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Title: Hamas  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of Palestinian suicide attacks, Current members of Palestinian Legislative Council, Civilian casualties in the Second Intifada, Palestinian Government of March 2006, July 2014
Collection: 1987 Establishments in the Palestinian Territories, Anti-Zionism in the Palestinian Territories, European Union Designated Terrorist Organizations, Government of Canada Designated Terrorist Organizations, Government of Egypt Designated Terrorist Organizations, Hamas, Islam and Antisemitism, Islamic Fundamentalism, Islamic Political Parties, Islamism in Israel, Islamism in the Palestinian Territories, Islamist Groups, Jihadist Groups, Jihadist Organizations, Muslim Brotherhood, National Liberation Movements, Organizations Designated as Terrorist, Organizations Designated as Terrorist by the Government of Ukraine, Organizations Designated as Terrorist by the United States Government, Organizations Designated as Terrorist in Asia, Palestinian Militant Groups, Palestinian Nationalism, Palestinian Nationalist Parties, Palestinian Political Parties, Palestinian Terrorism, Political Parties Established in 1987, Resistance Movements, Sunni Islamist Groups, United Kingdom Home Office Designated Terrorist Groups
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi and Mahmoud Zahar
Chief of the Political Bureau Khaled Mashal[1][2]
Deputy Chief of the Political Bureau Mousa Abu Marzouq[1][2]
Founded 1987 (1987)[3][4]
Preceded by Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood
Ideology Palestinian self-determination
Sunni Islamism,[5]
Islamic fundamentalism,[6] Palestinian nationalism
Religion Islam
International affiliation Muslim Brotherhood
Legislative Council
74 / 132
Party flag
Politics of Palestine
Political parties

Hamas (Australia,[10] Canada,[11] Egypt,[12] the European Union,[13][14] Israel, Japan,[15] the United Kingdom,[16] and the United States,[17] and is banned in Jordan.[18]

Based on the principles of Islamism gaining momentum throughout the Arab world in the 1980s, Hamas was founded in 1987 (during the First Intifada) as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.[3][4] Co-founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin stated in 1987, and the Hamas Charter affirmed in 1988, that Hamas was founded to liberate Palestine, including modern-day Israel, from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[19][20] The group has later stated that it may accept a 10-year truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders and allows Palestinian refugees from 1948, as well as their descendants, to return to what is now Israel.[21][22][23][24]

The military wing of Hamas has launched attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians. Tactics include suicide bombings, and since 2001, rocket attacks.[25][25][26][27][28][29][30] Hamas’s rocket arsenal has evolved from short range, homemade Qassam rockets, to long range weapons that have reached major Israeli cities including Tel Aviv and Haifa.[31][32] The attacks on civilians were condemned as war crimes and crimes against humanity by human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch.[33][34]

In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas won a decisive majority in the Palestinian Parliament,[35] defeating the PLO-affiliated Fatah party. Following the elections, the Quartet (the United States, Russia, United Nations and European Union) made future foreign assistance to the PA conditional upon the future government's commitment to non-violence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements. Hamas rejected those changes, which led to the Quartet suspending its foreign assistance program and Israel imposing economic sanctions on the Hamas-led administration.[36][37] In March 2007, a national unity government headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas was briefly formed, but this failed to restart international financial assistance.[38] Tensions over control of Palestinian security forces soon erupted in the 2007 Battle of Gaza,[38] after which Hamas took control of Gaza, while its officials were ousted from government positions in the West Bank.[38] Israel and Egypt then imposed an economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, on the grounds that Fatah forces were no longer providing security there.[39] In 2011, Hamas and Fatah announced a reconciliation agreement that provides for creation of a joint caretaker Palestinian government.[40] Progress has stalled, until an April 2014 agreement to form a compromise unity government, with elections to be held in late 2014.[41]

In 2006, Hamas used an underground cross-border tunnel to abduct the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, holding him captive until 2011, when he was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.[42] Since then, Hamas has continued building a network of internal and cross-border tunnels,[43] which are used to store and deploy weapons, shield militants, and facilitate cross-border attacks. Destroying the tunnels was a primary objective of Israeli forces in the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict.[44][45]


  • Etymology 1
  • Leadership and structure 2
    • Consultative councils 2.1
    • Military wing 2.2
    • Social welfare 2.3
  • Goals 3
    • Charter 3.1
      • Current status of the Charter 3.1.1
  • History 4
    • Early Islamic activism in Gaza 4.1
    • Establishment 4.2
    • 1990s 4.3
    • Second Intifada 4.4
    • 2006 presidential and legislative elections 4.5
    • Hamas–Fatah conflict 4.6
    • 2008 Gaza War 4.7
    • After the Gaza War 4.8
    • 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict 4.9
  • Funding 5
    • Gaza domestic funding 5.1
  • Media 6
  • Islamization efforts 7
    • In the Gaza Strip 7.1
    • In the West Bank 7.2
    • Tayyip Erdoğan's Turkey as a role model 7.3
  • Antisemitism and anti-Zionism 8
    • Hamas Charter (1988) 8.1
    • Statements by Hamas members and clerics 8.2
    • Statements on the Holocaust 8.3
  • Criticism 9
    • Proximity to civilians during warfare 9.1
    • Rocket and mortar attacks 9.2
    • Children 9.3
      • Children and women as human shields 9.3.1
      • Children as combatants 9.3.2
      • Children's magazine 9.3.3
      • Al-Aqsa TV 9.3.4
    • Dissent and the media 9.4
    • Human rights abuses 9.5
  • Violence and terrorism 10
    • Attacks on civilians 10.1
    • Rocket attacks on Israel 10.2
    • Attempts to derail 2010 peace talks 10.3
    • Themes of martyrdom 10.4
    • Guerrilla warfare 10.5
    • Extrajudicial executions of rivals 10.6
    • 2011–13 Sinai insurgency 10.7
    • Activities in the United States 10.8
      • Debate whether to attack America 10.8.1
  • International designation of Hamas 11
    • United States designation of Hamas 11.1
  • Public opinion about Hamas 12
    • In Israel and the Palestinian Territories 12.1
    • In Arab and Muslim countries 12.2
  • Legal action against Hamas 13
    • In the United States 13.1
    • In Germany 13.2
  • See also 14
  • References 15
    • Bibliography 15.1
  • External links 16


Hamas is an acronym of the Arabic phrase حركة المقاومة الاسلامية or Harakat al-Muqāwama al-Islāmiyya, meaning "Islamic Resistance Movement". The Arabic word 'Hamas' (حماس) means "enthusiasm".[46][47] The Hamas covenant interprets its name to mean "strength and bravery".[48]

Leadership and structure

Map of key Hamas leadership nodes. 2010
Current leader, Khaled Meshaal

Hamas comprises three interrelated wings – the social welfare and political wings, which are responsible for the social, administrative, political, and propaganda activities of Hamas, and the military wing, which is engaged in covert activities, such as acting against suspected collaborators, gathering intelligence on potential targets, procuring weapons, and carrying out military attacks.[49]

Consultative councils

The Majlis al-Shura (consultative council) is the group's overarching political and decision making body. It includes representatives from Gaza, the West Bank, Israeli prisons, and the exiled external leadership, the Political Bureau. Under this Shura council are committees responsible for supervising Hamas activities, from media relations to military operations. In the West Bank and Gaza, local Shura committees answer to the Shura council and carry out its decisions.[49]

Hamas's highest decision-making body is its Political Bureau, which consists of 15 members. Before the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, it operated in exile in Damascus, Syria. The bureau is elected by members who select their representatives in local Consultative Councils in specific geographic regions. The councils then nominate representatives to the General Consultative Council, and the Political Bureau is elected by members of the General Consultative Council.[2]

Military wing

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing formed in 1992, is named in commemoration of influential Palestinian nationalist Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam. Armed Hamas cells sometimes refer to themselves as "Students of Ayyash", "Students of the Engineer", or "Yahya Ayyash Units",[50] to commemorate Yahya Ayyash, an early Hamas bomb-maker killed in 1996.[35] Since its establishment, the military capability of Hamas has increased markedly, from rifles to Qassam rockets and more.[51]

While the number of members is known only to the Brigades leadership, Israel estimates the Brigades have a core of several hundred members who receive military style training, including training in Iran and in Syria (before the Syrian Civil War).[52] Additionally, the brigades have an estimated 10,000 operatives "of varying degrees of skill and professionalism" who are members of Hamas or their supporters and the internal security forces. These operatives can be expected to reinforce the Brigades in an "emergency situation".[53]

Although the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades are an integral part of Hamas, they also operate independently of Hamas, and at times contrary to Hamas' stated aims.[54] Most analysts agree that although differences of opinion between the Hamas military and political wing exist, Hamas's internal discipline is strong enough to contain them.[55] Political scientists Ilana Kass and Bard O'Neill liken Hamas's relationship with the Brigades to the political party terrorist acts. Hamas' founder, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, stated in 1998: "We can not separate the wing from the body. If we do so, the body will not be able to fly. Hamas is one body."[57][58]

Social welfare

Hamas has a welfare wing providing social services to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including running relief programs and funding schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues.[59]

In particular, Hamas funded health services where people could receive free or inexpensive medical treatment. Hamas greatly contributed to the health sector, and facilitated hospital and physician services in the Palestinian territory. On the other hand, Hamas's use of hospitals is sometimes criticised as purportedly serving the promotion of violence against Israel.[60] Charities affiliated with Hamas are known to financially support families of those who have been killed or imprisoned while carrying out militant actions or supporting such actions. Families typically receive a one time grant of $500 to $5,000, and those whose homes have been destroyed by the Israel Defense Forces have their rent paid for temporary housing. Families of militants not affiliated with Hamas sometimes receive less.[61]

Hamas has funded education and built Islamic charities, libraries, mosques and education centers for women. They also built nurseries, kindergartens and supervised religious schools that provide free meals to children. When children attend their schools and mosques, parents are required to sign oaths of allegiance. Refugees, as well as those left without homes, are able to claim financial and technical assistance from Hamas.[62]

The work of Hamas in these fields supplements that provided by the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA).

