Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have reconciled with a signed unity deal and plan to form a unity government within the next few weeks -- a move that has prompted Israel to suspend peace talks. While Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu calls the unity deal "a blow to Israel," " a blow to peace" and "a blow to the Palestinian people," TheNew York Times ("Room for Debate") asks whether reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas can end up actually improving the chances of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A review of the fate of previous such reconciliations and the facts about Hamas' positions and statements may help answer that question.
Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) is considered a terrorist organization by much of the non-Arab international community including Israel, the U.S., Canada, Japan, the U.K., Australia and the European Union. Its declared goal is to destroy the Jewish state and replace it with an Islamic one. Indeed, its enmity is directed not only toward Israel but toward Jews, in general.
This has not prevented some politicians, however, like former U.S. President Jimmy Carter from whitewashing Hamas and arguing that it must be recognized and legitimized. A similar, failed Hamas "reconciliation" with Fatah three years ago was hailed at the time by Carter as a historic success. He announced his "confidence" that "Hamas' return to unified Palestinian governance can increase the likelihood of a two-state solution and a peaceful outcome."
But of course this was ludicrous to anyone acquainted with the position of Hamas' leaders. Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy to Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, immediately insisted that despite the agreement to form a Palestinian unity government, Hamas would not recognize Israel's right to exist, and after the signing, Mashaal declared that "the only campaign we have is against Israel...Our common enemy is Israel. Israel must be fought through force and diplomacy." Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar similarly clarified that, "our program [of reconciliation with Fatah] does not include negotiations with Israel or recognizing it." He insisted that Hamas would never recognize Israel, or give up its "right to Palestine." And Ismail Haniyeh called for an end to the Zionist project in Palestine.
Disturbingly, even when Hamas deliberately targets Israeli civilians, endangers the welfare of Palestinians, and even while it consistently proclaims its ultimate commitment to Israel's destruction, there are always those who continue to suggest Hamas is merely fighting for freedom alongside Israel. This is false, belied by Hamas' governing charter, its actions, and its representatives' own proclamations.
From time to time, media outlets report on Hamas' willingness to observe a truce with Israel, usually touted as akin to a permanent or long-term peace agreement. But, this too is an outright fallacy. There has never been any genuine offer by Hamas to co-exist alongside a Jewish state in Israel. Their short-term truces, or "hudnas" are always predicated upon political expediency, and reject the concept of recognizing Israel, maintaining their "right to resistance until the occupation withdraws." (See, for example, here and here.)
Below are seven essential, unarguable facts about Hamas.
1) Hamas completely rejects a Jewish state.
Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims. (Hamas Charter, Article 28)
2) Hamas's ultimate mission"no matter how long it takes"-- is to "fight the Jews and kill them"and to replace the Jewish state with an Islamic caliphate.
...the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. The Prophet, Allah's prayer and peace be upon him, says: "The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,' except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews." (Hamas Charter, Article 7)
As for the goals, they are to fight falsehood, vanquish it and defeat it so that righteousness shall rule, the homeland shall return [to its rightful owner], and from the top of its mosques, the [Muslim] call for prayer will ring out announcing the rise of the rule of Islam, so that people and things shall all return to their proper place. (Hamas Charter, Article 9)
3) Hamas' enmity is not directed against Israel alone but against the Jewish people as a whole. Jews are demonized repeatedly in Hamas' governing document.
