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Jihadism

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ISIS fighters Credit: Sahara Reporters.

 

 

ISIS fighters Credit: Sahara Reporters.

 

Jihadism, a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, has evolved significantly over the centuries, particularly in recent decades. This essay provides an in-depth analysis of jihadism, covering its history, beliefs, evolution, and connections to specific groups like ISIS and Hamas.

History

Jihadism traces its roots back to early Islamic conquests, like those by the Umayyad and Ottoman empires, which conducted extensive campaigns against non-Muslim nations in the name of jihad. However, contemporary jihadism primarily stems from late 19th- and early 20th-century Islamic revivalism movements, evolving into Qutbism and other Islamist ideologies during the 20th and 21st centuries. This ideology was significantly bolstered by the involvement of Islamist volunteer organizations in the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989), which helped propagate jihadism through various armed conflicts in the 1990s and 2000s​​.

Beliefs

Jihadist ideology revolves around the notion that the Muslim world is afflicted by grievances and injustices, many attributed to Western influence and corrupt Muslim regimes. They reject Western concepts like democracy and human rights, viewing them as distractions from jihad. Their ultimate aim is to make God’s Law supreme on earth, holding all Muslims, rulers, and citizens alike, accountable to this law​​. Jihadists distinguish themselves from Islamists by rejecting the political processes of nation-states and opting for a paradigm exclusively defined by religious principles​​.

Evolution of Jihadism

Jihadism’s evolution is characterized by three key features: a commitment to a righteous cause, individualism in interpreting religion, and the belief in engaging in defensive warfare (jihad al-daf), making jihad an individual duty. Jihadists project an unwavering commitment to their cause, with loyalty directed solely to God and not to any state or leader. They also exhibit an individualist approach to religion, empowering the believer to serve God directly and distrust religious scholars tied to political establishments. Jihadists have adapted classical legal doctrines of warfare into a global military program, declaring jihad against both Western states and their own regimes, which they view as apostates for not governing according to Sharia​​​​.

Jihadism and ISIS

Isis flag. Credit: Maariv Online.

Isis flag. Credit: Maariv Online.

 

ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, exemplifies contemporary jihadism. It emerged from the chaos following the Iraq War and the Syrian Civil War, capitalizing on the power vacuum and sectarian strife. ISIS aimed to establish a caliphate governed by a strict interpretation of Shari`a law, using extreme violence and terror tactics. They attracted global attention through their use of social media for propaganda and recruitment, targeting disenfranchised youth through a strategy known as “Jihad Cool”​​.

Jihadism and Hamas

Hamas, primarily known for its activities in the Gaza Strip, represents a different facet of jihadism. Unlike ISIS, Hamas has a more regional focus, primarily targeting Israel in its quest to establish an Islamic state in the Palestinian territories. Their tactics have included suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and other forms of asymmetrical warfare. Hamas’s ideology and activities are part of a larger “axis of resistance” supported by Iran, which also includes groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen​​.

Conclusion

Jihadism, while rooted in Islamic teachings, has diverged significantly in its interpretation and application in modern times. It represents a spectrum of beliefs and strategies, from global ambitions of groups like ISIS to more regional objectives like those of Hamas. Understanding the complex nature of jihadism, its historical roots, and its contemporary manifestations is crucial in addressing the challenges it poses to global security and regional stability.

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Lexicon of the Hamas Organization

Qasem Soleimani

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Qasem Soleimani. Credit: Bloomberg FB page.

 

Qasem Soleimani. Credit: Bloomberg FB page.

Qasem Soleimani, born on March 11, 1957, in Qanat-e Malek, Kerman Province, Iran, was a prominent figure in the Middle Eastern geopolitical landscape, particularly in the context of the Israel-Iran conflict. His career in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and his leadership of the Quds Force marked him as a key player in shaping Iran’s foreign military and political strategies.

