The political and geographic name, Middle East, distinctive than any other landscape reference in the world, frequently draws our attention to the negative news containing blood and tear. Unending conflicts, proxy wars, international problems and ethno-religious crisis are almost on the daily agenda of the region. Not only politically but also geographically Palestinian and Israeli conflict are in the middle of the region and the source of countless international incidents of Middle East. In this paper, I am going to examine the beginning of the Palestinian-Israeli struggle and its continuation in the last century. Then I move to discuss the terrorist attacks made by each side and their legitimization tools, focusing on Hamas and Israeli contestation. Starting by the history of Palestine, I will demonstrate that Hamas is not a terrorist entity but a complex artifact that can change the fate and the direction of the Palestine conjuncture.

Shortly After the Fall of Ottoman:

The Arab Middle East is formed after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Creation of the new states was made according to ethnic and religious features to cause more segregation in the region was the main focus of imperialist states whom are England and France.

Even though there was not a Jewish state in Palestine for centuries, Theodor Herzl came with the idea of Zionism to give a hope for desparate and dissolved Jews by referencing their history and Old Testament.[1] Herzl’s message went direclty to the contemporary Sultan of the Ottoman, Abdulhamid II, and he took a historic answer emphasizing that there is no possibility of giving up Palestinian lands but if Ottoman collapses.[2] So, the rote for settling Jews intersected with the dismantling of Ottoman State and after the World War I European Jews started to immigrate to Jerusalem and around places.

Some lands near to Jarusalem was bought by the Jews to settle officially:

6.5 hectare land was sold by Progress and Union party leaders
30 hectare was given as a gift by England High Commissionary
20 hectare was sold by English mandate government
40 hectare was sold by Christian Sarsak and Matran families
165 hectare was the Abdulhamid’s special land, given by English mandate to the Jews
32 hectare Al-Havaris valley, sold by Tiyan family.
28 hectare was the mix lands of Arab-Christian families sold to the Jewish settlers
30 hectare was sold by Palestinian Muslims.

1.425 hectare land is the total amount sold to the Jews and that equals only 0,7 percent of today’s Israeli lands.[3] The rest of the lands on which is Israel found comes after the occupation that we will discuss under the title of foundation of a new state.

In 1936, Haci Amin al-Husayni was one of the prominent figures in the insurgency which seriously forced the management of English mandate. The occupation of the Arab villages and the destrcution of the houses of local population by Jewish radical groups resulted in uprisings among the Palestinian society. Thousands of Palestinian rebels and hundreds of English soldiers and Jews were killed as a result.[4] The Arab states intervened to make the peace arrangements and this brought rebellion to a halt. In Haifa city, south of Jarusalem, an Islamic leader and teacher whose name is Izzeddin Al-Qassam started to give lectures to the youths of Haifa and formed an Islamic youth community in 1920s. When the pressure begin to be felt disturbingly by the Palestinian locals because of Jewish terrorist organizations from 1920s to 1930s, Al-Qassam created an armed group out of their society called later on Al-Qassam brigades. This group became the striking figure of later Hamas’s armed forces as well leftist armed groups of Palestinians. They carried attacks against British mandate soldiers and Jewish armed groups. Al-Qassam and his students were trapped and killed by the British forces in 1935, but they became the pioneers of Palestinian resistance movement among the Arab society.[5]

The Birth of a New State:

When the Jewish migration waves reached to the Palestine shores, they were inside different in ideology, language and the goals of their future in the region. However, Zionist goal and claim (which is still controversial among Jewish groups) was to settle and capture the promised lands (according to Old Testament) whether willingly or forcefully from Arabs. Fanatic Zionists took action to uniform military groups; Haganah up to 60.000 militia (From the 1920s onwards, Haganah committed crimes against civilians causing to death of thousands of people.), Irgun-Bet and Stern fought against local villagers and unarmed civilians.[6] These groups were the founding figures, the roots of Israel Defence Forces and formal army found in 1948 with the state of Israel.

