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Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) is the acronym for the Arabic "Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamia", a "word meaning courage and bravery." Hamas is a Islamic "organization which became active in the early stages of the [first] intifada, operating primarily in the Gaza District" but also in West Bank. It was formed "in late 1987 as an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Various Hamas elements have used both political and violent means to pursue the goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state and to reclaim land conquered by Israel. Loosely structured, with some elements working underground and others working openly through mosques and social service institutions to recruit members, raise money, organize activities, and distribute propaganda. Hamas’s strength is concentrated in the Gaza Strip and a few areas of the West Bank." Hamas also contests some elections, and has obtained seats in local municipal councils. Polls indicate that Hamas would obtain 40% of the vote (2004), although it would garner a larger percentage in Gaza. [1]

Initally, Hamas was aided and funded by the Israeli secret services. Israelis sought to create an opposition to the PLO and its affiliated parties that were secular. They also sought to create a political force that would be mostly local, and thus more effective at undermining the PLO which had most of its leadership outside the occupied territories. Robert Fisk, in an article about the 400 Hamas activists who had been exiled in Lebanon, documents that several of the activists had the telephone numbers of several important Israeli politicians and Mossad/Shin Bet officials.

NB: Hamas has rejected association with Al-Qaeda. Source: Danny Rubinstein, Many times crueler and more dangerous, Haaretz, September 6, 2004.

Alternative Definitions

In the Glossary of Occupation, which translates the Israeli-centric terms of media discourse, Hamas is defined as follows:

Hamas: Catch all opposition group. An Islamic opposition group fostered by the Israeli secret services during the first intifada. Its purpose was to undermine the support for the PLO. Since then it has become an effective opposition force opposed to Arafat's sell out. Anyone voicing criticism of the "peace process" is automatically classed as a Hamas supporter. Several leading intellectuals who objected to Arafat's shoddy approach to negotiations earned themselves a Hamas label by both Israelis and the Palestinian "authority".
— Paul de Rooij, Glossary of Occupation, CounterPunch, September 12, 2002.

Other resources

  • Hamas web site.
  • Hamas in the Wikipedia.
  • HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement), Dudley Knox Library, Naval Postgraduate School. (Background provided by "military intelligence" academics).
  • A list of many articles and books on various aspects of Hamas see: Hamas, in Palestine Information with Provenance (Maintained by PSC Cork Ireland).

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