Early Life

Soleimani’s early life was marked by hardship. He left school at 13 to work on construction sites, helping to repay his father’s debts. Influenced by the sermons of Hojjat Kamyab, a protégé of Ali Khamenei, he began engaging in revolutionary activities​​.

Military Career

Joining the IRGC in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution, Soleimani quickly advanced, playing a significant role in suppressing a Kurdish uprising and serving in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). His strategic and brave actions during the war earned him rapid promotions​​.

Command of Quds Force

Soleimani assumed command of the IRGC’s Quds Force between 1997 and 1998. Under his leadership, the Quds Force evolved into an elite unit for covert and expeditionary warfare, extending Iran’s geopolitical influence across the Middle East​​​​.

Role in the Israel-Iran Conflict

An Iranian child next to Sulimani’s cut out. Credit: Israel Defence forces FB page.

An Iranian child next to Sulimani’s cut out. Credit: Israel Defence forces FB page.

Soleimani’s strategic military interventions were pivotal in shaping the Israel-Iran conflict. He was instrumental in the creation and maintenance of Hamas’ tunnel warfare network in the Gaza Strip. This strategy effectively brought Iran’s influence to Israel’s borders, altering regional dynamics​​.

Arming and Training Iran’s Proxies

Under Soleimani’s command, the Quds Force played a crucial role in supporting and arming Iran’s proxies, like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. These groups received substantial funding, training, and weapons from Iran, enabling them to conduct operations against Israel. In Syria, instead of using a terrorist proxy, Iran directly entrenched itself, influencing the political and military actions of the Assad regime. This involvement allowed Iran, alongside Hezbollah, to establish military bases near Israel’s northern border​​​​.

Assassination

Anniversary of Sulimany’s assassination. Credit: Anadolu Agency FB page.

Anniversary of Sulimany’s assassination. Credit: Anadolu Agency FB page.

Soleimani was assassinated on January 3, 2020, by a U.S. drone strike near Baghdad International Airport. This act escalated tensions between the U.S. and Iran, sparking debate over its legality and repercussions. Iran termed the attack as state terrorism, leading to heightened hostilities, including Iran’s missile attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq​​​​.

In conclusion, Qasem Soleimani’s life and career were deeply intertwined with the military and political developments in the Middle East. His actions and strategies significantly influenced Iran’s foreign policy and its conflict with Israel. His assassination marked a pivotal moment in ongoing tensions between Iran and the United States, with far-reaching implications for regional stability and the Israel-Iran conflict dynamics.

Legacy on the Arab Israeli Conflict

Qasem Soleimani’s legacy in the Arab Israeli conflict is marked by his strategic and tactical contributions to Iran’s proxy groups in the region. His efforts in arming, training, and guiding organizations like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad significantly intensified the conflict’s dynamics. By empowering these groups, Soleimani helped solidify Iran’s role as a key player in the conflict, projecting its influence directly to Israel’s borders. His actions fostered an environment of heightened tension and frequent confrontations, leaving a lasting impact on the security and political landscape of the Middle East. His death, while altering the immediate strategic calculations, has not diminished the long-standing influence of the strategies he implemented in the region.

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Lexicon of the Hamas Organization

Al Shifa Hospital

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Shifa Hospital. Credit: ‘Washington Post’ FB page.

 

Shifa Hospital. Credit: ‘Washington Post’ FB page.

Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical facility in Gaza, has played a significant role in the region’s history, particularly during various conflicts involving Israel and Palestinian factions. This article provides an overview of the hospital’s background, its role in conflicts and the controversies surrounding it.

Background and History

Al-Shifa Hospital, originally a British Army barracks, was transformed into a hospital in 1946. During the 1948 Arab Israeli War, it became one of Gaza’s primary medical facilities. Following the war, the Egyptian administration expanded the hospital, adding various departments. Post the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel occupied Gaza, the entire Egyptian hospital staff was taken prisoner, and subsequently, the hospital underwent significant renovations and expansions under Israeli administration. This included the addition of a large basement in the 1990s, which later became a point of controversy regarding its use​​.

