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What Does Hamas Want? Understanding Their Goals and Ideologies

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Hamas is Isis

When discussing “who is Hamas,” it’s essential to recognize its dual identity: it’s both a government administrator in the Gaza Strip AND a militant entity. This duality is central to understanding the recent escalations and the broader conflict in the region. The group, born out of the crucible of resistance, shaped by the complexities of its regional environment, continues to be a key player in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The Strategic Calculus of Conflict

Contrary to what some might believe, the conflict isn’t merely a reaction to external circumstances. It’s partly a result of Hamas’s strategic choices. The organization understands the power of perception in the international arena. By engaging in high-profile conflicts with Israel, it seeks to cement its role as the leading force in the Palestinian struggle, overshadowing its rival, the Palestinian Authority. This approach is calculated to project power and determination by fear.

What Does Hamas Want? The Internal Perspective

Internally, Hamas faces significant governance challenges. The dire economic situation, infrastructural damage, and more, create a restless civilian population. By redirecting the public’s frustration towards Israel, Hamas aims to unify the Palestinian territories under its leadership. This strategy is not without risks, as the devastation from the conflicts often worsens the living conditions for the residents of Gaza.

The Role of International Diplomacy

Hamas’s international strategy is multifaceted. While it’s viewed as a terrorist organization by many Western countries, it also engages with various nations and political blocs. By doing so, Hamas aims to gain legitimacy on the world stage and break the economic isolation imposed by the blockade.

The Ideological Drive

At its core, Hamas’s ideology is rooted in a blend of nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism. Its ultimate goal, as stated in its charter, is the establishment of an Islamic state in the entire historic region of Palestine. This objective, inherently, includes the elimination of the Israeli state, although there’s an ongoing debate within the organization about its practicality and the means to achieve it.

Terror Attacks and Rocket Launches: A Strategic Tool?

Hamas’s use of terror attacks, particularly against civilians, and its frequent rocket launches into Israeli territory, are among its most controversial and internationally condemned practices. These actions are not random acts of violence but are deeply embedded in Hamas’s strategic objectives. By engaging in acts of terror, Hamas aims to create a climate of fear and insecurity within Israel, which it believes will lead to political concessions. The rocket attacks, often indiscriminate, serve a dual purpose: they are a practical expression of resistance against Israeli rule and a symbolic message to Palestinians that Hamas is actively confronting Israel.

However, these tactics come with severe consequences. Civilian casualties, the destruction of infrastructure, and international condemnation often follow these events. Moreover, they are leading to a vicious cycle of violence with dire human costs.

Conclusion: Understanding the Complexity

“What does Hamas want?” is a question with many layers. The group’s objectives are a mix of political survival, ideological commitment, strategic positioning, and military tactics, both locally and internationally. The recent conflicts should be viewed through this complex prism, recognizing that they are as much about internal politics and regional dominance as they are about the struggle with Israel. The use of terror tactics and rocket attacks is a central, yet contentious, part of this strategy, reflecting the intricate and often tragic nature of the conflict.

In conclusion, understanding Hamas requires a nuanced approach that considers its political, social, and military dimensions. Only by comprehending these facets can one grasp the full scope of what Hamas wants and the methods it’s willing to employ to achieve its goals.

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Hamas Tactics: A Cycle of Violence That Needs to End

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Hamas-Terrorists

Hamas Terrorists. Credit: ‘כאן חדשות’ FB page

Over time, Hamas has honed techniques designed to do maximum damage while preserving its assets and troops. The latest deadly fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas has once again shown Hamas’s complicated and disturbing tactical methods. 

Hamas is applying military lessons from previous conflicts. The organization researches Israeli capabilities and weaknesses and incorporates their findings to optimize and perfect their method. Hamas used deception as a base for many of their military tactics. In Gaza, mock structures resembling Israeli settlements have been constructed as training grounds for terrorists to rehearse simulated attacks. Fake social media profiles and altered films offer a false sense of security, allowing Israel to relax its watch. Economic incentives for workers fund military preparedness. These techniques are designed to fool Israeli intelligence services and conceal Hamas’s genuine capabilities and goals.

Terror tunnel networks provide for covert movement and supply connections. Hamas tactics include urban warfare strategies, ambushes, IEDs, snipers, and hit-and-run provocations. The terror tunnel networks also have a psychological impact since they keep Israeli troops constantly guessing when and where potential future attacks and kidnappings can occur.

A tunnel built by Hamas

A tunnel built by Hamas to penetrate Israel. Credit: ‘ישראלים מצייצים’ FB page.

Human shields are yet another contentious Hamas strategy. Hamas utilizes the population of Gaza as a shield from Israeli counter-attacks by operating and hiding weapons in heavily populated civilian areas. Using civilian homes for weapon storage, building their terror tunnels underneath schools, and even creating rocket launching sites in hospitals and cemeteries. This shows their complete lack of respect for their dead and ensures civilian losses, which Hamas will subsequently use to sway public opinion against Israel. Similarly, the group’s tactic of kidnapping Israeli troops and holding them prisoner underground has frequently put the captives’ lives in jeopardy during Israeli rescue efforts.

