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Hamas: The Islamic Resistance Movement from a Palestinian Point-of-View

General introduction

Hamas is an acronym that stands for the Islamic Resistance Movement, a popular national resistance movement which is working to create conditions conducive to emancipating the Palestinian people, delivering them from tyranny, liberating their land from the occupying usurper, and to stand up to the Zionist scheme which is supported by neo-colonist forces.

Hamas is a Jihadi (fighting for a holy purpose) movement in the broad sense of the word Jihad. It is part of the Islamic awakening movement and upholds that this awakening is the road which will lead to the liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea. It is also a popular movement in the sense that it is a practical manifestation of a wide popular current that is deeply rooted in the ranks of the Palestinian people and the Islamic nation. It is a current which sees in the Islamic faith and doctrines a firm base in which to work against an enemy which endorses religious ideologies and plots which counter act all plans to lift up the Palestinian nation. The Hamas movement groups in its ranks all those who believe in its ideology and principles and all who are prepared to endure the consequences of the conflict and to confront the Zionist scheme.

The Movement's emblem

The movement's emblem consists of a picture of the mosque of the Dome of the Rock. At the top of the emblem is a small map of Palestine and surrounding it are two Palestinian flags in a semicircular shape which appear as if they were embracing the Dome. The right flag bears the phrase, "There is no god but Allah," and the left flag bears the phrase, "Mohammed is the messenger of Allah." Under the Dome are two swords which cross one another at the dome's base and drift apart forming a lower frame for the Dome. "Palestine" is written under the picture and below it is a strip with the phrase, "Islamic Resistance Movement-Hamas."

The picture of the mosque together with the phrases "There is no god but Allah," and "Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah," symbolize the Islamic character of the cause and its ideological essence. The map is indicative of Hamas' attitude that the conflict aims to restore (from the occupiers) the entire Palestine with its Mandate borders and that Hamas rejects the issue to be limited to the lands occupied in 1967.

The two swords symbolize the images of might and nobility that have always dwelled in the Arab mind. In its fight against an enemy who pays no heed to any human values, Hamas adheres to the values of nobility and honor and targets its might against its actual enemy, relentlessly and without deviation.

Evolution and development

The Islamic Resistance Movement-Hamas, issued its initiating statement on December 15, 1987. However, the movement's evolution goes back to the 1940s, as it is an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Before announcing their movement, Muslim Brothers used other names to express their political attitudes towards the Palestinian Question. These included Al Morabitour (those firmly stationed) on the Land of Isra' (the Nocturnal journey), the "Islamic Struggle Movement," and other names.

First: Causes Of Evolution:

The Islamic Resistance Movement-Hamas-emerged as a result of interaction between a number of elements the Palestinian people have endured since the catastrophe of 1948 in general and the 1967 setback in particular. These emanate from two main factors: the political development of the Palestinian Question and what had become of it by the end of 1967, and the development of the Islamic Awakening in Palestine and the level it reached in the mid 80s.

a. The Political Developments of the Palestine Question

In the course of time, the Palestinian people could see that their cause, which they consider a matter of life and death and an encounter of the cultural conflict between the Arabs and Muslims on one side and the Zionists on the other, was being reduced to a problem of refugees after the catastrophe, and to a problem of removing the traces of aggression and giving up two thirds of Palestine after the defeat of 1967. This prompted the Palestinians to take their cause into their own hands which led to the
inception of the PLO and the popular resistance factions.

However, the program of the Palestine revolution, which developed and crystallized inside the PLO, saw a number of internal and external setbacks which weakened it and made its vision confusing. The 70s had seen a number of indications that there would be the likelihood the PLO would accept a compromise at the expense of the inalienable rights of our people and nation and in contradiction of the provisions of the Palestinian National Charter. These indicators developed to become obvious Palestinian propositions which increased after the conclusion of the Camp David Accords and the Zionist invasion of south Lebanon and the subsequent siege of Beirut in 1982.