One of the bloodiest attacks were made in Deir Yassin village resulted in the murder of 250 women and children by Irgun in 1948.[7] These groups existed after the founding of the Israeli state and they played the biggest role in emptying the very populated areas of Jerusalem and closer towns which enabled to build new living areas for the rising Jewish community. In 1982, the groups entered one of the Palestinian refugee camps close to the Israeli-Lebanon border to assist the Maronids. Kibya, Sabra and Shatila camps were invaded by tanks and heavily armed Jewish groups and a big massacre took place causing to death of thousands of civilians (the numbers of the murdered people are not certain).[8]

When Balfour declaration promised for a Jewish state, Zionists were expecting an independent organization governing without questioned but English rule thought not in the same way. The military groups fought against British mandate soldiers when England did not allow Jews to capture and declare Jarusalem as the new capital of Israel. After British forces coud not manage the control and safety of the region and their existing forces as well, they left the position of Palestinians and Jerusalem to the decision of United Nations. The security and authority weakness led Jewish armed groups to act more freely against local dwellers of Palestine. After the declaration of Israel as a new state, Ben Gurion who is the intermediator of armed terrorist groups of Jews became the first prime minister. Large numbers of political leaders came from the ranks of Haganah, Irgun-Bet and Stern. Menahem Begin who is the state representative of Camp David was the leader of Irgun-Bet since 1943. Prime minister Ariel Sharon was well-known in another name as Beirut Butcher coming from the memory of Sabra and Shatila massacre which took place under his command.[9] Basically, the state of Israel is found with the excessive help and involvement of Jewish terrorist groups’ actions and crimes which make it easier to understand the legal  and humanitarian perspective of the foundation’s base.

Year by year,  Israeli territories expanded but not only with the help of Jewish armed groups but also other actors were in the scene and the latter seemed to be standing with the Palestinian society.

Arab States:

Following the declaration of Israel in 1948, Arab states consisting of Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq organized attacks against Israel.[10] Even though the number of states involving campaign against Israel looks enormous, the reality was so far from what it seems. When the World War II ends, Israel had a strong, regular and well trained army fought on the battlefields of Europe and Arabian Peninsula, well equipped by European and American allies. When we consider the Arab states, they were not organized in terms of army and communication. In a few mounts, Israel won the war and its territories expanded from Sinai to Syria. The results were catastrophic for the Palestinian society, because their lands went under either to Israel or to the control of other Arab states, in Gaza to Egypty, in East Jarusalem to Jordan and in the north to Syria and Lebanon. After 1948 War, in 1956, 1967, 1972 and 1982 series of wars took place and none of them actually made for the sake of solving Palestinian society’s problems but in contrast resulted in suspending their struggle. Dr. Azzam claims that; after Arab states’ involvement in the battles, they took the fronts of Palestinians with force and later delivered their weapons and territories to their enemies. Israeli lands were expanded 14 times larger, after the Arab armies joined the war.[11] Palestinian Democratic Front’s leader Havatme writes that; reactionist Arab leaders caused their fronts to collapse and manipulate their holy struggle by capturing their fronts and bestowing without fight.[12]

Hamas, the New Phase in the Resistance:

Palestinian resistance which is built inside the territories of contemporary Palestine, indeed, not independent from other Arab societies’ movements. However, we are going to talk more specifically about Hamas and its roots by starting from the foundation of Muslim Brotherhood. After the 1948 War, Egypt was governing the Gaza and via this connection Muslim brotherhood of Egpyt came with an offer to Egyptian government which is not in the favor of MB. Benna says: if you allow our forces to fight against Israel and we can defeat them, all the Arab states will get rid of their troubles and if we can not, you will dispose of us.[13] According to Azzam’s claim; Jewish lobby was aware of the danger which Benna carries and they organized Benna’s assassination by suppressing the Egyptian government.[14] Egyptian defeat by Israel broke the frontiers of  Brotherhood in Gaza and Sinai. Until the official existance of Hamas as a separate entity, Muslim brotherhood members acted not only in Gaza but also in West Bank. They built and institutionalized mosques, kindergartens, hospitals and charities for the poor and orphans.

