Hamas was created in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Mohammad Taha of the Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood at the beginning of the First Intifada. Notorious for its numerous suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians and security forces, Hamas also runs extensive social programs and has gained popularity in Palestinian society by establishing hospitals, education systems, libraries and other services throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hamas' charter calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. Hamas describes its conflict with Israel as political and not religious or antisemitic. However, its founding charter, writings, and many of its public statements reflect the influence of antisemitic conspiracy theories.
Since the death of Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, Hamas's political wing has won many local elections in Gaza, Qalqilya, and Nablus. In January 2006, Hamas won a surprise victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, taking 76 of the 132 seats in the chamber, while the ruling Fatah party took 43. The Hamas charter states: "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad," and this stance has found a receptive audience among Palestinians; many perceived the preceding Fatah government as corrupt and ineffective, and Hamas's supporters see it as an "armed resistance movement defending Palestinians from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. However, since Hamas's election victory, particularly sharp infighting has occurred between Hamas and Fatah, leading to many Palestinian deaths.
In the months leading up to June 2007, the United States, with the collusion of Israel, armed and funded militias controlled by Mohammed Dahlan and nominally loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction. These militias were assigned to overthrow the Hamas-led government so that it could be replaced with a US-backed "emergency government." The plan was personally approved by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush who called Dahlan "our guy." Hamas pre-empted this coup attempt and took over control of the interior of the Gaza Strip forcing the coup plotters to flee to Egypt, Israel and the West Bank.
Following the Battle for Gaza in June 2007, elected Hamas officials were ousted from their positions in the Palestinian National Authority government in the West Bank, replaced by rival Fatah members and independents in an action that many Palestinians and other experts considered illegal. On June 18, 2007, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Fatah) issued a decree outlawing the Hamas militia and executive force.
Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan, and the United States, and is banned in Jordan. Australia and the United Kingdom list only the military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, as a terrorist organization. The United States and the European Union have both implemented restrictive measures against Hamas on an international level.
Some disagreement exists over the meaning of the word "Ḥamas" itself. Ḥamas is an acronym of the Arabic phrase حركة المقاومة الاسلامية, or Ḥarakat al-Muqāwama al-Islāmiyya or "Islamic Resistance Movement". In Arabic the word "ḥamās" translates roughly to "enthusiasm, zeal, elan, or fighting spirit" The initial consonant is not the ordinary /h/ of English, but a slightly more rasping sound, the voiceless pharyngeal fricative /ħ/, transcribed as <ḥ>; it is for this reason that speakers of Hebrew frequently use the voiceless uvuluar fricative /χ/, the equivalent sound for most Hebrew speakers. In Hebrew, the cognate term, hamas, literally means "To pillage, to corrupt" (Old Testament, Job, Verse 15:33), indicating a coincidental linguistic symmetry to the views of Palestinians and Israelis on the organization.
The military wing of Hamas, formed in 1992, is known as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades to commemorate Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, the father of modern Arab resistance, who was killed by the British in 1935. Armed Hamas cells also sometimes refer to themselves as "Students of Ayyash", "Students of the Engineer", or "Yahya Ayyash Units", to commemorate Yahya Ayyash, an early Hamas bomb-maker killed in 1996.
On January 26, 2004, senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi offered a 10-year truce, or hudna, in return for a complete withdrawal by Israel from the territories captured in the Six Day War, and the establishment of a Palestinian state (it later repeated the same offer after winning the majority in the PLC, accepting the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative). Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin stated that the group could accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Rantissi confirmed that Hamas had come to the conclusion that it was "difficult to liberate all our land at this stage, so we accept a phased liberation."
From the time of an attack on the Israeli southern town of Be'er Sheva in August 2004, in which 15 people were killed and 125 wounded, the truce was generally observed. Hamas violated it once, in August 2005, with an attack on the same bus station, wounding seven. Also in 2005, a group claiming to be aligned with Hamas were involved in several attacks on Israelis in the Hebron area of the West Bank, killing six.
While Hamas had boycotted the January 2005 presidential election, in which Mahmoud Abbas was elected to replace Yasser Arafat, it did participate in the municipal elections held between January and May 2005, in which it took control of Beit Lahia and Rafah in the Gaza Strip and Qalqilyah in the West Bank. The January 2006 legislative elections marked another victory for Hamas, which gained the majority of seats in the first fair and democratic elections held in Palestine, defeating the ruling Fatah party. The "List of Change and Reform", as Hamas presented itself, obtained 42.9% of the vote and 74 of the 132 seats.
