the first Intifada in l988, a unified command was
created. During this time Yassim created the
armed Islamic Resistance Movement, now known by
the acronym HAMAS. In a short time this new
organisation became one of the most difficult for
Israel to control. Analysts Schiff and Ya'ari
write: In large part this scourge was
self-inflicted, for the Civil Administration has
contributed considerably to the development of
the Muslim groups that came to the fore soon
after the start of the intifada. Just as
President Sadat had encouraged the growth of the
Islamic Associations to offset the leftist
elements in Egypt, many Israeli staff officers
believed that the rise of fundamentalism in Gaza
could be exploited to weaken the power of the
PLO. Sadat's fate was to die at the hands of the
same pious zealots he had allowed to flourish.
The upshot in Gaza was similar: the Muslim
movement turned on the very people who had
believed themselves so clever in fostering
WILFUL HISTORICAL BLINDNESS
To have believed that such groups would stay
apolitical and harmless was a gross mistake. They
forgot that their own State was founded on the
Jewish religion. One has only to read Theodor
Herzel, a founding father of Israel, to
understand that. If a State's laws and rules are
based exclusively on a religious ideology, then
such a State is an apartheid state by definition.
The leaders of the March 1996 anti-terrorist
summit in Egypt should have studied beforehand
how Islamic movements develop, how they become
dangerous to the established order. They become
deadly threats to peace and to secular regimes -
but one should remember that Israel is not a
secular regime. Here are a few examples:(1) The
Brotherhood's branch in Sudan, dating from 1946,
was renamed the Islamic National Front in l985.
Its leader is the strongman behind today's
Sudanese military regime, Sheikh Hassan
Turabi.(2)It was also in Sudan that Egypt's
Islamic preacher, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman,
obtained a U.S. visa to fly to New York and
assist U.S. agencies in recruiting Islamic
guerrillas to help expel the Soviets from
Only Syria has escaped this. In 1982 Assad put
down an Islamic revolt in the city of Hama. Those
who fled into neighbouring countries are still
giving the Syrian Government lots of trouble.
One of the main leaders and organisers of
HAMAS was Abdallah Azzam. He supervised training
for the C.I.A.'s Afghan guerrillas in Peshawar,
Pakistan, where a car bomb killed him in 1989.
Mr. Azzam moved freely between Israel-Gaza, the
West Bank and Afghanistan. The Palestinian
Intifada had already begun in l987. Two rival
Islamic groups, Islam Jihad, and a larger one
called the Mujama, were operating actively.
Israeli Security had at first turned a blind eye
to HAMAS, because it opposed the secular PLO. But
even after the HAMAS campaign of violence began
money from Saudi Arabia continued its funding and
despite the death of Israeli civilians. In 1990
the Saudis cut funding to the PLO but continued
to fund HAMAS.(v) This fact was known to Israel
and to the U.S.A.
Within a few months of the second Intifada
(28,September 2000), HAMAS began playing a
leading role in Gaza. Israel had allowed
religious fundamentalists to move into positions
of power. Once they had this leverage they began
to grow as a political force.
TOO LITTLE TOO LATE
Israel has begun to reconsider its policy
towards HAMAS. Israel Prime Minister, Ariel
Sharon, speaking of the Islamic Resistance
Movement, HAMAS, recently described it as
"the deadliest terrorist group that we have
ever had to face."(vi)This realization has
come too little and too late. Throughout the last
ten years, just as Ariel Sharon for the Israelis,
HAMAS has become the immoveable Palestinian
opposition to the "Peace Process".
Though Arafat put many HAMAS militants in jail,
and the Israelis did the same, this didn't change
anything. In fact, during the Oslo Accord years,
acts against Israel by HAMAS would make the PLO's
efforts to find peace more difficult. The days
when the Israeli authorities saw the Muslim
Brotherhood as a useful counterbalance to the
secular PLO started to fade away. Once the secret
friend, to whom Israel contributed personal and
political favours, Yassin and his organisation
became the most deadly enemy of Israel. After the
killing of four Israelis by HAMAS in 1992, Israel
took severe measures. The Gaza strip was sealed
off, depriving one million residents access to
jobs in Israel, their main source of livelihood
at the time.