Despite building materials needing to be smuggled into the territory, luxury beach resorts and tourist facilities operated by the interior ministry have been constructed by Hamas government–linked charities, including gardens, playgrounds, football fields, a zoo and restaurants aimed to provide employment and low cost entertainment for citizens. Some Palestinians have complained about the admission fee, criticizing Hamas for charging them to use "government-owned" property.[63]


Hamas' 1988 charter states that Hamas "strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine" (Article Six) and that "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." Article Thirty-One of the Charter states: "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."[64]

After the elections in 2006, Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar did not rule out the possibility of accepting a "temporary two-state solution", and stated that he dreamed "of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it".[65] Xinhua reports that Al-Zahar "did not rule out the possibility of having Jews, Muslims and Christians living under the sovereignty of an Islamic state".[65] In late 2006, Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, said that if a Palestinian state was formed within the 1967 lines, Hamas was willing to declare a truce that could last as long as 20 years, and stated that Hamas will never recognize the "usurper Zionist government" and will continue "jihad-like movement until the liberation of Jerusalem".[66]

In March 2006, Hamas released its official legislative program. The document clearly signaled that Hamas could refer the issue of recognizing Israel to a national referendum. Under the heading "Recognition of Israel," it stated simply (AFP, 3/11/06): "The question of recognizing Israel is not the jurisdiction of one faction, nor the government, but a decision for the Palestinian people." This was a major shift away from their 1988 charter.[67] A few months later, via de facto recognition of Israel."[68]

In an April 2008 meeting between Hamas leader Khaled Mashal and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, an understanding was reached in which Hamas agreed it would respect the creation of a Palestinian state in the territory seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, provided this were ratified by the Palestinian people in a referendum. Hamas later publicly offered a long-term truce with Israel if Israel agreed to return to its 1967 borders and grant the "right of return" to all Palestinian refugees.[69] In November 2008, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh re-stated that Hamas was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, and offered Israel a long-term truce "if Israel recognized the Palestinians' national rights".[70] In 2009, in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Haniyeh repeated his group's support for a two-state settlement based on 1967 borders: "We would never thwart efforts to create an independent Palestinian state with borders [from] June 4, 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital."[71] On December 1, 2010, Ismail Haniyeh again repeated, "We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees," and "Hamas will respect the results [of a referendum] regardless of whether it differs with its ideology and principles."[72]

In February 2012, according to the Palestinian authority, Hamas forswore the use of violence. Evidence for this was provided by an eruption of violence from Islamic Jihad in March 2012 after an Israeli assassination of a Jihad leader, during which Hamas refrained from attacking Israel.[73] "Israel—despite its mantra that because Hamas is sovereign in Gaza it is responsible for what goes on there—almost seems to understand," wrote Israeli journalists Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, "and has not bombed Hamas offices or installations".[74]

Israel has rejected some truce offers by Hamas because it contends the group uses them to prepare for more fighting rather than peace.[75] The Atlantic magazine columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, along with other analysts, believes Hamas may be incapable of permanent reconciliation with Israel.[76][77] Mkhaimer Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University, writes that Hamas talks "of hudna [temporary ceasefire], not of peace or reconciliation with Israel. They believe over time they will be strong enough to liberate all historic Palestine."[78]


The Hamas Charter (or Covenant), issued in 1988, outlined the organization's position on many issues at the time. It identifies Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and declares its members to be Muslims who "fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors". The charter states "our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious" and calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories,[48] and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel.[79][80] The Charter also asserts that through shrewd manipulation of imperial countries and secret societies, Zionists were behind a wide range of events and disasters going as far back in history as the French Revolution. Among the charter's controversial statements is the following: "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!"[81] The document also quotes Islamic religious texts to provide justification for fighting against and killing the Jews of Israel,[82] presenting the Arab–Israeli conflict as an inherently irreconcilable struggle between Jews and Muslims, and Judaism and Islam,[81] adding that the only way to engage in this struggle between "truth and falsehood" is through Islam and by means of jihad, until victory or martyrdom.[81] The Charter adds that "renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion" of Islam.[83] The charter states that Hamas is humanistic, and tolerant of other religions as long as they do not block Hamas's efforts.[84]

Current status of the Charter

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal indicated to Robert Pastor, senior adviser to the Carter Center, that the Charter is "a piece of history and no longer relevant, but cannot be changed for internal reasons".[85] Hamas do not use the Charter on their website and prefer to use their election manifesto to put forth their agenda.[86][87] Pastor states that those who quote the charter rather than more recent Hamas statements may be using the Charter as an excuse to ignore Hamas.[85]

British diplomat and former

  • Hamas official website (Arabic)
  • Palestinian National Authority Council of Ministers Web site (Arabic)
  • Britannica
  • Hamas leaders CFR
  • Hamas Charter
  • The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) (includes interpretation)
  • Hamas Shifts From Rockets to Public Relations The New York Times, July 23, 2009
  • 22 years on the start of Hamas Al-Qassam Brigades' Information Office
  • Fatah and Hamas Human Rights Violations in the Palestinian Occupied Territories in 2007 by Elizabeth Freed of Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group
  • Sadiki, Larbi, Tests and contests: Hamas without Syria
  • Sherifa Zuhur, Hamas and Israel: Conflicting Strategies of Group-Based Politics (PDF File) December 2008

External links

  • Mishal, Shaul; Sela, Avraham (2006). The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence. New York: Columbia University Press.  
  • Mueller, Sebastian (June 6, 2006). Hawala. An Informal Payment System and Its Use to Finance Terrorism (1 ed.). Saarbrücken, Germany:  
  • Yousef, Mosab Hassan (March 3, 2010). Son of Hamas. Carol Stream, Illinois:  


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See also

A German federal court ruled in 2004 that Hamas was a unified organisation whose humanitarian aid work could not be separated from its "terrorist and political activities".[466] In July 2010, Germany also outlawed Frankfurt-based International Humanitarian Aid Organization (IHH e.V.), saying it had used donations to support Hamas-affiliated relief projects in Gaza.[467][468] While presenting their activities to donors as humanitarian assistance, German Interior Minister [467][468][469] A spokesperson for the Islamic Human Rights Commission described the decision as "a victory for those who seek to stigmatise all Islamic activism as supporting terrorism".[470]

In Germany

In January 2009, a Federal prosecutor accused the Council on American-Islamic Relations of having links to a charity designated as a support network for Hamas.[463] The Justice Department identified CAIR as an "un-indicted co-conspirator" in the Holy Land Foundation case in Dallas, which concluded with the sentencing of the two founders of the foundation to life in prison for funneling $12 million to Hamas.[464] Later, a federal appeals court removed that label for all parties and instead, named them "joint venturers".[465]

On February 1, 2007, two men were acquitted of contravening United States law by supporting Hamas.[462] Both men argued that they helped move money for Palestinian causes aimed at helping the Palestinian people and not to promote terrorism.

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, a senior member of Hamas considered a fugitive by the U.S.[461]

In 2004, a federal court in the United States found Hamas liable in a civil lawsuit for the 1996 PLO regarding the Ungars' said that the Palestinian Authority and the PLO provide safe haven to Hamas.

[457]. In a retrial, on November 24, 2008, the five leaders of the Foundation were convicted on 108 counts.providing material support for terrorists, in which jurors acquitted on some counts and were deadlocked on charges ranging from tax violations to mistrial filed 200 charges against the foundation. The case first ended in a U.S. Justice Department The [456] was accused in December 2001 of funding Hamas.Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development charitable trustThe

In the United States

Legal action against Hamas

In Lebanon, 65% see Hamas negatively. In Jordan and Egypt, roughly 60% see Hamas negatively, and in Turkey, 80% have a negative opinion of Hamas. In Tunisia, 42% have a negative opinion of Hamas, while 56% of Bangladeshis and 44% of Indonesians have a negative opinion of Hamas.[455]

Pro-Hamas rally in Damascus

In Arab and Muslim countries

Public opinions of Hamas have been deteriorating in the Palestinian territories since it took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Prior to the takeover, 62% of Palestinians and held a favorable view of the group, while a third had negative views. As of 2014, according to Pew Research, only about a third have positive opinions and more than half view Hamas negatively. Furthermore, 68% of Israeli Arabs view Hamas negatively.[455]

Prior to 2006, Hamas was well regarded by Palestinians for its efficiency and perceived lack of corruption compared to Fatah.[453][454]

In Israel and the Palestinian Territories

Public opinion about Hamas

On May 2, 2011, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh condemned the killing of al-Qaeda, as a "martyr" and an "Arab holy warrior".[449][450] The United States government condemned his remarks as "outrageous".[451] Hamas has reportedly maintained operational and financial ties with al Qaeda.[452]

The [448]

The United States states that its strong stand against Hamas arises from the group's use of violence, its opposition to U.S. interests in the Middle East, and because Hamas is allegedly receiving support from Iran and collaborating with the Lebanese group Hezbollah. The Hamas representative in Iran denied the allegation that it had received $30 million from Iran in 1992, but acknowledged Iranian assistance to Palestinian groups. In particular, the U.S. alleges that Hamas soldiers have been given refuge in southern Lebanon, where they receive training and support from Hezbollah guerrillas.

[444] As of 2009, Hamas is still listed.[4] The State Department decided to add Hamas to its

Hamas is listed by the United States as a Foreign Terrorist Organizations since 1993. In 2011, Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas in the Gaza Strip, denounced the killing of Osama bin Laden by the United States, and praised him as an "Arab holy warrior"[443]

United States designation of Hamas

According to Tobias Buck, while Hamas is listed as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the U.S. and the EU, few treat it that way. In the Arab and Muslim world, Hamas has lost its pariah status and its emissaries are welcomed in capitals of Islamic countries.[441] In August 2014 Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson at the height of the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict called for the recognition of Hamas as a legitimate political actor, noting the group had recently formed a unity government with the Palestinian Authority, and in so doing had agreed to denounce violence, recognize Israel and adhere to past agreements.[442]

