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Hamas (  Ḥamās, an acronym of   Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamat al-Islāmiyyah, meaning "Islamic Resistance Movement") is a Palestinian Islamic socio-political organization which includes a paramilitary force, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Since June 2007, after winning a large majority in the Palestinian Parliament and defeating rival Palestinian party Fatah in a series of violent clashes, Hamas has governed the Gazamarker portion of the Palestinian Territoriesmarker. The governments of Canadamarker, the European Union, Israelmarker, Japanmarker, and the United Statesmarker have classified Hamas as a terrorist organization.


Hamas was created in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi and Mohammad Taha of the Palestinian wing of Egyptmarker's Muslim Brotherhood at the beginning of the First Intifada, an uprising against Israeli rule in the Palestinian Territories. Hamas launched numerous suicide bombings against Israelis, the firstmarker of them in April, 1993. Hamas ceased the attacks in 2005 and renounced them in April, 2006. Hamas has also been responsible for rocket attacks, improvised explosive device attacks, and shootings, but it reduced those operations in 2005 and 2006.

In January 2006, Hamas was successful in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, taking 76 of the 132 seats in the chamber, while the previous ruling Fatah party took 43. After Hamas's election victory, violent and non-violent conflicts arose between Hamas and Fatah. Following the Battle of Gaza in June 2007, elected Hamas officials were ousted from their positions in the Palestinian National Authority government in the West Bankmarker and replaced by rival Fatah members and independents. Hamas retained control of Gaza. On June 18, 2007, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Fatah) issued a decree outlawing the Hamas militia. Israelmarker then immediately imposed an economic blockade on Gaza, and Hamas launched Qassam attacks on areas of Israel near its border with Gaza. The rocket attacks ceased following an Egyptianmarker brokered ceasefire that went into effect on June 19, 2008. Two months before the end of the six-month ceasefire the conflict escalated after an Israeli incursion into Gaza on November 4 that killed seven Hamas militants which led to a renewal of the rocket attacks and the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict began when Israel invaded Gaza in late December, 2008, killing over 1000 Palestinian civilians. Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza in mid-January 2009, but has maintained its blockade of Gaza's border and airspace.

Through its funding and management of schools, health-care clinics, mosques, youth groups, athletic clubs and day-care centers, Hamas by the mid-1990s had attained a "well-entrenched" presence in the West Bank and Gaza. An estimated 80% to 90% of Hamas revenues fund health, social welfare, religious, cultural, and educational services.

Hamas's 1988 charter calls for replacing the State of Israel with a Palestinian Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. However, Khaled Meshal, Hamas's Damascusmarker-based political bureau chief, stated in 2009 that the group would accept the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and, although unwilling to negotiate a permanent peace with Israel, has offered a temporary, long-term truce, or hudna, that would be valid for ten years.

Hamas describes its conflict with Israel as neither religious nor antisemitic; the head of Hamas's political bureau stated in early 2006 that the conflict with Israel "is not religious but political", and that Jews have a covenant from God "that is to be respected and protected." Nonetheless, the Hamas Charter and statements by Hamas leaders are believed by some to be influenced by antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Name

Some disagreement exists over the meaning of the word "Hamas". Hamas is an acronym of the Arabic phrase حركة المقاومة الاسلامية, or Harakat al-Muqāwama al-Islāmiyya or "Islamic Resistance Movement". In Arabic the word "Hamās" translates roughly to "enthusiasm, zeal, élan, or fighting spirit". The initial consonant is not the ordinary /h/ of English, but a slightly more rasping sound, the voiceless pharyngeal fricative , transcribed as <ḥ>; it is for this reason that speakers of Hebrew frequently use the voiceless uvular fricative , the equivalent sound for most Hebrew speakers.</ḥ>

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing formed in 1992, is named in commemoration of influential Palestinian nationalist Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam. Armed Hamas cells sometimes refer to themselves as "Students of Ayyash", "Students of the Engineer", or "Yahya Ayyash Units", to commemorate Yahya Ayyash, an early Hamas bomb-maker killed in 1996.

Goals

Hamas's 1988 charter calls for the replacement of Israel and the Palestinian Territories with an Islamic Palestinian state. However, Hamas did not mention that goal in its electoral manifesto during the January 2006 election campaign, though the manifesto did call for maintaining the armed struggle against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. According to historian and author Efraim Karsh, Hamas's long term goal is to create a worldwide Islamic caliphate of which "Palestine" (meaning the West Bankmarker, the Gaza Stripmarker, and Israel proper) will be a part.

However, Hamas focuses its activities on the more short term goals contained in its 1988 charter which calls for the replacement of Israel and the Palestinian Territories with an Islamic Palestinian state. However, Hamas did not mention that goal in its electoral manifesto during the January 2006 election campaign, though the manifesto did call for maintaining the armed struggle against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

After the elections, in April, 2006, Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar did not rule out the possibility of accepting a temporary two-state solution, but also stated that he dreamed "of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it . . . . I hope that our dream to have our independent state on all historic Palestine (will materialize). . . . This dream will become real one day. I'm certain of this because there is no place for the state of Israel on this land". Al-Zahar added that he did not rule out the possibility of having Jews, Muslims and Christians living under the sovereignty of an Islamic state, stating that the Palestinian, Muslimss had never hated the Jews and that only the Israeli occupation was their enemy.

On 21 April 2008, former US President Jimmy Carter met with Hamas Leader Khaled Meshal and reached an agreement that Hamas would respect the creation of a Palestinian state in the territory seized by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967, provided this be ratified by the Palestinian people in a referendum. Hamas later publicly offered a long-term hudna with Israel if Israel agreed to return to its 1967 borders and to grant the "right of return" to all Palestinian refugees. Israel has not responded to the offer. In November, 2008 Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, de jure Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority and de facto prime minister in Gaza, stated that Hamas was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1949 armistice lines, and offered Israel "a long-term hudna, or truce, if Israel recognized the Palestinians' national rights."

