[News] Hamas: From an Islamic Resistance Movement to Palestinian government

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 28 12:59:30 EDT 2006


Hamas: From an Islamic Resistance Movement to Palestinian government

By Astris Essed

Al-Jazeerah, July 28, 2006


"Power in defense of freedom is greater than 
power on behalf of tyranny and oppression."
Quote Malcolm X

At the Palestinian elections of 25-1-2006, Hamas 
has obtained a startling victory.
 From the 132 seats of parliament, Hamas, which 
for the first time was participating in the 
parliamentary elections, obtained 74 seats, in 
contrary with the then reigning Fatah-party, which obtained merely 43 seats.
The further 13 seats were obtained by different 
smaller political parties, as well as independent candidates.

This great victory for Hamas was no surprise 
because of  the fundamental Hamas political and 
military resistance against the Israeli 
occupation and the Hamas social activities on 
behalf of the impoverished population of especially Gaza

In spite of this,  leading American-European 
politicians, as well as the newsmedia, didn't 
only show great astonishment,  they also 
demanded, that Hamas, as the price for financial 
support, would stop armed resistance (or what the 
Israelis and their supporters call "renouncing 
violence") against the Israeli occupation and 
also acknowledge  the State of Israel.

When the newly-formed Hamas-government refused to 
agree with those American-European demands, the 
American and Canadian governments, as well the EU 
decided to freeze the financial support to the 
Palestinian Authority, a measure, which went at 
the cost of the already seriously impoverished 
Palestinian civilian population, since at least 
45 % of the population [there are also reports 
about a higher poverty-rate varying untill 70 %] 
is living below the poverty-rate and 15% is even living in extreme poverty.

Especially the educational and medical conditions 
are seriously deteriorated since this boycott.
Moreover, 942.000 Palestinians or 25% of the 
total Palestinian population is living from 
salaries, which are being paid by the Palestinian 
Authority However, due to those American-European 
measures, those payments can't be done 
anymore,  with all humanitarian consequences for the families involved.

Not only those boycott-measures are morally 
highly reprehensible in regard with the 
humanitarian consequences for the Palestinian 
civilian-population, they also can lead to 
amounting tensions within the Palestinian society.

With regard to those measures, many international 
NGO's, as well as a number of UN-organisations, 
have uttered sharp criticism to those American-European boycott-measures.

Another consequence of the boycott-measure can 
be, that the Hamas-government, as a result of the 
freezing of EU financial support, shall receive 
increased financial aid from the governments of 
the Arab and Islamic countries, with as a 
consequence the lessening of EU political 
influence regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Recently a number of Arab governments, and Iran, 
has either given, or promised, financial aid to the Hamas-government.

Probably aware of the above-mentioned political 
consequences of her possible diminishing 
influence regarding the Middle-East, the EU, as 
has been represented by EU Commissioner Louis 
Michel, former Belgian minister of foreign 
affairs has set aside a sum of 34 million euro in 
the form of emergency-aid to the Palestinian 
territories, which are going to be delivered 
outside the official Hamas-channels

Also the World Bank, which is fearing further 
humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian 
territories, is exploring, in direct cooperation 
with the Quartet [the EU, USA, the Russian 
Federation and the UN], to resume the financial 
aid to the Palestinian population, outside 
Hamas-channels, and probably by way of 
the  NGO's, which are active in the area.

Double standards:

The main motives of the American-European boycott 
of the financial aid to the Palestinian Authority 
lies in the refusal of Hamas, to renounce the 
violence against Israel and to acknowledge the State of Israel.
A further argument regarding the boycott is the 
fact, that Hamas has had a main part in the 
incitement to suicide attacks against Israeli 
civilians and is still continuing this strategy.

Although it is evident, that suicide-attacks as 
military attacks on civilians and civilian 
objects are not only inhumane, but also illegal 
according International Law, it is seldom 
mentioned by the EU and the American-European 
government, that these attacks are a matter of 
cause and effects, since they are the result of 
the now 39 years of Israeli occupation, despite 
of the in 1967 unanimously accepted UN-Security 
Resolution 242, by which Israel was summoned, to 
withdraw its troops from the in the june-war 
conquered territories, among else the Palestinian territories.