Country Designation
 Australia The military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is listed as a terrorist organization.[422]
 New Zealand The military wing of Hamas, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has been listed as a terrorist entity since 2010.[423]
 Canada Under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the Government of Canada currently lists Hamas as a terrorist entity, thus establishing it as a terrorist group, since 2002.[424][425]
 European Union Hamas has been included in the black list of EU-designated terrorists groups since 2003[13]
 Israel The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs states, "Hamas maintains a terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank, and acts to carry out terrorist attacks in the territories and Israel."[426]
 Japan As of 2005, Japan had frozen the assets of 472 terrorists and terrorist organizations including those of Hamas.[427]
 Jordan Banned Hamas in 1999[428] In 2013, Jordan rejected requests to allow Hamas to return.[18]
 Russia Russia does not designate Hamas a terrorist organisation, and held direct talks with Hamas in 2006, after Hamas won the Palestine elections, stating that it did so to press Hamas to reject violence and recognise Israel.[429] An Israeli official has said that Russia will reduce its ties to Hamas.[430]
 Turkey The Turkish government met with Hamas leaders in February 2006, after the organization's victory in the Palestinian elections. In 2010, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described Hamas as "resistance fighters who are struggling to defend their land".[431][432]
 United Kingdom The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades have been listed as a proscribed organization under the Terrorism Act since 2001, but Hamas as a whole is not listed.[433]
 China As of 2006, China does not designate Hamas to be a terrorist organization and acknowledges Hamas to be the legitimately elected political entity in the Gaza Strip that represents the Palestinian people. Despite U.S. and Israeli opposition, the Chinese government met with senior Hamas representative Mahmoud al-Zahar, who previously served as Palestinian foreign minister, during the June 2006 China-Arab Cooperation Forum in Beijing, an held direct bilateral talks with Hamas and the Arab World. In addition, during the same month, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry further elucidated China's pro-Palestinian stance regarding Hamas in spite of U.S. and Israeli opposition to China's associations and close relationship with the organization, stating, "We believe that the Palestinian government is legally elected by the people there and it should be respected."[434][435][436][437]
 United States Lists Hamas as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization"[438]
 Egypt Banned Hamas in 2014 and branded it a terrorist organization. Egyptian authorities accuse the group of supporting al Qaeda-inspired Islamist insurgents in the Sinai peninsula.[12][439]
 Saudi Arabia Banned the Muslim Brotherhood in 2014 and branded it a terrorist organization. While Hamas is not specifically listed, a non-official Saudi source stated that the decision also encompasses its branches in other countries, including Hamas.[440]

International designation of Hamas

Hamas officials have publicly debated whether or not to attack American interests in the Middle East in response to US support of Mahmoud Abbas preceding the 2006 Gaza elections.[421]

Debate whether to attack America

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization in the United States. There have been legal cases, including racketeering and money laundering, against individuals and organizations.

Activities in the United States

Hamas has been accused of providing weapons, training and fighters for Sinai-based insurgent attacks,[411][412] although Hamas strongly denies the allegations, calling them a smear campaign aiming to harm relations with Egypt.[411] According to the Egyptian Army, since the ouster of Egypt's Muslim-Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi, over 600 Hamas members have entered the Sinai Peninsula through smuggling tunnels.[413] In addition, several weapons used in Sinai's insurgent attacks are being traced back to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to the army.[413] The four leading insurgent groups in the Sinai have all reportedly maintained close ties with the Gaza Strip.[414] Hamas is also accused of helping Morsi and other high-ranking Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members break out of the Wadi Natroun prison in Cairo during the 2011 revolution.[415] Hamas called the accusation a "dangerous development".[416] Egyptian authorities stated that the 2011 Alexandria bombing was carried out by the Gaza-based Army of Islam, which has received sanctuary from Hamas and earlier collaborated in the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.[414][417][418][419] Army of Islam members linked to the August 2012 Sinai attack have reportedly sought refuge in the Gaza Strip.[414] Egypt stated that Hamas directly provided logistical support to the Muslim Brotherhood militants who carried out the December 2013 Mansoura bombing.[420]

2011–13 Sinai insurgency

According to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, during 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, Hamas killed more than 120 Palestinian youths for defying house arrest imposed on them by Hamas, in addition to 30-40 Palestinians killed by Hamas in extrajudicial executions after accusing them of being collaborators with Israel.[410] Referring to the killing of suspected collaborators, a Shin Bet official stated that "not even one" of those executed by Hamas provided any intelligence to Israel, while the Shin Bet officially "confirmed that those executed during Operation Protective Edge had all been held in prison in Gaza in the course of the hostilities."[404]

On August 14, 2009, Hamas fighters stormed the Mosque of cleric Abdel-Latif Moussa.[408] The cleric was protected by at least 100 fighters from Jund Ansar Allah ("Army of the Helpers of God"), an Islamist group with links to Al-Qaeda. The resulting battle left at least 13 people dead, including Moussa and 6 Hamas fighters, and 120 people injured.[409]

Frequent killings of unarmed people have also occurred during Hamas-Fatah clashes.[405][406] NGOs have cited a number of summary executions as particular examples of violations of the rules of warfare, including the case of Muhammad Swairki, 28, a cook for Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's presidential guard, who was thrown to his death, with his hands and legs tied, from a 15-story apartment building in Gaza City.[407] Hamas security forces reportedly shoot and torture Palestinians who opposed Hamas rule in Gaza.[146] In one case, a Palestinian had criticized Hamas in a conversation on the street with some friends. Later that day, more than a dozen armed men with black masks and red kaffiyeh took the man from his home, and brought him to a solitary area where they shot him three times in the lower legs and ankles. The man told Human Rights Watch that he was not politically active.[146]

In addition to killing Israeli civilians and armed forces, Hamas has also murdered suspected Palestinian Israel collaborators and Fatah rivals.[398] Hundreds of Palestinians were executed by both Hamas and Fatah during the [147][400] In November 2012, Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam brigade publicly executed six Gaza residents accused of collaborating with Israel. According to the witnesses, six alleged informers were shot dead one by one in Gaza City, while the corpse of the sixth victim was tied by a cable to the back of a motorcycle and dragged through the streets.[401] In 2013, Human Rights Watch issued a statement condemning Hamas for not investigating and giving a proper trial to the 6 men. Their statement was released the day before Hamas issued a deadline for "collaborators" to turn themselves in, or they will be pursued "without mercy".[402] In August 2014, during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, at least 22 accused collaborators were executed by Hamas shortly after 3 of its commanders were assassinated by Israeli forces.[403] An Israeli source denied that any of the commanders had been targeted on the basis of human intelligence.[404]

Extrajudicial executions of rivals

Hamas has used IEDs and anti-tank rockets against the IDF in Gaza. The latter include standard RPG-7 warheads and home-made rockets such as the Al-Bana, Al-Batar and Al-Yasin. The IDF has a difficult, if not impossible time trying to find hidden weapons caches in Palestinian areas — this is due to the high local support base Hamas enjoys.[397]

Hamas has made great use of guerrilla tactics in the Gaza Strip and to a lesser degree the West Bank.[396] It has successfully adapted these techniques over the years since its inception. According to a 2006 report by rival Fatah party, Hamas had smuggled between several hundred and 1,300 tons of advanced rockets, along with other weaponry, into Gaza.[396]

Hamas anti-tank rockets, captured by Israel Defense Forces during Operation Protective Edge

Guerrilla warfare

In 2010, Hamas speaker Ahmad Bahr praised the virtues of martyrdom and Jihad, and said that 2.5 million black-eyed virgins were waiting in the Garden of Eden, which could be entered only by prophets, by the righteous, and by martyrs. He continued by saying that nobody on Earth "will be able to confront the resistance, or to confront the mujahideen, those who worship Allah and seek martyrdom".[395]

According to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch, in 2008, Fathi Hamad, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, stated on Al-Aqsa TV, "For the Palestinian people death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly (Palestinians) created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: 'We desire death as you desire life.'"[394]

Themes of martyrdom

As part of the campaign, on August 31, 2010, 4 Israeli settlers, including a pregnant woman, were killed by Hamas militants while driving on Route 60 near the settlement Kiryat Arba, in the West bank. According to witnesses, militants opened fire on the moving vehicle, but then "approached the car" and shot the occupants in their seats at "close range". The attack was described by Israeli sources as one of the "worst" terrorist acts in years.[389][390][391] A senior Hamas official said that Israeli settlers in the West Bank are legitimate targets since "they are an army in every sense of the word."[392][393]

In 2010, Hamas, who have been actively sidelined from the peace talks by Israel, spearheaded a coordinated effort by 13 Palestinian militant groups, in attempt to derail the stalled peace talks between Israel and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority. According to the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Major Gen. Eitan Dangot, Israel seeks to work with Salam Fayyad, to help revive the Palestinian economy, and hopes to ease restrictions on the Gaza Strip further, "while somehow preventing the Islamic militants who rule it from getting credit for any progress". According to Dangot, Hamas must not be seen as ruling successfully or be allowed to "get credit for a policy that would improve the lives of people".[383] The campaign consists of attacks against Israelis in which, according to a Hamas declaration in early September, "all options are open."[384][385][386][387] The participating groups also include Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and an unnamed splinter group of Fatah.[388]

Attempts to derail 2010 peace talks

According to one report, commenting on the 2014 conflict, "nearly all the 2,500–3,000 rockets and mortars Hamas has fired at Israel since the start of the war seem to have been aimed at towns", including an attack on "a kibbutz collective farm close to the Gaza border", in which an Israeli child was killed.[381] Former Israeli Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi stated that "Hamas has expressed pride in aiming long-range rockets at strategic targets in Israel including the nuclear reactor in Dimona, the chemical plants in Haifa, and Ben-Gurion Airport", which "could have caused thousands" of Israeli casualties "if successful".[382]

According to Human Rights Watch, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have launched thousands of rockets into Israel since 2001, killing 15 civilians, wounding many more, and posing an ongoing threat to the nearly 800,000 Israeli civilians who live and work in the weapons' range. Hamas officials have said that the rockets were aimed only at military targets, saying that civilian casualties were the "accidental result" of the weapons' poor quality. According to Human Rights Watch, statements by Hamas leaders suggest that the purpose of the rocket attacks was indeed to strike civilians and civilian objects. From January 2009, following Operation Cast Lead, Hamas largely stopped launching rocket attacks on Israel and has on at least two occasions arrested members of other groups who have launched rockets, "showing that it has the ability to impose the law when it wants".[379] In February 2010, Hamas issued a statement regretting any harm that may have befallen Israeli civilians as a result of Palestinian rocket attacks during the Gaza war. It maintained that its rocket attacks had been aimed at Israeli military targets but lacked accuracy and hence sometimes hit civilian areas. Israel responded that Hamas had boasted repeatedly of targeting and murdering civilians in the media.[380]

Rocket attacks on Israel

On 20 August, Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas leader in exile in Turkey, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens. He delivered an address on behalf of Khaled Mashal at the conference of the International Union of Muslim Scholars in Istanbul, a move that might reflect a desire by Hamas to gain leverage.[375] In it he said: "Our goal was to ignite an intifada in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as within the 1948 borders... Your brothers in the Al-Qassam Brigades carried out this operation to support their imprisoned brothers, who were on a hunger strike... The mujahideen captured these settlers in order to have a swap deal."[376] Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal accepted that members of Hamas were responsible, stating that he knew nothing of it in advance and that what the leadership knew of the details came from reading Israeli reports.[377] Meshaal, who has headed Hamas' exiled political wing since 2004, has denied being involved in the "details" of Hamas "military issues", but "justified the killings as a legitimate action against Israelis on "occupied" lands."[378]

