ref>"Hamas offers deal if Israel pulls out", The Telegraph, 2006-02-09.</ref>
However, on February 13, 2006, in an interview in Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the same Khaled Mashal declared that Hamas would stop armed struggle against Israel if it recognized the 1967 borders, withdrew itself from all Palestinian occupied territories (including the West Bank and East Jerusalem) and recognized Palestinian rights which would include the "right of return". This was the first time that Hamas even talked about an eventual stop to armed struggle. But Mashal continued to refuse to acknowledge the Road map for peace, adopted by the Quartet in June 2003, "since nobody respects it". The Road map projected the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in 2005.<ref>"Hamas will end armed struggle if Israel quits territories - leader", AFX News Limited, February 12, 2006.</ref>
In May 2006, Hamas leaders threatened a new Intifada, as well as to decapitate anyone who tried to bring down their cabinet.<ref>Abu Toameh, Khaled. Hamas armed force readies for action, The Jerusalem Post, May 6, 2006.</ref>
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and his cabinet resigned, leaving Hamas to form a new government, which was completely formed on March 20. On February 19, Hamas had chosen Ismail Haniya as Prime minister of the PA, and on the same day the government of Israel decided counter-measures against the new Hamas-led Palestinian Authority (suspension of $55 million transfer of tax-receipts). After the victory, Israeli human rights organizations have called on Hamas to stop its terror campaign against civilians and to avoid using violence as a tool to achieve a political solution.
On March 20, 2006, Hamas unveiled its full cabinet list, placing loyal members in charge of all key ministries; of the 24 ministers appointed, the majority were Hamas (the others were independent or technocrats). Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah refused to join the Hamas government. The position of foreign minister was given to Mahmoud al-Zahar, a Gazan leader and target of previous assassination attempts by Israel. Saeed Seyam, another Hamas leader, was appointed interior minister, in charge of multiple security agencies. Hamas member and engineer Ala el-Deen Al-Araj was appointed economics minister. The position of finance minister was given to Omar Abdel-Razeq, Hamas election official and economics professor from the West Bank.<ref>"Hamas unveils Palestinian cabinet list", Reuters, March 20, 2006.</ref>
In his interview to The Sunday Telegraph, the newly appointed chief of the Palestinian security services Jamal Abu Samhadana stated: "We have only one enemy. They are Jews. We have no other enemy. I will continue to carry the rifle and pull the trigger whenever required to defend my people."<ref>"'Jews are our enemy. I will pull the trigger whenever required'", The Telegraph, 2006-04-23.</ref> However, president Mahmoud Abbas retained official control over the Palestinian security services.<ref name="BBC8"> "Three die in Fatah-Hamas clashes", BBC News, May 8, 2006. Retrieved on May 8, 2006. </ref>
Tensions between Fatah and Hamas
Since the formation of the new Hamas cabinet on March 20, 2006, tensions have progressively risen in the Gaza strip between Fatah and Hamas militants. In May 2006, The Sunday Times reported that Israeli security sources claimed they had uncovered a Hamas plot to assassinate president Mahmoud Abbas.<ref>Mahnaimi, Uzi. Israel foils plot to kill Palestinian president , The Sunday Times, May 7, 2006.</ref> This was officially denied by a Hamas spokesman, while Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeina, described the report as "totally untrue".<ref>"Un complot visant Abbas aurait été déjoué grace aux Israéliens", L'Orient-Le Jour, May 8, 2006.</ref> On May 8, three Palestinians were killed and 10 wounded in clashes in southern Gaza, near Khan Yunis, between rival Hamas and Fatah gunmen. The PA, confronted to the Quartet's blockade and Israel's refusal to hand out the $55 million in monthly tax revenues impedes it from paying its 165,000 employees (whose wages allow a third of the Palestinian population to live). On May 6 and 7, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in Gaza and the West Bank demanding payment of their wages. Although this inter-Palestinian incident was one of the most serious since January, tension has been slowly risen with the "economic squeeze" on the PA.<ref name="BBC8"/>
12 people were killed during the first days of October 2006 in armed clashes between Fatah, and the Hamas Interior ministry police. These clashed started when the interior ministry militia forcibly dispersed a gathering of Policemen demonstrating against unpaid wages. The Fatah affliliated Al-Asqa brigades have threatened to assassinate Hamas leaders including Khaled Meshal, Saeed Seyam and Youssef al-Zahar. The Al-Asqua brigaded kidnapped but then released a senior official in the Finance ministry.
