The Group’s Origins
“Hamas is an Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement”.
A long history of suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians and military targets has earned Hamas a well deserved reputation as a murderous terrorist organization.
Hamas’s origins stretch back decades through the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine; and Hamas took it current shape during the early years of the intifada. Hamas was not only formed to resist an Israeli state, but also was firmly against the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) dominance in the Palestinian National movement.
By the late 1980’s the PLO’s role as the forerunner of Palestinian nationalism had was being questioned after its explosion from Lebanon, and particularly later with its acceptance of a two state solution. Hamas was quick to step in and fill the void left by the PLO’s rejection of violence, its participation in the peace process and later its acceptance of Israel’s right to exist.
“Hamas’s foundation date can be traced back to 1987 when it was formed as an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, a religious and political organization originating in Egypt in 1928”.
Aims and Ideology
Hamas’s distinct Islamic character also sets the group apart from the more secular PLO. Hamas’s aims are to establish an Islamic state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as calling for the destruction of the state of Israel, and the refusal to recognize its existence. Hamas also has the aim to return Palestinian land to pre 1948 borders whilst driving out all non Muslims in the process by waging jihad against all the non believers and foreigners.
“Although Hamas has maintained its fiery rhetoric, there have also been a number of signs its intentions are sometimes softer than the groups language. After winning the elections held on the Gaza Strip in January 2006 they offered a temporary truce with the possibility of it lasting for many years if Israel permits a proper Palestinian state and agrees to the terms and conditions set by Hamas”.
“The current leader of Hamas is Khaled Messhaal, who was born in 1956 in the Silwad neighbourhood of Ramallah. He moved with his family to Kuwait where he rallied Islamist Palestinians at Kuwait University, challenging the dominance of Yasser Arafat’s PLO, he lived there until the1990 Gulf War started”.
He was married in 1981 and has seven children. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, Messhaal moved his family to Jordan and began his work with Hamas. He has been a member of the Hamas’s Political Bureau since its inauguration and became its chairman in 1996.
On September 25, 1997, two Israeli Mossad agents poisoned Khaled; He would have died but the Mossad agents were captured; provoking a crisis in Israeli-Jordan relations. The Jordanian Leader at the time King Hussein insisted that Israel send the antidote to save Messhaal’s life.
Israel agreed and the two agents were later released in a prisoner exchange in which Israel released Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin from jail, which caused strong Israeli public anger.
Jordanian and Hamas relations also soon soured and Messhaal was expelled from Jordan to Qatar , where he stayed briefly before moving to Damascus, Syria, where he then began running the Hamas political wing.
After the May 22, 2003, assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin by the Israeli Defence Force; Messhaal was chosen to be the new world leader of Hamas.
According to a recent article written in Associated Press by Jerusalem based journalist Diaa Hadid, “Khaled Messhaal was recently quoted as saying;
He would not run for re-election. This announcement was also repeated by the groups leadership in a report published on January 21, 2012, in the same article.
If there was any merit to this report, the decision would pave the way for a leadership contest and a possible struggle...