The majority of Israelis, and many supporters of the state of Israel abroad, reject the truce offers that Hamas has made, partly on the ground that giving displaced Palestinians and their families the right to return to their homes would create a demographic majority of Muslims in Israel, and thus put an end to Israel's existence as a Jewish state. Some also doubt the likelihood of a truce with Hamas holding. The New York Times's Steven Erlanger contends that Hamas excludes the possibility of permanent reconciliation with Israel. "Since the Prophet Muhammad made a temporary hudna, or truce, with the Jews about 1,400 years ago, Hamas allows the idea. But no one in Hamas says he would make a peace treaty with Israel or permanently give up any part of Palestine.". Mkhaimer Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar Universitymarker writes that Hamas talks "of hudna, not of peace or reconciliation with Israel. They believe over time they will be strong enough to liberate all historic Palestine.”

A memorandum prepared by the political bureau of Hamas in the 1990s at the request of western diplomats, published in a book by Azzam Tamimi, states that Hamas is "a Palestinian national liberation movement that struggles for the liberation of the Palestinian occupied territories and for the recognition of Palestinian legitimate rights." Hamas, the document stated, "regards itself as an extension of an old tradition that goes back to the early 20th century struggle against British and Zionist colonialism in Palestine." The memorandum notes that, in principle, Hamas does not endorse targeting civilians, but argues that such attacks represented "an exception necessitated by Israel's insistence on targeting Palestinian civilians and by Israel's refusal to agree to an understanding prohibiting the killing of civilians on both sides comparable to the one reached between Israel and Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon." Even in the 1990s, according to the memorandum, the organization foresaw the day when "dialogue" between itself and Israel would be possible, but warned that "The prospect of the movement initiating, or accepting dialogue with Israel is nonexistent at present because of the skewed balance of power between the Palestinians and the Israelis. In Sheikh Yassin's words: "There can be no dialogue between a party that is strong and oppressive and another that is weak and oppressed. There can be no dialogue except after the end of oppression.'"

According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Hamas is anti-capitalist, and believes that the free market economy is against Islamic teachings.

Charter

The Hamas charter (or covenant), issued in 1988, calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and the obliteration or nullification of Israel. Specifically, the quotation section that precedes the charter's introduction provides the following quote, attributed to Imam Hassan al-Banna: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." The quotation has also been translated as follows: "Israel will be established and will stay established until Islam shall nullify it, as it nullified what was before it." The charter's advocacy of an Islamic state in the territory of the Palestinian territories and Israel is stated as an Islamic religious prophesy arising from Hadith, the oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. In this regard, the charter states that "renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith. . ."

The charter's current status within Hamas is unclear. For example, Mousa Abu Marzook, the deputy of the political bureau of Hamas, in 2007 described the charter as "an essentially revolutionary document born of the intolerable conditions under occupation" in 1988. Marzook added that "if every state or movement were to be judged solely by its foundational, revolutionary documents . . ., there would be a good deal to answer for on all sides," noting as an example that the US Constitution engaged in codifying slavery. Senior British diplomat and former British ambassador to the UN Sir Jeremy Greenstock stated in early 2009 that the Hamas charter was "drawn up by a Hamas-linked imam some [twenty] years ago and has never been adopted since Hamas was elected as the Palestinian government in 2006". Greenstock also stated that Hamas is not intent on the destruction of Israel. Finally, according to investigations by Israeli daily newspaper The Jerusalem Post in 2006, representatives of Hamas in Beirut, Damascus and London had intended to rewrite the charter. Azzam Tamimi, Director of the London-based Institute of Islamic Political Thinking, told the newspaper in a telephone interview: "All the madness from the Protocols of Elders of Zion and the conspiracy theory must be eradicated. It should never have been there in the first place".

The thirty-six articles of the Covenant detail the movement's founding beliefs regarding the primacy of Islam in all aspects of life. The Covenant identifies Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and considers its members to be Muslims who "fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors." Hamas describes resisting and quelling the enemy as the individual duty of every Muslim and prescribes vigilant roles for all members of society; including men and women, professionals, scientists and students. The enemy is defined primarily in terms of antisemitic conspiracy theories of world Jewish domination. According to a translation stored at a Yale Universitymarker website, the Charter states that the organization's goal is to "raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist in security and safety where their lives, possessions and rights are concerned." It further asserts that "The Islamic Resistance Movement is a humanistic movement. It takes care of human rights and is guided by Islamic tolerance when dealing with the followers of other religions. It does not antagonize anyone of them except if it is antagonized by it or stands in its way to hamper its moves and waste its efforts. Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions - Islam, Christianity and Judaism - to coexist in peace and quiet with each other. Peace and quiet would not be possible except under the wing of Islam. Past and present history are the best witness to that." In several places, the Charter compares Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the actions of the Nazis. For example Israel is described as "a vicious enemy which acts in a way similar to Nazism, making no differentiation between man and woman, between children and old people" and predicts that the "Zionist Nazi activities against our people will not last for long."

The Charter outlines the organization's position on various issues, including social and economic development and ideological influences, education, as well as its position regarding Israel. Amongst many other things, it reiterates the group's rejection of the principle of coexistence with Zionism, which it defines as a danger not just to Palestinians, but to all Arab states. While primarily focusing on what it calls the "Zionist invasion" of Palestine as the cause of conflict, in places the Charter asserts that Zionism was able to achieve its ends due to the activities of secret organizations such as Freemasons and cites as an example the ability of Zionists to obtain the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The Charter asserts that through shrewd manipulation of imperial countries and secret societies, Zionists were behind a wide range of events and disasters going as far back in history as the French Revolution and that "There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it." The Charter also selectively quotes Islamic religious texts to provide justification for fighting against and killing Jews.

History

Establishment

Some have accused the Israeli security services, after the 1967 Six Day War, of looking to cultivate Islamism (and its most important group, the Muslim Brotherhood), as a counterweight to Fatah, the main secular Palestinian nationalist political organization. Between 1967 and 1987, the year Hamas was founded, the number of mosques in Gaza tripled from 200 to 600, and the Muslim Brotherhood named the period between 1975 and 1987 a phase of 'social institution building.' Likewise, antagonistic and sometimes violent opposition to Fatah, the Palestine Liberation Organization and other secular nationalist groups increased dramatically in the streets and on university campuses.

