1. Introduction page(s) 3
2. Hamas’ Origins page(s) 3-6
3. Hamas as a Resistance Movement page(s) 6-7
4. Hamas as a Political Movement page(s) 8-11
5. Hamas in the Eyes of the World page(s) 11-13
6. Reasons for Hamas’ Success page(s) 14-15
7. Conclusion page(s) 15-17
8. Bibliography page(s) 18
Hamas is one of the most recognisable players in the Israel/Palestine dispute. They are extremely important to any peace process that is to have any real and lasting effect in the region. But how did they rise to the position in which they find themselves? Having only come into existence in 1987 they were not present for the earlier struggles against occupation but now they occupy a position that is in many ways stronger than that of Fatah, the successor to the P.L.O. (Palestinian Liberation Organisation). Their rise has been in many ways meteoric and from the outside baffling, that an unknown and new entity could become so powerful in such a short space of time without the help of the old guard. It could be argued that the rise of Hamas came about through chance, fluke and mismanagement on the side of their opposition but this would be to discredit the skill at which Hamas have exploited situations to their favour. As it stands now they are the most powerful group, both politically and militarily, in the Gaza Strip. Their influence is also growing in the West Bank as they offer an alternative to Fatah, seen by many to be a cumbersome and corrupt organisation that has become ineffective in the fight for a Palestinian state. This has been done through building up networks within communities and by showing that they like Hezbollah in Lebanon can cause damage to the Israeli state.
The Origins of Hamas:
Hamas are a relatively new group in Palestine, there was no Islamic resistance movement in the occupied territories until the first Intifada in 1987 of any real note. Instead the scene was dominated by the secular nationalist movements of the P.L.O. Before 1987 Hamas was in effect the Muslim Brotherhood (M.B.). This group came to Palestine in 1935 having originally been founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna. In 1935 Hassan al-Banna sent his brother Abd al-Rahman al-Banna to Palestine to build up contacts and eventually found a branch in Jerusalem in 1945. By 1947 there were twenty five branches of the Muslim Brotherhood with membership from twelve to twenty thousand. The work of the Muslim Brotherhood revolved around religion, education and basic social care and networking choosing to shun the idea of armed resistance against either the British or later against the Israelis. After the creation of the Israeli state the Muslim Brotherhood’s administration was split. The Gaza Strip was administered by the Egyptian arm of the M.B. and relations with the newly founded Israeli state were fraught for the most part. However in the West Bank, which was annexed by Jordan in 1950, the M.B. was administered by the Jordanian branch and relations were far better with Israel. This is a trend that still prevails today as the Gaza Strip is seen as much more extreme in her opposition to Israel where as the West Bank is more moderate. These social activities provided a very important function in the Palestinian Territories. One of the most important being that of education. The M.B. have a long history of providing education for the peoples of Palestine. This was very much in keeping with the moderate stance of the M.B.’s founder Hassan al-Banna and was reflected in the foundation of al-Mujamma‘ al-Islami (the Islamic Centre) in 1978. The Islamic Centre centralised the activities of the Brotherhood in the Palestinian Territories under the leadership of Ahmed Yasin. The Centre provides educational as well as medical services. However the real success of the M.B. was their religious teachings, the number of mosques after the foundation of the Centre rose from 400 to 750 in...