By TNV Desk
Hamas, a terrorist organization, is once again hogging the headlines due to clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian militants in Jerusalem . Hamas has fired multiple rockets at Israel after clashes broke out between Islamic radicals and Israeli defence forces in East Jerusalem in recent weeks. Hamas has an armed wing- Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, and a social wing-Dawah.
According to think tank Council on Foreign Relations(CFR), “Hamas, an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (“Islamic Resistance Movement”), was founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a Palestinian cleric who became an activist in local branches of the Muslim Brotherhood after dedicating his early life to Islamic scholarship in Cairo. Beginning in the late 1960s, Yassin preached and performed charitable work in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, both of which were occupied by Israeli forces following the 1967 Six-Day War.
Yassin established Hamas as the Brotherhood’s local political arm in December 1987, following the outbreak of the first intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli control of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. The following year, Hamas published its charter, calling for the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic society in historic Palestine.
Hamas first employed suicide bombing, a tactic with which it would later become identified, in April 1993, five months before PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords. The historic pact established limited self-government for parts of the West Bank and Gaza under the Palestinian Authority (PA). Hamas condemned the accords, in which the PLO gave Israel its formal recognition.
The United States designated Hamas a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) in 1997, but the movement nonetheless eclipsed armed factions of the nationalist organization Fatah as the vanguard of violent resistance during the second intifada, in the early 2000s. This uprising, unlike the first, was characterized by suicide bombings rather than civil disobedience and claimed the lives of far more Israeli civilians. In both uprisings, Palestinian fatalities far exceeded Israeli ones.”
What are Hamas’s activities in Israel and what is its impact?
According to a BBC report, “Hamas came to prominence after the first intifada as the main Palestinian group opposed to peace accords signed in the early 1990s between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the body representing most Palestinians.
Despite numerous Israeli operations against it and clampdowns by the Palestinian Authority (the main governing body of the Palestinians) Hamas found it had an effective power of veto over the process by launching suicide attacks.
In February and March 1996, it carried out several suicide bus bombings, killing nearly 60 Israelis, in retaliation for the assassination in December 1995 of Hamas bomb maker Yahya Ayyash.
The bombings were widely blamed for turning Israelis off the peace process and bringing Benjamin Netanyahu – a staunch opponent of the Oslo accords – to power that year.
In the post-Oslo world, most particularly following the failure of US President Bill Clinton’s Camp David summit in 2000 and the second intifada which followed shortly thereafter, Hamas gained power and influence as Israel clamped down on the Palestinian Authority, which it accused of sponsoring deadly attacks.”
According to CFR (https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/hamas), “Hamas has a host of leadership bodies that perform various political, military, and social functions. According to the U.S. State Department, the general policy is set by an overarching consultative body, often referred to as its politburo, which operates in exile. Local committees manage grassroots issues in Gaza and the West Bank.
Khaled Meshaal has served as political chief since 1996. The former teacher has been based in Doha since Hamas fell out with Meshaal’s previous host, Syria, as Palestinian refugees joined predominantly Sunni protesters in calling for reforms beginning in 2011, prompting a violent government backlash, and eventually, civil war. He is Hamas’s most frequent interlocutor with the PA and regional governments.
Gaza’s de facto prime minister is Ismail Haniyeh, who served as PA prime minister during the brief period between the 2006 legislative elections and his dismissal by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the following year.
Marwan Issa and Mohammed Deif command Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Israeli forces assassinated the militia’s founder, Salah Shehadeh, in a 2002 airstrike. Fifteen civilians were killed in the attack, focusing Israeli and international scrutiny on such tactics. Yassin, Hamas’ founder, was assassinated in 2004.
Salah al-Arouri is believed to direct Hamas’s armed activities in the West Bank from overseas.”