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Hamas in the footsteps of Isis?

by Cristina Giudici

The pogroms against 1200 citizens of Israel are, for all those who believe in democracy and human rights, a point of no return, or perhaps just the return of an absolute evil. Therefore, we need to question ourselves about the ideology of Hamas, a terrorist organization born from an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas wants, as declared on its statute, the destruction of the State of Israel and holds the Palestinian population hostage in the Gaza Strip, leveraging the desperation and frustration of a population which is confined also because of Israel's aggressive policies. "With the al-Aqsa flood operation, it adopted a ferocious spectacularization of crimes, like ISIS has always done to spread pain and recruit jihadists", explains Giovanni Giacalone, an expert on Islamism and terrorism, consultant to the Itstime center of Catholic University of Milan and the British think tank Islamic Theology of Counter-Terrorism (ITCT).

"The terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas on Saturday 7 October is of a very different type if compared to the ones we were used to see. In the videos, released by the terrorists themselves, we can clearly see how Hamas makes no distinction between military and civilians, between young people, women, elderly people and even children. They are all legitimate targets because they 'occupy' Palestine, as stated by two members of the Hamas leadership. In the images we can even see a dog killed in cold blood, with kalashnikov shots. Hamas wants to horrify the world , wants to show what it is capable of, exactly as ISIS did. Hamas shows a strategy similar to ISIS: from the military assault, to the widespread use of hostages from various countries around the world (not just Israelis), but above all, I repeat, for the spectacularization of the crimes, filmed and disseminated by the terrorists themselves. And it is plausible that this dramatic 'cinema' will continue when Hamas decides to kill the hostages, as already anticipated by the organization itself. Another ISIS style mode."

Little is said about what Hamas does and has done to the Palestinian population, imposing an Islamist regime, applying sharia, torturing and killing anyone who dares to express dissent. Even Amnesty International, which is usually very critical in Israeli policies, wrote a report in 2015 to denounce the brutal campaign of kidnappings, torture and illegal killings against Palestinians accused of collaborationism. The report Strangling Necks: Abduction, torture and summary killings of Palestinians by Hamas forces during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict highlights the torture and executions of civilians, including members and supporters of Hamas' political rivals, al-Fatah. “In the chaos of the conflict Hamas gave his security services the green light to commit horrific abuses. These frightful actions, some of which constitute war crimes, were designed to exact revenge and spread fear throughout the Gaza Strip,” stated at that time Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Program.

"Hamas forces have shown contempt for the most basic rules of international humanitarian law. Torture and cruel treatment of detainees in armed conflict are war crimes. Extrajudicial killings are war crimes," Philip Luther added. An example? Atta Najjar, a former Palestinian Authority police officer with a mental disability, was serving a 15-year prison sentence imposed by a military court after he was arrested in 2009 and subsequently convicted of "collaboration" with Israel. On August 22, 2014, he was taken out of prison and executed. "On his body there were signs of torture and gunshot wounds. His arms and legs were broken... his body felt like I had put it in a sack and destroyed it... His body was riddled with about 30 bullets. He had massacre marks around his neck, knife marks... And from behind his head there was no brain. Empty... We struggled to carry him... It was heavy, like when you put the flesh in a bag; no bones. His bones were smashed. They broke him in prison," said his brother, who recovered the body from the al-Shifa hospital morgue.

Hamas committed its first suicide bombing in April 1993, five months before PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords. That historic pact established limited self-government for parts of the West Bank and Gaza under a newly created entity called the Palestinian Authority (PA). Hamas condemned the agreements, as well as the mutual recognition of the PLO and Israel, which Arafat and Rabin officially accepted in letters sent days before Oslo. Founded by Ahmed Yassin in 1987 as the political arm of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood after the outbreak of the first intifada (Palestinian revolt against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem), Hamas made public its "statute" the following year. Inspired by the law of Allah, its ultimate objective is the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic state in Palestine. Hamas argues that Palestine is an Islamic homeland that can never be ceded to non-Muslims and that waging a holy war to deprive the Israeli control of Palestine is a religious duty for Palestinian Muslims.

This radical position led to conflict with the PLO, which in 1988 recognized Israel's right to exist. Hamas is part of a regional alliance that includes Iran, Syria and the Shiite Islamist group Hezbollah in Lebanon, all of which are massive opposers of the US policy in the Middle East and Israel. Since 2007, Hamas rules the Gaza Strip, where two million people live. Iran is one of Hamas' main financiers, contributing to the movement not only economically, but also with the supply of weapons and training. According to the US State Department, Teheran provides around 100 million dollars a year to Hamas, PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad) and other Palestinian groups, which are considered terrorist organizations by the United States. According to a June 2023 poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), one-third of Palestinians consider Hamas to be the most harmful "phenomenon" occurred for their people since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

What will happen now that Hamas has shown its most ferocious face? "The October 7 massacre seems like a desperate move, perhaps in the hope of sabotaging the normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia. This move was probably pressured by Iran, which wants to avoid this process at all costs. Israel will try to settle accounts with Hamas once for all. Hamas’ decision to attack Israel appears like a suicide move, but after all their ideology is based on the cult of martyrdom", concludes Giacalone. According to many observers, in fact, the massacre carried out last Saturday could be considered a suicidal choice for Hamas. As Giordano Stabile wrote on the Italian newspaper La Stampa: "The movement's leadership knows that it will pay a very high price. Thousands of militiamen will end up killed or prisoners. The elite corps will be exterminated. The attack on October 7 is a planned suicide." In the past, Hamas has always used rockets, suicide attacks and humans as a shield. Now, to get out of the corner and try to force the siege of Gaza that lasts since 2007, Hamas sacrifices itself, thus turning back the clock of history and eliminating any chance of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

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