On 5 August 2014 Israel announced that Israeli security forces arrested Hussam Kawasme, in Shuafat, in connection with the murders.[372] During interrogation, Kawasme admitted to being the mastermind behind the attack, in addition to securing the funding from Hamas.[373] Officials have stated that additional people arrested in connection with the murders are still being held, but no names have been released.[374]

On 15 June 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hamas of involvement in the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers (including one who held American citizenship), saying "This has severe repercussions." [370] On 20 July 2014, nearly two weeks into Operation Protective Edge, Netanyahu in an interview with CNN described Hamas as "genocidal terrorists." [371]

In 2008, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, offered that Hamas would attack only military targets if the IDF would stop causing the deaths of Palestinian civilians.[368] Following a June 19, 2008 ceasefire, the al-Qassam Brigades ended its rocket attacks and arrested Fatah militants in Gaza who had continued sporadic rocket and mortar attacks against Israel. The al-Qassam Brigades resumed the attacks after the November 4 Israeli incursion into Gaza.[153][369]

Since 2002, paramilitary soldiers of al-Qassam Brigades and other groups have used homemade Qassam rockets to hit Israeli towns in the Negev, such as Sderot. Al-Qassam Brigades was estimated in 2007 to have launched 22% of the rocket and mortar attacks,[365] which killed fifteen people between the years 2000 and 2009 (see Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel).[366] The introduction of the Qassam-2 rocket in 2008 enabled Palestinian paramilitary groups to reach, from Gaza, such Israeli cities such as Ashkelon.[367]

In May 2006 Israel arrested a top Hamas official, suicide bombing in Dimona.[28][364]

Hamas has defended suicide attacks as a legitimate aspect of its [359][360][361]

The first such attack occurred on April 16, 1993, when an al-Qassam Brigades operative detonated explosives in a car he parked next to two buses, one military and one civilian, in the West Bank town of Mehola, killing a Palestinian civilian and wounding 8 Israeli soldiers.[356] After the February 1994 massacre by Baruch Goldstein of 30 Muslim civilians in a Hebron mosque, the al-Qassam Brigades expanded suicide attacks to target primarily civilians.[97] The first of the suicide bombings that targeted civilians was at Afula on April 16, 1994, when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden car next to a bus, killing nine (including the bomber) and wounding 50. The most deadly suicide bombing was an attack on a Netanya hotel on March 27, 2002, in which 30 people were killed and 140 were wounded. The attack has also been referred to as the Passover massacre since it took place on the first night of the Jewish festival of Passover at a Seder.

Aftermath of 1996 Jaffa Road bus bombings in which 26 people were killed
[355] A new direction began with the formation of the al-Qassam Brigades militia in 1992, and in 1993 suicide attacks began against Israeli targets on the West Bank.[354]In the first years of the First Intifada (1987–93), Hamas violence was directed first at collaborators with Israel and at individuals it considered moral deviants, and then later at the Israeli military.

Attacks on civilians

From 2000 to 2004, Hamas was responsible for killing nearly 400 Israelis and wounding more than 2,000 in 425 attacks, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 2001 through May 2008, Hamas launched more than 3,000 Qassam rockets and 2,500 mortar attacks into Israel.[15]

Hamas uses both political activities and violence in pursuit of its goals. For example, while politically engaged in the 2006 Palestinian Territories parliamentary election campaign, Hamas stated in its election manifesto that it was prepared to use "armed resistance to end the occupation".[353]

Violence and terrorism

In 2012, the Human Rights Watch presented a 43 page long list of human rights violation committed by Hamas. Among actions attributed to Hamas the HRW report mentions beatings with metal clubs and rubber hoses, hanging of alleged collaborationists with Israel, and torture of 102 individuals. According to the report, Hamas also tortured civil society activists and peaceful protesters. Reflecting on the captivity of Gilad Shalit, the HRW report described it as "cruel and inhuman". The report also slams Hamas for harassment of people based on so called morality offenses and for media censorship.[350][351] In a public statement Joe Stork, the deputy Middle East director of HRW claimed, "after five years of Hamas rule in Gaza, its criminal justice system reeks of injustice, routinely violates detainees' rights and grants impunity to abusive security services." Hamas responded by denying charges and describing them as "politically motivated"[352]

In June 2011, the Independent Commission for Human Rights based in Ramallah published a report whose findings included that the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were subjected in 2010 to an "almost systematic campaign" of human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as well as by Israeli authorities, with the security forces belonging to the PA and Hamas being responsible for torture, arrests and arbitrary detentions.[349]

Human rights abuses

In November 2012, two Gazan journalists were prevented from leaving Gaza by Hamas. There were scheduled to participate in a conference in Cairo, Egypt. After being questioned by security forces, their passports were confiscated.[348]

On August 2, 2012, the [347]

In October 2008, the Hamas government announced it would release all political prisoners in custody in Gaza. Several hours after the announcement, 17 Fatah members were released.[346]

In September 2007 the Hamas government banned public prayers, after Fatah supporters began holding worship sessions that quickly escalated into raucous protests against Hamas rule. Government security forces beat several gathering supporters and journalists.[345]

More widely, in late August 2007 the group was accused in The Telegraph, a conservative British newspaper, of torturing, detaining, and firing on unarmed protesters who had objected to policies of the Hamas government.[343] Also in late August, Palestinian health officials reported that the Hamas government had been shutting down Gaza clinics in retaliation for doctor strikes – The Hamas government confirmed the "punitive measure against doctors" because, in its view, they had incited other doctors to suspend services and go out on strike.[344]

[342] The Gaza Strip Interior Ministry later issued an arrest warrant for the editor.[341][340] newspaper, and closed its offices in the Gaza Strip because it ran a caricature that mocked legislators loyal to Hamas,.Al-Ayyam On February 8, 2008, Hamas banned distribution of the pro-Fatah [339][338] In November of that year the Hamas government arrested a British journalist and for a time canceled all press cards in Gaza.[337].Reporters without borders In September 2007 the Gaza Interior Ministry disbanded the Gaza Strip branch of the pro-Fatah Union of Palestinian Journalists, a move criticized by [336][335] and other measures taken against them.harassment and forcefully suppressing dissent. Both foreign and Palestinian journalists report freedom of the press groups and Gazans have accused the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip of restricting Human rights
Hamas mural in the West Bank

Dissent and the media

Al-Aqsa TV is headed by Fathi Ahmad Hammad, chairman of al-Ribat Communications and Artistic Productions—a Hamas-run company that also produces Hamas's radio station, Voice of al-Aqsa, and its biweekly newspaper, The Message.[334]

Al-Aqsa TV is a television channel founded by Hamas.[330] The station began broadcasting in the Gaza Strip on January 9, 2006.[331][332] Its programming includes ideologically tinged children's shows, news talk, and religiously inspired entertainment.[333] According to the Anti-Defamation League, the station promotes terrorist activity and incites hatred of Jews and Israelis.[332] Hamas has stated that the television station is "an independent media institution that often does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed by Ismail Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement," and that Hamas does not hold anti-semitic views.[230]

Al-Aqsa TV

According to [328][329]

Al-Fateh ("the conqueror") is the Hamas children's magazine, published biweekly in London, and also posted in an online website. It began publication in September 2002, and its 108th issue was released in mid-September 2007. The magazine features stories, poems, riddles, and puzzles, and states it is for "the young builders of the future".[327]

Children's magazine

Hamas' use of child labor to build tunnels with which to attack Israel has also been criticized, with at least 160 children killed in the tunnels as of 2012.[326]

Although Hamas admits to sponsoring summer schools to train teenagers in handling weapons they condemn attacks by children. Following the deaths of three teenagers during a 2002 attack on Netzarim in central Gaza, Hamas banned attacks by children and "called on the teachers and religious leaders to spread the message of restraint among young boys".[324][325]

The Israeli government released a video compiled mostly from Arab news sources showing Palestinian children under the age of 15 going through military training and carrying and firing arms. The video's narration explains that Hamas indoctrinates these child combatants and that Hamas operators send the children "on missions from which they would not risk their own lives". According to the Israeli government, the children are used as spotters, to transport explosives and weapons, sent to play in areas to deter Israeli attacks and are sent unknowingly with explosive devices in their schoolbags to be blown up in the vicinity of Israelis.[323] The United Nations defines the use of children for military purposes as a war crime and a form of slavery. See Military use of children.

Children as combatants

Following the release of the Goldstone Report, the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan Col. Richard Kemp was invited to testify at the UN Human Rights Council 12th Special Session that during Operation Cast Lead Israel encountered an "enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population".[320][321][322]

Hamas MP Fathi Hamed stated that "For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel ... the elderly excel at this ... and so do the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children."[319]

When the UN-sponsored Goldstone Commission Report on the Gaza War was commissioned in 2009, it stated that it "found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack" though they deemed credible reports that Palestinian militants were "not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians".[318]

In November 2006, the Israeli Air Force warned Muhammad Weil Baroud, commander of the Popular Resistance Committees who are accused of launching rockets into Israeli territory, to evacuate his home in a Jabalya refugee camp apartment block in advance of a planned Israeli air strike. Baroud responded by calling for volunteers to protect the apartment block and nearby buildings and, according to The Jerusalem Post, hundreds of local residents, mostly women and children, responded. Israel suspended the air strike. Israel termed the action an example of Hamas using human shields.[315] In response to the incident, Hamas proclaimed: 'We won. From now on we will form human chains around every house threatened with demolition.'"[316] In a November 22 press release, Human Rights Watch condemned Hamas, stating: "There is no excuse for calling civilians to the scene of a planned attack. Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm's way is unlawful."[317] Following criticism, Human rights Watch issued a statement saying that their initial assessment of the situation was in error. They stated that, on the basis of available evidence, the home demolition was in fact an administrative act, viewed in the context of Israel's longstanding policy of punitive home demolitions, not a military act and thus would not fall within the purview of the law regulating hostilities during armed conflict, which had been the basis for their initial criticism of Hamas.[314]

After 15 alleged militants sought refuge in a mosque from Israeli forces, the BBC reported that Hamas radio instructed local women to go the mosque to protect the militants. Two women were later killed when Israeli forces opened fire.[314]