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin founded Hamas in 1987 as an offshoot of Egyptmarker's Muslim Brotherhood, supported by Brotherhood-affiliated charities and social institutions that had gained a strong foothold in the occupied territories. The acronym "Hamas" first appeared in 1987 in a leaflet that accused the Israeli intelligence service of undermining the moral fiber of Palestinian youth as part of Mossad's recruitment of what Hamas termed "collaborators". Hamas's military branch, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was created in 1992. During the 1990s and 2000s it conducted numerous suicide bombings and other attacks directed against civilians, including the 2002 Passover suicide bombingmarker. Although such attacks were against the Oslo accords signed by Yasir Arafat, Arafat tacitly approved these attacks and refused to disarm Hamas. The Palestinian Authority followed suit and did nothing to stop the Hamas practice of targeting and killing innocent civilians.

Hamas was banned in Jordanmarker in 1999, reportedly in part at the request of the United States, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority.

Presidential and Legislative Elections

In January 2004, Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin offered that the group would end armed resistance in exchange for a Palestinian state in the West Bankmarker and Gaza Stripmarker, and east Jerusalem, and that restoring Palestinians' "historical rights" (relating to their 1948 expulsion) "would be left for future generations." On January 25, 2004, senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi offered a 10-year truce, or hudna, in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state and the complete withdrawal by Israel from the territories capturedmarker in the Six Day War of 1967. Al-Rantissi stated that Hamas had come to the conclusion that it was "difficult to liberate all our land at this stage, so we accept a phased liberation." Israel immediately dismissed al-Rantissi's statements as insincere and a smokescreen for military preparations. Yassin was then killed on March 22, 2004, by a targeted Israeli air strike, and al-Rantisi was killed by a similar air strike on April 18, 2004.

After an attack on the southern Israeli town of Be'er Shevamarker in August 2004, in which 15 civilians were killed and 125 wounded, the truce was generally observed. However, in 2005, a group claiming to be aligned with Hamas was involved in several attacks on Israelis in the Hebronmarker area of the West Bank, killing six.

While Hamas had boycotted the January 2005 presidential election, in which Mahmoud Abbas was elected to replace Yasser Arafat, it did participate in the municipal elections held between January and May 2005, in which it took control of Beit Lahiamarker and Rafahmarker in the Gaza Strip and Qalqilyahmarker in the West Bank. In the Palestinian legislative election of 2006, Hamas gained the majority of seats in the first fair and democratic elections held in Palestine, defeating the ruling Fatah party. The "List of Change and Reform", as Hamas presented itself, obtained 42.9% of the vote and 74 of the 132 seats. Many perceived the preceding Fatah government as corrupt and ineffective, and Hamas's supporters see it as an "armed resistance"

Hamas had omitted its call for an end to Israel from its election manifesto, calling instead for "the establishment of an independent state whose capital is Jerusalemmarker." In early February, 2006, after its victory in the 2006 parliamentary elections, Hamas reiterated that it was giving up suicide attacks and offered Israel a 10-year truce "in return for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories: the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem," and recognition of Palestinian rights including the "right of return." Mashal added that Hamas was not calling for a final end to armed operations against Israel, and it would not impede other Palestinian groups from carrying out such operations.

Mashal did not recognize a leading role for the road map for peace, adopted by the Quartet in June 2003, because "The problem is not Hamas' stance, but Israel's stance. It is in fact not honoring the Road Map". The road map had projected the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in 2005. Instead, Hamas took a stance favoring renewed support for the 2002 Arab peace initiative.

In May 2006, after the US and other governments imposed sanctions on the Palestinian territories for voting for Hamas, Hassan al-Safi, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, threatened a new intifada against those US-led international forces.

Hamas-Fatah conflict

After the formation of the Hamas cabinet on 20 March 2006, tensions between Fatah and Hamas militants progressively rose in the Gaza strip, leading to demonstrations, violence and repeated attempts at a truce.

On 27 June 2006, Hamas and Fatah reached an agreement which included the forming of a national unity government. On 8 February 2007, Hamas and Fatah signed a deal to end factional warfare that killed nearly 200 Palestinians, and to form a coalition, hoping this would lead Western powers to lift crippling sanctions imposed on the Hamas-led government.

The events leading to a mid-2006 conflict between Israel and Hamas began on 9 June 2006. During an Israeli artillery operation, an explosion occurred on a busy Gaza beach, killing eight Palestinian civilians. It was initially assumed that Israeli shellings were responsible for the killings, but Israeli government officials later denied this. Hamas formally withdrew from its 16-month ceasefire on June 10, taking responsibility for the subsequent Qassam rocket attacks launched from Gaza into Israel.

On 29 June, following a joint incursion by Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas in which two Israeli soldiers were killed and corporal Gilad Shalit was captured, Israel captured 64 Hamas officials. Among them were 8 Palestinian Authority cabinet ministers and up to 20 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, as well as heads of regional councils, and the mayor of Qalqilyahmarker and his deputy. At least a third of the Hamas cabinet was captured and held by Israel. On August 6 Israeli forces detained the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Hamas member Aziz Dweik, at his home in the West Bankmarker.

In June 2007, renewed fighting broke out between Hamas and Fatah. After a brief civil war, Hamas maintained control of Gaza and the Fatah controlled the West Bankmarker. President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government and outlawed the Hamas militia. Some journalists, experts and publications interpreted the fighting as a preemptive response to fears of a 'U.S.-backed coup',

According to an article in the magazine Vanity Fair, in the months leading up to June 2007 Battle of Gaza, the United States, with the assistance of Israel, had armed and funded militias controlled by Mohammed Dahlan and nominally loyal to Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction. According to the magazine, the intention was to overthrow the Hamas-led government so that it could be replaced with a US-backed "emergency government." The plan was reportedly approved by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush.

Leaders of Hamas and Fatah later met in the Yemenimarker capital San‘a’marker on 23 March 2008 and agreed to the tentative "Sana'a Declaration" to resume conciliatory talks.