Hamas omitted its call for the destruction of Israel from its election manifesto, calling instead for "the establishment of an independent state whose capital is Jerusalem."
On February 13, 2006, in an interview in Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the same Khaled Mashal declared that if Israel wants "peace", it must recognize the 1967 borders, withdraw itself from all Palestinian occupied territories (including the West Bank and East Jerusalem) and recognize Palestinian rights that would include the "right of return". Mashal would not acknowledge the Road map for peace, adopted by the Quartet in June 2003, because "The problem is not Hamas' stance, but Israel's stance. It is in fact not honoring the Road Map". The Road map projected the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in 2005.
In May 2006, during demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in support of Hamas and against US-led sanctions, Hamas leaders threatened a new Intifada, as well as to "chop off" the head of anyone who tried to bring down their cabinet. Furthermore, Hamas took a flexible stance that renewed support for the 2002 Arab peace initiative offering to restore normal relations with Israel in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state.
After the formation of the Hamas cabinet on March 20, 2006, tensions between Fatah and Hamas militants progressively rose in the Gaza strip, leading to demonstrations and violence, along with repeated attempts at a truce.
On June 27, 2006 Hamas and Fatah reached an agreement which included the forming of a national unity government. On February 8, 2007, Hamas and Fatah signed a deal to end factional warfare that had killed nearly 200 Palestinians and to form a coalition, hoping this would lead Western powers to lift crippling sanctions imposed on the Hamas-led government.
The events leading to the 2006 Israel-Gaza conflict began on June 9, 2006. During an Israeli artillery operation, an explosion occurred on a busy Gaza beach, killing eight Palestinian civilians. It was initially assumed that Israeli shellings were responsible for the killings, although Israeli government officials later denied this. Hamas formally withdrew from its 16-month ceasefire on June 10, taking responsibility for the subsequent Qassam rocket attacks launched from Gaza into Israel.
On June 29, following the attack of Hamas in which Gilad Shalit was captured, Israel captured 64 Hamas officials. Amongst them were eight Palestinian Authority cabinet ministers and up to twenty members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, as well as heads of regional councils, and the mayor of Qalqilyah and his deputy. At least a third of the Hamas cabinet was captured and held by Israel. On 6 August Israeli forces detained the Hamas' Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Aziz Dweik, at his home in the West Bank.
In June, renewed fighting broke out between Hamas and Fatah. As of June 14, 2007, the current Palestinian government has been dissolved. President Mahmoud Abbas has dismissed the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government. .
There was a brief civil-war in which Hamas seized control of Gaza and the Palestinian Authority was effectively split in two with Hamas controlling Gaza and Fatah controlling the West Bank. Leaders of Hamas and Fatah later met in the Yemeni capital San‘a’ on 23 March 2008 and agreed to the tentative "Sana'a Declaration" to resume conciliatory talks.
On June 18, 2008 Israel announced a bilateral ceasefire with Hamas which formally began on June 19, 2008. The agreement was reached after talks between the two camps were conducted with Egyptian mediators in Cairo. As part of the ceasefire, Israel has agreed to resume limited commercial shipping across its border with Gaza, barring any breakdown of the tentative peace deal, and Hamas has hinted that it will enter into a discussion over the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured in a cross border raid in 2006. On 29 July 2008 Abbas warned the GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni through the head of the PA's civil affairs department, Hussein al-Sheikh, who is responsible for coordinating with Israel on anything involving the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The "personal message" from Abbas, stressed that the Palestinian leader did not speak merely of "resigning," but of "dismantling the PA" if Israel releases the 40 Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament as part of a deal for the return of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
Hamas, whose members largely come from the squalid refugee camps of Gaza from persons displaced from Israel's 1948 war of occupation, has been far less accommodating with the occupation than has their competitor Fatah, with one Hamas parliamentarian denouncing the 1993 Oslo Accords as "not a peace process" and "a process of deception and cheating, lies which enabled Israel to truncate our homeland with settlements, separation walls, roadblocks, and closed military zones.