The siege was the biggest humiliation the Arab nation had suffered after the 1967 war despite the historic steadfastness of the Palestinian resistance in the city, for an Arab capital was besieged for a period of three months without any significant Arab reaction. This weakened the PLO and led to its exodus from Lebanon, which strengthened trends inside the PLO that called for a settlement with the enemy.

The propositions for the settlement included the following concessions which, up to then, had been fundamental issues in the conflict with Zionism.

1. Recognizing the Zionist entity and its right to exist on the land of Palestine.
2. Giving up to the Zionists, part, or rather the greater part, of Palestine.

Under these circumstances which satisfied PLO leaders, the strategy of armed struggle receded and Arab and international interest in the Palestine Question waned. Most of the Arab states were consciously or unconsciously pursuing country-centered policies where singleness of purpose was predominant. This was noticeable after the Arab League made a decision in 1974 recognizing the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

After the eruption of the Iraqi-Irani War, the Palestine Question became a marginal issue on Arab and international levels. On the other hand, Zionism was adopting a harder line with the support of the United States with which it concluded a strategic cooperation treaty in 1981, the same year which saw the annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights and the destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor.

While the Arab countries continued to cherish the illusion of attaching their hopes to the successive US administrations, Zionist extremism was growing more fervent as right wing parties dominated the entity's administration and policy. The policy of deterrence embraced by the Zionist entity for decades, was undisputed. Therefore, the Zionists arrogantly carried out the Hammam Al-Shat operation in Tunisia in October 1985 when it bombarded the PLO Headquarters there. These acts were met with full support from the US administration, the same administration that was the object of Arab hopes for achieving the ambitions of the various Arab summits.

On the international level, the USA had made great strides, leaving the Soviet Union a long distance behind, by imposing its authority and hegemony on the region as well as on the whole world The mounting problems inside the Soviet Union required it to lend its attention to the local scene with the result that it gradually withdrew from regional conflicts and cleared the international scene for the Americans. The Soviet role in the region came to an end in a way that was not expected by the Arab governments and most of the Palestinian factions whose political position was severely damaged consequently.

b. The Islamic Awakening Axis

Palestine, like the other Arab countries, witnessed a remarkable Islamic awakening that led to the development and growth of the Islamic movement, in organizational and ideological terms, in the part of Palestine occupied in 1948 as well as in the Palestinian communities in the Diaspora.

The Islamic current in Palestine became aware that it was facing a tremendous challenge which was due to two main causes:

First-The decline of the Palestinian cause which plunged the bottom of the list of priorities for Arab countries.

Second-The retreat of the Palestinian Revolution's program to confront Zionist ambitions and its effects on the position of having to live with those ambitions and of limiting the conflict to the conditions of this co-existence.

Under these two retreats, and with the accumulation of the negative impact of the repressive and tyrannical policies of the Zionist occupation, and with the idea of resistance ripening among the Palestinian people inside and outside Palestine, there had to be a "Jihadi" Islamic Palestinian project whose features began to appear in the "Jihad Family" in 1981 and in the league of Shaikh Ahmad Yassin in 1983 as well as in other groups.

By the end of 1987, conditions had become ripe enough for the rise of a new faction that would confront Zionism as well as external transformations. Hence, the Islamic Resistance Movement-Hamas, emerged in response to the dilemma of the Palestinian people and what they and their just cause had gone through since the Zionist occupation of Palestinian land in 1967.

The consciousness of the Palestinian people in general and the Palestinian Islamic trend in particular contributed to crystallizing the Islamic Resistance Movement whose features began taking shape in the 80s. In that period, wings (extensions) were formed for the resistance apparatus and popular ground was consolidated to set the scene for launching the principles of the popular confrontation against the Zionist occupation. The students' confrontation with the occupation authorities in Najah and
Beir Zeit universities in the West Bank and in the Islamic University in Gaza contributed to creating conditions conducive for the Palestinian masses to indulge in resisting the occupation under the cumulative impact of the unfair policies, repressive measures and inhuman practices.