Immediately upon the conclusion of the Battle of Gaza, Israelmarker imposed an economic blockade on Gaza, and Hamas repeatedly launched rocket attacks upon areas of Israel near its border with Gaza because of the blockade. On June 18, 2008, Israel and Hamas announced a ceasefire, which formally began on June 19, 2008. The agreement was reached after talks between the two camps were conducted through Egyptianmarker mediators in Cairomarker. As part of the ceasefire, Israel agreed to allow limited commercial shipping across its border with Gazamarker, barring any breakdown of the tentative peace deal, and Hamas hinted that it would discuss the release of Gilad Shalit. Hamas committed itself to enforce the ceasefire on the other Palestinian organizations. While Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire, the lull was sporadically violated by other groups, sometimes in defiance of Hamas. The ceasefire seriously eroded on November 4, 2008, after six Hamas paramilitary died during an Israeli incursion intended, Israel said, to destroy a tunnel dug by militants to abduct Israeli troops. The conflict escalated with Israel’s invasion of Hamas-ruled Gaza in late December, 2008. Both sides declared unilateral ceasefires on January 18, 2009.

Gaza War

In February 2005, Hamas had declared a unilateral ceasefire with Israel, but this was ended after Israeli air strikes on tunnels Hamas used to transport weapons and civilian goods into Gaza. Ali Abunimah, author of "One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse," writes that Hamas "had observed the unilateral truce with Israel. It had given up suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. And there was no response to that. On the contrary." Mashal reaffirmed the long-term truce offer in a March 5, 2008 interview with Al Jazeera English. citing Hamas's signing of the 2005 Cairo Declaration and the National Reconciliation Document.

On 17 June 2008, and after months of mediation by Egypt, Egyptian mediators announced that an informal truce was agreed between Hamas and Israel. The six-month ceasefire was set to start from 19 June 2008. Israeli officials initially declined to confirm or deny the agreement while Hamas announced that it would "adhere to the timetable which was set by Egypt but it is Hamas's right to respond to any Israeli aggression before its implementation".

On November 4, 2008 Israeli forces killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid inside the Gaza Stripmarker. Hamas responded with a barrage of rockets. During November a total of 190 home made rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel.

On December 18, 2008, Hamas issued a statement declaring that it would end the six-month ceasefire scheduled to officially expire the next day. Hamas blamed Israel, saying it had not respected its terms, including the lifting of the blockade under which little more than humanitarian aid has been allowed into Gaza. On December 21, following the launch of more than 70 rockets from Gaza targeted at Israel, Hamas issued a statement that they would consider renewing the expired truce—"if Israel stopped its aggression" in Gaza and opened up its border crossings. The previous six weeks had seen a "dramatic increase" in attacks from Hamas, spiking at some 200 or so a day, according to the Israeli government. On December 24, Israeli President Shimon Peres visited the western Negev town of Sderot which has been bombarded by Hamas rockets on a regular basis. Joining with residents in a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony, Peres said: "In Gaza they are lighting rockets and in Sderot we are lighting candles."

Over the weekend of 27-28 December, Israel implemented Operation Cast Lead against Hamas. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said "We warned Hamas repeatedly that rejecting the truce would push Israel to aggression against Gaza." Hamas has estimated that at least 100 members of its security forces had been killed./www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSLR1342320081227 Israel kills scores in Gaza air strikes> According to Israel, militant training camps, rocket-manufacturing facilities and weapons warehouses that had been pre-identified were hit, and later they attacked rocket and mortar squads who fired around 180 rockets and mortars at Israeli communities. The chief of Gaza's police forces, Tawfiq Jabber, head of the General Security Service Salah Abu Shrakh, senior religious authority and official Nizar Rayyan, and Interior Minister Said Seyam were among those killed. Although Israel sent out thousands of cell-phone messages urging residents of Gaza to leave houses where weapons may be stored, in an attempt to minimise civilian casualties, there have been widespread reports of civilian casualties including allegations of the deliberate targeting of Palestinian civilians.

Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire in their Gaza operations on 17 January 2009. Hamas responded the following day by announcing a one week ceasefire to give Israel time to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rightsmarker documented the deaths of 1,284 people in the war, of whom 894 appeared to be civilians, including 280 aged under 18. A further 167 members of Hamas's police force died. Earlier, on January 18, 2009, the Center reported that 95 of the 1194 Gazans officially registered as killed from December 27 to January 17 were Hamas or other militia. In contrast, Israel has estimated it killed about 500 paramilitary fighters during the conflict. On January 19, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia pledged $1 billion to help rebuild the Gaza Strip.

Provision of social welfare and education

Hamas is particularly popular among Palestinians in the Gaza Stripmarker, though it also has a following in the West Bankmarker, and to a lesser extent in other Middle Eastern countries. Its popularity stems in part from its welfare and social services to Palestinians in the occupied territories, including school and hospital construction. Hamas devotes up to 90% of its estimated $70 million annual budget to an extensive social services network, running many relief and education programs, and funds schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues. Such services arent't generally provided by The Palestinian Authority. According to the Israeli scholar Reuven Paz "approximately 90 percent of the organization's work is in social, welfare, cultural, and educational activities".

In 1973, the Islamic center 'Mujamma' was established in Gaza and started to offer clinics, blood banks, day care, medical treatment, meals and youth clubs. The centre plays an important role for providing social care to the people, particularly those living in refugee camps. It also extended financial aid and scholarships to young people who wanted to study in Saudi Arabia and the West.In particular, Hamas funded health services where people could receive free or inexpensive medical treatment. Hamas greatly contributed to the health sector, and facilitated hospital and physician services in the Palestinian territory. On the other hand, Hamas’s use of hospitals is sometimes criticised as purportedly serving the promotion of violence against Israel. The party is also known to support families of those who have been killed (including suicide bombers), wounded or imprisoned by Israel, including providing a monthly allowance of $100. Families of militants not affiliated with Hamas receive slightly less.

Hamas has funded education as well as the health service, and built Islamic charities, libraries, mosques, education centers for women. They also built nurseries, kindergartens and supervised religious schools that provide free meals to children. When children attend their schools and mosques, parents are required to sign oaths of allegiance.Refugees, as well as those left without homes, are able to claim financial and technical assistance from Hamas.

The work of Hamas in these fields supplements that provided by the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA). Hamas is also well regarded by Palestinians for its efficiency and perceived lack of corruption compared to Fatah. Since the 2008-2009 Israeli military operation in Gaza, "[c]redible Palestinian public opinion polls show Hamas steadily losing ground, to the point that barely a quarter of the public supports it any longer."

