Hamas is a radical Islamist Palestinian movement dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Like ISIS, its alter-ego in Iraq, Hamas is a terror organization that violently seized control of territory and then imposed its brutal rule over the population.
A true understanding of the month-long conflict in Gaza depends on a careful examination of Hamas’ ideology, characteristics and objectives.
Hamas is a radical Islamist Palestinian movement dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Since its establishment in 1987 as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, it has remained committed to the path of terrorism. Its violent actions have led Hamas to be recognized as a terrorist organization not only by Israel, but by the US, European Union, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan and Egypt.
Hamas’ Charter rejects peace with Israel and stresses the terrorist organization’s commitment to destroying it through holy war (jihad). This is an overtly antisemitic and anti-Western document that expresses the organization’s radical agenda.
Hamas implements its ideology by carrying out horrific terrorist attacks. Its first suicide bombing was in April 1993, shortly before the signing of the Oslo Accords. Hamas’ bombing campaign undermined efforts to reach a peace accord and culminated in the unprecedented wave of suicide bombings during the second intifada that murdered and injured thousands of Israeli civilians.
Hamas took control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007 in a violent coup and created a terror base from which it has launched thousands of rockets at Israeli towns and cities. The range of the rockets continues to increase and today Hamas’ large arsenal threatens most of the population of Israel.
Hamas cannot be understood by trying to apply Western values to a terrorist group that despises them.
Hamas supports global jihad movements. Like al-Qaeda, which has vowed to wage jihad against the West, Hamas is committed to holy war. Its aim is to establish an Islamic caliphate over the whole territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea in place of Israel. Hamas identifies with al-Qaeda, and after the death of Osama bin Laden, its prime minister at the time, Ismail Haniyeh, condemned the "murder" of bin Laden and praised him as a "holy warrior."
Like ISIS, its alter-ego in Iraq, Hamas is a terror organization that violently seized control of territory and then imposed its brutal rule over the population. Hamas and ISIS share the same fundamentalist ideology, ruthless methods and contempt for human rights. Both want to murder those who disagree with them or belong to another faith.
Hamas acts in complete disregard for international law and human rights. It maintains its theocratic regime in Gaza using oppressive methods. Highly credible reports on Gaza tell of systematic violations of basic human rights, including the execution of political opponents, torture, and attacks on journalists, as well as the oppression of women, homosexuals and other minorities.
Hamas’ use of human shields has been well-documented. In the current hostilities, Hamas ordered civilians not to evacuate neighborhoods after Israel warned of imminent attacks. It encouraged crowds to go up to the roofs of houses after Israeli phone calls to warn the residents. Its terrorists fired rockets from fortified tunnels and hideouts underneath and next to the homes of ordinary Gazans. It is the uninvolved Palestinian residents who unfortunately bore the brunt of these illegal tactics.
Even during periods of calm, Hamas exploits and mistreats civilians, especially children. A 2012 report by the Institute for Palestine Studies, a private Palestinian non-profit body, cites Hamas officials who said that "at least 160 children have been killed in tunnels."
Only an Islamist organization like Hamas would so cynically use its own population to promote its distorted ideology. Hamas not only wishes for the demise of Israel, but regularly exploits Gaza’s civilians to achieve its goals. Tragically, the higher the death toll among Gaza’s civilians, the more Hamas’ interests are advanced. Hamas’ use of civilians in Gaza as human shields has two goals: to prevent Israeli counter-attacks and to inflate Palestinian casualty figures in order to rally international opinion against legitimate actions taken by Israel in self-defense.
One should not be misled by Hamas’ attempt to brand itself as a "resistance" movement. The term "resistance", used also by the Hizbullah terrorist organization in Lebanon, is a euphemism for terrorism. When it comes to Hamas, the only things it truly resists are peace, co-existence and the wellbeing of its own population.
The fact that Hamas is a fundamentalist religious organization by no means signifies a lack of sophistication. Hamas has learned from past mistakes and endeavors to camouflage its true terrorist nature from Western eyes.
Hamas has made great efforts to conceal its illegal tactic of fighting from within the civilian population. During the latest confrontation, it intimidated journalists, ordered Gaza’s residents to represent dead terrorists as civilians and prohibited photographing rocket launching pads placed in the midst of populated areas.
Hamas tries to portray itself as a political body, deserving of international recognition. It endeavors to show the world a false dichotomy between the political and military wings of the organization. It has attempted to rehabilitate its image by associating itself with the Palestinian Authority although it wants to replace the PA with an Islamic state. Hamas also tries to fool the international community by hiding its Islamist agenda behind the Palestinian cause.
Hamas’ crimes against Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike should be recognized and strongly condemned. Granting legitimacy to this terrorist organization will only serve to embolden Islamist terror groups worldwide.