Its charter calls for an end to Israel. During the election campaign, Hamas did not mention its call for the destruction of Israel in its electoral manifesto.. On January 25, 2006, after winning the Palestinian elections, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar gave an interview to Al-Manar TV denouncing foreign demands that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist. After the establishment of Hamas government, Dr Al-Zahar stated his "dreams of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it...I hope that our dream to have our independent state on all historic Palestine (including Israel). This dream will become real one day. I'm certain of this because there is no place for the state of Israel on this land". He also "didn't rule out the possibility of having Jews, Muslims and Christians living under the sovereignty of an Islamic state, adding that the Palestinians never hated the Jews and that only the Israeli occupation was their enemy".
Hamas's charter calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic Republic in their historic homeland of Palestine, in place of Israel. Hamas sees this view as an Islamic religious duty and prophesy that comes directly from Hadith. In 1999, late Hamas co-founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin mentioned the year 2027 as the possible date for the "disappearance" of Israel. The group has not issued a clear statement about how it would deal with the current population of Israel, should it succeed in overthrowing Israeli and secular Palestinian government. Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, one of its co-founders, stated that the movement's goal is "to remove Israel from the map". On February 13, 2005, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal declared that Hamas would stop armed struggle against Israel if Israel recognized the 1967 borders, withdrew from all Palestinian territories and accepted the demand for "Palestinian right of return" (see below).
According to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hamas views the Arab-Israeli conflict as "a religious struggle between Islam and Judaism that can only be resolved by the destruction of the State of Israel".. Hamas uses both political activities and violence to pursue its goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel and the secular Palestinian Authority. Israeli military operations during the al-Aqsa Intifada in 2002 put pressure on Hamas in the West Bank following several bombings in Israel for which Hamas claimed responsibility. Hamas has also engaged in peaceful political activities, including running candidates in West Bank Chamber of commerce elections.
During the election campaign the organization toned down criticism of Israel in its election manifesto, stating only that it was prepared to use "armed resistance to end the occupation".
The slogan of Hamas is "God is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Qur'an its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of God is the loftiest of its wishes." Hamas states that its objective is to support the oppressed and wronged and "to bring about justice and defeat injustice, in word and deed." Hamas believes that "the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf (trust) consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day," and as such, the land cannot be negotiated away by any political leader. Hamas rejects "so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences" as "in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement", stating "there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad".
On February 13, 2006, in an interview in Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Mashal declared that Hamas would stop armed struggle against Israel if it recognized the 1967 borders, withdrew itself from all Palestinian occupied territories (including the West Bank and East Jerusalem) and recognized Palestinian rights that would include the "right of return". He reaffirmed this stance in a March 5, 2008 interview with Al Jazeera English, citing Hamas's signing of the 2005 Cairo Declaration and the National Reconciliation Document, and denied any rejectionist stance. Critics of this offer suggest that Israel would never accept the Palestinian refugees right of return, as it would create a demographic majority of Muslims in Israel, and thus cancel its Jewish nature. Hamas does not feel bound by the "Road Map to Peace" promoted by the Diplomatic Quartet, since in its view Israel is not abiding by it. Hamas rejects the establishment of a "Palestinian entity [...] with no true sovereignty, whose principal duty is to maintain Israel's security."
After coming to power, some Hamas leaders have announced that Hamas was giving up suicide attacks and "offered a 10-year truce [with Israel] in return for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories: the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Hamas also declared a unilateral ceasefire with Israel which, after Israeli air strikes in response to Hamas smuggling weapons into Gaza, was formally renounced.
According to Steven Erlanger of the New York Times, Hamas excludes the possibility of long term reconciliation with Israel. "Since the Prophet Muhammad made a temporary hudna, or truce, with the Jews about 1,400 years ago, Hamas allows the idea. But no one in Hamas says he would make a peace treaty with Israel or permanently give up any part of Palestine.". Mkhaimer Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University explains that “They (Hamas) talk of hudna, not of peace or reconciliation with Israel. They believe over time they will be strong enough to liberate all historic Palestine.”
On April 21st, 2008, former U.S. President and 2002 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter met with Hamas Leader Khaled Meshal and reached an agreement that Hamas will respect the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas seized by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967, provided this be ratified by the Palestinian people in a referendum. Carter had made several other requests, but these were turned down. Hamas later announced publicly an offer for a 10 year hudna with Israel, should they decide to return to their 1967 borders and allow the return of all Palestinian refugees. Several nations originally rejected the plan, but Israel is yet to respond.
On June 17th, 2008, and after months of mediation by Egypt, Egyptian mediators announced that an informal truce was agreed between Hamas and Israel. The truce is set to be effective starting June 19th, 2008. Israeli officials have so far declined to confirm or deny the agreement while Hamas announced that "[it] will adhere to the timetable which was set by Egypt but it is Hamas's right to respond to any Israeli aggression before its implementation".