...our fight with the Jews is very extensive and very grave, and it requires all the sincere efforts. It is a step that must be followed by further steps;...(Hamas Charter, Preamble)
The Prophet, Allah's prayer and peace be upon him, says: "The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,' except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews." [Recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim]. (Hamas Charter, Article Seven)
With money they have taken control of the world media - news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting services, etc. With money they sparked revolutions in various countries around the world in order to serve their interests and to reap profits. They were behind the French Revolution and the Communist Revolution and [they are behind] most of the revolutions about which we hear from time to time here and there. With money they have formed secret organizations, all over the world, in order to destroy [those countries'] societies and to serve the Zionists' interests, such as the Freemasons, the Rotary Clubs, the Lions, the Sons of the Covenant [i.e. B'nei B'rith], etc. All of these are organizations of espionage and sabotage. With money they were able to take control of the colonialist countries, and [they] urged them to colonize many countries so that they could exploit their resources and spread moral corruption there...They were behind World War I...obtained the Balfour Declaration, and established the League of the United Nations [sic] so as to rule the world through this organization. They were [also] behind World War II, through which they reaped enormous profits from commerce in war materials and paved the way for the establishment of their state. They [also] suggested the formation of the United Nations and the Security Council to replace the League of the United Nations [sic] and to rule the world through this [new organization]. Wherever there is war in the world, it is they who are pulling the strings behind the scenes. "Whenever they ignite the fire of war, Allah extinguishes it. They strive to spread evil in the land, but Allah does not love those who do evil." [Koran, 5:64] (Hamas Charter, Article 22)
It now remains for steps to be taken by the Arab and Islamic world. [The Islamic Resistance Movement] is well qualified for the upcoming stage [of the struggle] with the Jews, the warmongers. (Hamas Charter, Article 32)
Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad voiced Hamas' views on Jews and the imperative to rid the area of them in a Dec. 14, 2010 interview on Al Aqsa TV. He explained:
The Jews have become abhorred and loathed outcasts, because they live off corruption and the plundering of the peoples not only the Arab and Islamic peoples, but all the peoples of the world. The world has begun to be aware of this corrupting danger, and to applaud Hamas. The entire world says: "Bravo, Hamas, for confronting these people pf corruption." Whenever we score a goal, by achieving something against the Jews, the world applauds us....
Therefore, I expect that in the future, support for Hamas will grow. I also expect that in addition to the aid convoys, Hamas will get some "heavy stuff," which will help it be victorious. Hamas will receive its means of survival, its arms, and its supporters from where it is least expected, because the hatred for the Jews is on the rise, and people who hate the Jews find no [other] way to fulfill their hatred of the Jews and of the Americans the Americans too have become abhorred throughout the world, because of their corruption, for they are led by the Jews and they will support us. [translated by MEMRI]
Hamas' Al Aqsa TV rrequently broadcasts violent calls to slaughter Jews, for example, in this televised 2011 rally where the speaker declared it an act of devotion to Allah to harvest the skulls of the Jews (view here). Palestinians were told that:
You [Allah] have made our killing of the Jews an act of worship through which we come closer to you....our beloved Prophet Muhammed, You have made your teachings constitutions for us...the fire with which we harvest the skulls of the Jews...Oh sons of Palestine, oh sons of the Gaza Strip, oh mujahedeen, wage jihad, wreak destruction, blow up and harvest the heads of the Zionists. (translated by MEMRI).
4) Hamas rejects compromise, peace negotiations or a diplomatic end to the conflict.
[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement.
For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad...
...There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. (Hamas Charter, Article 15)
5) No Hamas representative has ever renounced the charter; Hamas leaders not only reiterate the charter's precepts calling for an Islamic caliphate in all of Israel, but view it as the first step to worldwide Islamic rule.