These tactics alter a conflict’s dynamics. Israel, or any other moral, democratic nation, must use restraint in its actions due to ethical concerns over civilian losses. However, this merely gives Hamas greater leeway to continue its deadly provocations. With the desire to weaken Hamas’ capabilities, heavy blows on a regular basis are in order. However, these attacks’ high toll on innocent people fuels more radicalism. Conversely, doing nothing would allow Hamas to build up its weapons and undertake increasingly lethal assaults over time.

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Israel Palestine War

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IDF Tank and helicopter. Credit: Nitsan Saddan

IDF Tank and helicopter. Credit: Nitsan Saddan

Hamas Launches Another Attack

In the early hours of October 7th, 2023, Hamas, a Palestinian group based in Gaza, initiated a new round of conflict. They employed an extensive barrage of thousands of rockets, advanced technology, and aggressive tactics to breach Israel’s heavily fortified border. This attack targeted both military installations and civilian areas, including a music festival where thousands had gathered. The death toll continues to rise, with thousands losing their lives. Hamas also took over 200 people hostage, including civilians including children, soldiers, and foreigners visiting Israel. Tragically, individuals from at least 36 different nationalities are either dead or missing.

Childrens bedroom after being attacked by Hamas on Oct 7th. Credit: סמדר תל חי FB page.

Childrens bedroom after being attacked by Hamas on Oct 7th. Credit: סמדר תל חי FB page.

Hamas’s Motivation

Hamas’s motives for the attack were numerous and multifaceted: the terrorist group aimed to boost their anti-Israel credentials and relevance in the region; relieve domestic pressure coming from Gazans who were fed up with Hamas’ corrupt, inhumane, and incompetent rule; and finally, the October 7th Massacre was Hamas’s attempt to revive sympathy for the Palestinian cause amongst the international community through a deliberately false, and manipulative public relations campaign focused on establishing a false moral equivalence between the Army of the State of Israel and a terrorist organisation who slaughters innocent men, women, and children apparent glee. The question of why Hamas chose to launch this attack now is complex, with historical, geographical, religious, political, and power dynamics at play. We’re here to break it down for you.

Hamas’s Control of Gaza

Hamas, a terrorist group that has been involved in acts of violence, recently took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Under their rule, LGBTQ+ Palestinians face persecution, and public music is banned. It’s essential to note that Israel, despite its conflicts with Hamas, has been a significant source of energy, food, and medical supplies for Gaza’s residents.

History of Gaza

 

Gaza Strip – on the left. Credit: CBS News’s FB page.

Israel’s control of Gaza has a history that dates back to the 1967 Six-Day War. However, in 2005, under the leadership of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel withdrew its soldiers from Gaza and evacuated over 5,000 Israelis. Unfortunately, the transition to Gazan self-government faced challenges, as Palestinian looters stripped and destroyed infrastructure left behind by the Israelis.

Hamas’s Escalations

Since Israel’s withdrawal, Hamas has engaged in a series of provocations, often marked by rocket attacks on Israeli cities and the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. Shalit remained a hostage for five years.

Recent Mass Hostage-Taking

Hamas’s recent large-scale capture of hostages has raised concerns about their use as human shields, a tactic Hamas has used to protect its military and political assets. The hostages may face additional abuse and torture.

Perspective from Palestinians

From a Palestinian perspective, the brutality displayed by Hamas is not new, as many Palestinians have suffered under their rule since 2007.

The Road Ahead

In the coming days and weeks, there will likely be significant repercussions for Hamas, and innocent Palestinian lives hang in the balance. Israel is taking steps to secure the release of its people. It’s important to distinguish the actions of Hamas from the broader Palestinian population.

A Call for Gaza’s Liberation

Many Palestinians believe that Gaza’s liberation from the grip of Hamas is long overdue and hope for a resolution to this ongoing conflict.

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Education in the Gaza Strip

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Kids in Gaza

Kids in Gaza. Credit: I love Allah’s FB page

According to several studies conducted by various human rights organizations, a review of Palestinian school textbooks and curricula reveals a number of human rights violations.  Recurring topics include the rejection of the State of Israel and denial of its right to exist, the demonization and incitement of violence against Jews, and a downplay of peace advocacy in favor of incitement. These schools have been inciting three generations of young Palestinians to hate and kill Jews, to revere martyrs and aspire to jihad. Parents of current students have been educated in the same schools, as have many of the 30,000 teachers employed by UNRWA.  Perhaps most importantly, the education curriculum teaches that the so-called Palestinian Right of Return is to be achieved by war. Under Hamas, Gaza’s educational system, which is heavily impacted by political allegiances and local disputes, faces a challenging environment. In order to steer the children of Gaza toward a more promising educational future, it is imperative that we comprehend the subtleties of this scenario.

