What is it, what does it want, and what will it achieve?by Stephen Farrell / August 21, 2014 / Leave a comment
Published in September issue of Prospect Magazine
Who set up Hamas and what are its core principles?
Hamas is an armed Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was created in 1987 by the Gaza-based Islamist cleric Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. Its full name is the Islamic Resistance Movement, and its core principles are armed resistance to Israel and “Islam is the solution.”
This hardline message fusing nationalism and religious conservatism was a deliberate attempt to establish it as a long-term Islamist and nationalist challenge to the more secular Palestinian movements within the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
How did it rise to prominence?
It was born during the opening days of the first Palestinian intifada (uprising) against Israel, and successfully built upon the street anger and protests of that time.
Its implacable Islamist and anti-Israel rhetoric appealed to many socially conservative Palestinians and to refugees whose families were driven out of their homes in what is now Israel. Over decades Hamas slowly built its power base in Gaza. It was the surprise victor in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections—capitalising on criticism of corruption and inefficiency in President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority—and seized military control of Gaza in 2007. However, its international isolation ever since then has led to it being weakened, and to successive conflicts with Israel.