Israel has accused Hamas of using children as human shields. The Israeli government released video footage in which it claims two militants are shown grabbing a young boy's arm from behind holding him to walk in front of them toward a group of people waiting near a wall. The IDF argues the militants were placing the boy between themselves and an Israeli sniper. The second scene shows an individual, described as a terrorist, grabbing a school boy off of a floor, where he is hiding behind a column from IDF fire, and using him as a human shield to walk to a different location.[312][313]

Children and women as human shields


In July 2008 Barack Obama, then the Democratic presidential candidate, said: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing."[309] On December 28, 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement: "the United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel."[310] On March 2, 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attacks.[311]

Rocket attacks by Hamas have been condemned by Human rights organizations as war crimes, both because they usually take aim at civilians and because the weapons' inaccuracy would disproportionately endanger civilians even if military targets were chosen. After Operation Pillar of Defense, Human Rights Watch stated that armed Palestinian groups fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli cities, violating international humanitarian law, and that statements by Palestinian groups that they deliberately targeted Israeli civilians demonstrated an "intent to commit war crimes". HRW's Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said that Palestinian groups made clear that "harming civilians was their aim" and said that launching rockets at populated areas had no legal justification. International humanitarian law prohibits deliberate attacks on civilians and intentional violations can be war crimes.[285]

Rocket and mortar attacks

One survey of Gazan residents addressed the subject of human shields during the 2014 war, with respondents issuing statements such as "People received warnings from the Israelis and tried to evacuate...Hamas shot some of those people...the rest were forced to return to their homes and get bombed"; "Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot without being asked any questions. That way Hamas made sure people had to stay in their homes even if they were about to get bombed"; and "My father received a text-message from the Israeli army warning him that our area was going to be bombed, and Hamas prevented us from leaving."[305] Israeli soldiers recounted "Suddenly, a small boy appeared, and the terrorist grabbed him and escaped with him";[306] "I saw with my own eyes someone using another person, a woman, as a shield...And I can see very clearly that the woman doesn't want to be there and he's pulling her with him";[307] and "We even found explosives in nurseries. The whole neighborhood was practically a terrorist base."[308]

On July 8, 2014, Hamas' spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri encouraged the "policy of people confronting the Israeli warplanes with their bare chests", saying it has proven itself.[304]

The Israeli 'human shields' charge against Hamas was called "full of holes" by The National (UAE), which stated that only Israel accused Hamas of using human shields during the conflict, though Hamas "may be guilty" of "locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas" and for "deliberately firing indiscriminate weapons into civilian populated areas".[303]

Human Rights Watch investigated 19 incidents involving 53 civilian deaths in Gaza that Israel said were the result of Hamas fighting in densely populated areas and did not find evidence for existence of Palestinian fighters in the areas at the time of the Israeli attack. In other cases where no civilians had died, the report concluded that Hamas may have deliberately fired rockets from areas close to civilians.[301] HRW also investigated 11 deaths that Israel said were civilians being used as human shields by Hamas. HRW found no evidence that the civilians were used as human shields, nor had they been shot in crossfire.[302]

Human Right Watch called Hamas to "publicly renounce" the rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and hold those responsible to account. Human Right Watch program director Iain Levine said the attacks by Hamas were "unlawful and unjustifiable, and amount to war crimes", and accused Hamas of putting Palestinians at risk by launching attacks from built-up areas.[299] Hamas spokesman relied that the report was "biased" and he denied that Hamas uses human shields.[299]

In one case, an errant Israeli mortar strike killed dozens of people near a UN school. Hamas said that the mortar killed 42 people and left dozens wounded. Israel said that Hamas militants had launched a rocket from a yard adjacent to the school and one mortar of three rounds hit the school, due to a GPS error. According to the Israeli military probe, the remaining two rounds hit the yard used to launch rockets into Israel, killing two members of Hamas' military wing who fired the rockets.[300]

The Israeli government filed a report entitled "Gaza Operations Investigation: Second Update" to the United Nations accusing Hamas of exploiting its rules of engagement by shooting rockets and launching attacks within protected civilian areas.[296][297][298] Israel says 12,000 rockets and mortars were fired at it between 2000 and 2008—nearly 3,000 in 2008 alone.[299]

After Operation Pillar of Defense, Human Rights Watch stated that Palestinian groups had endangered civilians by "repeatedly fired rockets from densely populated areas, near homes, businesses, and a hotel" and noted that under international law, parties to a conflict may not to place military targets in or near densely populated areas. One rocket was launched close to the Shawa and Housari Building, where various Palestinian and international media have offices; another was fired from the yard of a house near the Deira Hotel.[285][286] New York Times journalist Steven Erlanger reported that "Hamas rocket and weapons caches, including rocket launchers, have been discovered in and under mosques, schools and civilian homes."[287] Another report published by Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center revealed that Hamas used close to 100 mosques to store weapons and as launch-pads to shoot rockets. The report contains testimony from variety Palestinian sources, including a Hamas militant Sabhi Majad Atar, who said he was taught how to shoot rockets from inside a mosque.[288] Hamas has also been criticized by Israeli officials for blending into or hiding among the Palestinian civilian population During the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict.[289] The Israeli government published what it said was video evidence of human shield tactics by Hamas.[290] Israel said that Hamas frequently used mosques and school yards[291] as hideouts and places to store weapons,[292][293] and that Hamas militants stored weapons in their homes, making it difficult to ensure that civilians close to legitimate military targets are not hurt during Israeli military operations.[294] Israeli officials also accused the Hamas leadership of hiding under Shifa Hospital during the conflict, using the patients inside to deter an Israeli attack.[287][295]

Proximity to civilians during warfare


In October 2012, Hamas said that they were opposed to teaching about the Holocaust in Gaza Strip schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency. The Refugee Affairs Department of Hamas said that teaching the Holocaust was a "crime against the issue of the refugees that is aimed at canceling their right of return".[284]

In July 2012, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, denounced a visit by Ziad al-Bandak, an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, to the Auschwitz death camp, saying it was "unjustified" and "unhelpful" and only served the "Zionist occupation" while coming "at the expense of a real Palestinian tragedy". He also called the Holocaust an "alleged tragedy" and "exaggerated".[280][281][282][283]

In February 2011, Hamas voiced opposition to UNRWA's teaching of the Holocaust in Gaza. According to Hamas, "Holocaust studies in refugee camps is a contemptible plot and serves the Zionist entity with a goal of creating a reality and telling stories in order to justify acts of slaughter against the Palestinian people."[278][279]

In an open letter to Gaza Strip UNRWA chief John Ging published August 20, 2009, the movement's Popular Committees for Refugees called the Holocaust "a lie invented by the Zionists," adding that the group refused to let Gazan children study it.[275] Hamas leader Younis al-Astal continued by saying that having the Holocaust included in the UNRWA curriculum for Gaza students amounted to "marketing a lie and spreading it". Al-Astal continued "I do not exaggerate when I say this issue is a war crime, because of how it serves the Zionist colonizers and deals with their hypocrisy and lies."[276][277]

In 2005, Khaled Mashal called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's December 14, 2005 statements on the Holocaust that Europeans had "created a myth in the name of Holocaust"[272]) as "courageous".[273] Later in 2008, Basim Naim, the minister of health in the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government in Gaza countered holocaust denial, and said "it should be made clear that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian government in Gaza denies the Nazi Holocaust. The Holocaust was not only a crime against humanity but one of the most abhorrent crimes in modern history. We condemn it as we condemn every abuse of humanity and all forms of discrimination on the basis of religion, race, gender or nationality."[274]

[271] that the Zionists encouraged murder of Jews by the Nazis with the aim of forcing them to immigrate to Palestine.Al-RisalaIn August 2003, senior Hamas official Dr Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi wrote in the Hamas newspaper
This conference bears a clear Zionist goal, aimed at forging history by hiding the truth about the so-called Holocaust, which is an alleged and invented story with no basis. (...) The invention of these grand illusions of an alleged crime that never occurred, ignoring the millions of dead European victims of Nazism during the war, clearly reveals the racist Zionist face, which believes in the superiority of the Jewish race over the rest of the nations. (...) By these methods, the Jews in the world flout scientific methods of research whenever that research contradicts their racist interests.[270]

Hamas has been explicit in its Holocaust Denial. In reaction to the Stockholm conference on the Jewish Holocaust, held in late January 2000, Hamas issued a press release that it published on its official website, containing the following statements from a senior leader:

Statements on the Holocaust

We all remember how the Jews used to slaughter Christians, in order to mix their blood in their holy matzos. This is not a figment of imagination or something taken from a film. It is a fact, acknowledged by their own books and by historical evidence. It happened everywhere, here and there.[269]

In an interview on Lebanese television on July 28, 2014, Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan claimed:

We are not fanatics. We are not fundamentalists. We are not actually fighting the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers.[268]

In an interview with CBS This Morning in July 27, 2014, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal stated:

On December 26, 2012, Senior Hamas official and Jerusalem bureau chief Ahmed Abu Haliba, called on “all Palestinian factions to resume suicide attacks ... deep inside the Zionist enemy” and said that ”we must renew the resistance to occupation in any possible way, above all through armed resistance." Abu Haliba suggested the use of suicide bombings as a response to Israel's plans to build housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.[267]

The Jews are behind each and every catastrophe on the face of the Earth. This is not open to debate. This is not a temporal thing, but goes back to days of yore. They concocted so many conspiracies and betrayed rulers and nations so many times that the people harbor hatred towards them.... Throughout history – from Nebuchadnezzar until modern times ... They slayed the prophets, and so on.... Any catastrophe on the face of this Earth – the Jews must be behind it.[266]

In an interview with Al-Aqsa TV in September 12, 2012, Marwan Abu Ras, a Hamas MP, who is also a member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, stated (as translated by MEMRI):

If the enemy sets foot on a single square inch of Islamic land, Jihad becomes an individual duty, incumbent on every Muslim, male or female. A woman may set out [on Jihad] without her husband's permission, and a servant without his master's permission. Why? In order to annihilate those Jews.... O Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters. O Allah, destroy the Americans and their supporters. O Allah, count them one by one, and kill them all, without leaving a single one.[262][263][264][265]

On August 10, 2012, Ahmad Bahr, Deputy Speaker of the Hamas Parliament, stated in a sermon that aired on Al-Aqsa TV:

In response to a statement by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas that Hamas preferred non-violent means and had agreed to adopt "peaceful resistance," Hamas contradicted Abbas. According to Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri, "We had agreed to give popular resistance precedence in the West Bank, but this does not come at the expense of armed resistance."[261]