Also the boycotting countries are ignoring the 
fact, that the attacks of Hamas are not only 
consisting of suicide-attacks, but also of the 
internationally legitimated military attacks on the Israeli occupation-army.

Repeatedly Hamas has declared, as well before as 
after her election-victory, her willingness to 
stop armed resistance when Israel is prepared to 
end its occupation of the Palestinian territories 
[its international obligation under UN Security 
Council Resolution nr 242], to dismantle its 
settlements in the Palestinian territories, which 
are illegal according International Law [see also 
2 UN-Security Council Resolutions dd 1979], to 
dismantle the Wall, which is being built accross 
occupied Palestinian territories [see verdict ICJ 
dd 9-7-2004], and is acknowledging the 
Palestinian right of return, which is confirmed 
by the General Assembly Resolution 194, dd 1948

All these Hamas demands are being based on 
International Law, which has been confirmed by 
the above-named resolutions and therefore abslutely legitimate.

Striking however is, that the American-European 
boycotting governments are demanding 
Hamas-disarmament on the one hand, while at the 
other hand, no clear demands are being made on 
Israel, regarding the implementation of the above 
mentioned UN-resolutions, which were voted for by 
the same American-European States.

Also this double standard-policy is being applied 
with regard to Israeli and Palestinian violence

Although the condemnation of suicide-attacks 
against Israeli civilians is correct and 
justified, there is however a strong 
undervaluation of the serious character of the 
Israeli human rights violations and war-crimes, 
which have been committed by especially the 
Israeli army from the beginning of the occupation in 1967.

It is also significant to mention, that from 
EU-side there is no real political pressure on 
Israel to end the occupation and withdraw from the Palestinian territories.

Seeing from that perspective, the 
American-European criticism of Hamas is lacking 
moral credibility and is testifying very selective indignation

A The ideology of Hamas and the American-European 
political conception with regard to the alleged 
claim about ''destruction'' of the State of Israel

It is a common standard, that in nearly all 
American-European newsmedia, as well in 
statements of politicians, the Hamas-ideology is 
being associated with the ''destruction'' of the State of Israel

Before trying to unmask this stubborn 
American-European assumption I want to throw some 
light on the political history of the Hamas Movement.

History of the Hamas Movement:

The word, Hamas, is an abbreviation of Harakat 
al-muqâwama al-islâmiyya, which means Islamic 
Resistance Movement. It had been founded in 1987 
as a religious-nationalistic resistance 
organisation with Shaikh Yassin as the spiritual leader.

He was killed in an Israeli airstrike in march 
2004, which, being an extra-judicial 
execution,  not only killed him but also  7 other Palestinian civilians.

However, since the beginning of the eighties, 
there was a predecessor of Hamas, also under the 
leadership of Shaikh Yassin, which was mainly an 
Islamic Revival Movement, which was mostly 
directed on social and charitable goals.

Although of course opposed to the occupation, it 
didn't stimulate the resistance, since it 
considered the Israeli occupation as a punishment 
of God because of Palestinian lack of religious devotion.

In other words, this revival movement was meant 
to make the Palestinian population return to the 
basics of Islam, as explained by the movement, in their daily life.

Even when the official Hamas organisation had 
been founded in 1987, initially there was no real 
resistance against the occupation, despite the anti-Zionistic Charter of 1988.

Only later the Hamas organisation became part of 
the resistance, resulting in military attacks 
against the Israeli occupation army and from 1994 
in suicide-attacks against Israeli civilians.
The immediate cause was the massacre by the 
Jewish-Israeli extreme rightwing Dr Baruch 
Goldstein on 29 Palestinians, who were praying in 
the Ibrahimi Mosque (also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hebron.

Hamas Charter:

Analysis of the Hamas Charter, that is consisting 
of 36 articles, reveals that the basis is being 
formed upon as well the resistance against the 
Israeli occupation, as well  the assumption of 
the dismantlement of the Zionist State of Israel, 
to be replaced by an islamic Palestinian State 
with equal rights for all the inhabitants and 
religious freedom regarding Jews and Christians.

Seeing from this perspective, the Charter has an 
anti-colonialist conception because of the 
fundamental criticism on  the colonialist 
character of the foundation of the State of 
Israel in historical Palestine, first being a 
colony of the Turkish-Ottoman Empire and after 
World War I , a British Mandate-area.

