What does Hamas want?
Hamas, an Islamist militant movement, is one of the two major political parties in the Palestinian territories. It governs over two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and is best known for its armed resistance against Israel. The United States and the European Union have designated Hamas a terrorist organization due to its armed resistance against Israel, which has included suicide bombings and rocket attacks. This article aims to delve into the question: What does Hamas want?
The Genesis and Evolution of Hamas
Hamas was established as a spin-off of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in the late 1980s. Its initial purpose was to counter Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), another organization whose commitment to violently resisting Israel threatened to draw Palestinians’ support away from the Brotherhood. In 1988, Hamas published its charter, calling for the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic society in historic Palestine.
Over the years, Hamas has evolved into a significant political and military force. It took over the Gaza Strip after defeating its rival political party, Fatah, in elections in 2006. Today, Iran is one of Hamas’s biggest benefactors, contributing funds, weapons, and training. Turkey has also been a stalwart backer of Hamas, despite accusations of funding Hamas’s terrorism.
The Objectives of Hamas
Hamas’s primary objective, as stated in its charter, is the establishment of an independent Islamic state in historic Palestine. This goal is pursued through armed resistance against Israel, including attacks on Israeli soldiers, settlers, and civilians both in the occupied Palestinian territories and in Israel.
In 2017, in what observers called an attempt to moderate its image, Hamas presented a new document that accepted an interim Palestinian state along the “Green Line” border established before the Six-Day War but still refused to recognize Israel. This stance reflects the organization’s unwavering hostility toward Israel, which has diminished prospects for stability in Gaza.
The Tactics of Hamas
Hamas has employed a variety of tactics in its struggle against Israel. These include suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and more recently, a massive surprise attack on southern Israel in 2023, which resulted in hundreds of civilian and soldier deaths and the taking of dozens of hostages.
Hamas militants have also breached the heavily fortified Gaza border and infiltrated many southern Israeli towns and villages, killing hundreds of Israeli troops and civilians, and wounding and kidnapping scores more. Hamas’s military leader, Mohammed Deif, stated that the group undertook its assault because of Israel’s long-running blockade of Gaza, its occupation of Palestinian lands, and its alleged crimes against Muslims, including the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
In conclusion, Hamas’s primary goal is the establishment of an independent Islamic state in historic Palestine, a goal it pursues through armed resistance against Israel. Its tactics have included suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and large-scale assaults. Despite attempts to moderate its image, Hamas’s unwavering hostility toward Israel continues to fuel conflict and instability in the region. Understanding the motivations and tactics of Hamas is crucial for any meaningful dialogue or negotiation aimed at achieving peace and stability in the region.