Jihadfor Gods cause, in spite of its extreme importance for the future of the religion has been rejected by the ulama of this age. They have feigned ignorance of it, but they know that it is the only way to the return and the establishment of glory of Islam anew There is no doubt that the idols of this world can only disappear through the power of the sword. (Esposito, 135) On December 14, 1987 a movement was born that would forever change the peace process in the Middle East, the name of that group is Hamas or Harakat Al Muqawama Al Islamiya (Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, and literally meaning zeal).
The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine, and shares many of their policies and views. It is characterized by its deep understanding, accurate comprehension and its complete embrace of all Islamic concepts of all aspects of life, culture, creed, politics, economics, education, society, justice and judgement, the spreading of Islam, education, art, information, science of the occult and conversion to Islam. (Hamas Covenant) This paper will analyze the structure of Hamas, shedding light on a group, which is frequently misunderstood by the Western Press as simply a fad in the West Bank and Gaza.
This paper will show that Hamas is more than just a terrorist organization hell bent on the destruction of the Israeli State. It will display that due to its popular beliefs, together with its ability to help the impoverished people of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Hamas will continue to be a force in the Middle East peace process. On May 1949, the General Assembly of International Security Council recognized Israel as a state established on Palestinian land. However, this resulted in a bloody conflict that continues to present day.
The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is a land consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement day. They despise the birth of this Zionist entity within Palestine. Making matters worse in the eyes of Hams, PLO leader Yasser Arafat has been trying to negotiating peace with Benjamin Netanyahu, Israels Prime Minister. This whole concept of negotiations is against Hamas belief. They believe in prevalence through nationalism. Resisting and quelling the enemy become the individual duty of every Moslem, male or female.
A woman can go out to fight the enemy without her husband’s permission, and so does the slave: without his master’s permission. (Hamas Covenant) Hamas Religious belief is the core of the movement. They believe in the fundamentals of Islam. From it, it draws its ways of thinking, its ideas and understanding of man, life and the universe. Hamas turns to Islam as a mean of Judgement in all its conduct, and it inspires them and guides them in their pursuit of a free Palestine.
Hamas says there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad, Holy War. Proposals, initiatives and international interventions and conferences are all a waste of time in the eyes of Hamas. Constant preparation has continued and so has the readiness to sacrifice life and all that is precious for the sake of Allah. The Islamic Resistance Movement carries out its role striving for the sake of its Creator and to fulfill the wishes, yearnings and expectations of the Palestinian people by neutralizing all obstacles.
Hamas Covenant) Besides cleansing Palestine from the Zionist entity Hamas has other goals as well. All though Hamas most often is depicted as a terrorist organization we must not forget that they are seen as freedom fighters by many. Hamas wants to educate the public about unjust living conditions experienced by the people under the Israeli occupation. They also provide financial assistance to families who lost their sours of income due to Israeli assassinations, and they provide low cost medical care, etc.
These goals certainly makes more people sympathetic to their cause and actions giving Hamas substantial support from Palestinians living on the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and in East Jerusalem. (Kushner, p8-9) Hamas also has a higher goal. It aspires to Allahs promise that no matter how long it takes there will be no judgement until the Moslems kill the Jews. (Hamas covenant) They also want to destroy the peace process and PLO, which they see as corrupted by the West. Nevertheless as a political entity Hamas has seen the need to be malleable and change with the times, as reality change with the Territories.
The resiliency and their ability to produce some long range goals came about in April of 1994 when it laid out provisions which it felt would enable it to stop anti Jewish attacks in the West Bank and Gaza if some conditions could be met. Among those conditions were the complete pull out of Israeli troops from occupied zones, disarmament of settlers and settlements, deployment of multi-national forces along the green line and also free and fair elections to see who would represent the Palestinians in their peace talks.
The truth about Hamas) What tactics do they use to reach their main goal? As mentioned above Hamas believes in Jihad and Sheik Ahmed Yassin said in an interview that attacks on Israeli civilians are legitimate tactic as long as Israel occupies Palestinian lands. “We feel very sorry when we see civilians are suffering … but any human being has the right to defend themselves,” (National News). The Ezzedin Al Qassam Battalions is the military wing of Hamas that has carried out suicide bombings and other types of violent activities.