Funding

The Council on Foreign Relations estimates Hamas's annual budget at $70 million.The largest backer of Hamas is Saudi Arabiamarker, with over 50% of its funds coming from that country, mainly through Islamic charity organizations. An earlier estimate by GlobalSecurity.org estimated a $50 million annual budget, mostly supplied by private charitable associations but with $12 million supplied directly by Gulf states, primarily Saudi Arabia, and a further $3 million from Iranmarker. The funding by Saudi Arabia continues despite Saudi pledges to stop funding groups such as Hamas that have used violence, and its recent denouncements of Hamas' lack of unity with Fatah. According to the US State Departmentmarker, Hamas is funded by Iran, Palestinian expatriates, and "private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states." However, senior British diplomat and former Ambassador to the UN Sir Jeremy Greenstock stated in an interview on the BBC Today Programme that the Hamas is not politically tied to Iran.

Various sources, including United Press International, Gérard Chaliand and L'Humanité have claimed that Hamas' early growth had been supported by the Mossad as a "counterbalance to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)". The French investigative newspaper Le Canard enchaîné claimed that Shin Bet had also supported Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO and Fatah. It speculated that this was an attempt to give "a religious slant to the conflict, in order to make the West believe that the conflict was between Jews and Muslims", perhaps in order to support the controversial thesis of a "clash of civilizations". In a statement to the Israeli Parliament's (the Knessetmarker) Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday February 12, 2007, Israeli Prime minister Ehud Olmert said "Netanyahu established Hamas, gave it life, freed Sheikh Yassin and gave him the opportunity to blossom".

The charitable trust Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was accused in December 2001 of funding Hamas. The US Justice Departmentmarker filed 200 charges against the foundation. But the case ended in a mistrial in which the jurors had acquitted on some counts and were deadlocked on charges ranging from tax violations to providing material support for terrorists. However in a retrial, on November 24, 2008, the US convicted the five leaders of the Foundation on all 108 counts of the original indictment.

Media

The main website of Hamas provides translations of official communiqués in Persian, Urdu, Indonesian, Russian, English, and Arabic.

In 2005, Hamas announced its intention to launch an experimental TV channel, "Al-Aqsa TV". The station was launched on January 7, 2006, less than three weeks before the Palestinian legislative elections. It has shown television programs, including some children's television, which deliver anti-semitic messages. Hamas has stated that the television station is "an independent media institution that often does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed by Ismail Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement," and that Hamas does not hold anti-semitic views.

Issues

Statements regarding Jews, Zionists, Israel and the Holocaust

The Hamas Charter (1988)

  • Article 7 of the Hamas Covenant provides the following quotation, attributed to Mohammed: "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews."


"You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it."


"Today it is Palestine, tomorrow it will be one country or another.
The Zionist plan is limitless.
After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates.
When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on.
Their plan is embodied in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying."


Statements by Hamas leaders and clerics associated with Hamas



  • Sheik Yunus al-Astal, a Hamas legislator and imam, in a column in the weekly newspaper Al Risalah in 2008 discussed a Koranic verse suggesting that "suffering by fire is the Jews' destiny in this world and the next." Astal concluded "Therefore we are sure that the Holocaust is still to come upon the Jews.


  • In 2008 Imam Yousif al-Zahar of Hamas said in his sermon at the Katib Wilayatmarker mosque in Gaza that "Jews are a people who cannot be trusted. They have been traitors to all agreements. Go back to history. Their fate is their vanishing."


"Our message to the Israelis is this: We do not fight you because you belong to a certain faith or culture.
Jews have lived in the Muslim world for 13 centuries in peace and harmony; they are in our religion "the people of the book" who have a covenant from God and his messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him), to be respected and protected."


"Our conflict with you is not religious but political. We have no problem with Jews who have not attacked us — our problem is with those who came to our land, imposed themselves on us by force, destroyed our society and banished our people."

  • A report by MEMRI from 2002 states that the Hamas monthly Falastin Al-Muslima had published in September 1996 a series of articles by Ibrahim Al-'Ali on how Allah punished the Jews of the village of Iliya for violation of the Sabbath by transforming them into animals such as "apes, pigs, mice, and lizards". They were also punished by not being able to reproduce. According to MEMRI, the author stated that "The transformation was actual" and not metaphoric. Al-'Ali goes on to say that although they did not reproduce the punishment "left its mark in the souls of the Jews who came after them".


  • The Guardian reported Khaled Meshaal's statement that, "As a Palestinian today I speak of a Palestinian and Arab demand for a state on 1967 borders. It is true that in reality there will be an entity or state called Israel on the rest of Palestinian land." In the same article, Ismail Haniyeh, the Palestinian prime minister, was quoted as saying, "Israel is there, it is part of the United Nations and we do not deny its existence. But we still have rights and land there which have been usurped and until these matters are dealt with we will withhold our recognition,"


Statements on the Holocaust

  • In 2008, Basim Naim, the minister of health in the Hamas government in Gaza, said "But it should be made clear that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian government in Gaza denies the Nazi Holocaust. The Holocaust was not only a crime against humanity but one of the most abhorrent crimes in modern history. We condemn it as we condemn every abuse of humanity and all forms of discrimination on the basis of religion, race, gender or nationality."




  • According to MEMRI, In 2003 Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi published an article in the Hamas weekly Al-Risala in which he called the Holocaust "the false Holocaust" and "the greatest of lies". In this article Rantisi expressed support to Holocaust deniers Roger Garaudy, David Irving, Gerd Honsik, and Fredrick Töben, and to the idea that the gas chambers were a myth. Rantisi also stated that "the Nazis received tremendous financial aid from the Zionist banks and monopolies, and this contributed to their rise to power", and accused the Jewish-owned Berlin-based investment bank Mendelssohn & Co. of funding the Nazis, calling it a "Zionist bank".


  • In an open letter to Gaza Strip UNRWA chief John Ging published 20 August 2009, the movement's Popular Committees for Refugees called the Holocaust "a lie invented by the Zionists," adding that the group refused to let Gazan children study about it.


  • Hamas leader Younis al-Astal said that having the Holocaust included in the UNRWA curriculum for Gaza students amounted to "marketing a lie and spreading it." Al-Astal continued "I do not exaggerate when I say this issue is a war crime, because of how it serves the Zionist colonizers and deals with their hypocrisy and lies."