Hamas has expressed its political stances and explained its views in a series of documents published since its founding.
According to one translation, the 1988 Hamas Covenant (or Charter) states that the organization's goal is to "raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist in security and safety where their lives, possessions and rights are concerned." It further asserts that "The Islamic Resistance Movement is a humanistic movement. It takes care of human rights and is guided by Islamic tolerance when dealing with the followers of other religions. It does not antagonize anyone of them except if it is antagonized by it or stands in its way to hamper its moves and waste its efforts. Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions - Islam, Christianity and Judaism - to coexist in peace and quiet with each other. Peace and quiet would not be possible except under the wing of Islam. Past and present history are the best witness to that."
The thirty-six articles of the Covenant detail the movement's Islamist beliefs regarding the primacy of Islam in all aspects of life. The Covenant identifies Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and considers its members to be Muslims who "fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors." Hamas describes resisting and quelling the enemy as the individual duty of every Muslim and prescribes vigilant roles for all members of society; including men and women, professionals, scientists and students. The enemy is defined primarily in terms of Zionist colonization of Palestine with the support of "imperialistic powers."
In several places, the Charter compares Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the actions of the Nazis. For example Israel is described as "a vicious enemy which acts in a way similar to Nazism, making no differentiation between man and woman, between children and old people" and predicts that the "Zionist Nazi activities against our people will not last for long."
The Charter outlines the organization's position on various issues, including social and economic development and ideological influences, education, as well as its position regarding Israel. Amongst many other things, it reiterates the group's rejection of the principle of coexistence with Zionism, which it defines as a danger not just to Palestinians, but to all Arab states. While primarily focusing on what it calls the "Zionist invasion" of Palestine as the cause of conflict, in places the Charter asserts that Zionism was able to achieve its ends due to the activities of secret organizations such as Freemasons and cites as an example the ability of Zionists to obtain the Balfour Declaration. The Charter 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 and that "There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it." The Charter also selectively quotes Islamic religious texts to provide justification for fighting against and killing Jews.
A memorandum prepared by the group's political bureau in the 1990s at the request of western diplomats and published in a book by Azzam Tamimi stated that Hamas is "a Palestinian national liberation movement that struggles for the liberation of the Palestinian occupied territories and for the recognition of Palestinian legitimate rights." Hamas, the document stated, "regards itself as an extension of an old tradition that goes back to the early 20th century struggle against British and Zionist colonialism in Palestine." The memorandum notes that in principle Hamas does not endorse targeting civilians, but argues that attacks which did so represented "an exception necessitated by Israel's insistence on targeting Palestinian civilians and by Israel's refusal to agree to an understanding prohibiting the killing of civilians on both sides comparable to the one reached between Israel and Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon. Even in the 1990s, according to this memorandum, the organization foresaw the day when "dialogue" between itself and Israel would be possible, but warned that "The prospect of the movement initiating, or accepting dialogue with Israel is nonexistent at present because of the skewed balance of power between the Palestinians and the Israelis. In Sheikh Yassin's words: 'There can be no dialogue between a party that is strong and oppressive and another that is weak and oppressed. There can be no dialogue except after the end of oppression.'"
In 1973, the Islamic center 'Mujamma' was established in Gaza and started to offer clinics, blood banks, day care, medical treatment, meals and youth clubs. The centre plays an important role for providing social care to the people, particularly those living in refugee camps. It also extended financial aid and scholarships to young people who wanted to study in Saudi Arabia and the West. 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 suicide bombings and other forms of violence against Israel. Hamas also funded education as well as the health service, and built Islamic charities, libraries, mosques, 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.
In any case, Hamas has significantly increased literacy in areas where it is active. Hamas also funds a number of other charitable activities, primarily in the Gaza Strip. These include religious institutions, medical facilities, and social needs of the area's residents. The work of Hamas in these fields supplements that provided by the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA). Hamas is also well regarded by Palestinians for its efficiency and perceived lack of corruption compared to Fatah.
In 2005, Hamas announced its intention to launch an experimental TV channel, "Al-Aqsa". The station was launched on January 7, 2006, less than three weeks before the Palestinian legislative elections. It includes TV shows for children, some of which promote antisemitic views.
"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."
"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."
