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Media Analyses





In Their Own Words: Hamas Leaders


Hamas, according to the United States government and the European Union, is a terrorist organization. The group preaches and practices violence and regularly espouses Israel’s annihilation. Long before Israel’s policy of targeting top Hamas leaders, the group adopted the use of terror. Indeed, the group practiced terrorism before and after Oslo, the road map, and the truce agreement (the “hudna”).

Yet, Palestinian attacks have been regularly characterized by many in the media as “revenge” or “retaliation.” Such references reverse cause and effect, and wrongly suggest Hamas attacks are merely reactive. In fact, Hamas needs no provocation to attack, since it considers Israel’s very existence provocation enough. The preamble to the Hamas charter makes this abundantly clear. It states “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”

Yet, the Associated Press has gone so far as to adopt the deceptive term “revenge bombing” to describe Hamas terrorist attacks. For example, on September 16, 2003, the AP reported:

Israeli troops killed an Islamic fugitive militant in an arrest raid, witnesses and military officials said. Such raids have triggered revenge bombings. [emphasis added]

On the September 9, 2003 broadcast of ABC World News Tonight, Hilary Brown reported:

...This suicide bomb attack comes as no surprise. After Israel attempted to assassinate the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheik Yassin...Hamas vowed revenge.

What many in the media apparently prefer to ignore — or refuse to believe — is that Hamas is engaged in a long term campaign of violence — regardless of Israeli actions.

And this refusal comes in spite of the fact that media outlets such as AP and the New York Times themselves periodically report some of the Hamas vows to attack Israelis and to destroy the country, as the following examples show.

Abdel Aziz Rantisi

On June 10, 2003, Israel attempted to assassinate Abdel Aziz Rantisi who is a co-founder of Hamas. Well before this, Rantisi stated:

We in Hamas believe peace talks will do no good. We do not believe that we can live with the enemy. (New York Times, April 4, 2002.)

Although many media outlets differentiate between a military and political wing of Hamas, here is what Rantisi has to say on the subject:

“The gates of resistance are open totally.” Those statements are heard by the military wing, he [Rantisi] says, “and they listen because we are the political leaders.” (New York Times, April 4, 2002.)

Thus, in Rantisi’s own words, military attacks flow from “political” guidance. And who will Hamas kill according to Rantisi?

We will kill Jews everywhere. There will be no security for any Jews, those who came from America, Russia or anywhere.(Chicago Tribune July 23, 2002.) “As long as they kill civilians, we kill civilians.” (Chicago Tribune, Aug 6, 2001.)

And where does Rantisi and Hamas plan to attack?

We have no choice but to kill the occupier, to kill him everywhere, every village and every city. (AP, March 11, 2002.)

Rantisi believes his murderous attacks are not only fully justified, but righteous as well. He was quoted in AP as saying:

Hamas will continue to terrorize all the enemies of God and we will continue in our Jihad and resistance.

Following the quote, AP added that Rantisi “is considered a relative moderate.” (Oct. 9, 1997.)

He has even called for violence against Americans in Iraq:

Iraq should train and outfit cells of suicide attackers with ‘thousands of highly explosive belts’ to fight American and British troops. (AP, Jan. 10, 2003.)

Despite this, NBC has termed Rantisi a “father and grandfather” who is a “ graphic example that survival now means life as the hunted.” (Aug 30, 2003.) The same man who swore “we will not leave one Jew in Palestine” (AP, June 11, 2003), AP has described as “a doctor and sometime poet.” (June10, 2003)

Sheik Ahmed Yassin

Israel attempted to assassinate the “spiritual leader” of Hamas, Sheik Yassin, on September 6, 2003. Well before this, Yassin suggested to the New York Times that Hamas has become more violent primarily because they now have more sophisticated and destructive weapons.

The Palestinian people are not the same as they were in 1967. At that time nobody knew how to make explosives... but now, everybody knows, and Israel will never be the same. (New York Times, April 4, 2002.)

Yassin also believes that “reconciliation with the Jews is a crime.” (Filastin al-Muslimah (London), March 1995.)

Members of the media, however, appear notably indifferent to the contradiction of deeming one who celebrates violence a “spiritual leader.”

The Boston Globe reported that after a Palestinian attack which left four Jewish seminary students dead:

Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin told 30,000 supporters at a rally... “Resistance will move forward. Jihad will continue, and martyrdom operations will continue until the full liberation on Palestine.” (Dec. 28, 2002.)

Ismail Abu Shanab

On August 21, Israel assassinated Hamas leader Ismail Abu Shanab. The New York Times reported that Shanab was widely regarded as “the most pragmatic of Hamas leaders,” while the Chicago Tribune wrote that the leader was “considered moderate.” However, he echoed the same calls to violence as other Hamas leaders.

Well before Abu Shanab was killed he told the New York Times that:

Hamas will not accept any document that does not give it the right of resistance on all Palestinian land. (Aug. 14, 2002.)

Shortly after Barak offered a Palestinian state, Abu Shanab was reported to have warned:

We are coming. We have accepted the challenge. We are coming to Tel Aviv. We are coming to every place in Palestine to purify it from the Jews. (New York Times, Oct. 28, 2000.)

Mahmoud al-Zahar

Israel has also targeted, but failed to kill Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar. (Sept. 10, 2003.) Before the attack on al-Zahar, he was quoted in the New York Times praising the March 2002 Passover attacks against Israel:

“Forty were killed and 200 injured — in just two operations,”al-Zahar said with a smile.” (April 4, 2002.)

Al-Zahar once explained to the BBC that “all Israelis are militants ... [there are] no civilian Israelis.” (Oct 3, 2001)

Hamas’ Hypocrisy

Hamas leaders incite Palestinians to kill themselves, indoctrinating young children to glorify such behavior. But, a letter by the embittered father of a Palestinian suicide bomber illustrates the hypocrisy of Hamas leaders. The father wrote that while Hamas “threaten[s] the enemy with even greater acts of vengeance...They push more young people to their deaths.” (Al-Hayat (London) translated by MEMRI , Oct. 1, 2002.) The letter noted that immediately following the latest Intifada, Abu Shanab sent his son to Britain, Mahmoud al-Zahar’s son went to America and Rantisi sent his child to Iraq to finish his studies. Apparently, martyrdom is an honor to be reserved for other people’s children.

Hamas leaders continue to glorify death and have even boasted about themselves becoming martyrs. The “spiritual leader” Sheik Yassin was once quoted saying:

The day in which I will die as a shahid [martyr] will be the happiest day of my life. (Al-Quds, July 26, 1998.)

Despite their bold rhetoric, Hamas leaders appear reluctant to share the fate of those they encourage to die.

The media mislead readers by labeling Hamas terror attacks as “revenge” or “retaliation.” According to Hamas leaders themselves, the group’s use of terror will continue as long as Israel exists.


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