Some recent examples evidencing how Hamas adheres to its charter:
1. "Palestinians mark 'Naqba Day' this year with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine." (Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, at a May 15, 2011 speech marking Israel's creation)
2. "Our aim is to establish a free and completely sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, whose capital is Jerusalem, without any settlers and without giving up a single inch of land and without giving up on right of return...Our common enemy is Israel. Israel must be fought both with force and through diplomacy." (Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement signing in Cairo, May 4, 2011)
3. "We won't recognize the Zionist entity. Our rights are still usurped and it's illogical for us to recognize the Zionist entity because that would be at the expense of our stolen lands and our people in the refugee camps. (Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, Cairo, May, 1, 2011)
4. Mahmoud al-Zahar, June 15, 2010, Future TV, Lebanon
"We have liberated Gaza, but have we recognized Israel? Have we given up our lands occupied in 1948? We demand the liberation of the West Bank, and the establishment of a state in the West Bank and Gaza, with Jerusalem as its capital but without recognizing [Israel]. This is the key without recognizing the Israeli enemy on a single inch of land...This is our plan for this stage to liberate the West Bank and Gaza, without recognizing Israel's right to a single inch of land, and without giving up the Right of Return for a single Palestinian refugee.Our plan for this stage is to liberate any inch of Palestinian land, and to establish a state on it. Our ultimate plan is [to have] Palestine in its entirety. I say this loud and clear so that nobody will accuse me of employing political tactics. We will not recognize the Israeli enemy. ..we will not give up the platform of resistance, and the plan to liberate Palestine in its entirety. This is unequivocal..."
5."The Zionists I swear to you, by God, by the world... We will not recognize Israel. If you want security or peace, you should go back to where you came from." (Hamas "message" to the Israeli people: Broadcast Jan. 11, 2009).
6. "Our goal is to liberate all of Palestine, from the river to the sea, from Rosh Hanikra to Umm Al-Rashrash [Eilat]. We do not want a state 364 square kilometers in size, nor do we want a state which we had to beg for at the negotiating table. Such a state will never come to be. What we want is a free state, which maintains its dignity, 27,000 square kilometers in size the size of Palestine in its entirety." (Hamas representative Osama Hamdan at press conference, Hamas Al Aqsa TV, Dec. 2008).
7. "The day will come, within several years, when this world will change, submitting to the Arab Islamic will, Allah willing." (Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, Al Jazeera TV, October 12, 2008).
8. "The approaching victory, about which we are talking, is not limited to Palestine. You are creating the ethos of victory for all Arabs and Muslims, and Allah willing, even on the global level. Why? Because Allah has chosen you to fight the people He hates most the Jews. Allah said: "You shall find the worst enemies of the believers to be the Jews and the polytheists." In other words, the Jews, who number 15 million all over the world, are equivalent to 4.5 billion infidels in their corruption and their struggle against the religion of Islam. Therefore, our heroic prisoners who were arrested for killing Jews should know that by the grace of Allah, killing a single Jew is the same as killing 30 million Jews. Therefore, the reward of our martyrs is great, and your reward is also great." (Hamas MP Fathi Hammad, Hamas Al Aqsa TV, Sept. 8, 2008).
9. "The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine. This will be followed by a greater blessing, Allah be praised, with the establishment of a Caliphate that will rule the land and will be pleasing to men and God." (Hamas cleric Muhsen Abu 'Ita, Hamas Al-Aqsa TV, July 13, 2008).
6) Hamas' targeting of Jewish civilians is part and parcel of its mission to kill Jews, destroy the Jewish State and wage jihad against civilians. Any claim that Hamas is fighting Israel's "occupation" is belied by the continued targeting of Jews well within Israel's pre-67 borders, even after Israel's complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
Since September 2000, Hamas has carried out hundreds of attacks targeting civilians. Foreign residents, workers and students, as well as Israeli citizens have been among Hamas's victims. Even after Israel's disengagement from Gaza in August 2005, Hamas has continued to use the Gaza Strip as a launching pad to escalate rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel's sovereign territory. Hamas also took responsibility for a suicide bombing and abduction and murder of an Israeli businessman following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. In addition to the attacks for which Hamas publicly claims responsibility are those attacks which it encourages and facilitates from the territory it controls. For a list Hamas' more notorious attacks, see "Hamas Essentials". Hamas is also responsible for the following assaults on civilians:
Port: Ashdod Port, March 14, 2004: Hamas, together with Fatah, took credit for a double suicide bombing at Ashdod Port which killed 10 people and wounded 16.