In 1960s and 1970s the armed resistance was in the hands of secular and socialist groups like Al-Fatah (found by Yaser Arafat in Kuwait in 1958) and Palestinian Liberation Organziation.[15] Palestinian Democratic National Front leader Nayif Havatme explains their struggle as positioning against Imperialism, Reactionism and Zionism (he connetcs Zionism with the American Imperialism which is standing by its side.)[16] He emphasizes that the enemy of Palestinian society and other Arab societies are capitalist states, Zionist Israel and reactionery Arab states.[17] After the defeats that Arab states experienced in the wars against Israel, Arab society found some hope by the existance of socialist movements.

Arab foundations and societies in the Gulf supported the building of mosques and social facilities by Muslim Brotherhood of Palestine. In the 1970’s Al-Fatah movement created a dissappoinment atmosphere when corruption occured in the party and their resistance got weaker while they were protested by Palestinians. In the end of 1970s, a religious youth wave started to be seen with the work of MB in Palestine, especially in Gaza Islamic University.[18] Al-Wafa hospital was another exapmle that people were enjoying free medical services if they are in need. The kindergartens and orphanages were other social institutions that connected Palestinian people emotionally to the services of Muslim Brotherhood. At the same time, locals could have the chance to join the Brotherhood via the education circles. Israel allowed and supported the mosque building process of former MB, because they noticed that the armed groups of secular forces were in fact, trying to draw the popular support and MB was a rival fraction in that point. Hamas accepted that they are brothers and relatives with the PLO and Al-Fatah but on the other side of the coin Hamas opposed the idea of a secular rule. On the tactical level members of both group played some important roles, especially in the second Intifada. On the other hand, they have serious conflicts which resulted in sometimes armed fights among members. [19]

On the eve of the first Intifada, Islamic foundations of MB held the popular support in all over the Palestine but until that time MB never attempted to launch armed struggle against Israel. Al-Fatah lost its fame due to the corruption claims, their silence against suppression and people were not satisfied anymore by their rule in the 1980s. So, another Islamic radical faction came up out of MB structure, in the name of Islamic Jihad, led by Fathi Shikaki and gained quick support among the society with their attacks against Israeli soldiers. In the time of first Intifada, in 1987, Hamas was officially found by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and it actively took role by distributing leaflets on the streets, painting walls and calling people to resist against Israel with the stones and knives.[20] From that point on, Hamas understood the Intifada was the corner point for their future and people expect armed resistance against the planned killings of Israel. In the first Intifada, children and women with stones against tanks became symbolized in the memories. A new phase, a milestone have been came for the transformation of Hamas and declared theirselves as the branch of Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, symbolyzed the face of Islamic movement and resistance. The new group was, in fact, autonomous from the Egyptian counterparts. Hamas movement found masses behind them but Sheikh Yassin and prominent leaders of Hamas were arrested shortly after the Intifada. The Khalil Ibrahim Mosque, West Bank and Jenin massacres and the Hamas leaders’ arrests were the radicalization points for Hamas led them to commence their military wing in 1990, carrying the name of legendary guerilla leader Al-Qassam. [21]

Hamas turned into a political and military organization, after Israeli attacks begin to the leaders and members of Hamas. Its military wing not only targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians but also colloborator Palestinians, drug dealers and corruptors of the society. They acted as police forces and military wing at the same time.[22] Meanwhile unpopular Al-Fatah became the target of US-Israeli plan and likewise Hamas was supported by Israel to prolong confrontation between resistance groups, now Al-Fatah was chosen to undergird. Heavy and ordinary weaponry were given to Al-Fatah by the US which is later learned by Hamas and society, created a big shock.[23] In Cairo peace talks Hamas accused Fatah to associate with the US and Israel, Fatah charge Hamas by violating peace talks by implementing bomb attacks.[24]In 1995, Hamas found their party and later demanded to apply for the national elections to represent themself.[25] From 1993-2000, Oslo talks executed between Israel and Palestine, excluded Hamas side to give a voice of Palestinian people and it deepened the cliff between two Palestinian factions as Hamas and Fatah.[26]

