THE HAMAS COVENANT OR HAMAS CHARTER, FORMALLY KNOWN IN ENGLISH AS THE COVENANT OF THE ISLAMIC RESISTANCE MOVEMENT, WAS ORIGINALLY ISSUED ON 18 AUGUST 1988 AND OUTLINES THE FOUNDING IDENTITY, STAND, AND AIMS OF HAMAS (THE ISLAMIC RESISTANCE MOVEMENT). A NEW CHARTER WAS ISSUED BY HAMAS LEADER KHALED MASHAL ON 1 MAY 2017 IN DOHA.
The original Charter identified Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and declares its members to be Muslims who "fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors." The charter states that "our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious" and calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel. It emphasizes the importance of jihad, stating in article 13, "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors." The charter also states that Hamas is humanistic, and tolerant of other religions as long as they "stop disputing the sovereignty of Islam in this region". The Charter adds that "renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion" of Islam.
The 2017 charter accepted for the first time the idea of a Palestinian state within the borders that existed before 1967 and rejects recognition of Israel which it terms as the "Zionist enemy". It advocates such a state as transitional but also advocates "liberation of all of Palestine". The new document also states that the group doesn't seek war with the Jewish people but only against Zionism which it holds responsible for "occupation of Palestine". Mashal also stated that Hamas was ending its association with the Muslim Brotherhood
'The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinguished Palestinian movement, whose allegiance is to Allah, and whose way of life is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.' (Article 6)
ON THE DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL:
'Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.' (Preamble)
THE EXCLUSIVE MOSLEM NATURE OF THE AREA:
'The land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf [Holy Possession] consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day. No one can renounce it or any part, or abandon it or any part of it.' (Article 11)
'Palestine is an Islamic land... Since this is the case, the Liberation of Palestine is an individual duty for every Moslem wherever he may be.' (Article 13)
THE CALL TO JIHAD:
'The day the enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In the face of the Jews' usurpation, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.' (Article 15)
'Ranks will close, fighters joining other fighters, and masses everywhere in the Islamic world will come forward in response to the call of duty, loudly proclaiming: 'Hail to Jihad!'. This cry will reach the heavens and will go on being resounded until liberation is achieved, the invaders vanquished and Allah's victory comes about.' (Article 33)
REJECTION OF A NEGOTIATED PEACE SETTLEMENT:
'[Peace] initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement... Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the infidels as arbitrators in the lands of Islam... There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility.' (Article 13)
CONDEMNATION OF THE ISRAEL-EGYPT PEACE TREATY:
'Egypt was, to a great extent, removed from the circle of struggle [against Zionism] through the treacherous Camp David Agreement. The Zionists are trying to draw other Arab countries into similar agreements in order to bring them outside the circle of struggle. ...Leaving the circle of struggle against Zionism is high treason, and cursed be he who perpetrates such an act.' (Article 32)
'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: 'O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.' (Article 7)
'The enemies have been scheming for a long time ... and have accumulated huge and influential material wealth. With their money, they took control of the world media... With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the globe... They stood behind the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution and most of the revolutions we hear about... With their money they formed secret organizations - such as the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs and the Lions - which are spreading around the world, in order to destroy societies and carry out Zionist interests... They stood behind World War I … and 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.. There is no war going on anywhere without them having their finger in it.' (Article 22)
'Zionism scheming has no end, and after Palestine, they will covet expansion from the Nile to the Euphrates River. When they have finished digesting the area on which they have laid their hand, they will look forward to more expansion. Their scheme has been laid out in the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion'.' (Article 32)
'The HAMAS regards itself the spearhead and the vanguard of the circle of struggle against World Zionism... Islamic groups all over the Arab world should also do the same, since they are best equipped for their future role in the fight against the warmongering Jews.' (Article 32)
HISTORY OF HAMAS IN GAZA Palestinin Islamic Organization Encyclopædia Britannica, The Editors, 12-18-2017 See Article History Alternative Titles: Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-Islāmiyyah, Islamic Resistance Movement
