Around the web: Israel's Frankenstein

Phil Hamilton looks at the website of Hamas

It is likely that the assassination of Sheikh Ahmid Yassin will result in a new round of violence and bloodshed, as Hamas supporters seek revenge against the corrupt government of Ariel Sharon. Of course this butcher will in turn use the excuse of ‘terrorism’ to ratchet up the repression, safe in the knowledge that Israel’s US bankrollers barely batted an eyelid at Sharon’s attempt to cripple the Hamas leadership. In the meantime the prospect for even an imperialist-sponsored peace, let alone a progressive solution, seems to be receding day by day.

The first item to occupy the main field of the Hamas website announces coordinating measures between it and Hizbullah in Lebanon. No doubt this cooperation will be seized upon by the Israeli government as an excuse to resume regular bombing raids in the south of that shattered country. The rest of these news items deal with the actions taken by the military wing of Hamas, and wider political events. For example, its recent raid on the Tal Katif settlement, using frogmen; missile and shell attacks on military outposts of the occupation forces; the memorial event for Sheikh Yassin; and the postponement of an Arab summit in Tunisia.

Turning to the side bar, ‘Hamas’ links to an introductory page for the organisation, but just do not expect anything about how the Israeli state itself was one of its earliest sponsors. It says that it was formed with the “objective of destroying the Zionist entity that occupies Palestine, and establishing Palestine from the river to the sea, based on islamic principles”. The fate of the population of a defeated Israel, or the character of the state Hamas dreams of setting up, can only be guessed at, as there is little in the way of detail here.

The page goes on to discuss the twofold structure of its military organisation, each comprised of a number of factions. The Palestinian Holy Fighters group (Al-Majahadoun Al-Falestinioun) concentrates most of its fire in northern Gaza, but most of its operations are carried out by members of the Izz al-Din al-Qassim squad. The other military group is the ominous-sounding security section (Jehaz Aman), responsible for dealing with collaborators and the upholding of “islamic law”. The section notes how its extensive welfare activities, such as the building of hospitals and schools, have put it in a position to challenge the Palestinian Liberation Organisation for the leadership of the Palestinian struggle. The piece also dates the beginnings of its policy of suicide attacks from the 1994 massacre of 29 worshippers at Ibrahimi mosque - up until then Hamas only attacked fortified “settlements” and military targets.

The next link is to the Hamas Covenant, the nearest thing on the site to a programmatic document. Its introduction is liberally peppered with fire and brimstone imagery, chunks of the Quran, and semi-mystical language that lays a religious claim to Palestine. The ‘definition of the movement’ and ‘objectives’ sections provide the basics of what Hamas is about, which can be summed up in their movement slogan: “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Quran its constitution, Jihad its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.”

‘Strategies and methods’ deals with Hamas’s attitudes to peace, education and women (arguing that the latter need shielding from the nests of “saboteurs and sabotage” dedicated to “sowing the concepts that can be of use to the enemy”). ‘Our attitudes toward …’ is interesting too, laying out its fraternal and respectful position toward other Palestinian resistance movements, be they islamic or secular. I wonder how long this “respect” would last once the Israeli occupiers were kicked out. Hamas has a similar attitude to the PLO, describing it as “a father, a brother, a relative, a friend”. Nonetheless it critiques its stand on secularism, “for the islamic nature of Palestine is part of our religion”.

The rest of the side bar looks at other aspects of the struggle. ‘Qassam’ features military videos, an animation and a justification for suicide attacks from an islamic perspective (apparently it is only a sin to kill yourself if you do so out of despair). ‘Al-Aqsa’ discusses the significance of Al-Aqsa mosque, while ‘Palestine’ is a conventional historical account looking at the role played by Palestine in the history of islam. The links selection collects together a number of islamic resistance websites in Arabic. ‘Gallery’ consists of 522 propaganda images, accompanied by ‘Zionist crimes’ - a selection of videos and grisly documents exposing the brutality of what Bush and Blair like to call “the Middle-East’s only democracy”.