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Islamic Resistance Movement (Palestine)

Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya, Hamas

Last modified: 2004-05-22 by santiago dotor
Keywords: islamic resistance movement | harakat al-muqawamah al-islamiyya | hamas |
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The Hamas is a Palestinian group, most Palestinians belonging to the Islamic Suna. Hamas is not to be confused with the Hezballa (i.e. Party of God) which is Lebanese and Islamic Shia'a.

Anonymous, 22 September 1998

Hamas, the main Islamist movement in the Palestinian territories, was born soon after the first Palestinian intifada erupted in 1987. Hamas does not recognise the right of Israel to exist, nor does it recognize the Palestinian Authority. Its long-term aim is to establish an Islamic state on the land originally known as Palestine. Hamas has built schools and hospitals in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The military wing of Hamas is known as the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. The leader of Hamas is a 64-year-old quadriplegic, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. Hamas were allowed to operate in Jordan in the past, but their headquarters were closed by the current King of Jordan, and they moved to Qatar. Sources: BBC and CNN.

Santiago Tazón, 24 July 2001

From the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism website:

The Hamas (a word meaning courage and bravery) is a radical Islamic organization which became active in the early stages of the Intifada, operating primarily in the Gaza Strip but also in the West Bank. (...) In its initial period, the movement was headed primarily by people identified with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in the Territories. In the course of the Intifada, Hamas gained momentum, expanding its activity also in the West Bank, to become the dominant Islamic fundamentalist organization in the Territories. It defined its highest priority as Jihad (Holy War) for the liberation of Palestine and the establishment of an Islamic Palestine "from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River". (...) As a result of its subversive and terrorist activity, Hamas was outlawed in September 1989. (...) Today it is the second most powerful group, after Fatah, and is sometimes viewed as threatening the hegemony of the secular nationalists. (...)

Hamas is the Arabic acronym for "The Islamic Resistance Movement" (Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya). The organizational and ideological sources of Hamas can be found in the movement of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) which was set up in the 1920s in Egypt and renewed and strengthened its activity in the 1960s and 1970s in the Arab world, mainly in Jordan and Egypt. The Muslim Brothers were also active in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The cornerstone of the Muslim Brotherhood is the system of essentially social activity which they call Da'wah. In the twenty years preceding the Intifada, they built an impressive social, religious, educational and cultural infrastructure, which gave them a political stronghold, both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It was successful despite their lack of support for the nationalist policy of armed struggle.

The Hamas movement was legally registered in Israel in 1978 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the movement's spiritual leader, as an Islamic Association by the name Al-Mujamma Al Islami, which widened its base of supporters and sympathizers by religious propaganda and social work. A great part of the success of Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood is due to their influence in the Gaza Strip. (...) Another factor, which served the popularity of the Islamic phenomena, was that the Palestinian nationalist movement and the PLO moved the center of their political power away from Palestine, by consolidating an external leadership at the expense of the internal one in the Territories. In contrast, the Islamic camp and its leadership developed entirely within Palestine (al-dakhil) and could thus better serve the interests of the Palestinians. (...) Hamas' prestige is based on both its ideological and practical capabilities, as a movement whose contribution to the daily life of the Palestinians is not less than its contribution to the struggle against Israel and the occupation.

The significant change in the Muslim Brotherhood movement was the transition from passivity towards the Israeli rule to militancy and large-scale violent activity, especially in and from the Gaza Strip. The movement changed its name to the Islamic Resistance Movement - Hamas, and emphasized its Palestinian character and patriotism. It professed to be not just a parallel force but an alternative to the almost absolute control of the PLO and its factions over the Palestinians in the Territories. In August 1988 Hamas published the Islamic Covenant - its ideological credo, which presented its policy on all levels of the struggle, both against Israel and the national movement of the PLO. The Hamas Covenant challenged the PLO and its claim to be the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, but it did not call for its elimination. (...)

The military apparatus was called Mujahidin [holy fighters]. At first, the leadership did not strive to large numbers of activists in the organization. The aim of the founders was to set up instruments of activity that will rely on a small number of central activists. But a new generation of street leaders emerged out of the complex structural system built by the MB over the years. This generation, obedient and full of religious fervor has become the spearhead of the Islamic struggle. (...)

There is a Hamas emblem here.

Santiago Dotor, 10 April 2002

Hamas' flag is green (Muslim colour) with Arabic words in white. I saw this flag several times in Hamas demonstrations and in generic anti-Israel events in Palestine. Hamas emblem is here.

Santiago Tazón, 20 December 2001

What do those Arabic inscriptions read? In several flags they look very much like the shahada (actually they look exactly like a Saudi Arabian flag), but others appear to be different.

On one or two ocassions I have seen Hamas representatives speaking on BBC News beside a Palestine flag with a black Arabic inscription on the white stripe, similar to this one and also similar to the two crossed flags in the Hamas emblem. By the way, please note that both flags on the emblem show a sinister hoist.

Santiago Dotor, 21 December 2001

This Hamas website [broken link, try here] gives the following description of the emblem, including translations of the inscriptions:

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

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

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

Joseph McMillan, 21 December 2001

Newspaper Yediot Akhronot of 23 December 2001 shows this photo of a Hamas flag seen in an Islamic Jihad's funeral.

Anonymous, 23 December 2001