  • Senior Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated his objection to the inclusion of what he referred to as the "so-called Holocaust" in the lesson plan. He continued "we think it's more important to teach Palestinians the crimes of the Israeli occupation."


Academic analysis

  • In 1994, Esther Webman of the Project for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Tel Aviv Universitymarker wrote:
"....the anti-Semitic rhetoric in Hamas leaflets is frequent and intense.
Nevertheless, anti-Semitism is not the main tenet of Hamas ideology.
Generally no differentiation was made in the leaflets between Jew and Zionist, in as much as Judaism was perceived as embracing Zionism, although in other Hamas publications and in interviews with its leaders attempts at this differentiation have been made."


Neturei Karta

In July 2009 representatives of the anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta sect met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniya in Gaza, The representatives expressed solidarity with the Palestinians. Haniyeh said he held nothing against Jews but only against the state of Israel.

Proximity to civilians during warfare

During the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, the Israeli government and military criticized Hamas for blending into or hiding among the Palestinian civilian population. The Israeli government published what it said was video evidence of human shield tactics by Hamas. Israel also claimed that Hamas frequently used mosques and school yards as hideouts and places to store weapons, and that Hamas paramilitary soldiers stored weapons in their homes, making it difficult to ensure that civilians close to legitimate military targets are not hurt during Israeli military operations. Former Shin Bet head Avi Dichter has claimed that Gaza's Shifa Hospitalmarker is used as a meeting place and hiding place for Hamas.

The accusations are difficult to confirm or deny, as during the Gaza conflict with Hamas Israel denied Western reporters access to Gaza. In the case of an Israeli mortar strike that killed 43 people near a UN school, the Israeli army stated that it was responding to a mortar attack coming from within the school, a claim which UN and school officials rejected. A later investigation by Israel reported that Hamas paramilitary had launched a rocket from a yard adjacent to the school and the mortar strike that hit next to the school was due to a GPS error. (Immediately after the strike, some Israeli military and UN officials stated that the Israeli mortar had landed within school grounds; the UN later clarified that the missiles had landed adjacent to the school.) The 'hiding among civilians' charge against Hamas was called "full of holes" in one Arab publication, which stated that no international human rights group had accused Hamas of using civilians as 'human shields' during the conflict.

Uses of children

Children as "human shields"

Israel has accused Hamas of using children as human shields. The Israeli government released video of Hamas militants grabbing an innocent boy's arm and forcing him in between themselves and an Israeli sniper. A second video shows a Hamas militant grabbing a young boy off of the floor by the backpack he is wearing for use as a human shield.

In November 2006, the Israeli Air Force warned Muhammad Weil Baroud, a Palestinian militant accused of launching rockets into Israeli territory, to evacuate his home in a Jabalya refugee camp apartment block in advance of a planned Israeli air strike. Baroud responded by asking his neighbors to surround the apartment block and nearby buildings and, according to the Jerusalem Post, hundreds of local residents, mostly women and children, responded. Israel suspended the air strike. Israel termed the Hamas action an example of the use of human shields, although surrounding an apartment block under most interpretations of international law is not such an example, since the term "human shield" involves warring parties placing civilians in "proximity to a legitimate military target." In response to the incident, Hamas proclaimed: 'We won. From now on we will form human chains around every house threatened with demolition.'" In a November 22 press release, Human Rights Watch condemned Hamas, stating: "There is no excuse for calling civilians to the scene of a planned attack. Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm's way is unlawful". Political scientist Norman Finkelstein organized a campaign against the Human Rights Watch condemnation, asking "Is it a war crime to protect one’s home from collective punishment?"

The UN-sponsored Goldstone Commission Report on the Gaza War states that it "found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack." In contrast, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reports during Operation Cast Lead included "testimony from children describing how they were being used by Hamas in combat support roles." PMW describes Hamas leaders as being proud of the policy, and cites as evidence the following statement during the war by Hamas legislator Fathi Hamad: "[Palestinians] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire death as you desire life."

Children as combatants

The Israeli government released a video compiled mostly from Arab news sources showing Palestinian children under the age of 15 going through military training and carrying and firing arms. The video's narration claims that Hamas indoctrinates these child combatants "with blind hatred of Jews and Israelis and a lust for sacrificing their lives in the name of holy jihad" and that Hamas operators send these children "on missions from which they would not risk their own lives." According to the Israeli government, "These children are used as spotters on the first line of combat, used to retrieve weapons from fallen combatants, used to play in Qassam rocket launching areas to deter Israeli attacks. They're used to transport explosives and weapons and, most grievously, they're sent unknowingly with explosive devices in their schoolbags to be blown up in the vicinity of Israelis."

Children's web site and television program

Al Fateh is Hamas' web site for children. The site says it is for "the young builders of the future" and it has a link to Hamas's official web site. Several Israeli reviews and news coverages of the site describe it as hate-mongering and accuse it of glorifying death and suicide for God

Al-Aqsa TV is a television channel founded by Hamas. Its programming includes ideologically tinged children's shows, news talk, and religiously inspired entertainment. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the station promotes terrorist activity and incites hatred of Jews and Israelis. Hamas has stated that the television station is "an independent media institution that often does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed by Ismail Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement," and that Hamas does not hold anti-semitic views.

Dissent and the Media

Human rights groups and Gazans have accused the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip of restricing freedom of the press and forcefully suppressing dissent. Both foreign and Palestinian journalists report harassment and other measures taken against them. In September 2007 the Gaza Interior Ministry disbanded the Gaza Strip branch of the pro-Fatah Union of Palestinian Journalists, a move criticized by Reporters without borders. In November of that year the Hamas government arrested a British journalist and for a time canceled all press cards in Gaza. On February 8, 2008 Hamas banned distribution of the pro-Fatah Al-Ayyam newspaper, and closed its offices in the Gaza Strip because it ran a caricature that mocked legislators loyal to Hamas,. The Gaza Strip Interior Ministry later issued an arrest warrant for the editor.

More widely, in late August, 2007 the group was accused in the The Telegraph, a conservative British newspaper, of torturing, detaining, and firing on unarmed protesters who had objected to policies of the Hamas government. Also in late August, Palestinian health officials reported that the Hamas government had been shutting down Gaza clinics in retaliation for doctor strikes - The Hamas government confirmed the "punitive measure against doctors" because, in its view, they had incited other doctors to suspend services and go out on strike.