According to the wish of the European Zionist 
movement,  the foundation of a ''Jewish'' State 
in historical Palestine took place, based on 
General Assembly Resolution number 181, in 1947, 
which contained the division of Palestine into a 
Jewish and an Arab states, without any 
consultation of the autochtone Palestinian population.

It is of importance to mention here, that the 
objections of the Palestinians were not against 
the settlement of Jewish people in Palestine, but 
against the division of their country into two different States.

Yet apart from that, Hamas is justly protesting 
against the present Zionist State, which is for 
an important part based on discriminatory laws 
and measures, which are at the cost of the 
so-called ''Israeli Arabs'', especially regarding 
educational and medical provisions.

One of the most striking example of those 
discriminatory laws of State is the fact, that 
any Jewish man or woman  in the world has the 
right to settle in Israel, while the right of 
return of the Palestinian descendants of the 
750,000 refugees who were evicted from their 
homeland by Zionist militias, which was confirmed 
in General Assembly Resolution 194, in 1948, is 
not being acknowledged by Israel.

Notwithstanding anyone's opinion about this 
anti-Zionist point of view and the 
Hamas-assumption about the undesirable foundation 
of an Islamic State, it is evident, that the 
expulsion or even killing of Israeli-Jewish 
inhabitants of Israel, which is often suggested 
by the American-European politicians and newsmedia, is out of order.

Although in the Charter is being referred to 
''the Jews'', a thorough reading makes clear, 
that it is a reference to the Israeli Zionist 
regime and the Israeli occupation, not to the 
Jews as an ethnic-religious group.
Also in Hamas bulletins, the word ''Jews'' is not 
used. Rather, the words ''Zionistic enemy'' or 
the ''Zionist entity'' are usually used.

B Suicide-attacks:

Mentioning Hamas, mostly the emphasis is being 
laid on the suicide-attacks against Israeli 
civilians, for which it  bears responsibility. It 
is evident, that those actions are not only 
inhumane, but also they are serious violations of 
the International Humanitarian Law, that states, 
that in each military conflict a clear 
distinction is to be made between combatants 
[soldiers or fighters] and non-combatants [civilians].

 From that point of view it is completely right, 
that those attacks are being condemned severely by the International Community.

Although it is important to realize, that the 
cause of  those suicide attacks is rooted in 
the  Israeli occupation since 1967, which 
resulted in oppression, humiliations and mostly 
unpunished war crimes, it is no justification 
whatsoever for any resistance group for also to commit war crimes.

According to International Law it is illegal, to 
respond one violation of human rights by 
committing a reciprocal violation, even with regard to an occupation

On the other hand, any military action against an 
occupation-army is internationally legitimated as 
a right of an occupied population to resist against the occupying power.

However, there is too little international press 
attention for the fact, that an important part of 
Hamas strategy is also the use of this legitimated resistance method.

It is however striking, that as Israel as well as 
the USA ,  qualify those military attacks against 
the occupation-army, as ''terrorist'', ignoring 
the internationally legitimated character.

Recently yet Mr Solana, Secretary-General of the 
Council of the European Union for foreign 
affairs, has confirmed the right on resistance against a foreign occupation.

C The Israeli liquidation-policy:

Also internationally reprehensible are the 
Israeli liquidations of the leaders and activists 
of the Palestinian resistance-movements, like Hamas.

Those liquidations started in the beginning of 
the seventies of the former century and were 
being practiced by successive Israeli governments

They took the form of  frontal shootings of cars, 
the exploding of mobile telephones  and nowadays 
mostly, the airstrikes, whether on civilian 
targets like refugee-camps, flat-apartments, houses, or marketplaces.

As commonly known, those attacks are severe 
violations of International Law, which states, 
that every human being has a right on a fair and independent trial.

Moreover, because of those still daily-committed 
liquidations, in many cases also civilians, who 
just pass by, as well co-habitants of houses, 
apartments and refugee-camps are being killed.
In those cases war-crimes are being committed, 
since the presence of civilians at civilian goals 
[streets, market-places, cars, apartments and 
refugee-camps] is highly expectable

However, despite the high humanitarian risk for 
the civilian-population, recently the Israeli 
prime-minister Olmert has made clear, that those 
airstrikes are to continue, despite of the loss of Palestinian civilian lives

It is a striking example of Western selective 
indignation, that although the Hamas-led suicide 
attacks are leading to the freezing of the 
financial help to the Palestinian Authority, but 
with regard to those Israeli extrajudicial 
executions, as well the indiscriminate military 
attacks on Gaza, no sanction measures are being taken against Israel.

