Perhaps the most notorious of the Palestinian resistance movements, Hamas is known by some to be a turbulent and destructive force dwelling in the Gaza Strip, while to others (mainly those in the Arab world) they are a symbol of hope and a solution to the much resented existence of the state of Israel. Often it can be a difficult task to define who exactly is a terrorist group, and who is a freedom fighter. So let’s assess Hamas, and which category they should be placed under.
Let’s begin with the name – it may not mean much to those not familiar with the Arabic and Hebrew languages, yet it is an intriguing word nonetheless, and its real meaning can be rather telling. While it may be widely known as simply being an acronym “Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya,” which translates from Arabic into “The Islamic Resistance Movement”, as an individual word it is Arabic for “zeal”; and its sister language Hebrew translates it as “violence”. As a verb, hamas also means “to take by violence,” “to rob” and “to destroy.”
Hmm, this itself gives a strong indication of the nature of the group. Perhaps they could have picked a more subtle name?
Okay, perhaps this factor alone isn’t enough to prove the nature of the group. It’s a start though, and paints a modest picture.
Many of those who are anti-Israel will instinctively jump on the side of Hamas, seeing them as nothing more than a resistance movement and a solution to peace – or seeing them as on the same level as the PLO and Fatah (these two groups are by no means perfect, and have in the past incited violence towards Israel and Jews).
Let’s take a look at their charter, to show their beliefs, their aims, and to see if Hamas are as modest as many of their sympathizers think. For the sake of convenience, I will not provide the whole charter, but parts I think are important and briefly sum up the group:
- Article Two: The Link between Hamas and the Association of Muslim Brothers
The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era.
They are supported and funded by the Muslim Brotherhood, who are known for supporting Islam extremism worldwide.
- “Article Six: Peculiarity and Independence
The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinct Palestinian Movement which owes its loyalty to Allah, derives from Islam its way of life and strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine. Only under the shadow of Islam could the members of all regions coexist in safety and security for their lives, properties and rights. In the absence of Islam, conflict arises, oppression reigns, corruption is rampant and struggles and wars prevail. Allah had inspired the Muslim poet, Muhammad Iqbal, when he said:
When the Faith wanes, there is no security
There is no this-worldliness for those who have no faith
Those who wish to live their life without religion
Have made annihilation the equivalent of life.”
This shows Hamas operates under the banner of Islam, and that dominion of Islam is necessary for regional stability. In other words, they are Islam extremists.
- Article Seven:The Universality of Hamas
The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree (cited by Bukhari and Muslim).
Talks about killing Jews as a whole, rather than just Israel alone.
- Article Eight: The Slogan of the Hamas
Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.
- Article Eleven:The Strategy of Hamas: Palestine is an Islamic Waqf
The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. No Arab country nor the aggregate of all Arab countries, and no Arab King or President nor all of them in the aggregate, have that right, nor has that right any organization or the aggregate of all organizations, be they Palestinian or Arab, because Palestine is an Islamic Waqf throughout all generations and to the Day of Resurrection. Who can presume to speak for all Islamic Generations to the Day of Resurrection? This is the status [of the land] in Islamic Shari’a, and it is similar to all lands conquered by Islam by force, and made thereby Waqf lands upon their conquest, for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection.
No non-Muslims shall occupy Palestine, only Muslims have that honour. It’s clearly not just Israel’s foreign policy that bugs them, but their charter shows that as non-Muslims, Jews must not occupy the land. Also, the land should be ruled under Sharia Law.
- Article Thirteen:Peaceful Solutions, [Peace] Initiatives and International Conferences
[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. 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.
Showing that they reject peace with Israel, and that a two-state solution would not be permitted with them in charge. Only war can solve the Palestinian question, apparently!
- Article Seventeen: The Role of Muslim Women
The Muslim women have a no lesser role than that of men in the war of liberation; they manufacture men and play a great role in guiding and educating the [new] generation. The enemies have understood that role, therefore they realize that if they can guide and educate [the Muslim women] in a way that would distance them from Islam, they would have won that war.
Unlike many other militant groups, at least women are viewed more equally; something they should at least be given credit for!
Over the years, Hamas have maintained good relations with Iran and have been supplied by them too; this is a nation who have a barbaric record on human rights (as briefly covered here – https://jonathanfentonharvey.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/the-iran-nuclear-programme-deal-good-or-bad-and-what-could-come-of-it/) and have also called for the destruction of Israel, as well as labeling the USA as the Greater Satan. Showing even more ties to extremism.
Israel in the past has been vilified for the harming of children in the Gaza Strip, yet according to the Journal of Palestine Studies, Vice News, and several other sources, Hamas force children to dig tunnels into Egypt, where supplies such as food, medicines and weapons have been transported. Despite calls from human rights groups for the Gaza government to stop the practice, regulations of child labor is lax. The Journal of Palestine Studies reports that at least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels.
Hamas reject peace (as shown in their charter), showing in reality they care little about the Palestinian civilians. If they did, they would try and protect them, rather than engage in more conflicts with the state of Israel; of which have regrettably resulted in the deaths of many unfortunate civilians caught in the crossfire between the two sides. Regardless of your views of Israel policy – it is clear that Hamas don’t want peace, they advocate the complete and utter destruction of Israel.