Use During the 2007 Fatah-Hamas Conflict

During the Fatah-Hamas conflict in June 2007, Al-Shifa Hospital became a site of violence between the two factions. The conflict led to the deaths of members of both groups within the hospital premises. Hamas also reportedly dismissed hundreds of Fatah-affiliated medical staff and used the hospital as a strategic location. This period was marked by fear and violence within the hospital, severely affecting its operation and medical staff​​.

Role in the Wars with Israel

Al-Shifa Hospital has been central during various wars between Israel and Gaza. For instance, during the 2008-2009 Gaza War, the hospital was overwhelmed with casualties due to Israeli airstrikes. Allegations surfaced that Hamas used the hospital as a military base, a claim that was difficult to verify due to restricted access to Gaza by journalists. These allegations have been a recurrent theme in subsequent conflicts, contributing to the complexity surrounding the hospital’s role in the region​​​​.

Al-Shifa Hospital in the 2023 Israel-Hamas War

Hamas Tunnels under Al-Shifa Hospital. Credit: Ohad Hemo’s FB page.

Hamas Tunnels under Al-Shifa Hospital. Credit: Ohad Hemo’s FB page.

The 2023 Israel-Hamas war brought Al-Shifa Hospital back into the spotlight. Israel and the U.S. accused Hamas of using the hospital as a command center, for storing weapons, and holding Israeli hostages.  

Legal and Ethical Implications

The use of Al-Shifa Hospital in armed conflict raises significant legal and ethical questions. Under international law, hospitals enjoy protected status, which is jeopardized if the facility is used for military purposes. The allegations and counter-allegations regarding the hospital’s use in the 2023 conflict illustrate the challenges in maintaining this protected status in a war zone. The international community’s response and the calls for investigation highlight the complexities of warfare in densely populated urban areas like Gaza​​.

Conclusion

Al-Shifa Hospital’s history is deeply intertwined with the broader geopolitical and humanitarian issues in the Gaza Strip. Its role in various conflicts, especially the recent 2023 Israel-Hamas war, underscores the challenges of operating a major medical facility in a conflict zone. The hospital not only provides essential medical services to the population of Gaza but also represents the difficulties faced in preserving humanitarian spaces in times of war.

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Lexicon of the Hamas Organization

Saleh al-Arouri

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Saleh al-Arouri. Credit: ‘Eadio 786’ FB page

 

Saleh al-Arouri.  Credit: ‘Eadio 786’ FB page

Saleh al-Arouri is a prominent Palestinian figure known for his deep involvement with Hamas. His association with Hamas has placed Saleh al-Arouri in the spotlight of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Early Life and Involvement with Hamas

The early life of Saleh al-Arouri is marked by his gradual involvement with Hamas. This organization, known for its political and militant activities against the State of Israel, became a platform for Saleh al-Arouri to rise as a significant leader. His roles within the group have been diverse, encompassing both political strategy and militant operations.

Leadership and Strategy

Saleh al-Arouri and Ayatollah Khamenei - Iran’s former leader. Credit: Hillel Fuld’s FB page.

Saleh al-Arouri and Ayatollah Khamenei – Iran’s former leader. Credit: Hillel Fuld’s FB page.

As a leader in Hamas, Saleh al-Arouri has been involved in planning and directing various activities in the West Bank. His leadership style and strategic decisions have significantly influenced the group’s operations in this region. Saleh al-Arouri’s approach often mirrored the overarching goals and tactics of Hamas, particularly in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Assassination of Saleh al-Arouri

Saleh al-Arouri, was assassinated on January 2, 2024, in a strike on an office in the Dahieh neighborhood of Beirut, Lebanon. This strike, widely believed to be carried out by Israel, also resulted in the deaths of six other individuals, including high-ranking Hamas militants. His assassination occurred just a day before the fourth anniversary of the assassination of senior Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

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