BACKGROUNDER: Hamas Essentials

Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) is considered a terrorist organization by much of the non-Arab international community including Israel, the U.S. and the European Union.  But following the group’s overwhelming victory in Palestinian elections, some journalists and politicians like former U.S. President Jimmy Carter now insist Hamas deserves to be recognized and legitimized. Given such trends, it is important to recall essential  facts about Hamas:

Since September 2000, Hamas has carried out over 500 attacks killing 390 people and injuring 2,100 (mostly civilians).  Foreign residents, workers and students, as well as Israeli citizens have been among Hamas's victims.
These attacks have included the large scale targeting of peaceful civilians. For example:
Dolphinarium, June 1, 2001:  Hamas targeted teenagers waiting in line at a Tel Aviv beachside disco on June 1, 2001.  The majority of the 22 killed were under the age of 20. Over 100 others were wounded.
Sbarro, August 9, 2001:  The terrorist attack claimed the lives of 15 civilians between the ages of 2 and 60 who had been peacefully eating their lunches at the Sbarro pizza shop. About 130 others were wounded.
Ben-Yehuda Pedestrian Mall, December 1, 2001: Hamas claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing at the Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall in Jerusalem targeting a young, Saturday night crowd.  The attacks killed 11 people, aged 12-21, and injured 188 people.   
Park Hotel, March 27, 2002:  Hamas targeted families with young children and elderly grandparents celebrating their Passover Seder in a Netanya hotel. Thirty people were killed, among them some who had survived the Holocaust to come to  Israel.  Hamas terrorists wounded 140 others.
Matza Restaurant, March 31, 2002:  Hamas claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at an Israeli Arab-owned restaurant  which killed 15 people and injured 40.
Hebrew University Student Center Cafeteria, July 31, 2002: Hamas launched a bomb attack on college students.  Four Israelis and five foreign students were killed and 85 injured, 14 of them seriously, when a bomb was set off by Hamas terrorists in the student center cafeteria at Hebrew university. The cafeteria was gutted by the explosion. 
Moment Cafe, March 9, 2003:  The terrorist group targeted a crowded coffee shop on a Saturday night in a western Jerusalem neighborhood. Eleven young adults were murdered and 54 were wounded.
Mike's Place,  April 30, 2003:  Hamas targeted a beachfront pub, killing 3 and wounding 60.
Cafe Hillel, September 9, 2003: Hamas claimed responsibility for an attack on a popular cafe in western Jerusalem.  The attack killed seven people, including a young woman about to be married and her father. Fifty people were wounded in the attack.
Bus attacks:  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.
For more details on Hamas's terrorist attacks, see the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Web site.
* Hamas rejects the Jewish state in its totality and is committed to its destruction.
Both the Hamas charter and its leaders repeatedly declare the organization's commitment to violently replace the Jewish state with an Islamic one. For example, the charter states in its introduction:
...our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah's victory prevails.
In Article 7:
...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." (Recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim).
In Article 9:
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.  
In Article 13:
[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.
In Article 15 :
In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad...We must spread the spirit of Jihad among the [Islamic] Umma, clash with the enemies and join the ranks of the Jihad fighters.
In Article 28:
Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims. 
Read the entire charter.
Similarly, Hamas' leaders have frequently reiterated this goal of Hamas.  Some recent examples:
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal: "...when Israel is defeated, its path is defeated, those who call to support it are defeated, and the cowards who hide behind it and support it are defeated. Israel will be defeated, and so will whoever supported or supports it....
... Before Israel dies, it must be humiliated and degraded. Allah willing, before they die, they will experience humiliation and degradation every day. America will be of no avail to them. Their generals will be of no avail to them....Allah willing, we will make them lose their eyesight, we will make them lose their brains. " (MEMRI, February 7, 2006)
Hamas leader Mahmoud Al Zahar: "We will not give up the resistance in the sense of jihad, martyrdom-seeking, sacrifices, arrests, the demolition of homes, and the uprooting of trees, at the same time, nor the shattering of the Israeli enemy's honor in all the confrontations - the war of tunnels and of security against the Israeli enemy, which ultimately led to its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank....
...Palestine means Palestine in its entirety - from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River, from Ras Al-Naqura to Rafah. We cannot give up a single inch of it. Therefore, we will not recognize the Israeli enemy's [right] to a single inch." (MEMRI, February 1, 2006)
Al Zahar: "We do not and will not recognize a state called Israel. Israel has no right to any inch of Palestinian land. This is an important issue. Our position stems from our religious convictions." (MEMRI, August 19, 2005)
Hamas spokesman Mushir Al-Masri: "We have come here in multitudes to proclaim that Hirbiya and Ashkelon will be taken by the mujahideen. We have come here to say that the weapons of the resistance that you see here will remain, Allah willing, so that we can liberate Palestine – all of Palestine – from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River, whether they like it or not." (MEMRI, September 21, 2005)
* Hamas functions as one body, with both its terrrorist activities and charitable welfare services under the governance of its political leadership.  
Hamas is repeatedly lauded for its humanitarian services and efforts are frequently made in the media to draw a distinction between the organization's political  and "military" wings.  However, Hamas leaders have repeatedly and publicly affirmed that  Hamas is "one body" whose "political wing determines overall policy for the movement."
For example, former Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin declared in June 1, 2001 interview with that "the military wing implements the policies that are drawn up by the political wing" and in a 2002 interview with al-Hayat that ""There is no subject that is not discussed within the movement. Every development is discussed. At the end, we reach common decisions." (Quoted in Human Rights Watch Report 2002 "Erased In A Moment: Suicide Bombing Attacks Against Israeli Civilians.")   For more, see "Hamas from Cradle to Grave" by Matthew Levitt in Middle East Quarterly.
* Hamas's network of social services is used to fund and recruit for Hamas terrorist activities.
Hamas' charity committees, mosque classes, student unions, and sport clubs all serve as places of recruitment for terrorist training courses and for suicide attacks. Hospitals, schools and librairies run by Hamas are used as logistical support networks and funds raised for Hamas' charities are used to to facilitate the organization's terrorist operations.  For examples, read  "Hamas from Cradle to Grave" by Matthew Levitt.
* Hamas expends much of its resources on the indoctrination of Palestinian youth with hatred of the Jewish state and Jews in general.  This occurs throughout the organization's network of charities, schools, mosques, clinics and summer camps.  Palestinian youth are inculcated with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel messages, glorification of suicide bombing, and  incitement to violence in general.
For examples of Hamas' hate indoctrination, see Andrea Levin's "Ignoring Hamas' Hate-Indoctrination" and Matthew Levitt's "Hamas from Cradle to Grave."
For more on the operational characteristics of Hamas' terrorist activities, see the Web site o the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S).

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