In 2002, Holy Land Foundation and Islamic associations around the US were closed which led to controversies. US government accused some charities having affiliatinon with AL-Qaida and some others with Hamas to close them down. American President Bush said:

Money raised by the Hold Land foundation is used by Hamas to suport schools and indoctrinate children to grow up into suicide bombers. Money raised by the Holy Land Foundation is also used by Hamas to recruite suicide bomber and to support their families… Our action today is another step in the war on terrorism (Roy 2011)

In 2006 Hamas won the national elections which is not welcomed by the Israel, US and Fatah as well. Hamas is labelled as a terrorist organization in the list of US and the European countries look at the event suspicious rather than recognizing Hamas as a democratic elected government. The other hypocrisy that we face is both Fatah and Israeli government supported Hamas to attend the general elections in 2006. The reason behind this is the belief that Hamas will absulately lose the elections and that will be the proof that they are not legitimate anymore in the eyes of Palestinians and as well decrease their fame around the globe. When the elections took place in 2006, Hamas gained 76 chairs out of 132, then they will be boycotted and sieged by Israel. This action closed the gates of peace processes and communication strife.[27] Between 2000 and 2006, Ahmed Yassin, Abdalaziz Rantisi, Ismael Shanab and tens of Hamas leaders were killed as a result of assassination attacks.[28] In the time of peace talks, the military commander of Hamas, Salah Shaheda, was killed and this resulted in suicide attacks to Israeli cities, killing hundreds of Israeli soldiers and civilians.

Who is the Terrorist:

Since 1950s onwards up today, Hamas has taken its power and human resource directly from the society. The desperate and poor youth could find job, security and most importantly hope within Hamas, ill people got treatment in Hamas’s hospitals and dispensaries. Hamas sponsored and supported every social services that people need, while Israel and Fatah government did not afford to do so.[29] That’s why, I would like to challenge the idea that Hamas is only a terrorist organization whom is making suicide attacks against the legitimate state of Israel. What we need to question is, the roots of the conflict rather than just focusing our scope on the terrorist attacks, by reason of the incidents have a deep base in the history. In the beginnig, we wrote on the foundation of Israel and its army by depending on three terrorist factions, while Hamas built itself from mosques, kindergartens and hospitals. When Israel has already a state and political power to represent itself in the social sphere, Palestinian society can not have, because their political representation is not recognized and accepted. As a way of dealing with Hamas, Israel targeted everything that is affiliated with Hamas, still the movement did not collapse because of its strong lines with the society. US supported Israel in every single incident even it committed crimes against international humanitarian law and violated United Nation’s partition plan of Palestine. Despite the fact that Hamas caters only to fantasies, it has demonstrated an awaraness of the shifting political circumstances and a willingness to base its policies on cost-benefit calculations.[30]


Unending Conflict:

Alastair Crooke who is the former Middle East adviser to the European Union finds a nice spot on what we discuss:

We can bomb them, we can ignore them or we can talk to them. The first option has not worked and can not worked, while the second is simply a defence of intellectual laziness. (Roy 2011)

Sneh, foreign affairs and defence committee of Knesset in 1992 as a member of labor party, thought the problem is not coming from religios and ethnic differences but occurs between fanatics and moderates:

The only way to defeat Hamas which is as dangeous, or almost as dangerous as Hezbollah, is to give hope of a political future to the Palestinian people through the implemantation and fulfilment of their vision of an independent Palestine state. Without this prospect, Hamas can not be defeated because Hamas is building on despair and poverty. (Roy 2011)

As a conclusion, If Hamas will not be recognized and invited to the peace talks by the US and Israel, big amount of people and their demands will be ignored and this will turn peace talks into a vain gathering. Israel’s discrimination and boycott will open a new way for organization of violent, radical groups which were suppressed formerly by Hamas. As a result; unending wars, state of terror and the chain of violance will never end in Palestine.