Second: Development

The aggressive incident committed by a Zionist truck driver on December 6, 1987, against a car carrying Arab workers which resulted in the death of four Palestinian martyrs in Jabalia Camp of the Palestine Refugees ushered in a new era of our Palestinian people's Jihad. In retaliation, a state of general alarm was declared. The first statement of the Islamic Resistance
Movement was issued on December 15, 1987, marking a new phase in the Jihad of the Palestinians against the tyrant Zionist occupation, a phase where the Islamic trend was the spearhead of resistance.

The rise of Hamas caused great concern to the enemy; so it mobilized its intelligence instruments to keep an eye on the movement and its leaders. As soon as the enemy realized that the masses were very much responsive to the strikes and other activities of the resistance called for by the movement, and upon the issuance of the movement's charter, the enemy started a wide campaign of arrests targeting the movement's cadres and followers. The biggest such campaign was launched in May 1989 in which the founding leader, Shaikh Ahmad Yassin, was arrested.

With the development of the movement's methods of resistance which included capturing Zionist soldiers in the winter of 1989, and with the movement's resorting to their war of cold steel against the occupation troops in 1990, a large campaign of arrests was launched against the movement in December 1990 and the occupation authorities deported some of the movement's activists and leaders. It also decreed that the movement and membership was a crime and those caught with affiliations with the movement would receive severe punishment.

The movement entered a new phase with the establishment of its military wing, the Regiments of Martyrs Izzudin Al Qassam, in late 1991. The wing's activities against the Zionist soldiers and settlers steadily increased and in December 1992, the movement's fighters carried out the operation of capturing the soldier Nassim Tolidano after which the Zionist authorities launched a hectic campaign of arrests against the movement's cadres and followers. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ishaq Rabin ordered the deportation of 415 activists of our people, which was a precedent for mass deportation. Hamas and Islamic Jihad deportees set a typical example as fighters who held strongly to their land no matter how heavy the cost was. Therefore, Rabin eventually agreed to their return after they spent one year in the open in the temporary camp of Marj el-Sahour in south Lebanon.

The deportations did not stop the operation launched by Hamas and its military wing. The year of 1993 witnessed a remarkable rise in the confrontations between our Palestinian masses and the Zionist occupation soldiers, coupled with a paralleled increase in military attacks against the occupation soldiers and settlers.

As popular resistance grew stronger, the enemy clamped a closure down on the West Bank and Gaza in an attempt to curb acts of resistance.

In February of 1994, a Jewish terrorist settler called Barraugh Goldstein, committed a crime against Palestinians who were praying in Al Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron when 30 Palestinians fell martyrs and 100 others were wounded.

The size of the crime and its repercussions prompted Hamas to declare an all-out war against the Zionist occupation and to broaden the scope of its operations to include every Israeli settler on the Arab land of Palestine with the objective of halting the crimes against unarmed Palestinian civilians.

Today, Hamas stands at the front of the forces which are working against Zionist goals. Despite the comprehensive campaign targeting it, Hamas remains the major force which keeps the Palestinian cause alive and which makes the Palestinian people, the children of the Arab and Islamic nation and the free people all over the world feel confident that there is a possibility to stand up against Zionism which has been going through its golden era since the beginning of the 90s and to give them hope that it could be defeated and destroyed by God's will.

The conflict with Zionism in Hamas ideology

The Hamas movement believes that the conflict with the Zionists in Palestine is a conflict of survival. It is a conflict of civilization and determination that can not be brought to an end unless its cause-the Zionist settlement in Palestine, usurpation of its land, and the displacement of its people-is removed.

Hamas sees in the Hebraic state an antagonistic totalitarian regime, not just an entity with territorial ambitions, a regime that complements the forces of modern colonialism which aim to take hold of the nation's riches and resources and to prevent the rise of any grouping that works to unify the nation's ranks. It seeks to achieve this objective by promoting provincialism, alienating the nation from its cultural roots and clamping down on its economic, political, military and even intellectual hegemony.

The Hebraic state forms an instrument that breaks the geographic continuity of the central Arab countries, and it is a device to deplete the nation's resources. It is also a spearhead which is ready to strike at any project that aims to raise the nation up.