On January 8, 2012, during a visit to Tunis, Gazan Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh told The Associated Press on that he disagrees with the anti-Semitic slogans. "We are not against the Jews because they are Jews. Our problem is with those occupying the land of Palestine," he said. "There are Jews all over the world, but Hamas does not target them."[260]

Following the rededication of the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem in March 2010, senior Hamas figure al-Zahar called on Palestinians everywhere to observe five minutes of silence "for Israel's disappearance and to identify with Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa mosque". He further stated that "Wherever you have been you've been sent to your destruction. You've killed and murdered your prophets and you have always dealt in loan-sharking and destruction. You've made a deal with the devil and with destruction itself – just like your synagogue."[258][259]

In May 2009, senior Hamas MP Sayed Abu Musameh said, "in our culture, we respect every foreigner, especially Jews and Christians, but we are against Zionists, not as nationalists but as fascists and racists."[257]

In January 2009, Gazan Hamas Health Minister Basim Naim published a letter in The Guardian, stating that Hamas has no quarrel with Jewish people, only with the actions of Israel.[256]

Another Hamas legislator and imam, Sheik Yunus al-Astal, discussed a Koranic verse suggesting that "suffering by fire is the Jews' destiny in this world and the next." He concluded "Therefore we are sure that the Holocaust is still to come upon the Jews."[76][255]

In 2008, Imam Yousif al-Zahar of Hamas said in his sermon at the Katib Wilayat mosque in Gaza that "Jews are a people who cannot be trusted. They have been traitors to all agreements. Go back to history. Their fate is their vanishing."[76][255]

Statements by Hamas members and clerics

"Today it is Palestine, tomorrow it will be one country or another. The Zionist plan is limitless. 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."[253]
"You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it."[254]
"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews."[253]
  • Article 7 of the Hamas Covenant provides the following quotation, attributed to Mohammed:

Hamas Charter (1988)

Hamas has made conflicting statements about its readiness to recognize Israel. In 2006 a spokesman signaled readiness to recognize Israel within the 1967 borders. Speaking of requests for Hamas to recognize agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, senior Hamas member Khaled Suleiman said that "these agreements are a reality which we view as such, and therefore I see no problem."[251] Also in 2006, a Hamas official ruled out recognition of Israel with reference to West and East Germany, which never recognized each other.[252]

According to academic Esther Webman, antisemitism is not the main tenet of Hamas ideology, although antisemitic rhetoric is frequent and intense in Hamas leaflets. The leaflets generally do not differentiate between Jews and Zionists. In other Hamas publications and in interviews with its leaders attempts at this differentiation have been made.[247] In 2009 representatives of the small Jewish sect Hitler Youth.[249] According to writer Tom Doran, Hamas is not recognized as a neo-Nazi group because its members are not "white Christians".[250]

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism

Some Hamas members stated that the model of Islamic government that Hamas seeks to emulate is that of Turkey under the rule of Tayyip Erdoğan. The foremost members to distance Hamas from the practices of Taliban and to publicly support the Erdoğan model were Ahmad Yousef and Ghazi Hamad, advisers to Prime Minister Hanieh.[242][243] Yusuf, the Hamas deputy foreign minister, reflected this goal in an interview to a Turkish newspaper, stating that while foreign public opinion equates Hamas with the Taliban or al-Qaeda, the analogy is inaccurate. Yusuf described the Taliban as "opposed to everything," including education and women's rights, while Hamas wants to establish good relations between the religious and secular elements of society and strives for human rights, democracy and an open society.[244] According to professor Yezid Sayigh of the King's College in London, how influential this view is within Hamas is uncertain, since both Ahmad Yousef and Ghazi Hamad were dismissed from their posts as advisers to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Hanieh in October 2007.[242] Both have since been appointed to other prominent positions within the Hamas government. Khaled al-Hroub of the West Bank-based and anti-Hamas[245] Palestinian daily Al Ayyam added that despite claims by Hamas leaders that it wants to repeat the Turkish model of Islam, "what is happening on the ground in reality is a replica of the Taliban model of Islam."[246]

Tayyip Erdoğan's Turkey as a role model

The Palestinian columnist Mohammed Abd Al-Hamid, a resident of Ramallah, wrote that this religious coercion could cause the migration of artists, and said "The religious fanatics in Algeria destroyed every cultural symbol, shattered statues and rare works of art and liquidated intellectuals and artists, reporters and authors, ballet dancers and singers – are we going to imitate the Algerian and Afghani examples?"[238]

In 2005, an outdoor music and dance performance in Qalqiliya were suddenly banned by the Hamas led municipality, for the reason that such an event would be forbidden by Islam, or "Haram".[239] The municipality also ordered that music no longer be played in the Qalqiliya zoo, and mufti Akrameh Sabri issued a religious edict affirming the municipality decision.[238] In response, the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish warned that "There are Taliban-type elements in our society, and this is a very dangerous sign."[237][238][240][241]

The attempt by Hamas to dictate a cultural code of conduct in the 1980s and early 1990s led to a violent fighting between different Palestinian sectors. Hamas members reportedly burned down stores that stocked videos they deemed indecent and destroyed books they described as "heretical".[238]

In 2005, the human rights organization Freemuse released a report titled "Palestine: Taliban-like attempts to censor music", which said that Palestinian musicians feared that harsh religious laws against music and concerts will be imposed since Hamas group scored political gains in the Palestinian Authority local elections of 2005.[237]

In the West Bank

In 2013, UNRWA canceled its annual marathon in Gaza after Hamas rulers prohibited women from participating in the race.[236]

Hamas officials deny having any plans to impose Islamic law, one legislator stating that "What you are seeing are incidents, not policy," and that Islamic law is the desired standard "but we believe in persuasion".[233] The Hamas education ministry reversed one effort to impose Islamic dress on students.[78] In March 2010, the BBC interviewed five "middle-class" women in Gaza City in March 2010, and all indicated there had been little or no change toward more conservative dress and mores.[235]

Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, some of its members have attempted to impose Islamic dress or the hijab head covering on women.[78][232] Also, the government's "Islamic Endowment Ministry" has deployed Virtue Committee members to warn citizens of the dangers of immodest dress, card playing, and dating.[233] However, there are no government laws imposing dress and other moral standards, and the Hamas education ministry reversed one effort to impose Islamic dress on students.[78] There has also been successful resistance to attempts by local Hamas officials to impose Islamic dress on women.[234]

From 1987 to 1991, during the first intifada, Hamas campaigned for the wearing of the hijab alongside other measures, including insisting women stay at home and be segregated from men, and the promotion of polygamy. In the course of this campaign, women who chose not to wear the hijab were verbally and physically harassed, with the result that the hijab was being worn 'just to avoid problems on the streets'.[231]

In the Gaza Strip

Islamization efforts

In 2005, Hamas announced its intention to launch an experimental TV channel, Al-Aqsa TV. The station was launched on January 7, 2006, less than three weeks before the Palestinian legislative elections. It has shown television programs, including some children's television, which deliver anti-semitic messages.[229] Hamas has stated that the television station is "an independent media institution that often does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed by Ismail Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement," and that Hamas does not hold anti-semitic views.[230]


[228] In 2014

In August 2011, the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip imposed new travel restrictions on Palestinians active in non-governmental organizations by requiring them to provide details of the trip to the ministry in what the Palestinian NGO Network regards as another Hamas attempt to control and hamper them. [227]

A day after the U.S. announced it was suspending financial aid to Gaza, Hamas officials said they had reached an agreement with the United States that would allow USAID to continue operations.[226]

A U.S. official based in the region said "USAID-funded partner organizations operating in Gaza are forced by Hamas's actions to suspend their assistance work. (They) were put on hold effective August 12."[224] According to the official, Hamas demanded access to files and records of NGOs, which would reveal financial and administrative information, details of staff members and information on beneficiaries. He said Hamas shut down IMC and USAID after the U.S. objected to "unwarranted audits". Hamas administration official Taher al-Nono said Hamas had a right to monitor their work in the territory but an understanding had been reached that would allow independent auditing teams to inspect the files of NGOs.[225]

In August 2011, the U.S State Department threatened to cut 100 million dollars in aid it sends to the Gaza Strip if Hamas continues to insist upon auditing American foreign aid organizations after Hamas suspended operations of the International Medical Corps following the group's refusal to submit to an on-site audit. Most foreign charities submit their own audits to the Interior Ministry in Ramallah. Charities must be audited by law, possibly to ensure money is not diverted for political or intelligence-gathering purposes but as the U.S. government forbids direct contact with Hamas, the action prompted Washington to issue the threat via a third party. Aid provided by American and other foreign groups goes to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza, where most of the 1.6 million residents are refugees.[222][223]

Hamas approved a 540-million-dollar government budget for 2010 with up to 90% coming from "undisclosed" foreign aid, which includes funding from smuggled through the tunnels. Gaza businessmen have accused Hamas of profiting from the blockade and using these taxes to buy large tracts of land and private buildings for public facilities in competition to established businesses.[216][220][221]

Gaza domestic funding

Hamas-linked charities in 2010 invested heavily in Gaza business ventures, with the condition that much of revenue stream from those ventures go to Hamas-linked charitable purposes in Gaza.[217] Generally, Hamas and its members have increasingly dominated the Gaza economy, in particular since the 2006 Israel-led blockade of Gaza and Gaza elections.[218][219]

In the late 1980s, 10% of all Hamas funding came from the Islamic Republic of Iran.[213] Later, from 1993 to 2006, Iran provided Hamas with approximately US$30 million annually. More recent assessments indicate that Iranian funding has increased significantly between 2006 and 2009, to hundreds of millions of Euros per year. After 2009, sanctions on Iran made funding difficult, forcing Hamas instead to rely on religious donations by individuals in the West Bank, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.[214][215] Since June 2011, funding from the Islamic Republic of Iran has been cut to show "displeasure at Hamas's failure to hold public rallies in support of President [Bashar al-] Assad" during the Syrian Civil War, and funding from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has been cut so the Muslim Brotherhood can diverts funds "to support Arab Spring revolts".[216] The shortages have meant that Gaza's 40,000 civil service and security employees were not paid July 2011.[216]

