Hamas: Unwritten Chapters - Book Review

This is a book that provides a detailed account of the Islamic Resistance Movement in Palestine -- better known as Hamas -- from a Hamas perspective.

Author: (Ed.) Azzam Tamimi

Publisher: Hurst & Company, 2007

This is a book that provides a detailed account of the Islamic Resistance Movement in Palestine -- better known as Hamas -- from a Hamas perspective. Azzam Tamimi argues that Hamas is an organization of Arabs and Muslims who happen to be Palestinian, victims of a Jewish state in the very heart of Arab and Muslim lands. Israel is their oppressor who has deprived them of their land and persecuted them for generations. Although the struggle against Israel is top on Hamas's agenda, it is by no means its only raison d'etre.

How did Hamas come into being? Following the incidents that sparked the Intifada on December 8, 1987, the seven men who composed the senior leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimun, decided to transform the organization in Palestine into a resistance movement to be known as Hamas. It was on December 14, 1987 that Hamas came into being. These events were preceded by the Ikhwan, between 1967 and 1977, trying to regain some of the ground they had lost to secular nationalist movements working against the Israeli occupation. Outside Palestine, in Egypt and Kuwait, Palestinian student communities played a major role in revolutionizing the thinking within the movement as a whole.

By 1978, a number of highly qualified Ikhwan graduates had returned from abroad. The Islamic University was the first university founded in the Gaza Strip whose board members hailed from Ikhwan. The establishment of the university was an important landmark in the history of the Islamic movement in Palestine as it could reach out to the community, providing much needed services in employment, training and education, thus bringing enormous prestige to Ikhwan. Not only did Ikhwan recruit through its university but also from across the region, in countries such as Egypt and Iran. After Fathi Al-Shiqaqi founded the 'Islamic Jihad' in the early 1980s, he was expelled from Ikhwan but still continued to compete with them with regard to the jihad to liberate Palestine. But it was only in the early 1980s that Ikhwan moved to take the decision to wage jihad to bring about the liberation of Palestine. Nonetheless, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, one of the seven original founders of Ikhwan, was arrested by the Israelis and, in 1984, sentenced to 13 years imprisonment but released one year later. Despite its failure, Sheikh Yassin's bid to take military action against the occupation did succeed in giving a boost to the morale of the younger generation of the Ikhwan, and had the effect of forcing a change in attitude and policy. In June 1986, the Islamic faction at Birzeit University held a rally which was suppressed by Israeli troops, with two fatalities. Ikhwan now had its martyrs.

Published: 06 Jun 2007


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