"Our message to the Israelis is this: We do not fight you because you belong to a certain faith or culture. Jews have lived in the Muslim world for 13 centuries in peace and harmony; they are in our religion "the people of the book" who have a covenant from God and his messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him), to be respected and protected."
"Our conflict with you is not religious but political. We have no problem with Jews who have not attacked us — our problem is with those who came to our land, imposed themselves on us by force, destroyed our society and banished our people."
"....the anti-Semitic rhetoric in Hamas leaflets is frequent and intense. Nevertheless, anti-Semitism is not the main tenet of Hamas ideology. Generally no differentiation was made in the leaflets between Jew and Zionist, in as much as Judaism was perceived as embracing Zionism, although in other Hamas publications and in interviews with its leaders attempts at this differentiation have been made.
Al-Aqsa TV, a Hamas-affiliated station which was shut down by the Palestinian public prosecutor in 2006 for not having a licence but continues to operate to date, broadcast the children's television program Tomorrow's Pioneers in defiance of the Hamas-led government, which asked that the show's broadcasts be halted pending their evaluation. The show has been accused of furthering themes of antisemitism, anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, Islamic extremism, Islamic supremacism, Islamism, and jihadist proselytism.
Hamas members have also been harassing and arresting Palestinian journalists in Gaza ,. On August 29, 2007 Palestinian health officials reported that Hamas had been shutting down Gaza clinics in retaliation for doctor strikes - Hamas confirmed that "punitive measure against doctors" who, according to Hamas, "incite others to strike and suspend services" have been taken.
On September 7, 2007 Hamas banned public prayers, after Fatah supporters began holding worship sessions that quickly escalated into raucous protests against Hamas rule. Hamas security forces beat several gathering supporters and journalists.
On November 14, 2007 Hamas arrested a British journalist and canceled all press cards in Gaza. No news photography is allowed without a license from Hamas.
On February 8, 2008 Hamas banned distribution of Al-Ayyam newspaper and closure of its offices in the Gaza Strip due to a caricature that mocked legislators loyal to Hamas,. Hamas had later issued an arrest request for the editor.
On September 3, 2008 Hamas detained the leader of the recently-formed Jaysh al-Umma (Army of the Nation) after the group released a video through Reuters in which he criticizes Hamas for not upholding sharia or any other Islamic order.
On September 15, 2008 a conflict occurred when the Hamas-controlled police force attempted to arrest two members of the Dughmush clan in the al-Sabra section of Gaza City. The fighting resulted in the deaths of 11 members of the clan and one Hamas policeman and in the injuries of 46 of the Dughmush. The Dughmush family is closely tied to the Army of Islam, who Hamas sees as a rival in consolidating control of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas officials have stated several times that they are willing to stop attacks on Israeli civilian targets if Israel stops attacking Palestinian civilian targets in return. In May 2003, Abdel Aziz Rantisi has said,
"The Hamas movement is prepared to stop terror against Israeli civilians if Israel stops killing Palestinian civilians ... We have told (Palestinian Authority Prime Minister) Abu Mazen in our meetings that there is an opportunity to stop targeting Israeli civilians if the Israelis stop assassinations and raids and stop brutalizing Palestinian civilians.
Hamas has been responsible for launching suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, the group sees the attacks as the main element of its asymmetric warfare against Israel. Hamas' first use of suicide bombing occurred on April 16, 1993 when a suicide bomber driving an explosive-laden van detonated between two buses parked at a restaurant. It was Hamas' 19th known attack since 1989 (the others being shootings, kidnappings and knife attacks).
Hamas continued to launch suicide attacks during the Oslo Accords period (see List of Hamas suicide attacks).
During the second Intifada, Hamas, along with the Islamic Jihad Movement, spearheaded the violence through the years of the Palestinian uprising. Since then Hamas has conducted many attacks on Israel, mainly through its military wing — the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. These attacks have included large-scale suicide bombings against Israeli civilian targets, the most deadly of which was the bombing of a Netanya hotel on March 27, 2002, in which 30 people were killed and 140 were wounded. This attack has also been referred to as the Passover massacre since it took place on the first night of the Jewish festival of Passover. Overall, from November 2000 to April 2004, 377 Israeli citizens and soldiers were killed and 2,076 wounded in 425 attacks by Hamas. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains a comprehensive list of Hamas attacks.
In a 2002 report, Human Rights Watch stated that Hamas' leaders "should be held accountable for the war crimes and crimes against humanity" that have been committed by its members. In May 2006 Israel arrested Hamas top official Ibrahim Hamed whom Israeli security officials claim was responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks on Israelis.