In 2004, reports citing unidentified U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials indicated that Saudi funding for Hamas had been curtailed and replaced by other regional sponsors. In June 2004 testimony before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, former Treasury Department General Counsel David Aufhauser quoted "informed intelligence sources" as saying, "for whatever reason, the money going to Hamas from Saudi Arabia has substantially dried up."[210] Aufhauser indicated that Saudi financial support "has been supplemented by money from Iran and Syria flowing through even more dangerous rejectionist groups in the West Bank".[210] Similarly, Israeli daily Maariv quoted in 2004 an unidentified Israeli military official as saying that "for the first time in years the Saudis have begun to reduce the flow of funds to Hamas and to the Gaza Strip."[210] This source attributes this change largely to U.S. pressure on Saudi Arabia to stem the flow of funding to Hamas and terrorist organizations.[210] According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), another reported funding source for Hamas is through the 21,000 Arabs of Palestinian and Lebanese descent who live in the Foz do Iguaçu area of the tri-border region of Latin America. According to Paraguayan Interior Minister Julio César Fanego, they have donated "something between $50 and $500 million" to 16 Arab extremist groups between 1999 and 2001, in amounts ranging from $500 to $2,000.[211][212]

The Saudi owned al-Taqwa Bank has been identified as a holder of money for Hamas since 1997. Jamie C. Zarate, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department, told Congress that $60 million was moved to Hamas accounts with Al Taqwa bank. The Al Taqwa bank has also been used to launder funds for Al Qaeda.[205][206][207] The funding by Saudi Arabia continued despite Saudi pledges to stop funding groups such as Hamas that have used violence,[208] and its recent denouncements of Hamas' lack of unity with Fatah.[209] According to the U.S. State Department, Hamas is funded by Iran, Palestinian expatriates, and "private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states".[17] Saudi spokesman Adel Al Jubeir said, "no Saudi government money goes to Hamas, directly or indirectly." He added that it "very likely" that "some Saudi individuals" have provided financial support to Hamas.[210]

[204][203] stated the council will give the families of 102 Hamas militants killed, including eight suicide bombers, $5,340 each.Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz run by then Saudi Interior Minister Prince Saudi Council to Support the Palestinian Intefada. In 2002, a Saudi Arabian charity, the Iran estimated a $50 million annual budget, mostly supplied by private charitable associations but with $12 million supplied directly by Gulf states, primarily Saudi Arabia, and a further $3 million from Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs An earlier estimate by the [202] In the early 2000s, the largest backer of Hamas was

As of 2009 the Council on Foreign Relations estimates Hamas's annual budget at $70 million.[200]


Hamas complained about the slow delivery of reconstruction materials after the conflict and announced that they were diverting these materials from civilian uses to build more infiltration tunnels.[199]

On 8 July 2014 Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to counter increased Hamas rocket fire from Gaza. The conflict ended with a permanent cease-fire after 7 weeks, and more than 2,000 dead. 64 of the dead were Israeli soldiers, 7 were civilians in Israel (from rocket attacks), and 2,101 were killed in Gaza, of which according to UN OCHA at least 1,460 were civilians. Israel says 1,000 of the dead were militants. Following the conflict, Mahmoud Abbas president of the Palestinian Authority, accused Hamas of needlessly extending the fighting in the Gaza Strip, contributing to the high death toll, of running a "shadow government" in Gaza, and of illegally executing scores of Palestinians.[196][197][198]

2014 Israel–Gaza conflict

In 2013, after "several intense weeks of indirect three-way diplomacy between representatives of Hamas, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority", no agreement was reached.[194] Also, intra-Palestinian reconciliation talks stalled and, as a result, during Obama's visit to Israel, Hamas launched five rocket strikes on Israel.[194] In November, Isra Almodallal was appointed the first spokeswoman of the group.[195]

In 2011, after the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, Hamas distanced itself from the Syrian regime and its members began leaving Syria. Where once there were "hundreds of exiled Palestinian officials and their relatives", that number shrunk to "a few dozen".[186] In 2012, Hamas publicly announced its support for the Syrian opposition.[187] This prompted Syrian state TV to issue a "withering attack" on the Hamas leadership.[188] Khaled Mashal said that Hamas had been "forced out" of Damascus because of its disagreements with the Syrian regime.[189] In late October, Syrian Army soldiers shot dead two Hamas leaders in Daraa refugee camp.[190] On November 5, 2012, the Syrian state security forces shut down all Hamas offices in the country.[191] In January 2013, another two Hamas members were found dead in Syria's Husseinieh camp. Activists said the two had been arrested and executed by state security forces.[192] In 2013, it was reported that the military wing of Hamas had begun training units of the Free Syrian Army.[193]

In July 2009, Khaled Mashal, Hamas's political bureau chief, stated Hamas's willingness to cooperate with a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, which included a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, provided that Palestinian refugees be given the right to return to Israel and that East Jerusalem be recognized as the new state's capital.[185]

On August 16, 2009, Hamas leader [180] Despite this, an August 30, 2009 speech during a visit to Jordan[181] in which Mashal expressed support for the Palestinian right of return was interpreted by David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as a sign that "Hamas has now clearly opted out of diplomacy."[182] In an interview on May 2010, Mashal said that if a Palestinian state with real sovereignty was established under the conditions he set out, on the borders of 1967 with its capital Jerusalem and with the right of return, that will be the end of the Palestinian resistance, and then the nature of any subsequent ties with Israel would be decided democratically by the Palestinians.[183][184]

After the Gaza War

Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire on January 17, 2009.[174] Hamas responded the following day by announcing a one-week ceasefire to give Israel time to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.[175] Israeli, Palestinian, and third-party sources disagreed on the total casualty figures from the Gaza war, and the number of Palestinian casualties who were civilians.[176][177] In November 2010, a senior Hamas official acknowledged that up to 300 fighters were killed and "In addition to them, between 200 and 300 fighters from the Al-Qassam Brigades and another 150 security forces were martyred." These new numbers reconcile the total with those of the Israeli military, which originally said were 709 "terror operatives" killed.[178][179]

On December 27 and 28, Israel implemented Operation Cast Lead against Hamas. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said "We warned Hamas repeatedly that rejecting the truce would push Israel to aggression against Gaza." According to Palestinian officials, over 280 people were killed and 600 were injured in the first two days of airstrikes.[164] Most were Hamas police and security officers, though many civilians also died.[164] According to Israel, militant training camps, rocket-manufacturing facilities and weapons warehouses that had been pre-identified were hit, and later they attacked rocket and mortar squads who fired around 180 rockets and mortars at Israeli communities.[165] Chief of Gaza police force Tawfiq Jabber, head of the General Security Service Salah Abu Shrakh,[166] senior religious authority and security officer Nizar Rayyan,[167] and Interior Minister Said Seyam[168] were among those killed during the fighting. Although Israel sent out thousands of cell-phone messages urging residents of Gaza to leave houses where weapons may be stored, in an attempt to minimise civilian casualties,[165] some residents complained there was nowhere to go because many neighborhoods had received the same message.[165][169][170] Israeli bombs landed close to civilian structures such as schools,[171][172] and some alleged that Israel was deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians.[173]

With the six-month truce officially expired on December 19, Hamas launched 50 to more than 70 rockets and mortars into Israel over the next three days, though no Israelis were injured.[161][162] On December 21, Hamas said it was ready to stop the attacks and renew the truce if Israel stopped its "aggression" in Gaza and opened up its border crossings.[162][163]

Damage to a Beersheba kindergarten from a Grad rocket fired from Gaza

While Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire, the lull was sporadically violated by other groups, sometimes in defiance of Hamas.[153][155][156] For example, on June 24 Islamic Jihad launched rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot; Israel called the attack a grave violation of the informal truce, and closed its border crossings with Gaza.[157] On November 4, 2008, Israeli forces, in an attempt to stop construction of a tunnel, killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid inside the Gaza Strip.[158][159] Hamas responded by resuming rocket attacks, a total of 190 rockets in November according to Israel's military.[160]

[154] stating in May 2008 that a ground incursion into Gaza was unavoidable and would more effectively quell arms smuggling and pressure Hamas into relinquishing power.Yuval Diskin chief Shin Bet Even before the truce was agreed to, some on the Israeli side were not optimistic about it, [153] Hamas agreed to cease rocket attacks on Israel, while Israel agreed to allow limited commercial shipping across its border with [151][150] On June 17, 2008, Egyptian mediators announced that an informal truce had been agreed to between Hamas and Israel.

An Israeli white phosphorus round explodes over a Gaza residential area.

2008 Gaza War

Progress has stalled, until an April 2014 agreement to form a compromise unity government, with elections to be held in late 2014.[41]

In March 2012 Mahmoud Abbas stated that there were no political differences between Hamas and Fatah as they had reached agreement on a joint political platform and on a truce with Israel. Commenting on relations with Hamas, Abbas revealed in an interview with Al Jazeera that "We agreed that the period of calm would be not only in the Gaza Strip, but also in the West Bank," adding that "We also agreed on a peaceful popular resistance [against Israel], the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders and that the peace talks would continue if Israel halted settlement construction and accepted our conditions."[148][149]

"There were eight of us sitting there. We were all from Fatah. Then three masked militants broke in. They were dressed in brown camouflage military uniforms; they all had guns. They pointed their guns at us and cursed us, then they began beating us with iron rods, including a 10-year-old boy whom they hit in the face. They said we were "collaborators" and "unfaithful". They beat me with iron sticks and gun butts for 15 minutes. They were yelling: "You are happy that Israel is bombing us!" until people came out of their houses, and they withdrew.[146]

Hamas security forces attacked hundreds Fatah officials who supported Israel. Human Rights Watch interviewed one such person:


In March 2007, the Palestinian Legislative Council established a national unity government, with 83 representatives voting in favor and three against. Government ministers were sworn in by Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, at a ceremony held simultaneously in Gaza and Ramallah. In June that year, renewed fighting broke out between Hamas and Fatah.[140] In the course of the June 2007 Battle of Gaza, Hamas exploited the near total collapse of Palestinian Authority forces in Gaza, to seize[141] control of Gaza, ousting Fatah officials. President Mahmoud Abbas then dismissed the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government.[142] and outlawed the Hamas militia.[143] At least 600 Palestinians died in fighting between Hamas and Fatah.[144] Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based group, accused both sides in the conflict of torture and war crimes.[145]

On February 2007 Saudi-sponsored negotiations in Mecca produced agreement on a signed by Mahmoud Abbas on behalf of Fatah and Khaled Mashal on behalf of Hamas. The new government was called on to achieve Palestinian national goals as approved by the Palestine National Council, the clauses of the Basic Law and the National Reconciliation Document (the "Prisoners' Document") as well as the decisions of the Arab summit.[139]

On June 25, two Israeli soldiers were killed and another, [136] The arrests, along with other events, effectively prevented the Hamas-dominated legislature from functioning during most of its term.[137][138]

On June 9, 2006, during an Israeli artillery operation, an explosion occurred on a busy Gaza beach, killing eight Palestinian civilians.[129][130] It was assumed that Israeli shellings were responsible for the killings, but Israeli government officials denied this.[131][132] Hamas formally withdrew from its 16-month ceasefire on June 10, taking responsibility for the subsequent Qassam rocket attacks launched from Gaza into Israel.[133]

[128] Israeli intelligence warned Mahmoud Abbas that Hamas had planned to kill him at his office in Gaza. According to a Palestinian source close to Abbas, Hamas considers president Abbas to be a barrier to its complete control over the Palestinian Authority and decided to kill him. In a statement to Al Jazeera, Hamas leader Mohammed Nazzal, accused Abbas of being party to besieging and isolating the Hamas-led government.[127]After the formation of the Hamas-led cabinet on March 20, 2006, tensions between Fatah and Hamas militants progressively rose in the Gaza strip as Fatah commanders refused to take orders from the government while the Palestinian Authority initiated a campaign of demonstrations, assassinations and abductions against Hamas, which led to Hamas responding.
Hamas rally in Bethlehem

Hamas–Fatah conflict

"Achieve equality before the law among citizens in rights and duties; bring security to all citizens and protect their properties and assure their safety against arbitrary arrest, torture, or revenge; stress the culture of dialogue ... ; support the press and media institutions and maintain the right of journalists to access and to publish information; maintain freedom and independence of professional syndicates and preserve the rights of their membership".[126]

Public freedoms and citizen rights.