Agreement and preservation of national unity
2006 Israel-Gaza conflict
On June 9, during or shortly after an Israeli operation, an explosion occurred on a busy Gaza beach, killing eight Palestinian civilians.<ref>"Death on the Beach: Seven Palestinians killed as Israeli shells hit family picnic", The Guardian, 2006-06-10.</ref><ref>"Palestinian Child Buries Slain Family", IslamOnline.net, 2006-06-11.</ref> It was initially assumed that Israeli shellings was responsible for the killings, although Israeli government officials later denied this. Prompted by the recent events Hamas formally withdrew from its 16-month ceasefire on June 10, and took responsibility for the ongoing Qassam rocket attacks being launched from Gaza into Israel.<ref></ref>
On June 24, 2006 Israeli operatives apprehended Osama and Mustafa Muamar in the Gaza Strip, alleged by Israel to be Hamas members.<ref>http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5112846.stm</ref> On June 25, a Hamas attack in Israel resulted in the deaths of two Israeli soldiers and the capture of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit. Israel then launched Operation Summer Rains on June 28 to recover the captured soldier. The ongoing operation initially consisted of heavy bombardment of bridges, roads, and the only power station in Gaza. Several PA facilities were also bombed, such as the Palestinian Interior Ministry and the office of the Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.
On 29 June, Israel captured 64 Hamas officials. Amongst them were eight Palestinian Authority cabinet ministers and up to twenty members of the Palestinian Legislative Council,<ref>"ISRAELIS, PALESTINIANS URGED TO 'STEP BACK FROM THE BRINK', AVERT FULL-SCALE CONFLICT, AS SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATES EVENTS IN GAZA", UN, 2006-06-30.</ref> as well as heads of regional councils, and the mayor of Qalqilyah and his deputy. At least a third of the Hamas cabinet was captured and held by Israel. On 6 August Israeli forces detained the Hamas' Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Aziz Dweik, at his home in the West Bank.
Legal action against Hamas
In 2004, a federal court in the United States found Hamas liable in a civil lawsuit for the 1996 murders of Yaron and Efrat Ungar near Bet Shemesh, Israel. Hamas has been ordered to pay the families of the Ungars $116 million.<ref></ref> On July 5, 2004, the court issued a default judgment against the PNA and the PLO regarding the Ungars' claim that the Palestinian Authority and the PLO provide safe haven to Hamas.
On August 20, 2004, three Palestinians, one a naturalized American citizen, were charged with a "lengthy racketeering conspiracy to provide money for terrorist acts in Israel". The indicted include Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, senior member of Hamas, believed to be currently in Damascus, Syria and considered a fugitive by the U.S..
In a 2002 report, Human Rights Watch stated that Hamas' leaders "should be held accountable for the war crimes and crimes against humanity" that have been committed by its members.<ref>Erased In A Moment: Suicide Bombing Attacks Against Israeli Civilians V. Structures and Strategies of the Perpetrator Organizations, Human Rights Watch, October, 2002. ISBN 1-56432-280-7</ref>
- List of Hamas suicide attacks
- Palestinian territories
- Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development
- Qassam rocket
- Members of Hamas called Qawasameh
- Palestinian political violence
- Islamic fundamentalism
- PLO and Hamas
- List of political parties in the Palestinian National Authority
- Terrorism against Israel
- Human rights in the Palestinian National Authority
Notes and references
- Hamas Charter
- Who are Hamas (Al-Jazeera)
- Website for the study of the ideas of Hamas, not the official website. (Arabic)
- Hamas in its own words
- "The Palestinian Information Center" Mideast news from the Hamas point of view. In English.
- Hamas at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel
- The Hamas organization is responsible for more than 425 terror attacks in Israel from November 6, 2000 to April 17, 2004 at IDF official website.
- Suicide Bomber's Father: Let Hamas and Jihad Leaders Send Their Own Sons a letter to the editor of the London Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat. October 8, 2002
- Hamas Fact Sheet and Hamas in Their Own Words at ADL
- Frequently Asked Questions About Hamas at ABC News
- Springtime for Hamas by Diane West at The Jewish World Review, April 22, 2005
- Hamas vs. America by Daniel Pipes. Published in The New York Sun on May 3, 2005
- Hamas terrorist infrastructures in the regions of Hebron and Ramallah exposed by The Israel Security Agency, October 12, 2005
- Hamas Without Veils. No more hiding behind the PA by Emanuele Ottolenghi in National Review, January 26, 2006
- Political earthquake strikes as Hamas wins landslide by Kevin Simpson on CWI Website, January 29, 2006
- BBC: Hamas urges EU not to end funding
- The EU's new Palestine dilemma by Khaled Diab
- Checkmate: the Hamas victory
- Russia is Ready for Dialogue With HAMAS
- Give Hamas Nothing for Free by Dennis Ross. (The Washington Post, p. B07. February 5, 2006)
- Hamas Triumphant: Implications for Security, Politics, Economy, and Strategy. February 2006 PDF
- A Hamas Government: Isolate or Engage? U.S. Institute of Peace Briefing, March 2006
- Living Conditions Poll after a couple of months of hamas in government
- Israel's Birthright and Right to Exist Compels Justice for Palestinian Peoples (Catholic viewpoint)
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