Hamās, acronym of Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-Islāmiyyah, English Islamic Resistance Movement, militant Palestinian Islamic movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state in Palestine. Founded in 1987, Hamās opposed the 1993 peace accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
From the late 1970s, Islamic activists connected with the pan-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood established a network of charities, clinics, and schools and became active in the territories (the Gaza Strip and West Bank) occupied by Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War. In Gaza they were active in many mosques, while their activities in the West Bank generally were limited to the universities. The Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in these areas were generally nonviolent, but a number of small groups in the occupied territories began to call for jihad, or holy war, against Israel. In December 1987, at the beginning of the Palestinian intifada (from Arabic intifāḍah, “shaking off”) movement against Israeli occupation, Hamās (which also is an Arabic word meaning “zeal”) was established by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and religious factions of the PLO, and the new organization quickly acquired a broad following. In its 1988 charter, Hamās maintained that Palestine is an Islamic homeland that can never be surrendered to non-Muslims and that waging holy war to wrest control of Palestine from Israel is a religious duty for Palestinian Muslims. This position brought it into conflict with the PLO, which in 1988 recognized Israel’s right to exist.
Ḥamās soon began to act independently of other Palestinian organizations, generating animosity between the group and its secular nationalist counterparts. Increasingly violent Ḥamās attacks on civilian and military targets impelled Israel to arrest a number of Hamās leaders in 1989, including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the movement’s founder. In the years that followed, Hamās underwent reorganization to reinforce its command structure and locate key leaders out of Israel’s reach. A political bureau responsible for the organization’s international relations and fund-raising was formed in Amman, Jordan, and the group’s armed wing was reconstituted as the ʿIzz al-Dīn al-Qassām Forces.
Ḥamās denounced the 1993 peace agreement between Israel and the PLO and, along with the Islamic Jihad group, subsequently intensified its terror campaign using suicide bombers. The PLO and Israel responded with harsh security and punitive measures, although PLO chairman Yāsir ʿArafāt, seeking to include Ḥamās in the political process, appointed Ḥamās members to leadership positions in the Palestinian Authority (PA). The collapse of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians in September 2000 led to an increase in violence that came to be known as the Aqṣā intifada. That conflict was marked by a degree of violence unseen in the first intifada, and Ḥamās activists further escalated their attacks on Israelis and engaged in a number of suicide bombings in Israel itself. Jordan expelled Ḥamās leaders from Amman in 1999, accusing them of having used their Jordanian offices as a command post for military activities in the West Bank and Gaza. In 2001 the political bureau established new headquarters in Damascus, Syria.
In early 2005 Mahmoud Abbas, president of the PA, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced a suspension of hostilities as Israel prepared to withdraw troops from some Palestinian territories. After much negotiation, Ḥamās agreed to the cease-fire, although sporadic violence continued. In the 2006 elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council, Hamās won a surprise victory over Fatah, capturing the majority of seats. The two groups eventually formed a coalition government, though clashes between Hamās and Fatah forces in the Gaza Strip intensified, prompting Abbas to dissolve the Hamās-led government and declare a state of emergency in June 2007. Hamās was left in control of the Gaza Strip, while a Fatah-led emergency cabinet had control of the West Bank.
Later that year Israel declared the Gaza Strip under Ḥamās a hostile entity and approved a series of sanctions that included power cuts, heavily restricted imports, and border closures. Ḥamās attacks on Israel continued, as did Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. After months of negotiations, in June 2008 Israel and Hamās agreed to implement a truce scheduled to last six months; however, this was threatened shortly thereafter as each accused the other of violations, which escalated in the last months of the agreement. On December 19 the truce officially expired amid accusations of violations on both sides. Broader hostilities erupted shortly thereafter as Israel, responding to sustained rocket fire, mounted a series of air strikes across the region—among the strongest in years—meant to target Hamās. After a week of air strikes, Israeli forces initiated a ground campaign into the Gaza Strip amid calls from the international community for a cease-fire. Following more than three weeks of hostilities—in which perhaps more than 1,000 were killed and tens of thousands left homeless—Israel and Hamās each declared a unilateral cease-fire.