From then on HAMAS grew slowly and steadily.
Every time there was a supposed break for the
"Peace Process" HAMAS stalled it with
an "action d'eclat" such as
suicide bombings, which inevitably led to more
Israeli oppression. After the disaster of Camp
David, Israel elected Ariel Sharon as Prime
Minister. From the beginning he was against the
"Peace Process" and did everything in
his power to make it fail. Repression breeds
resistance. Since the failure of Camp David,
since the election of Ariel Sharon, we hear daily
accounts of violence in the Middle East. We hear
about a ceasefire, about the breaking of it;
about Israeli restraint and Palestinian violence.
The North American media continually blames
Palestine for violence and state that the
Palestinians must stop the violence. At the same
time the Israel Government adopts an official
policy of assassinating Palestinian militants and
demolishing Palestinian houses. Such acts are not
"violence", they are good for Israeli
security, if they are even mentioned. The simple
truth is this: Palestinians are living under
Israeli occupation, a military occupation of the
worst kind and they have been living under that
occupation for fifty four years.
WHAT PRICE TERROR?
Can HAMAS' actions be justified? My answer is
: No. Terror cannot be fought by terror. On the
other hand one can also say - "as ye sow, so
shall ye reap" The violence and terror are
integral parts of the occupation. Israel, in its
zeal to control, to expand and to fight a secular
movement like the PLO is helping to create its
own demise. In 1986 the leadership of the PLO was
crawling on its knees and did everything in its
power to please the American administration. They
let go of the armed struggle; they let go of the
historic rights of Palestine; they accepted the
U.N. Resolution 242. The Palestine
Authority(P.A.) even changed its charter to
please Israeli and American demands. How could
they be so short-sighted? Did they think the U.S.
would change its policies toward
Israel/Palestine? Did they really think the U.S.
could be an honest broker?
For all these concessions, what did the PLO
then and the PA now, get in return? They got the
infamous Gaza and Jericho deal, and gave more
concessions on their part. They got the infamous
Oslo Accords. If we look at those Accords
carefully. which were dictated and not really
negotiated, we find out that Israeli settlements
and settlers almost doubled in number. More land
confiscated, more houses demolished; division of
the Occupied Territories into sections A,B and C.
In Palestine we see complete control of the land
and water by the Israelis and total oppression of
the Palestinian people.
From the Accords they got checkpoints,
restriction of freedom and movement; isolation of
towns, villages; deterioration of institutions
and infrastructure, dismantling and
disintegration of social structures;
deterioration of education and complete economic
collapse. Trenches were dug around their cities
and their villages; pregnant women must give
birth in taxis or loose their lives at
checkpoints. Work or jobs are no longer available
because of blockades and the physical and
economic strangulation of the people. Diseases
are rampant and famine has started to weave its
way in. War crimes and crimes against humanity
are being committed against the civilian
population on a daily basis. Their water has been
taken and their future water rights are being
systematically stolen. The settlers have swimming
pools but the Palestinian people do not have
enough to drink.
During all this time of the so-called
"negotiations" Israel got all it
wanted, is getting more now and wants still more
yet. The Palestine Authority has given away all
there is to give. While this entire process was
going on, the Israeli practice of lying and
playing the victim has continued to work
marvellously to their advantage in the West.
These conditions on the ground have helped
strengthen HAMAS and weaken the PA. This is the
course Israel has followed for 34 years. Now
HAMAS is making Israelis more insecure, afraid to
go to the market, or take the bus, scared to eat
in a restaurant, scared to death of a possible
suicide bomber. To the poor, the Palestinian
masses, HAMAS has given hope and the notion of
"paradise after death", which in both
cases is more than the PA can ever give. The
Israelis must ask themselves: Is the Occupation
worth all this?
Once again I say: As ye sow, so shall ye reap.
(i):Richard Sale,UPI,Feb.24,2001. (ii)David
McDowell,Palestine and Israel; The Uprising and
Beyond:Univ.California Press 1989. (iii)Schiff
& Ya'ari, Intifada,the Palestinian
Uprising.New York, Simon & Schuster,1990.
(iv)Ibid. (v)Ibid. (vi)Sale,op.cit.