Abdullah SAK 


al-Majid, Wahid Abd. «The Palestinian uprising: The historical context, the acting forces, the course and future.» al-Mustaqbal al-‘Arabi, May 1988: 6-33.

Azzam, Dr. Abdullah. Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya HAMAS. 2009: Rawza Publications, İstanbul.

Boran, Yıldırım. El – Fetih ve Hamas. Istanbul: Mep Kitap, August 2016.

Chehab, Zaki. Inside Hamas The Untold Story of Militants, Martyrs and Spies. New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2007.

Encyclopedia Britannica, inc. «Arab-Israeli wars.» London, 2009.

Ganor, Dr. Boaz. “Part of the Moslem Brotherhood.” (The Israeli Magazine for Intelligence, Weapons, Military and Security), 2 February 1992: 50-62.

Havatme, Nayif. Haraka al-Muqawama al-Filistiniyye. Beirut: Palestinian Liberation Organization, 1969.

Roy, Sara. Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2011.

Sela, Shaul Mishal – Avraham. The Palestinian Hamas Vision, Violence and Coexistence. New York: Columbia University Press , 2000.

[1] Boran Yıldırım, El-Fetih ve Hamas. (Istanbul: Mep Kitap, 2016), 17

[2] Ibid. Page: 31

[3] Dr. Abdullah Azzam. Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya.( İstanbul: Rawza Publications, 2009), 30

[4] Wahid Abd. al-Majid  «The Palestinian uprising: The historical context, the acting forces, the course and future.» al-Mustaqbal al-‘Arabi. (1988), 6-33

[5] Zaki Chehab, Inside Hamas The Untold Story of Militants, Martyrs and Spies. (New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2007.), 40

[6] Boran Yıldırım, El – Fetih ve Hamas. (Istanbul: Mep Kitap, 2016), 44

[7] Ibid: page: 44

[8] Ibid: page: 51

[9] Boran Yıldırım, El – Fetih ve Hamas (Istanbul: Mep Kitap, 2016), 51

[10] Encyclopedia Britannica, inc. «Arab-Israeli wars.» (London: 2009)

[11] Dr. Abdullah Azzam. Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, (İstanbul: Rawza Publications, 2009), 60

[12] Nayif Havatme, Haraka al-Muqawama al-Filistiniyye, (Beirut: PLO, 1969), 19

[13] Dr. Abdullah Azzam, Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya,(Istanbul: Rawza, 2009), 105

[14] Ibid: 106

[15] Yıldırım Boran, El – Fetih ve Hamas, (Istanbul: Mep Kitap, 2016.), 87

[16] Nayif Havatme, Haraka al-Muqawama al-Filistiniyye, (Beirut: PLO, 1969.), 69

[17] Ibid: page: 104

[18] Sara Roy, Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza, (New Jersey: Princeton University Press 2011), 23

[19] Dr. Boaz Ganor, Part of the Moslem Brotherhood, (The Israeli Magazine for Intelligence, Weapons, Military and Security, 1992), 50-62

[20] Ibid: Page: 50-62

[21] Zaki Chehab, Inside Hamas The Untold Story of Militants, Martyrs and Spies, (New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2007), 110

[22] Dr. Boaz Ganor, Part of the Moslem Brotherhood, (The Israeli Magazine for Intelligence, Weapons, Military and Security, 1992), 50-62.

[23] Sara Roy, Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza, (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2011), 44

[24] Zaki Chehab, Inside Hamas The Untold Story of Militants, Martyrs and Spies, (New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2007),114

[25] Shaul Mishal – Avraham Sela, The Palestinian Hamas Vision, Violence and Coexistence (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 114

[26] Sara Roy, Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza, (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2011), 33

[27] Ibid: Page: 41

[28] Boran Yıldırım, El-Fetih ve Hamas, (Istanbul: Mep Kitap, 2016), 136

[29] Sara Roy, Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza, (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2011), 5

[30] Shaul Mishal – Avraham Sela, The Palestinian Hamas Vision, Violence and Coexistence, (New York: Columbia University Press (2000), 222

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