In April 2011 Hamās and Fatah officials announced that the two sides had reached a reconciliation agreement in negotiations mediated by Egypt. The agreement, signed in Cairo on May 4, called for the formation of an interim government to organize legislative and presidential elections. After months of negotiations over the leadership of the interim government, the two parties announced in February 2012 that they had selected Abbas for the post of interim president.
Hamās’s relations with the governments of Syria and Iran, two of its primary sources of support, were strained in 2011 when Ḥamās leaders in Damascus conspicuously avoided expressing support for a crackdown by Syrian armed forces against antigovernment protesters inside the country. In early 2012 Hamās leaders left Syria for Egypt and Qatar and then publicly declared their support for the Syrian opposition. Iranian support for Hamās, which by some estimates had exceeded $200 million a year, was greatly reduced.
Beginning on November 14, 2012, Israel launched a series of air strikes in Gaza in response to an increase in the number of rockets fired from Gaza into Israeli territory over the previous nine months. The head of the ʿIzz al-Dīn al-Qassām Forces, Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari, was killed in the initial strike. Hamās retaliated with increasing rocket attacks on Israel, and hostilities continued until Israel and Hamās reached a cease-fire agreement on November 21.
The Hamās government in the Gaza Strip, still struggling following the cutoff of Iranian aid, was placed under even greater financial strain in 2013 when the administration of Egyptian Pres. Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was overthrown and replaced by a military-led interim government hostile to Hamās. The new administration heavily restricted crossings at the border between Gaza and Egypt and shut down most of the smuggling tunnels that had been a major source of tax revenue for Hamās as well as a primary means of supplying a wide variety of goods to the Gaza Strip. By late 2013 Hamās was struggling to pay the wages of public sector employees in the Gaza Strip.
In April 2014 Hamās effectively renounced its governing role in the Gaza Strip by agreeing with Fatah to the formation of a new Palestinian Authority cabinet composed entirely of nonpartisan ministers. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the new agreement, accusing Fatah of seeking reconciliation with Hamās at the expense of a possible peace agreement with Israel. The new cabinet was sworn in on June 2.
Tensions between Israel and Hamās rose following the disappearance of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on June 12. Netanyahu accused Hamās of having abducted the youths, and he vowed not to let the crime go unpunished. Israeli security forces launched a massive sweep in the West Bank to search for the missing boys and to crack down on members of Hamās and other militant groups; several hundred Palestinians suspected of having militant ties were arrested, including several leaders of Hamās in the West Bank. On June 30 the boys were found dead in the West Bank, outside of Hebron.
In the Gaza Strip the atmosphere of heightened tension led to an increase in rocket attacks on Israel by Palestinian militants. Those had been relatively infrequent since the 2012 cease-fire, but by late June 2014 rocket launches and Israeli reprisals had become a daily occurrence. On July 8 Israel commenced a large-scale offensive in the Gaza Strip, using aerial bombing, missiles, and mortar fire to destroy a variety of targets that it claimed were associated with militant activity. After more than a week of bombardment failed to halt rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces launched a ground assault to destroy tunnels and other elements of the militants’ infrastructure. In early August Israeli leaders declared that the ground operation had fulfilled its mission, and Israeli troops and tanks pulled back from the Gaza Strip. Israeli air strikes continued, as did rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip.
After agreeing to several short-term cease-fires over the course of the conflict, Israeli and Palestinian leaders reached an open-ended cease-fire in late August. In exchange for the cessation of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Israel agreed to loosen reson goods entering the Gaza Strip, expand the fishing zone off the coast, and reduce the size of the security buffer it enforced in areas adjacent to the Israeli border. Despite the high Palestinian death toll—estimated at more than 2,100—and widespread destruction in the Gaza Strip, Hamas leaders declared victory, trumpeting its ability to withstand Israeli attacks.
Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that emerged in the Gaza Strip in the late 1980s, during the first Palestinian intifada (uprising) against Israel. The group’s ideology blends Islamism and Palestinian nationalism and seeks the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Hamas has maintained its ties to the Brotherhood, but also receives financial and military support from Iran, which supports Hamas’s intention to destroy Israel. In recent years, Qatar has also provided significant funding for the group.
Hamas uses its provision of social services to build support amongst grassroots Palestinians, helping it to win the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. However, the group’s engagement in politics and welfare has not tempered its commitment to terrorism. Hamas’s preferred methods include suicide bombings, rocket and mortar attacks, shootings, and kidnappings. The group has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, the UK, the EU, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan.
Although Hamas formed a Palestinian Authority unity government with its rival Fatah in early 2006, the two groups continued to clash, often violently, leading Hamas to forcibly expel Fatah from the Gaza Strip in 2007. The terror group has ruled Gaza since, surviving on Iranian and Qatari aid, as well as income from the smuggling tunnels it has built beneath the Gaza-Egypt border. In 2013, the Egyptian army sealed off most of the tunnels, throwing Hamas and Gaza into a financial crisis that led the Hamas to seek a reconciliation deal with Fatah in the spring of 2014.
Governance has not moderated Hamas. Hamas has been responsible for thousands of Qassam rockets fired at Israeli towns, a 2006 cross-border raid resulting in the five-year captivity of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and three wars with Israel, most recently in the summer of 2014. Like other Islamist organizations, Hamas seeks power, but has proven unable to provide basic services to the Gazan population. Despite decaying relations with Fatah, heavy damage from the 2014 conflict, and a crumbling Gazan economy, Hamas shows no signs of giving up its goals of destroying Israel or creating an Islamist state.
Hamas, the Palestinian offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, seeks to create an Islamist state of Palestine between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, replacing Israel, which Hamas does not recognize. Like its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood (and unlike the secular, nationalist PLO), Hamas strives to create an Islamist state based on the principles of sharia (Islamic law). Hamas views the entirety of the land of Mandate Palestine—excluding the 80 percent of Palestine that became modern-day Jordan—as an Islamic birthright that has been usurped. To that end, Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and has dedicated itself to violently seeking Israel’s destruction. Hamas’s slogan, spelled out in Article 8 of the organization’s 1988 charter, sums up the terror group’s belief system: “Allah is [our] target, the Prophet is [our] model, the Koran [our] constitution: Jihad is [our] path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of [our] wishes."*
Hamas’s leadership has historically been split between its foreign-based political bureau (2017 based in Qatar) and its Gaza-based government, which at times find themselves at odds. Various Hamas leaders have made contradictory claims on whether the group’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, operates independently or under the direction of the political wing.
On May 1, 2017, Hamas unveiled a new political program to supplement its 1988 charter. The so-called Document of General Principles & Policies excised all references to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas’s origins in the movement. Hamas accepted in principle the idea of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 boundaries if approved by a Palestinian national referendum. However, Hamas at the same time reaffirmed its refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and repeated its call for a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea.”* The document also reaffirmed Hamas’s dedication to “armed resistance” as the “strategic choice for protecting the principles and the rights of the Palestinian people.”*
Hamas’s Gaza government has been largely shunned by a large segment of the international community, while it has struggled to pay the salaries of 40,000 municipal workers in the strip
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades comprise Hamas’s military wing.
Hamas has an estimated 20,000 fighters, with another 20,000 in its police and security forces.* Following the 2014 reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the PLO, it was revealed that some 25,000 Hamas employees in Gaza work in the security services, and that a majority of them belong to the Qassam Brigades.* According to one Qassam official, these employees would take orders from the Brigades—and not the Ministry of Interior—after the formation of a unity government with the PLO.