"stress the separation between the three powers, the legislative, executive and judicial; activate the role of the Constitutional Court; re-form the Judicial Supreme Council and choose its members by elections and on the basis of qualifications rather than partisan, personal, and social considerations ... ; enact the necessary laws that guarantee the neutrality of general prosecutor ... [and] laws that will stop any transgression by the executive power on the constitution".[126]

Legislative policy and reforming the judiciary.

  1. True Islam with its civilized achievements and political, economic, social, and legal aspects is our frame of reference and our way of life.
  2. Historic Palestine is part of the Arab and Islamic land and its ownership by the Palestinian people is a right that does not diminish over time. No military or legal measures will change that right.
  3. The Palestinian people, wherever they reside, constitute a single and united people and form an integral part of the Arab and Muslim nation ... [Quranic verse]. Our Palestinian people are still living a phase of national liberation, and thus they have the right to strive to recover their own rights and end the occupation using all means, including armed struggle. We have to make all our resources available to support our people and defeat the occupation and establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
  4. The right of return of all Palestinian refugees and displaced persons to their land and properties, and the right to self-determination and all other national rights, are inalienable and cannot be bargained away for any political concessions.
  5. We uphold the indigenous and inalienable rights of our people to our land, Jerusalem, our holy places, our water resources, borders, and a fully sovereign independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
  6. Reinforcing and protecting Palestinian national unity is one of the priorities of the Palestinian national action.
  7. The issue of the prisoners is at the top of the Palestinian agenda.[126]

The Change and Reform List adopts a set of principles stemming from the Islamic tradition that we embrace. We see these principles as agreed upon not only by our Palestinian people, but also by our Arab and Islamic nation as a whole. These principles are:

Electoral Platform for Change and Reform

In 2006 after the Gaza election, Hamas leader sent a letter addressed to George W. Bush where he among other things declared that Hamas would accept a state on the 1967 borders including a truce. However, the Bush administration did not reply.[125]

After the election, the Quartet on the Middle East (the United States, Russia, the European Union (EU), and the United Nations) stated that assistance to the Palestinian Authority would only continue if Hamas renounced violence, recognized Israel, and accepted previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements, which Hamas refused to do.[123] The Quartet then imposed a freeze on all international aid to the Palestinian territories.[124]

In early February 2006, Hamas offered Israel a 10-year truce "in return for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories: the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem,"[35] and recognition of Palestinian rights including the "right of return".[121] Mashal added that Hamas was not calling for a final end to armed operations against Israel, and it would not impede other Palestinian groups from carrying out such operations.[122]

In its election manifesto for the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, Hamas omitted a call for an end to Israel, though it did still call for armed struggle against the occupation.[117][118] Hamas won the 2006 elections, winning 76 of the 132 seats to Fatah's 43.[119] Seen by many as primarily a rejection of the Fatah government's corruption and ineffectiveness, the Hamas victory seemingly had brought to an end 40 years of PLO domination of Palestinian politics.[119][120]

While Hamas boycotted the Fatah, which had for long been the biggest force in Palestinian politics.[116]

2006 presidential and legislative elections

In January 2004, Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said that the group would end armed resistance against Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem, and that restoring Palestinians' "historical rights" (relating to the 1948 Palestinian exodus) "would be left for future generations".[112] On January 25, 2004, senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi offered a 10-year truce, or hudna, in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state and the complete withdrawal by Israel from the territories captured in the 1967 Six Day War.[112] Al-Rantissi stated 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".[112][113] Israel immediately dismissed al-Rantissi's statements as insincere and a smokescreen for military preparations.[113] Yassin was assassinated on March 22, 2004, by a targeted Israeli air strike,[114] and al-Rantisi was assassinated by a similar air strike on April 18, 2004.[115]

The immediate trigger for the uprising is disputed, but a more general cause, writes U.S. political science professor Jeremy Pressman, was "popular Palestinian discontent [that] grew during the Oslo peace process because the reality on the ground did not match the expectations created by the peace agreements".[111] Hamas would be the beneficiary of this growing discontent in the 2006 Palestinian Authority legislative elections.

Al-Qassam Brigades militants were among the armed groups that launched both military-style attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli civilian and military targets during the Second Intifada (also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada (Arabic: انتفاضة الأقصى‎, Intifāat El Aqa; Hebrew: אינתיפאדת אל-אקצה‎, Intifādat El-Aqtzah), which began in late September 2000. This Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in the occupied territories was much more violent than the First Intifada. The military and civilian death toll is estimated at 5500 Palestinians and more than 1100 Israelis, as well as 64 foreigners.[109] A 2007 study of Palestinian suicide bombings during the second intifada (September 2000 through August 2005) found that about 40 percent were carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades.[110]

August 2001 Sbarro pizza restaurant bombing in Jerusalem, in which 15 Israeli civilians were killed. Hamas said the attack was in response to Israel's assassination of its officials, including two senior leaders.[108]

Second Intifada

In September 1997, Israeli agents in Jordan attempted but failed to assassinate Hamas leader [106][107] Hamas leaders denied the charges.[104] Mashal was exiled and eventually settled in Syria. He fled to Qatar in 2012 as a result of the Syrian civil war.

In 1996, Yahya Ayash, the chief bombmaker of Hamas and the leader of the West Bank battalion of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was assassinated by the Israeli secret service.[101][103]

According to the Congressional Research Service, Hamas admitted to having executed Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israeli authorities in the 1990s. A transcript of a training film by the al-Qassam Brigades tells how Hamas operatives kidnapped Palestinians accused of collaboration and then forced confessions before executing them.[4]

Although the suicide attacks by the al-Qassam Brigades and other groups violated the 1993 Oslo accords (which Hamas opposed[100]), Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat was reluctant to pursue the attackers and may have had inadequate means to do so.[101] Some analysts state that the Palestinian Authority could have stopped the suicide and other attacks on civilians but refused to do so.[102]

In December 1992 Israel responded to the killing of a border police officer by deporting 415 leading figures of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to Lebanon, which provoked international condemnation and a unanimous UN Security Council resolution condemning the action.[98][99]

Hamas's military branch, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was created in 1991.[95] During the 1990s the al-Qassam Brigades conducted numerous attacks on Israel, with both civilian and military victims. In April 1993, suicide bombings in the West Bank began.[96] After the February 1994 massacre by Baruch Goldstein of 30 Muslim civilians in a Hebron mosque, the al-Qassam Brigades began suicide attacks inside Israel.[97]


Hamas carried out its first attack against Israel in 1989, abducting and killing two soldiers. The Israel Defense Forces immediately arrested Yassin and sentenced him to life in prison, and deported 400 Hamas activists, including Zahar, to South Lebanon, which at the time was occupied by Israel. During this time Hamas built a relationship with Hezbollah.

In 1987, several Palestinians were killed in a traffic accident involving an Israeli driver, and the events that followed—a Palestinian uprising (now known as the First Intifada) against Israel's West Bank and Gaza occupation—led Yassin and six other Palestinians to found Hamas as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. The new group was supported by Brotherhood-affiliated charities and social institutions that had already gained a strong foothold in the occupied territories. The acronym "Hamas" first appeared in 1987 in a leaflet that accused the Israeli intelligence services of undermining the moral fiber of Palestinian youth as part of Mossad's recruitment of what Hamas termed collaborators. Nonetheless, Israeli military and intelligence was still focused on Fatah, and continued to maintain contacts with Gaza's Islamic activists. Numerous Islamist leaders, including senior Hamas founder Mahmoud Zahar, met with Yitzhak Rabin as part of "regular consultations" between Israeli officials and Palestinians not linked to the PLO.[3]


Around the time of Yassin's arrest, Avner Cohen, an Israeli religious affairs official, sent a report to senior military officers and civilian leadership in Gaza advising them of the dangers of the Islamic movement, but this report and similar ones were ignored.[3] Former military intelligence officer Shalom Harari said the warnings were ignored out of neglect, not a desire to fortify the Islamists: "Israel never financed Hamas. Israel never armed Hamas."[3][94]

In 1984 the Israeli army received intelligence that Sheikh Yassin's followers were collecting arms in Gaza. Israeli troops raided mosques and found a cache of weapons.[3] Yassin was arrested, but told his interrogators the weapons were meant to be used against secular Palestinians, not Israel. The cleric was released a year later and allowed to continue to develop his movement in Gaza.[3]

[3] Also, Segev said,

Yitzhak Segev, the acting governor of Gaza in 1979, said he had no illusions about Yassin's intentions, having watched an Islamist movement topple the Shah as Israel's military attache in Iran. According to Segev, Yassin and his charity were completely peaceful towards Israel during this time, and Segev and other Israeli officials feared being viewed as an enemy of Islam. Segev maintained regular contact with Yassin, met with him around a dozen times, and arranged for Yassin to be taken to Israel for hospital treatment.[3]

Among the activists benefited was mosques, clubs, schools, and a library in Gaza.[3][92]

[91][3] In fact, Israel for many years tolerated and at times encouraged Islamic activists and groups as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the PLO and its dominant faction, Fatah.[3] With its takeover of Gaza after the

Early Islamic activism in Gaza



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