The group labeled as HAMAS is spread mostly throughout the Middle East and the North African region with its highest concentrations within Gaza Strip & West Bank. Additional countries where HAMAS has known concentrations include Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Sudan, Libya, and most other Arabic and some Asian countries. The concentration within these countries remains unclear according to intelligence reports from the CIA. However, other sources indicate that there are HAMAS terror cells in clandestine areas in these aforementioned countries.
The HAMAS organization is divided and assembled into strategic cells that are designated to perform surreptitious activity including the providing security, task-force operations and logistics, arsenal development, and planning and recruitment of new members. The clandestine nature of their operations renders an approximation to their numbers to be of a large variance. Additionally, the replacement factor of a new member into the role of a deceased member ensures a constant or a minima to these numbers. The data indicates that at any one time the amount of HAMAS members in a region to be relatively minimal. "Say they have 150 in the West Bank today…"
The primary religion amongst members of the organization is what is termed as the 'true Islamic faith' or that involving Jihad, or what is known in Western cultures as fanatical Islam. This form of Islam is consistent with the literature contained within the Islamic holy text, the Quran that suggests a holy war to fend off attacks that seek to remove the Arab state. HAMAS and the resulting holy war is a function of the new Arab nationalism. The primary language among HAMAS members is known to be Arabic. This is the language innate to the teachings of their respective religion and ostensibly is the communication link between the leadership and its following membership. The clandestine operational nature of the group will usurp the language and force a covert language that can enable specific communications between cells. The sub-dominant language is likely a function that includes the languages spoken by the operational members.
HAMAS is actually an acronym that means the Islamic Resistance Movement, is a group that ostensibly opposes a compromise between Israel and Palestine regarding the shared occupation of the Gaza Strip/West Bank region of the Middle East. The group is also staunchly for the Arab occupation of Palestine is against all aspects of Zionism. Their existence is to establish an Islamic state in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.
The history in the genesis of the group, then the organization of HAMAS arises from a spark ignited in 1987 from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, an area occupied by Israel since 1967. The spark references an automobile accident in the Gaza Strip where four Palestinian nationals were killed. The violence that resulted from this accident, referred to as the Intifada did occur between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians and gave rise to the group presently known as HAMAS.
The group, known for its violent uprisings in the face of compromise between the states of its anger and affairs, launched their first suicide (Istishhadis') dubbed martyr-bombing attacks on Israel to prevent the 1993 accord that enabled Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip regions whilst actualizing the removal of Israeli occupation within each area. This act of defiance in the light of compromise mandated the label of 'terrorist organization' to the HAMAS organization.
The group has become more influential as collectively the organization's violence against Israel in response to elections held in the Gaza/West Bank region in 1996 has resulted in more attention paid to their statements. The political influence of HAMAS grows throughout the mid-late 1990s and early 2000s to result in their win in the elections and a majority holding of the seats that gave rise to their newly formed government. Under Hamas, tensions between political factions in the region reignited the fighting between Palestine and Israel. The fighting would lead to the HAMAS control and occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2007 enabling Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to enable a new government absent of HAMAS. This action resulted in tremendous violence in 2008 and 2009 in the Gaza Strip and West Bank region with tremendous damage and casualties.
Politics of HAMAS
HAMAS has an opportunist type of relationship with governments of the region. Aside from Israel, HAMAS during its early periods in the 1990s has been known to act anti-PLO or Palestinian Liberation Organization as well as anti-Palestinian Authority of which it supported by defending Abbas when forming the new government in the Gaza Strip. The organization opposes all governments that do not agree to the demands of HAMAS, which is anti-Israeli and pro-Islam in the perceived shared holy land of Israel, the West Bank (west Bethlehem), and the Gaza Strip.
The organization ostensibly operates on an oppositional platform, a rebel faction that plays disruptive politics to initiate violent attacks as a means to its ends. The oppositional politics the organization engages in essentially is what brought them into power within the Gaza Strip. The organization opposes the politics of opposing governments and factions, which is the decision in the allocation of scarce resources to a given population, such as land, and instead favors its pro-Islamic fundamentalism as its guiding principle. A similar political faction known as Hezbollah
exists in Lebanon yet their guiding principle is not political but is religious.
Additional political factions that operated tangentially to HAMAS include the PLO and the Arab national liberation movement. HAMAS continued to operate as an opposing political organization largely when interacting publicly with these organizations. The ability to generate a culture of resistance to create a sense of liberation to their followers is the enabler of its political influence.
HAMAS & Organized Elections
"Hamas, and the new Islamic movements in general, have demonstrated a serious understanding of, and an able engagement in, the political affairs that culminated in its impressive electoral victory in January of 2006."
The activity leading up to HAMAS successful electoral victory is a subject of terrible violence and political maneuvering to obtain a level of intimidation through its actions necessary to force its view of change.
In 1996 HAMAS stood in the face of elections with the intention to subvert the process via the use of the Istishhadis' to disrupt the election process and garner attention to their organization and their political demands. At this time, HAMAS did not actively participate in elections as the activity of the organization ostensibly pointed to terrorism as a means to their ends.
In January of 2006, Hamas successfully achieved what may deemed as the impossible, as Gaza City elected 5 HAMAS candidates into parliament. Additionally, HAMAS won a total of seventy-six seats when leadership within HAMAS expected no more than say fifty-five. The factors that contributed to HAMAS' victory were the exact staunch oppositional politics that the organization practiced. The Palestinians disbelief in the return to the negotiations that once led to the 1993 accord were not in the stars this time around coupled to the notion that HAMAS' disposition for the reason of Israeli withdrawal and continued removal from the Gaza Strip. Additionally, the lack of faith in Fatah
and a lack in the leadership and economic reform from the Palestinian Authority did not provide enough faith in the electorate to dissuade the election of HAMAS.
HAMAS & the Middle East Economy
Prior to obtaining power in the Gaza Strip, HAMAS as an organization did not have political power and relied on the underground economy and international aid to finance its operations. As an organization that deals in the weapons trade, arguable HAMAS has an advantage in economic decision making and capital management in weapons in the Middle East. The Palestinian Authority as the representing government in the West Bank was the recipient of international aid until the HAMAS election in 2006. An immediate halt on funds to the West Bank occurred in the face of the electorate's election of HAMAS for the condition of economic recovery as in their eyes the Palestinian Authority had failed to stimulate and sustain a viable economy in the region.
HAMAS has stated a sense of economic exclusion due to the retraction of international aid and feels that its push toward a democracy is an initiative sufficient to receive aid. The actions of HAMAS in the past had deemed the organization to be terrorist in nature and the organization has been unable to shed this label due to the level of violence used to achieve its goals. However, with the election of HAMAS in 2006 the organization has received funding for its members through revenue that was paid directly to the Palestinian Authority and indirectly to HAMAS
HAMAS Primary Leadership
The spiritual leader of HAMAS was Sheik Ahmed Yassin was the most prominent of the Palestinian Leaders as he was involved in the founding of HAMAS in 1987. His following viewed him as the link of HAMAS activity to the…