The main confrontations with the Zionist entity is taking place in Palestine where the enemy has established its base and stronghold. But the threats and challenges posed by the Zionists run deeper and so threaten all Islamic countries. Hamas believes that the Zionist entity, since its inception, has constituted a threat to the Arab countries and also in their strategic depth, the Islamic countries. The 90s witnessed huge transformations that highlighted this danger which knows no limits.

Hamas believes that the best way to handle the conflict with the Zionist enemy is to mobilize the potentialities of the Palestinian people in the struggle against the Zionist presence in Palestine and to keep the firebrand burning until the time when the conditions to win the battle have been realized, and wait until all the potentialities and resources of the Arab and Islamic nation are mobilized under a common political will and purpose. Until that happens and there is belief in the sanctity of the
Palestinian cause and its Islamic importance and an awareness of the ultimate goals and dangers of the Zionist project in Palestine, Hamas believes that no part of Palestine should be compromised, that the Zionist occupation of Palestine should not be recognized and that it is imperative for the people of Palestine, as well as all Arabs and Muslims, to prepare themselves to fight the Zionists until they leave Palestine the way they migrated to it.

Military action in Hamas program

The Hebraic state represents an entity which is antagonistic to all aims of Arab and Islamic awakening. for it is known that had it not been for the state of deterioration and decadence through which the nation was passing, the Zionists would not have realized their dream of establishing their state in Palestine.

Recognizing this fact, the Zionists work against any program which they think would add to the Arab and Islamic capabilities. They believe that any attempts aiming at achieving an Arab and Islamic awakening constitute a strategic threat to Israel. The Zionists also believe that if Arab power was unified under a comprehensive program of awakening, it would pose a major threat to the Hebraic state. This conviction has prompted the Zionist leaders to transform their state from an alien entity in the Arab and Islamic surrounding to become part of it under the influence of economy. This explains why they support the (peace) settlement and promote projects with an economic orientation. It is within this context that the military action in the Hamas program should be viewed. Military action is the movement's strategic instrument for combating the Zionist element. In the absence of a comprehensive Arab and Islamic plan for liberation, military action will remain the only guarantee that would keep the conflict going and that would make it difficult for the enemy to expand outside Palestine.

In its strategic dimension, military action is the Palestinian people's main instrument to keep the firelog burning in Palestine and to counter Israeli schemes which aim at transferring the center of tension to other ports in the Arab and Islamic world.

Military action, moreover, is an instrument to defer the Zionists and to prevent them from threatening the security of the Palestinians. This was evident in the series of heroic attacks carried out by the movement in retaliation to the crime committed by the terrorist Baraugh Goldstein against the Palestinians who were praying in Al Ibrahimi Mosque.

Pursuing this approach and enforcing it up would weigh heavily on the Zionists to force them to step up their practices against the interests of our people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Hamas believes that Israel's integration into the Arab and Islamic region would hamper every plan that seeks to uplift the nation.

Israel, which is backed by the US and its technology, aims to take advantage of the weakness of its adversaries in order to achieve a settlement, a plan which, in its essence, aims at linking the Arab economies to a new cluster with Israel at its center.

Hamas resistance against the occupation is not directed against the Jews as followers of a religion, but rather against the occupation, its existence and oppressive practices. This resistance is not associated with the peace process in the region as alleged by the Hebraic state and the supporters of the current settlement. The resistance was there before the convening of the Madrid Conference; and the movement has no hostilities or battles with any international party, nor does it target the interests of the properties of the various countries. This is because it considers that the scene of its battle against the Zionist occupation is limited to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. When the Zionist officials threatened to transfer the battle with Hamas to areas outside the Occupied Territories, Hamas warned the Zionist authorities against the serious dangers of such a step. This testifies to the fact that Hamas does not wish to enlarge the circle of the conflict.