Since 2002, militants have used homemade Qassam rockets to hit Israeli towns in the Negev, such as Sderot. Hamas has claimed responsibility for most of these attacks, and has condoned them when it did not acknowledge responsibility. These attacks are outlined in the List of Qassam rocket attacks. The introduction of the Qassam-2 rocket has allowed militants to reach large Israeli cities such as Ashkelon, prompting the Israeli military to stop the proliferation and use of the rockets.
Hamas has made great use of guerrilla tactics in the Gaza Strip and to a lesser degree the West Bank. Hamas 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. Some Israelis and some Gazans both noted similarities in Hamas's military buildup to that of Hezbollah in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.
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.
It has been alleged that Hamas threatens the United States through covert cells on U.S. soil, and that the FBI and United States Department of Justice are aware of these cells. According to Steven Emerson,
Hamas has an extensive infrastructure in the US mostly revolving around the activities of fundraising, recruiting and training members, directing operations against Israel, organizing political support and operating through human-rights front groups. While Hamas has not acted outside Israel, it has the capability of carrying out attacks in America if it decided to enlarge the scope of its operations.FBI director Robert Mueller has testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that,
It is the FBI's assessment, at this time, that there is a limited threat of a coordinated terrorist attack in the U.S. from Palestinian terrorist organizations, such as HAMAS, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, and the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade. These groups have maintained a longstanding policy of focusing their attacks on Israeli targets in Israel and the Palestinian territories. We believe that the primary interest of Palestinian terrorist groups in the U.S. remains the raising of funds to support their regional goals. [...] Of all the Palestinian groups, HAMAS has the largest presence in the U.S. with a robust infrastructure, primarily focused on fundraising, propaganda for the Palestinian cause, and proselytizing. Although it would be a major strategic shift for HAMAS, its U.S. network is theoretically capable of facilitating acts of terrorism in the U.S.
On November 8, 2006, after Israeli artillery shells killed 19 Palestinian civilians, Hamas's military wing released a statement condemning both Israel and America. "America is offering political, financial and logistic cover for the Zionist occupation crimes, and it is responsible for the Beit Hanoun massacre. Therefore, the people and the [Islamic] nation all over the globe are required to teach the American enemy tough lessons," Hamas said in a statement sent to the Associated Press. Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-led Palestinian government denied any involvement with the statement, saying "Our battle is against the occupation on the Palestinian land. We have no interest to transfer the battle.
On February 2007, members of the Palestinian Red Crescent, speaking on conditions on anonymity, said that Hamas had confiscated their humanitarian supply convoys that were destined for Palestinian civilians. Hamas claims the supplies were heading to former members of Fatah.
Human Rights Watch has 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. ,,
Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups frequently extra judicially execute or otherwise punish those they consider collaborators with Israel. Frequent killings of unarmed people have also occurred during Hamas-Fatah clashes.,
Thousands of angry Hamas loyalists marched February 24, 2008 at the funeral of a Muslim preacher who died in PNA custody, turning the ceremony into a rare show of defiance against President Mahmoud Abbas. .
In 2004, a federal court in the United States found Hamas liable in a civil lawsuit for the 1996 murders of Yaron and Efrat Ungar near Bet Shemesh, Israel. Hamas has been ordered to pay the families of the Ungars $116 million. On July 5, 2004, the court issued a default judgment against the PNA and the PLO regarding the Ungars' claim that the Palestinian Authority and the PLO provide safe haven to Hamas.
On August 20, 2004, three Palestinians, one a naturalized American citizen, were charged with a "lengthy racketeering conspiracy to provide money for terrorist acts in Israel." The indicted include Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, senior member of Hamas, believed to be currently in Damascus, Syria and considered a fugitive by the U.S..
On 1 February 2007, two men were acquitted of contravening US law by supporting Hamas. Both men argued that they helped move money for Palestinian causes aimed at helping the Palestinian people and not to promote terrorism.
Currently Hamas is negotiating with their rival political party, Fatah, to end their terrorist group and occupation of the Gaza Strip. Fatah will end the occupation in the West Bank, and their will be one unity government in Palestine. The talks are to be held in Egypt, as elections are quickly emerging.
Anti-Japan protests jar an uneasy Asia; Demonstrations spread from Beijing to several southern cities Sunday.(WORLD)
Apr 11, 2005; Byline: Robert Marquand Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor BEIJING -- At a time of increased tensions between East...