Hamas Organization Is the Most Influential Islamism Term Paper

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Hamas organization is the most influential Islamism movement on Palestinian territories. The word "hamas" means zeal and the name of the organization is acronym for Harakat al-Mugawima al-Islamiyya. The organization is also known as the Islamic Resistance Movement.

The organization has its origins in the Muslim Brotherhood and was actually created as the armed wing of this religious organization in 1987. The Muslim Brotherhood was an Egyptian organization with branches in many Arab countries and Hamas grew out of the Islamic Centre created in Gaza by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin to coordinate the political activities of the Brotherhood in Gaza.

Hamas was created in 1987 after the eruption of the first intifada, which is a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza. The organization is highly anti-Semitic and it is world known for its terrorist attacks in the region. The organization's goals are declared as anti-Israeli as the organization fights for destroying the state of Israel and create a Palestinian Islamic state. The methods used by Hamas to achieve its goals have gained it the reputation of a dangerous terrorist movement. Hamas is strongly nationalistic, claiming that Palestine should have control over the West Bank and Gaza, but it is also strongly Islamic, asserting that the Palestinian territories should be occupied by Muslims. Hamas is very extremist in stating its goals, leaving no room for negotiation and appealing to any military action for accomplishing its goals.

In August 1988 the Hamas Charter represented the central document of Hamas, as stated in the title: "The Charter of Allah: the Platform of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS)." The Charter stated clearly that all Palestinian territory must be Muslim and that it is part of the Muslim world and therefore should not be inhabited or controlled by any other non-Muslim authority.

After its creation in 1987-88, Hamas has gained the renown of a terrorist group due to its practices of suicide bombings. "The first Hamas suicide bombing took place in April 1993" and many other attacks, blamed by the international community, followed, thus placing the organization as one of the most dangerous terrorist groups. Despite the fact that religious beliefs usually come in contradiction with violence, religion plays an important part in Hamas.

In 1993, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Yasser Arafat and the prime-minister of Israel at the time, Yitzhak Rabin sealed the Oslo accords, which represented the peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. The peace pact however eventually unravelled.

During the Gulf War, Hamas did not support the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, unlike Arafat, and argued in favour of the retreat of U.S. And Iraqi troops out of Kuwait. Due to this position, Gulf stares shifted their support away from the Palestine Liberation Organization and towards Hamas. This support was very important because of the generous funding of the organization which was translated into a greater efficiency in support of their goal. Hamas thus gained more public support.

After the death of the PLO leader Yasser Arafat in 2004, Hamas has gained even more political ground, winning several local elections in important Palestinian regions. But most surprising were the results at the 2006 parliamentary elections, when Hamas won 76 seats in the Parliament, comparing to its main opponent, Fatah, which gained only 43 seats. This turn of events presented Hamas as more than a terrorist organization as it gained political legitimacy.

However, there is no doubt that Hamas maintains itself as primarily a military organizations and this is one of the explanations for its success in elections. Palestinians seem to designate Hamas as their leader particularly because they have the military capacity to protect Palestine and fight against the Israeli. Unfortunately, the main confrontations seem to be after 2006 between Hamas and Fatah, bringing even more instability in the region.

The ideological support of the organization is based on the belief that Palestinian territory should be occupied by Muslims. Islam is the main factor that connects Hamas activists and supporters. Based on this concept that the state of Israel should not be recognized because it is Muslim territory, many Arab states and organizations have showed their support for the cause of Hamas.

Because of the origins of Hamas as a charitable institution operating in the Gaza Strip and because of the strong Muslim ideological background of the organization, Hamas managed to gain the support of the Muslim population in Gaza. Supporters of Hamas relate to the religious approach of the organization, especially Muslims who identify it with the Islamic fundamentalist movement. This is why Hamas has so many supporters in other Arab countries, which contributed to the evolution of the organization both financially and military. "According to the U.S. State Department, the group is funded by Iran, Palestinian expatriates, and private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states." Apparently, most of the support offered to Hamas from abroad shifted from PLO after its support shown to Iraq in the Gulf War.

Of course, another reason for the support shown to Hamas seems to be that the populations sees in this extremist organization a possible solution for their problems, by making a comparison to other Palestinian groups such as Fatah or PLO. Hamas mainly has the support of the population in Gaza, which is mostly Muslim and which supports the organization for their religious beliefs and for their goal to establish an Islamic Palestinian state.

Hamas is perceived in western countries as a terrorist organization because of its methods specific to terrorist groups. Its military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is responsible for many bombing attacks in the region, and it is listed as a terrorist organization by Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan, and U.S., being banned in Jordan, Australia and the United Kingdom.

The total number of members of Hamas is unknown, but estimates range it at tens of thousands, showing that Hamas is a strong group with many supporters. The organization is structured along functional lines, having sectors dedicated to military, religious, informational and security activities. Despite the fact that it is generally perceived as a military organization, it continues to be also a religious and charitable group, very much involved in the social aspects in Palestine, especially after winning the parliamentary elections in 2006.

Despite the organization's social and religious activities, Hamas is primarily a military organization, well equipped, financed and organized. Its military wing is responsible for the acts of violence attributed to the organization. In achieving their goal of re-establishing Palestine on the territories that were known as hers before 1947, Hamas has used the term "jihad" (religious war), with the meaning that it will carry a war against any enemy of Islam, referring to Israel. Comparing to PLO, which has carried negotiations in the past with Israel and which seems more eager to find a solution for the dispute, Hamas remains radical in claiming all the territories they believe are rightfully Palestinian and accept no negotiation with Israel.

Hamas not only conducts numerous attacks, but constantly encourages Palestinians to hatred against the Israeli population. "This is clear from the content of pamphlets regularly distributed throughout the occupied territories since the first month of Hamas existence. The pamphlets include statements such as: 'increase attacks with knives, grenades, and guns against the cowardly Jews in their houses and turn the day into darkness and the nights into intolerable hell, view every Jewish settler as a target to be killed, whose blood and money are for the taking.'" Propaganda is a very important element of gaining support for their cause in the way Hamas decided to deal with it. Hamas also supports its cause in the media, not only in mosques, as it now has a very important majority in the parliament. Hamas leaders appear on national Palestinian television and give anti-Israeli speeches, calling for violence against Jews.

In response to the accusations of terrorism against Hamas, the organization argues that it is at war with Israel and therefore its actions are justified. However, the victims of Hamas attacks have been not only military personnel as many women, children and civilians have been murdered, both Israeli and Palestinian. The methods used by Hamas in their war against Israel have been very often acts of terrorism, such as the kidnapping and murdering of two Israeli soldiers in February 1989. Hamas claimed responsibility for these attacks. Hamas also claimed responsibility for several attacks on crowded civilian buses, for attacking civilians in their homes or while at work. This is proof that the organization uses terrorist methods to promote its interests.

Another element underlining terrorist behavior of Hamas is that it conducts attacks against other Palestinians that are suspected of collaborating with Israeli soldiers. The suspected traitors are kidnapped, tortured and killed and Hamas admits to conducting these actions.

The actions of Hamas have been blamed by most Western countries, but perhaps the strongest stand against Hamas is represented by U.S., which openly opposes the practices of Hamas because of the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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