In resisting the occupation, Hamas directs its action against military targets and does its best to ensure that its resistance would not cause losses among civilians. It is true that in some cases resistance carried out by the movement resulted in some civilian losses, but these losses were in self-defense and came in retaliation to the massacres committed against innocent Palestinian civilians as was the case with the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in Hebron when Palestinians were shot dead at the hands of
settlers and the soldiers of the occupation. Anxious to see no civilians on either side fall victim to the conflict, Hamas took several initiatives proposing that both sides stop targeting civilians and that they be excluded from the scope of conflict. However, the Zionists rejected these initiatives and by doing so they showed their terrorist nature and their indifference to saving innocent Palestinians from bloodshed.

In its activities of resistance, Hamas is keen on adhering to the noble teachings of Islam, human rights and international law. It carries out its lawful resistance not for the sake of murder and bloodshed as is the case with the Zionists.

Hamas' position regarding the political settlement

Hamas has repeatedly affirmed it is not against the principle of peace. It is for it and is seeking to achieve it. It agrees with all countries that peace should prevail over the whole world. However, only just peace will restore to the Palestinians their rights and enable them to exercise their rights for independence and self-determination. The movement holds that the accords that have been concluded fall short of meeting the aspirations and minimum goals of the Palestinian people. These are unfair agreements which cause harm to our people. They reward the aggressors for their aggression and acknowledge to them the right to acquire what they have wrongfully taken from others. It is a situation where the conditions are dictated by the triumphant and the tyrannized are required to give up their rights. An unjust peace of the nature does not hold for long.

The very essence of any political settlement, irrespective of its origin or content, entails recognition of the Zionist enemy's right to exist on most parts of Palestine, which deprives millions of Palestinians the right to return, to determine their future and build their independent state on the whole of Palestinian land. This is indeed contradictory to human and international values and traditions, and is also forbidden under the Islamic jurisprudence. This should not be allowed to happen because the land of Palestine is a blessed Islamic land that has been usurped by the Zionists; and Jihad has become a duty for Muslims to restore it and expeltheir occupiers out of their land.

In view of the above, the movement has rejected Shulz's and Baker's plan, the 10 points of Mubarak, Shamir's plan and the Madrid-Washington process. Hamas believes that the most dangerous of all settlement projects are "Gaza-Jericho First" that was concluded in Washington on September 13, 1993, between the Zionist entity and the PLO leadership; the mutual recognition document' and the agreements of Taba, Cairo and the likes. What is disastrous about these agreements is that they do not only recognize the Zionist sovereignty over all of Palestine, normalize Arab-Zionist relations and give the Zionists a free hand over the whole region, but are also endorsed by a Palestinian side even though this side does not represent the Palestinians in actual terms. All of this means closing the Palestinian case and depriving the Palestinian people from claiming their rights or from using legitimate means to restore them. It also consolidates the basis for depriving the majority of Palestinians to live on their land, to say nothing about the consequences that all of this may reflect on the Arab and Islamic people.

In view of the dangers posed by the settlement currently in process, the movement adopted a position based on the following points:

1. Promoting the awareness of the Palestinian people concerning the perils of the settlement and the accords resulting from it.
2. Working to group in one bloc all Palestinian forces opposed to the settlement and its accords and to promote their principles to the Palestinian, Arab and international arenas.
3. Urging the PLO leadership to withdraw from the negotiations with the Zionist entity and from the Gaza-Jericho deal which threatens the existence of our people in Palestine and the Diaspora now and in the future.
4. Making contacts with the Arab and Islamic countries with the intent to ask them to withdraw from the negotiations, not to respond to the conspiracy of normalizing the relations with the Zionist entity, and to lend us their support in confronting the Zionist enemy and its plans.

Hamas' position towards the Palestinian forces

1. Hamas maintains that the field of the Palestinian national action is wide enough to accommodate all visions and orientations opposed to the Zionist plot. It believes that the unification of the national Palestinian action is the objective that all forces, factions and detachments should aim to realize.

2. Hamas seeks to coordinate and cooperate with all operating forces and factions out of its belief that common denominators and points of agreement should prevail over points of disagreement.

3. Hamas seeks to reinforce the joint national action, and believes that the framework for such an action should rest on a commitment to work for the liberation of Palestine and to refuse to recognize the Zionist enemy or to give it the right to exist on any part of Palestine.

