If it weren’t already, Hamas became a household name on Oct. 7 2023
The group launched an unprecedented and shocking infiltration into Israel and carried out a massacre that took the lives of more than 1400 people in Israel. In a massive operation launched by Hamas an estimated 3000 Palestinians from Gaza crossed into Israeli territory and carried out atrocities that have earned them the comparison to ISIS.
What’s more and perhaps they managed to get 240 hostages from Israel back into Gaza opening up an extended negotiation that could drag on for months if not years.
So who exactly is Hamas? Is it a terrorist organization as Israel, the US and other Western countries say? Or are they freedom fighters?
Hamas is a Palestinian organization, formed in 1987. It is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is an Islamic political organization founded in Egypt. Hamas is Sunni Muslim like the Brotherhood but unlike its allies Iran, Hezbollah the Houthis who are Shia.
Hamas’s founding mission is to create an Islamic Palestinian state through jihad, holy war. And doing so leaves no room for Israel.
At its founding, Hamas was not open to any negotiations. But today Hamas does participate in the political process – you see both the idealism of some Hamas adherents, but also a pragmatic approach among others.
But when they infiltrated into Israel by land, air and sea it was clear that Hamas resorted to the concept of armed resistance.
Hamas is an acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement (Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya) Its slogan is “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.”
It’s charter states that “peaceful solutions” are contrary to its beliefs.
“The movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad.”
The original charter states: “There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad.” It calls any other initiative “a waste of time, an exercise in futility.”
According to the CIA World Factbook, the military wing of Hamas, the Qassam Brigades, has 20,000 to 25,000 members. However, some analysts say that now Hamas has 40,000 armed members and a highly sophisticated tunnel network that runs the length and width of Gaza.
Its weapons include IEDs, rocket launchers, antitank missiles and mortars.
So here’s a question. Did the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 – when all settlements and military were removed – did that enable Hamas to build up its military wing?
Since that time, Hamas began launching rockets into Israel. During an 11-day war in 2021, Hamas launched 4,500 rockets at Israel. In this present conflict, in 2023, Hamas launched almost 10,000 rockets in a one-month period.
Where does Hamas get is backing? Well to be clear the current Hamas leadership does not even live in Gaza. The organization’s political leader is Ismail Haniyeh, who is based in Doha, Qatar.
According to Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Iran sends $100 million annually to Hamas. And a German newspaper, Die Walt, reported that reported that the terrorist organization doesn’t bring that money into Gaza where unemployment is nearly 50 percent. The paper said that Hamas a a $700 million empire.
Yet since Hamas took over Gaza, the living conditions in the Strip have deteriorated dramatically — something many Palestinians will blame that on Israel, not Hamas. Qatar is one of Gaza’s biggest financial benefactors and the United Nations runs several programs there too.
Now here is something important you need to know about Palestinian politics. If you look at a map you will see that the WB and Gaza are disconnected geographically but they are also disconnected politically. In 2006, Hamas won the last Palestinian election and then, after a deadly struggle between Hamas and Fatah members, Hamas took complete control of the Strip. Since then there have been no elections in either the WB or the GS.
How did a “terror group” win in the first place? At the time Hamas gained popularity by positioning the PA as ineffective in the Palestinian fight for freedom. But Hamas also won over residents by heavily invested in social welfare programs in Gaza.
The political and geographic disconnection has enabled Israel to drive a wedge between the two Palestinian territories.
Since the Hamas takeover, Israel has imposed a blockade on the enclave making it effectively an “open-air prison.” Israel controls who and what gets in and out of Gaza which is about the length of a full marathon (26 miles) and comprised of more than 2 million people.
Hamas had been losing its popularity in Gaza recently, but will they regain it with the attack on Israel on Oct 7? I’ve heard some Palestinians say Hamas proved itself the true freedom fighters for the Palestinian cause.
Then again, Hamas also invoked the wrath of the Israeli military which, expectedly, has pounded Gaza in response with devastating air strikes killing Hamas and civilians alike but the thousands. Now we are actually hearing some Palestinians blaming Hamas for all of the destruction and death taking place in Gaza.
So what happens now? Will Hamas be destroyed and entirely wiped out by Israel? Will it remain in power in Gaza? If Hamas is driven out, will Israel stay as the ruling occupying power? Will the PA be put in charge? Will an international body take over?
I don’t even have an inkling which direction this is going to go. But I’ll definitely be watching and reporting along the way.