It seems that Hamas select their victims indiscriminately by blowing up busses, Israeli convoys, army checkpoints, soldier hitchhiking stations, and Cafs to mention a few targets. They have also been involved in numerous drive-by shootings and stabbing to mention more conventional methods of terror. As mentioned above despite these gross tactics The Islamic Resistance Movement gets support from many Moslems living on the West Bank, on the Gaza Strip and in East Jerusalem. This is largely because they share the same religion the same fundamental beliefs and background.
By helping the poor people living in these areas providing them with a social service network they gain support not only from the Palestinians but Foreign assistance providers as well. Through this social network, which includes among other things, schools and hospitals, it is easy for Hamas to disseminate propaganda. You can also find immense amounts of propaganda on the World Wide Web directly from Hamas on their official homepage and also supporters who publish articles about Hamas and the Israeli occupation in general.
The headquarters for Hamas, as well as its primary zone of operation, is in the Shaikh Radwan district of Gaza City in the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has offices in Amman, Jordan, and has contacts and a good working relationship with many of the Arab countries who assist in the financing of the political and social activities of Hamas. In addition to the Arab world Hamas has done better than almost any other Islamic militant groups in setting up offices and conducting activities throughout Europe and the united States.
Their operatives in the US and Europe are responsible for the tactical and operational planning as well as fund raising activities (political Activities download p 2-3). Hamas is considered to be one of the most secretive organizations in the world. However, parts of Hamas operate openly through administrative and charitable entities to recruit members, generate funds and organize social events and spread propaganda. Hamas members can be divided into five groups: political leaders and thinkers, religious shaikhs, young mid-level leaders, grass roots activists and finally the military wing.
The structure of Hamas is a very complicated organization structured in a pyramis-like formation. Starting at the base of the pyramids are the cell units whose ties to the group are relatively insubstantial. Members at this level are considered expendable and are often used for attacks on Israeli soldiers or ate used as suicide bombers. Their expandabiity is recognized by their belonging to the armed wing of Hamas, Ezzel Al Qassam. (Structure p2) As one goes up the pyramid you will find that the ties grows stronger until you get to the solid core group of Hamas.
Which includes their spiritual leader and founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, and Moussa Mohammed Abu Marzuk, who has the title of Chairman of Hamas, and was jailed in the United States on conspiracy charges. Yassen was held in an Israeli jail until freed in late September 97 in a swap for Israeli Mossad agents who bungled an attempt to assassinate another Hamas leader (National News, jan28 98). In addition to fighting and bomb making Ezzel Al Qassam, is also responsible for the gathering of intelligence, making it very similar to the CIA, although Hamas operates with a much tighter budget.
The structure of Hamas can be separated into four sections: administrative, charity, political work and military operations. Each of these are split up into smaller sub-divisions providing a well-defined infrastructure for Hamas. Within each region where Hamas operates is a usar or family who is responsible to the central administration. The administrative section coordinates the groups political and military actions, although it is not known how well the usar families are informed in advance of the military operations. The charity section is another very important branch of Hamas.
The work of the charity groups is coordinated through Islamic Centers sympathetic to the cause both in the occupied territories and outside of them as well. These include the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development based in Dallas, Texas, and the Palestinian Relief and Development Found based in London. The Political wing is responsible for the making of policy, local elections, diplomatic fund raising trips to countries such as Iran and other of the Gulf countries. The political wing is divided up into two subsections the first is the Political office and the Information office.
The Political office is responsible for foreign relations and representing Hamas at Islamic Conferences and meetings dealing with the question of Palestinian affairs. (Structure download p2-4) The funding for Hamas comes from a myriad of sources, including the Muslim zakat or tax, which is two and a half percent of what a Muslim earns. The PLO’s Yasser Arafat has stated that Hamas receives between $20 to $30 million from Iran. Hamas claims that it gets funds from several groups that give extended assistance.