4. Hamas holds that no matter how far apart the point of view may be in the arena of patriotic action, no party should resort to violence or arms to settle differences or to dictate opinions and persuasions inside the Palestinian camp.

5. Hamas undertakes advocacy for the cause of the Palestinian people without discrimination between religious, ethnic groups or sects. It believes in the right of all groups and sects of the Palestinians to defend their territories and defend their homeland. It also believes that the Palestinians are one people, whether Muslim or Christian.

Hamas' position towards the Self-Rule Authority

Hamas believes that the "Self-rule Authority" is an outcome of the agreements of the co-existence with the Zionist enemy. It holds that the Zionists have agreed to the establishment of this authority to achieve a number of short and long-term objectives.

The Authority, which is supported by 30,000 armed men forming a police force that holds different titles, is committed to implementing the obligations provided for in the agreements. At the top of these obligations is to confront resistance operations and to strike the resistance factions under the pretext of protecting the settlement process and the Authority's agreement with Israel.

Being hostage to the Oslo Agreements, the Authority serves as a legal cover for the occupation and its practices. Merely by the way of an example, when the Authority approved the opening of by-passes for the settlers, it gave the Zionist settlements a legal status.

Hamas maintains that the Zionists have avoided confronting the movement and its Jihadi program by hiding behind the Self-Rule Authority. The movement is also aware that if it entered into a military confrontation with the Self-Rule Authority, it would achieve one of the Zionist's greatest objectives and ambitions. Out of this awareness, Hamas did not allow itself to be dragged into a dispute with the Authority despite the Authority's repressive practices and its human rights violations in the Self-Rule areas, which included the assassination of Mujahideen, opening fire on citizens while praying, rounding up hundreds of Palestinians on the charges of supporting the resistance factions and torturing prisoners to death.

Hamas considers the Oslo Accords as an alluding formula for liquidating the Palestinian cause and for protecting the Zionists at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian people. It remains opposed to these accords and seeks to abort them by means of the popular resistance without resorting to violence against the Authority and its symbols.

The movement is confident that the Authority and its political project are doomed to fail under the impact of the security aspect of the Oslo Accords.

External Relations

1. Hamas believes that the difference in opinions over developments does not prevent it from contacting and cooperating with amiable parties that are prepared to support the steadfastness of the Palestinian people.

2. Hamas is not interested in the internal affairs of countries and does not interfere in any government's domestic affairs.

3. Hamas seeks to encourage Arab and Islamic countries to resolve their differences and to unify their attitudes towards national issues. However, it does not side with one party against the other, nor does it accept joining one political axis against another.

4. Hamas believes in Arab and Islamic unity and blesses any effort made in this respect.

5. Hamas asks all Arab and Islamic governments and parties to assume their responsibilities to endorse the cause of our people and support its steadfastness against the Zionist occupation and to facilitate the work of our movement towards achieving its mission.

6. Hamas believes in the importance of dialogue with all governments and world parties and forces irrespective of faith, race or political orientation. It remains ready to cooperate with any side for the sake of the just cause of our people and for informing the public about the inhuman practices of the Zionist occupation against the Palestine people.

7. Hamas does not seek enmity with anyone on the basis of religious convictions or race. It does not antagonize any country or organization unless they stand against our people or support the aggressive practices of the Zionist occupation against our people.

8. Hamas is keen on limiting the theater of confrontation with the Zionist occupation to Palestine, and not to transfer it to any arena outside Palestine.

9. Hamas expects the world's countries, organizations and liberty movements to stand by the just cause of our people; to denounce the repressive practices of the occupation authorities which violate international law and human rights; and to create a public opinion pressurizing the Zionist entity to end its occupation of our land and holy shrines.

Hamas' position towards other liberation movements

As a resistance movement that confronts the occupation and Israeli racism, Hamas sympathizes with the world's liberation causes and supports the legitimate aspirations of people that struggle to get rid of occupation and the policy of racial discrimination. Hamas stood with the South African people in their struggle against apartheid and welcomed the change that put an end to the apartheid policy that was prevailing there.

Sources: Palestine Information Center