(Editor’s Note: 68% of the population, 1.3 million out of the 1.9 million population are Palestinian refugees. Many national costs are paid by non-governmental organisations. Examples are education, health and accommodation costs are paid by UNRWA and electricity is paid by the PLO)
The Muslim Brotherhood is a transnational Sunni Islamist movement that seeks to implement sharia (Islamic law) under a global caliphate. Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood is that country’s oldest Islamist organization and has branches throughout the world. While these branches operate under a variety of names and use a variety of social, political, and occasionally violent methods, they share a commitment to the overarching goal of establishing rule according to sharia. The most notable and lethal Brotherhood offshoot is Hamas, the Palestinian terror group operating out of the Gaza Strip. Some analysts also argue that the Brotherhood has served as the ideological forerunner of modern violent Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. The group has been labeled a terrorist organization by the governments of Bahrain,* Egypt,* Russia,* Saudi Arabia,* Syria,* and the United Arab Emirates.*
Founded in 1928 by schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna in Ismailia, Egypt, the Brotherhood began as a pan-Islamist religious and social movement, building popular support through dawa (proselytization), political activism, and social welfare. Alongside its political and social activities, the Brotherhood operated an underground violent group—the “secret apparatus”—dedicated to the eradication of British rule in Egypt and of the Jewish presence in Palestine.
The Egyptian Brotherhood’s growth spurred the formation of affiliates in nearby countries such as Syria and Jordan. Dissemination of written works by Sayyid Qutb, one of the leading Brotherhood ideologues in the 1950s and 1960s, prompted further Brotherhood growth across the Arabian Peninsula, Palestinian territories, and Africa. As Zachary Laub of the Council on Foreign Relations writes, Qutb’s writings “provided the intellectual and theological underpinnings for many militant Sunni Islamist groups, including al-Qaeda and Hamas.”* Indeed, Qutb’s writings helped inform the Islamist ideology known as Qutbism, which advocates violent jihad—and the killing of secular Muslims—in order to implement sharia.
The Brotherhood has survived in Egypt despite several waves of repression by the Egyptian government. Repressive measures have included legal prohibition of the group and imprisonment and execution of large numbers of Brotherhood members, including Qutb, whom the Egyptian government executed in 1966 for his part in the conspiracy to assassinate then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser. The Egyptian Brotherhood also benefitted from intermittent periods of toleration by the government, during which the group continued its social, religious, economic, and political activities, building up organizational strength unmatched by any other Egyptian opposition group. In addition, the group’s unofficial ideologue, Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has been unrestrained in delivering sermons and issuing militant fatwas (religious decrees) from his pulpit in Qatar.
As the Arab Spring came to a head in 2011, the Brotherhood’s resilience and robust infrastructure left it well placed to capitalize on shifting political landscapes in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa. Several Brotherhood chapters formed political parties and performed well in their respective countries’ elections, particularly in Egypt with the Freedom and Justice Party, which ran senior Brotherhood official Mohammed Morsi as its candidate for president.* In Tunisia, Ennahdha won the first elections after former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s ouster.*
Morsi served as president of Egypt between June 2012 and July 2013, though his government alienated much of the population due to perceptions that it governed poorly and overreached—including through the group’s attempts to rush through changes to the Egyptian constitution. In July 2013, after months of mass protests against the Brotherhood-led government, the Egyptian military overthrew Morsi and seized power, calling for new presidential and parliamentary elections and arresting Morsi and hundreds of Brotherhood officials and members on various charges. Egypt’s military-run government, led by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has sought to uproot the Brotherhood entirely.*
Since Morsi’s ouster, an ideological and strategic rift has widened between the Egyptian Brotherhood’s older and younger generations. While the older generation—known as the “old guard”—reiterates its platform of non-violence and hopes that the military regime will collapse due to economic decline or an internal coup, for example, the younger generation has adopted increasingly jihadist rhetoric and resorts to low-level violence in pursuit of the overthrow of the Sisi regime.*