Regarding the fact that Israel being the 
occupying country bears the lion's share in the 
escalation of the present conflict, especially 
the EU, which claims to defend the Palestinian 
humanitarian interests, is held accountable for 
this hypocritical point of view.

D Social-charitable Hamas activities

A hitherto undervalued aspect regarding the 
activities of Hamas are the social-charitable 
activities of Hamas on behalf of especially the 
serious impoverished population in Gaza.
Ironically by doing this, Hamas is fulfilling the 
international-judicial obligation of the Israeli 
occupation-power to take care for the occupied Palestinian population.
According one of the most important articles of 
the 4th Geneva Convention, an occupying power is 
head-responsible for the safety, the wellbeing 
and the welfare of the occupied population, the so-called ''protected persons''
International reports about the humanitarian 
situation in Gaza have learnt, that the Israeli 
occupation-authorities have failed to fulfill 
this obligation regarding the occupied Palestinian population.

The impoverished situation of the Palestinian 
population is still being intensified by the 
Israeli military attacks in Gaza and the 
West-Bank, which have resulted mostly in serious 
human rights violations and war-crimes.

So especially in Gaza [but also in the West-Bank] 
mass-house demolitions took place, which is 
forbidden according article 53, 4th Geneva Convention.
Also especially in Gaza several times the border with Israel had been closed.

Due to this measure the Palestinians, who work in 
Israel, are thus loosing their daily necessities of life.

Recently Israel has, as a retaliatory measure for 
the abduction or imprisonment [the news sources 
are giving different messages regarding to that], 
not only closed the border with Gaza, but also 
bombed parts of the infrastructure [bridges and 
main roads], which caused considerable damage and 
has cut of the water anf electricity-supplies of the population.

A thus token retaliatory measure is as a 
collective punishment a serious breach of 
International Law [article 33, 4th Geneva 
Convention is forbidding any collective punishment.

When such Israeli measures were taken in the 
past, Hamas has supplied the most impoverished part of the population.

Mostly the financial donors of Hamas were donors, stemming from the Arab world.
However, in contrary with the Palestinian 
Authority, Hamas wasn't corrupt at all.

Of course, this led to a great popularity of 
Hamas and the striking outcome of the elections.


In this article I've tried to make clear, that 
not only the American-European freezing of the 
financial help to the Palestinian Authority is 
immoral, because it is at the cost of the 
impoverished Palestinian population, also it is a 
double standard to condemn the Hamas violence and 
to consider the Israeli violence, due to the 
Israeli occupation, as a minor issue.

No resistance-organisation whatsoever can be 
expected to lay down the arms, while the 
occupation and oppression is being continued with the most extreme measures.

However it is evident, that also a 
resistance-movement must be based on the 
obligations according to International Law.

However, without closing the eyes for the very 
reprehensible suicide-attacks against Israeli 
civilians, in which Hamas played an important 
part, the Hamas fundamental stand against the 
Israeli occupation and settlements policy has to 
be respected, as well its fundamental resistance 
against the Zionist State of Israel.

Therefore, I sincerely hope, that Hamas will not 
yield to the growing American-European political 
pressure to make the Israeli occupation and 
settlements policy points of negotiation.

However, when Hamas really wants to be respected 
by friend and foe, it has to refrain from the 
attacks on Israeli civilians or civilian-goals.

Every human being, whether Palestinian or 
Israeli, has the right on the same humane 
treatment and to my opinion, being occupied is no 
justification to violate those inalienable rights.

Astrid Essed
The Netherlands


Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

The 3th Geneva Convention, relative to the treatment of prisoners of war:

The 4th Geneva Convention, relative to the 
protections of civilian persons in time of war:





Israeli human rights violations:





Hamas human rights violations:




Israeli discriminatory measures against 
Palestinian-Arab children in the Israeli education-system:


Israeli discriminatory laws:



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