City buses: Hamas has carried out numerous atacks on Israeli commuters. Schoolchildren and travellers of all ages on intra- and inter-city buses throughout Israel have been targeted in Netanya, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Hadera, Meron, and elsewhere. Since September 2000, Hamas perpetrated more than 18 attacks on or near civilian buses, bus stops, train stations and taxis.
Egged Bus 19, Jan. 29, 2004: Hamas, together with Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing of Bus 19 in the center of Jerusalem which took the lives of 11 civilians and wounded 50 more, 13 of them seriously. The blast tore apart the bus, turning it into a twisted wreck.
Be'ersheva Buses 6 and 12, Aug. 31, 2004: Hamas claimed responsibility for two suicide attacks targeting city buses on Be'ersheva's main street, killing 16 and wounding over 100 people.
Attacks for which Hamas claimed responsibility after Israel's complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip:
Bus Station: Be'er Sheva Central Bus Station, Aug. 28, 2005: A Hamas suicide bomber detonated himself outside the Beersheba Central Bus Station. Two security guards stopped the bomber, but were severely wounded in the process. Fifty other people were wounded or treated for shock.
Abduction: September 21, 2005: Hamas claimed responsibility for the abduction and murder of Israeli businessman Sasson Nuriel.
Shopping mall: Dimona shopping mall, Feb. 4, 2008: Hamas claimed responsibility for and hailed a suicide bombing at a shopping mall which killed one woman and critically wounded her husband, as well as 38 more people. A Hamas statement following the event urged more such attacks.
Rocket and mortar attacks: Hamas consolidated its control over the Gaza Strip and enabled Palestinian terrorist organizations both to expand the facilities that manufacture rockets inside the Gaza Strip and to smuggle rockets into Gaza from Egypt. Rocket and mortar attacks soon became the main method of attack emanating from Hamas-controlled Gaza.
*Since Israel's disengagement 5,700 rockets and mortars were fired into Israel (more than 3,500 rockets and 2,200 mortars), killing 14 civilians and one soldier. In addition, hundreds of people were wounded, and thousands were treated for shock of minor injuries.
*In 2008 alone, 3,500 rockets and mortar shells landed in Israeli territory (almost 2000 rockets and 1,642 mortar shells) and put almost 1 million Israelis (i.e. 15% population) into rocket range. (See: Intelligence & Information Center report.)
After winning the Palestinian elections 2006, Hamas sent its militia into the street, attacking opponents with assault rifles and grenades, and assassinating and torturing Fatah rivals. Hamas gunmen killed women, children and foreign diplomats. Examples:
Jordanian diplomat Khaled Radaida, was killed when a Hamas gunmen shot through the windshield of his car despite the fact that the car bore a diplomatic license plate. (AP, May 22, 2006)
Hamas gunmen ambushed and opened fire on the car of a Fatah loyalist, Baha Balousheh, killing his three young children, ages 9, 7, and 4 and their driver on their way to school. Six other children were also wounded in the attack. (AP, Dec. 12, 2006; Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights [PICHR] Annual Report for 2006)
Bloody Coup in Gaza Strip (June 11-15, 2007)
In mid-June 2007, as Hamas waged a bloody coup against Fatah, and took over the Gaza Strip. Hamas gunmen paid little heed to bystanders. In just a two weeks of fighting, more than 160 people were killed, including 39 uninvolved bystanders. Of these, 11 were women and 14 were children. (PICHR, 2007 Report).
According to PICHR's report, the number of children killed as a result of internal fighting and chaos in Palestinian-controlled territories numbered 8714 of whom were killed in mid-June.
Examples (AP, Telegraph, The Age, Guardian, New York Times):
In one attack, Hamas gunmen stormed the home of a Fatah security officer, killing his 14-year-old son and three women inside the house.
