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Hamas: A brief history and current updates

Sameera Casmod | sameerac@radioislam.co.za
22 March 2024 | 12:04 p.m. SAST
3 minute read

The Hamas movement, officially known as Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, has been a prominent figure in the Palestinian resistance since its establishment in 1987.

Rooted in the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas emerged during the first Palestinian intifada as a response to increasing Zionist attacks and occupation policies. Dedicated to the formation of an independent Islamic state in historical Palestine, Hamas has been actively involved in resisting Israeli occupation through various means.

“Hamas movement arose as a natural response to the presence of the occupation. Hamas movement is an Islamic national liberation movement. Hamas believes in the right of the Palestinian people to resist the occupation by all legitimate means in order for the Palestinian people to gain their freedom,” explains Emad Saber from the International Relations Office of the Hamas movement.

Over the years, Hamas has played a pivotal role in Palestinian resistance, participating in the first and second intifadas and orchestrating operations that led to significant events such as the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and the exchange of 1 027 Palestinian prisoners for Zionist soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.

Despite facing relentless Israeli aggression, including airstrikes, bombings, and ground invasions, Hamas has demonstrated resilience and steadfastness. Hamas’s military capabilities have evolved, with the development of weapons and the establishment of underground tunnels to counter Israeli incursions. The resistance has also effectively countered Israeli propaganda, exposing the true extent of Zionist losses and civilian casualties.

“During these wars, Hamas and al-Qassam brigades and other resistance factions were able to develop its compact capabilities and it learned from the lessons and Israeli strikes against it and it was able to manufacture weapons under the siege and also to building a large network of tunnels. All of this happened until what we all see what happened on 7th of October,” Saber says.

As the conflict persists, Hamas continues to advocate for the rights of the Palestinian people and seeks to alleviate their suffering through ceasefire initiatives focused on humanitarian aid and prisoner exchanges.

“Hamas presented lately a ceasefire initiative in three phases. Each phase extending for six weeks under which a ceasefire would be achieved and aid and food would be allowed to enter and also prisoners would be exchanged. As I said, Hamas was very positive and flexible and focused on the humanitarian issues that would relieve people and help them because we need to support the steadfastness of Palestinian people,” Saber says.

However, Netanyahu rejected the proposal. “Israel wants a truce that gives it time to regroup its ranks, compensate for its losses and set new targets in Gaza. But they want to continue the aggression against Palestinian people because war is the only way out of Netanyahu and the occupation leaders so that they are not held accountable. In addition to the fact that Israel doesn’t want the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Israel has not achieved any of its military objectives, despite the extreme devastation it has unleashed on the Gaza Strip for nearly six months.

“Despite all of the killing and destruction and the use of thousands of tons of bombs and missiles, despite of also the demolition of thousands of houses, hospitals, universities, schools, mosques, infrastructure, everything in Gaza Strip, and after more than five months of continuous crimes against the Palestinian people in front of the world, despite of the siege and starvation, Israel has not achieved any of its declared goals from the beginning of this war.”

Despite extremely difficult conditions, soldiers of the Al-Qassam brigades are continuing to resist Israeli occupation and remain dedicated to liberating Palestine.

Israel plans to begin its ground invasion of Gaza’s southern Rafah city under the pretext of eliminating Hamas, even though attempts to thwart the movement have been unsuccessful thus far. The real reason, Saber explains, is that Israel wants to control Gaza’s border with neighbouring Egypt, increase the suffering of civilians and spread chaos, in order to impose a new Israeli administration in the enclave.

“Israel wants to make life in all of Gaza impossible, through starvation and spreading chaos, because it has failed at all in military level. So they want to use the weapon of hunger and chaos.”

Reports indicate that negotiations are underway, but challenges remain.

Listen to the full interview on Hayatun Tayaba with Apa Shakirah Hunter here.

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