These include the international Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic organizations in the Indian continent, and Islamic factions in Turkey to mention a few. However their funding is not limited to the Middle East. Citizens of Western Europe and the US also give generously to Hamas. The funding is often channeled through Muslim Political movements and Islamic parties, as well as relief and charity groups (Truth about Hamas). The funding received has many uses. Of course military weapons are bought, but as mentioned they also obtain and secure support of families in Gaza by helping poor families with cash donations.
In addition it offers up subsidies and extra food as well as granting university scholarships encouraging an educated and devoted group. Through this Hamas has the ability to attract donors based on reputation of being honest as well as successfully completing their tasks (Truth about Hamas). Although the social network provided by Hamas is running relatively smoothly the more radical wing Ezzedin Al Qassam and Hamas protests to the Oslo agreement and PLO has caused some turbulence. Even though there has been a truce between the two, there is still a high degree of tension.
At times the truce is broken as Arafat will imprison some of the leaders of Hamas as a reaction to the desires of the US or Israel for him and his ample police force to crack down on terrorism. But the leaders will often be let out a few days later. After Hamas early 1996 bombing campaign attempt to destroy the peace process, the crackdown was very severe. One of the main programs to prevent terrorist activities in the Middle East is outlined in the Wye Memorandum, which states zero tolerance for terror and violence against both the Palestinians and the Israelis, cooperating with the U.
S combating terrorist organizations and their infrastructure. The strategies contained in the Wye Memorandum include the apprehension of specific individuals suspected of perpetrating acts of violence and terror, Prohibiting Illegal Weapons, eliminating terrorist cells and the support structure that plans, finances, supplies and abets terror. (Why Memorandum) How effectively these strategies have been implemented is questionable however. The Memorandum was signed October 23d 1998, but we have still seen atrocities of people being killed by suicide bombings.
It is nearly impossible to investigate and foresee who will be the next martyr for the cause of Hamas. The specter of freelance terrorism is endless and groups loosely affiliated with Hamas, and also other terrorist organizations are difficult to identify. Also the groups do not easily conform to the categorizing that is used by western law enforcement, making it easy for terrorists to operate behind facades from countries with liberal laws, such as the US. (Kushner p18)
Although the sanctions implemented by the PLO, Israel and the US affected the militant actions of the Hamas, it did not defeat the political activities of the movement, rather it seemed to fan the flames. In 1996 five hundred Hamas set up the Islamic National Salvation Front as a reaction to the Oslo accords and said that they consider them null and void. They stated that the accords failed to even satisfy the minimum requirements of the Palestinian people. Nevertheless they only gained 5 out of 88 seats in the legislative council.
Furthermore, the failure to gain much access to the legislative council, once again, failed to deter Hamas, rather early in November 1996 Hamas launched a new political initiative, the National Palestinian Independence Front (NIPF). The group is a coalition of eight Palestinian opposition forces. The groups goal have been to provide an alternative to the Oslo accords and would work to liberate the pre-1967 Palestine and allow for right of return of the refugees as well as establishing an Arab Muslim State. (Political Activities p3)
It should be apparent now that Hamas is a very dynamic oranization and is much more complex thatn the medias portrayal of it as simply a terrorist organization. The truth is that Hamas uses terror to spread its message, due to the fact that it has not been allowed any substantial other venue to speak. It is important to learn about the structure of Hamas, in addition to learning why it is coming to the forefront of Palestinian politics. Hamas will probably still fight both politically and militantly until a free Islamic state has been established and an agreement with the Israelis has been reached.
Unless the Palestinians sees any progress there will be more atrocities. Future targets will be vulnerable because loosely affiliated cells can easily reach soft targets with the same strategies that have been used up till now. The world may be subject to IRT-like reactions from the Islamic Resistance Movements militant branches. Who knows when and where the next bomb will be detonated? Anti terrorist policy and Law enforcement both nationally and internationally must be tightened until the Palestinians and the Israelis come to an understanding.