According to the Israeli news service Ynetnews, in September 2007 the Hamas government banned public prayers, after Fatah supporters began holding worship sessions that quickly escalated into raucous protests against Hamas rule. Government security forces beat several gathering supporters and journalists.

In October 2008, the Hamas government announced it would release all political prisoners in custody in Gaza. Several hours after the announcement, 17 Fatah members were released.

Political violence and alleged terrorism

Hamas uses both political activities and violence in pursuit of its goals. For example, while politically engaged in the 2006 Palestinian Territories parliamentary election campaign, Hamas stated in its election manifesto that it was prepared to use "armed resistance to end the occupation".

Attacks on civilians

In the first years of the First Intifada (1987- 1993), Hamas violence was directed first at collaborators and individuals it considered moral deviants, and then later at the Israeli military. A new direction began with the formation of the al-Qassam Brigades militia in 1992, and in 1993 suicide attacks began against Israeli targets on the West Bank. The Baruch Goldstein attack on the Cave of the Patriarchsmarker mosque in February 1994 led Hamas to expand use of the tactic, according to Hamas leaders and an Israeli government security advisor. The first suicide bombing within Israel proper took place in Afula on April 16, 1994, when a bomber driving an explosives-laden van detonated between two buses parked at a restaurant, killing nine (including the bomber) and wounding 50. From that time until 2005, Hamas launched many suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, seeing the attacks as a legitimate aspect of its asymmetric warfare against Israel. Hamas ceased such attacks in 2005 and renounced them in April 2006. Prior to 2005 there were several large-scale suicide bombings against Israeli civilian targets, the most deadly of which was the bombing of a Netanyamarker hotel on 27 March 2002, in which 30 people were killed and 140 were wounded. This attack has also been referred to as the Passover massacremarker since it took place on the first night of the Jewish festival of Passover. According to Israel, from November 2000 to April 2004, 377 Israeli citizens and soldiers were killed and 2,076 wounded in 425 military and other attacks by Hamas. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintains a comprehensive list of Hamas attacks.

In a 2002 report, Human Rights Watch stated that Hamas' leaders "should be held accountable for the war crimes and crimes against humanity" that have been committed by its members. In June 30, 2007, HRW published its report titled, Indiscriminate Fire, Palestinian Rocket Attacks on Israel and Israeli Artillery Shelling in the Gaza Strip. In August 28, 2007, HRW published its report titled, Civilians under Assault, Hezbollah’s Rocket Attacks on Israel in the 2006 War. In April 20, 2009, HRW published its report titled Under Cover of War Hamas, Political Violence in Gaza. In March 25, 2009, HRW published its report titled, Rain of Fire, Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza.

In May 2006 Israel arrested top Hamas official Ibrahim Hamed, whom Israeli security officials said was responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks on Israelis.

According to a website relaying a report published in Haaretz, a leading Hamas figure, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, stated in May, 2003 that the organization was "prepared to stop terrorism against Israeli civilians if Israel stops killing Palestinian civilians ... We have told (Palestinian Authority Prime Minister) Abu Mazen in our meetings that there is an opportunity to stop targeting Israeli civilians if the Israelis stop assassinations and raids and stop brutalizing Palestinian civilians."A similar offer, to carry out attacks only on military targets, was made in 2008 by Hamas leader Kemal Mashaal, who added that Hamas had made the same offer to Israel ten years earlier.

During the Second Intifada, Hamas, along with the Islamic Jihad Movement, were primarily responsible for military actions and other violence directed against Israel. Hamas has conducted its actions mainly through its military wing — the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Since 2002, paramilitary soldiers of Hamas and other groups have used homemade Qassam rockets to hit Israeli towns in the Negevmarker, such as Sderotmarker killing fifteen people and wounding dozens. Hamas has claimed responsibility for most of these attacks, (see List of Qassam rocket attacks), and has condoned them when it did not acknowledge responsibility. Following the June 19, 2008 ceasefire Hamas ended it's rocket attacks and arrested Fatah militants who had continued sporadic Qassam attacks. Hamas resumed the attacks after the November 4 Israeli incursion into Gaza. The introduction of the Qassam-2 rocket has enabled Palestinian paramilitary groups to reach, from Gaza, such Israeli cities such as Ashkelonmarker.

Themes of martyrdom

 and Human Shields used in Gaza and the West Bank


According to a translation by the Israeli organization Palestinian Media Watch, on February 29, 2008, Fathi Hamad, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, stated on Al-Aqsa TV, “For the Palestinian people death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly (Palestinians) created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: 'We desire death as you desire life'."

Guerrilla warfare

Hamas has made great use of guerrilla tactics in the Gaza Strip and to a lesser degree the West Bank. Hamas has successfully adapted these techniques over the years since its inception. According to a 2006 report by rival Fatah party, Hamas had smuggled "between several hundred and 1,300 tons" of advanced rockets, along with other weaponry, into Gaza. Some Israelis and some Gazans both noted similarities in Hamas's military buildup to that of Hezbollah in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.

Hamas has used IED and anti-tank rockets against the IDF in Gaza. The latter include standard RPG-7 warheads and home-made rockets such as the Al-Bana, Al-Batar and Al-Yasin. The IDF has a difficult, if not impossible time trying to find hidden weapons caches in Palestinian areas — this is due to the high local support base Hamas enjoys.