In another incident, Hamas and Fatah gunmen squared off near a hospital, placing kindergarten children in the direct line of fire.
Hamas death squads took over the streets, executing Fatah loyalists and alleged collaborators gangland-style, hurling some off rooftops. For example, Fatah member Mohammed Sweirki, was thrown off a 15-story building. (Note: Fatah members were equally brutal to Hamas members. For example, Hamas fighter Abu Kainas was thrown off a 12-story building.)
During an attack on the large Hilles family clan on October 20, 2007, Hamas took over the neighborhood, cutting electricity and telecommunications. Using machine guns, they stationed snipers on rooftops and killed several members of the clan, as well as 13-year-old Muhammad a-Susi who walking on the street. On that same day, during Hamas clashes with Islamic Jihad in Rafah, a 51-year-old female bystander, Hiyam Ahmad Ibrahim Saqer, was shot dead in Rafah.
Hamas gunmen shot into a crowd of Fatah demonstrators commemorating Yasir Arafat's death on Nov. 12, 2007. They killed seven people including 12-year-old Ibrahim Ahmad.
Human Rights Violations in 2007
After Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip, the number of human rights violations skyrocketed.
The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights 2007 report records almost five times as many complaints about human rights violations made by Gaza residents in the half year following Hamas' takeover of Gaza in mid-June than in the half year preceding it (513 vs. 113).
A comparison of the number of rights violated showed a nearly 10-fold increase for the six months of 2007 following the Hamas takeover (1487 vs. 151).
Arrests without warrant increased 30-fold (175 vs. 5).
Complaints about torture increased almost 70-fold (743 vs. 11).
Torture, Executions, and Seizing of Humanitarian Aid (2009)
More recently, during and following Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Hamas gunmen beat, tortured, and executed members of their rival secular Fatah party and others accused of being collaborators. They also seized shipments of food and humanitarian aid.
Fatah published the names of 181 people executed, shot, or maimed by Hamas members. ( Ma'an News, Feb. 2, 2009)
PA Minister of Social Affairs Dr Mahmud al-Habbash Hamas gunmen of seizing 63 aid trucks, which were headed for UNRWA. (WAFA, Jan. 21, 2009)
Al-Habbash also accused Hamas gunmen of executing 19 citizens in cold blood during the aggression against Gaza and opening fire at the legs of 61 others. He said that some of those people are receiving treatment at Egyptian hospitals. He also accused Hamas of deliberately leaving people behind in places from which it was operating, to be bombed by Israel. (WAFA, Jan. 21, 2009)
Al Habbash accused Hamas of terrorizing journalists and citizens by not allowing them to speak independently and forcing them to say only what Hamas wanted and for pursuing those trying to list the losses in the Gaza Strip. (WAFA, Jan. 21, 2009)
Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters captured during the IDF operation further attested to Hamas' atrocities.
Examples (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 1, 2009):
Nuaf Atar testified that Hamas government officials seized humanitarian aid allowed in by Israel and sold it for profit, that Hamas launched rockets from inside school compounds and private homes and land. They stored weapons in private homes. Those who protested were shot in the legs.
Raji Abed Rabo testified Hamas built a large bunker under Gaza's Shifa Hospital where senior Hamas operatives hid out during Israel's military campaign.
Hamad Zalah testified that he and his brother were whipped and beaten with electrical cords at Hamas' Jabaliya headquarters because of their affiliation with Fatah and that his brother was subsequently killed. He also testified that Hamas seized humanitarian aid sent into Gaza, refusing to distribute it to Fatah members.
Amad Hamed, who was trained for a suicide bombing mission, testified that Hamas used private homes to store explosives, rockets and launchers.
Use of Palestinian Civilians as Human Shields
There is ample evidence that Hamas intermingled its fighters among Palestinian civilians, using school compounds and private homes, and civilian centers to launch attacks against Israel. For more details, see "Hamas's Palestinian Victims: Human Shields."