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5 - Hamas and the Environment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 October 2023

Emmanuel Karagiannis
Affiliation:
King's College London
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Summary

The Palestinian group Harakah al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah (Movement of Islamic Resistance – Hamas) is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that was established in 1987 during the first Intifada. The ideology of Hamas contains elements of Arab nationalism, Islamism and anti-Semitism. It was founded by seven members of the Ikhwan in the Gaza Strip, including Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi. Both were of refugee origin whose families fled to Gaza from other parts of British-mandated Palestine after the 1948 Arab–Israeli war. Yassin served as the spiritual leader of Hamas, while al-Rantisi was its political leader.

The decision-making body of Hamas is the secretive Consultative Council (Majlis al-Shura), consisting of religious and political leaders. The Council elects the fifteen-member Political Bureau (al-Maktab al-Siyasi), where all important decisions are made. Although only lay members apparently participate in the Political Bureau, the influence of religious leaders remains significant. Yet Hamas does not have its own fatwa-issuing body.

From the beginning, the group had an uncompromising stance towards Israel that reflected a wider Islamist understanding of the conflict. For instance, the influential Palestinian-American Islamic thinker Ismail Raji al-Faruqi argued that ‘[Islam] imposes upon Muslims all over the world to rise like one man to put an end to injustice … [T]he Islamic position leaves no chance for the Zionist state but to be dismantled and destroyed, and its wealth confiscated to pay off its liabilities.’ Such views provided justification for Hamas to denounce the Arab–Israeli peace process and use violence against the Jewish State.

In February 1989, Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, conducted their first attack against an Israeli target. Since then, the Qassam Brigades have claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks in Israel. In fact, the second Intifada was a Hamas-led armed uprising that began in September 2000 and ended almost five years later. In June 2006, its fighters attacked an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) outpost and captured an Israeli soldier. In December 2008, Hamas launched rocket attacks into Israel and provoked an IDF operation called Operation Cast Lead that lasted three weeks.

Type
Chapter
Information
Why Islamists Go Green
Politics, Religion and the Environment
, pp. 125 - 150
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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