Hamas and the United States

As of 2009, Hamas is listed on the U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The FBImarker and United States Department of Justicemarker have stated that Hamas threatens the United States through covert cells on US soil. According to Steven Emerson,
Hamas has an extensive infrastructure in the US mostly revolving around the activities of fundraising, recruiting and training members, directing operations against Israel, organizing political support and operating through human-rights front groups.
While Hamas has not acted outside Israel, it has the capability of carrying out attacks in America if it decided to enlarge the scope of its operations.
FBI director Robert Mueller has testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that,
It is the FBI's assessment, at this time, that there is a limited threat of a coordinated terrorist attack in the US from Palestinian terrorist organizations, such as HAMAS, the Palestine Islamic Jihad, and the al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade.
These groups have maintained a longstanding policy of focusing their attacks on Israeli targets in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
We believe that the primary interest of Palestinian terrorist groups in the US remains the raising of funds to support their regional goals.
[...] Of all the Palestinian groups, HAMAS has the largest presence in the US with a robust infrastructure, primarily focused on fundraising, propaganda for the Palestinian cause, and proselytizing.
Although it would be a major strategic shift for HAMAS, its US network is theoretically capable of facilitating acts of terrorism in the US


On 8 November 2006, after Israeli artillery shells killed 19 Palestinian civilians, Hamas's military wing released a statement condemning both Israel and America. "America is offering political, financial and logistic cover for the Zionist occupation crimes, and it is responsible for the Beit Hanoun massacre. Therefore, the people and the [Islamic] nation all over the globe are required to teach the American enemy tough lessons," Hamas said in a statement sent to the Associated Press. Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-led Palestinian government denied any involvement with the statement, saying "Our battle is against the occupation on the Palestinian land. We have no interest to transfer the battle."

On August 16, 2009, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal stated that the organization is ready to open dialogue with the Obama administration because its policies are much better than those of former US president George W. Bush: "As long as there's a new language, we welcome it, but we want to see not only a change of language, but also a change of policies on the ground. We have said that we are prepared to cooperate with the US or any other international party that would enable the Palestinians to get rid of occupation." In an August 30, 2009 speech, however, Mashall insisted on the Palestinian right of return, which is a guaranteed dead end for peace negotiations and one that neither Israel nor the United States would ever accept. For this and other reasons, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy concluded that Hamas is unwilling to engage in meaningful dialogue for peace.

Other targets and activities

In addition to killing Israeli civilians and armed forces, Hamas has also attacked suspected Palestinian collaborators, and Fatah rivals. In the wake of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in January 2009, Hamas has been accused of systematically rounding up, torturing and summarily executing Fatah supporters suspected of supplying information to Israel.

On February 2007, members of the Palestinian Red Crescent, speaking on conditions of anonymity, said that Hamas had confiscated their humanitarian supply convoys that were destined for Palestinian civilians. Hamas claims the supplies were heading to former members of Fatah.

Human Rights Watch has cited a number of summary executions as particular examples of violations of the rules of warfare, including the case of Muhammad Swairki, 28, a cook for Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's presidential guard, who was thrown to his death, with his hands and legs tied, from a 15-story apartment building in Gaza City.

Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups are accused of frequently extrajudicially executing or otherwise punishing those considered collaborators with Israel. Frequent killings of unarmed people have also occurred during Hamas-Fatah clashes.

Thousands of angry Hamas loyalists marched on 24 February 2008 at the funeral of a Muslim preacher who died in PNA custody, turning the ceremony into a rare show of defiance against President Mahmoud Abbas.

On 14 August 2009 Hamas fighters stormed the Mosque of radical cleric Abdel-Latif Moussa. The cleric was protected by at least 100 fighters from Jund Ansar Allah ("Army of the Helpers of God"), an Islamist group with links to Al-Qaeda. The resulting battle left at least 13 people dead, including Moussa and 6 Hamas fighters, and 120 people injured.

International Designation of Hamas

Lists Hamas as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization"
Describes Hamas as a "a radical Sunni Muslim terrorist organization."
Lists Hamas among the entities against which it applies restrictions in order to combat terrorism.
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that "Hamas maintains a terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank, and acts to carry out terrorist attacks in the territories and Israel."
Stated in 2005 that it had frozen the assets of "terrorist organizations, including... Hamas."
The military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is listed as a terrorist organization.
Lists Hamas as a "proscribed terrorist group".
Norway was the first Western country to recognize the 2007 Palestinian government consisting of both Hamas and Fatah, and Norwegian officials have met with Hamas representatives on several occasions. "We know that the USA and the EU have legal obligations since they have Hamas on their terrorist list. We must be able to take an independent decision about contact," Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre responded to a 2006 United States' attempt to dissuade Norwegian contact with Hamas.
Banned Hamas in 1999.


Public Opinion of Hamas

According to National Public Radio, a non-commercial broadcasting organization in the US, "Israel and many Western powers have struggled with how best to interact with a group that is at once labeled terrorist and, at the same time, is the legitimately elected leadership of the Palestinian National Authority."

In a 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Survey, 62% of Palestinians had a favorable opinion of Hamas, as do majorities or pluralities in Jordan and Morocco. Opinions of Hamas are divided in Egypt and Kuwait, and Hamas is viewed negatively in Turkey and Lebanon.

In February 2008 a Haaretz poll indicated that 64% of Israelis favour their government holding direct talks with Hamas in Gaza about a cease-fire and the release of captives.

According to a November 2009 survey conducted by Haaretz, 57% of Israelis support the view of MK Shaul Mofaz of Kadima, that Israel should establish a dialogue with Hamas under certain conditions, for example, that Hamas renounces violence, recognizes Israel's right to exist as a Jewish nation, and loses its designation as a terrorist organization. Hamas responded to this by labeling it "Zionist vulgarity" and stating that they will never negotiate with or recognize their "enemy", the state of Israel.

Legal action against Hamas

In 2004, a federal court in the United States found Hamas liable in a civil lawsuit for the 1996 murders of Yaron and Efrat Ungar near Bet Shemeshmarker, Israelmarker. Hamas has been ordered to pay the families of the Ungars $116 million. On 5 July 2004, the court issued a default judgment against the PNA and the PLO regarding the Ungars' claim that the Palestinian Authority and the PLO provide safe haven to Hamas.

On August 20, 2004, three Palestinians, one a naturalized American citizen, were charged with a "lengthy racketeering conspiracy to provide money for terrorist acts in Israel." The indicted include Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, senior member of Hamas, believed to be currently in Damascusmarker, Syriamarker and considered a fugitive by the US.

On February 1, 2007, two men were acquitted of contravening US law by supporting Hamas. Both men argued that they helped move money for Palestinian causes aimed at helping the Palestinian people and not to promote terrorism.

In January 2009, the FBImarker severed its once-close ties with the nation's largest Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, amid mounting evidence that it had links to a support network for Hamas. The Justice Department identified CAIR as an “un-indicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation case in Dallasmarker, which concluded with the sentencing of the two founders of the foundation to life in prison for funneling $12 million to Hamas.

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