Hamas’s Influence on Education

Kids in the Gaza Strip

Kids in Gaza strip. Credit: Avihai Shorshan’a FB  Page

Since its founding in 1987, Hamas, a strong political and militant organization, has had a considerable impact on Gaza’s educational landscape. The group’s goal of spreading its ideals and values, which are based on political and religious convictions, has permanently altered the educational environment. The son of a Hamas founder, Mosab Yousef, offers a distinctive viewpoint on the brainwashing that takes place within the educational system. He explains how youngsters are indoctrinated with the idea that, in order to establish an Islamic state, innocent people must be killed. Such instruction has a significant psychological effect on young Gazans, which raises questions about their early exposure to extreme beliefs.

 Moreover, Yousef highlights the lack of choice for the children of Gaza, emphasizing how they are shaped by the ideologies fed to them. This underscores the pervasive influence that Hamas has on the educational narrative, limiting the intellectual freedom of students and narrowing their worldview.

What Do Palestinian Children Actually Learn in School?

A new study of Palestinian textbooks finds that Palestinian children are being taught to glorify and value terrorism and violence. The study, called “Palestinian Elementary School Curriculum 2016–17: Radicalization and Revival of the PLO Program,” was conducted by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education. To an even greater extent than the 2014–15 textbooks, the curriculum teaches students to be martyrs and denies the existence of Israel and focuses on a “return” to an exclusively Palestinian homeland. 

According to the report, within the pages of the textbooks children are taught to be expendable. Messages such as: “the volcano of my revenge”; “the longing of my blood for my land”; and “I shall sacrifice my blood to saturate the land” suffuse the curriculum. Math books use numbers of dead martyrs to teach arithmetic. The vision of an Arab Palestine includes the entirety of what is now Israel, defined as the “1948 Occupied Territories.”

This is not the way to prepare children for peace. For example, here is how the grade 4 math textbook teaches math:

The number of martyrs of the First Intifada during 1987–93 totaled 2026 martyrs, and the number of martyrs of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Intifada in the year 2000 totaled 5,050 martyrs while the number of the wounded reached 49,760. How many martyrs died in the two Intifadas.

The following are more examples of the incitement, antisemitism, and violence found and promoted in Palestinian curricula:

In a fifth grade textbook provided by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of education, while teaching Arabic reading comprehension to girls, an entire chapter is dedicated to praising the martyr Dalal al-Mughrabi , who led a team of terrorists in the massacre of 38 Israelis, including 13 children, in 1978. She is glamorized and draped in the Palestinian flag.

According to a March 2023 report by UN Watch, teachers and schools at the UN agency that runs education and social services for Palestinians regularly call for the  murder of Jews, and create teaching materials that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis and incite antisemitism. For example, in September 2022, 5th-graders at a school in Gaza were taught to admire as a “martyr” and “hero” Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassem, the namesake of Hamas’ military wing, who had preached the murder of Jews. On November 20, 2022, photos of a classroom blackboard from Social Studies class in the 5th grade Class 9 of the fifth grade show a map labeled Palestine. The map includes the State of Israel – a UN member state, and marks areas and cities in Israel such as Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, and Beersheba as part of Palestine. In December 2022, the report found that an Arabic reading comprehension exercise for 9th graders celebrated a Palestinian firebombing attack on a Jewish bus as a “barbecue party.”

Another text taught to 9th-graders at the school posted in December 2022, demonized Israelis as sadistic predators looking for prey by teaching reading comprehension using graphic descriptions of Israelis brutally murdering Palestinians in entirely fictional stories. A “Zionist officer” deliberately shoots to death a Palestinian fisherman in front of his son in Gaza for being late to shore. The graphic text describes a “fountain of blood bursting from his chest.” In addition, 5th-graders at the school learned that martyrdom and jihad are “the most important meanings of life” through an exercise practicing vocabulary and grammar in Arabic language Learning material posted in September 2022.

A Palestinian social studies lesson posted in September 2022 instilled in 9th-grade students the message that “armed struggle” against Israel is a “divine right.” Another September 2022 9th grade social studies text spreads antisemitic propaganda by teaching the libel that Israel infects Palestinians with cancer by dumping toxic waste in the West Bank and Gaza. 

Asma Middle School for Girls B encouraged schoolgirls to liberate the homeland by sacrificing “their Blood” and pursuing jihad.  UNRWA-created Arabic language material posted in September 2022 for the 6th grade includes an exercise promoting sacrificing one’s life—“the most precious thing” a person has—for the homeland as an obligation and to sacrifice “their blood.”  A  grammar exercise states that “I will commit jihad to liberate the homeland” and “I will not give up a centimeter of my land.” The last sentence further indicates students are taught to reject any territorial compromise with Israel.

However, Hamas’s indoctrination of violence is not limited to the classroom and textbooks. The sae report found that Palestinian summer camps were, in some ways worse than the schools. In these summer camps, children are trained to be soldiers, a clear violation of international law.

By teaching the glorification of terrorism and violence, as well as the demonization of Jews, both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have ensured a generations of antisemitic terrorists who believe anything is justified in order for a so-called glorious return to Palestine, instead of a new generation of leaders who prioritize the prosperity of ordinary Palestinians over the total destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. Unfortunately, we have now witnessed the horrific results of this violent, anti semitic education on October 7th.  

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