Today, the Gaza Strip is the most densely populated place on the planet...

Opinion: After 30 Years, Hamas Failed to Fulfill Aspirations

by Hesham Shehab,
Gaza Strip militant groups announced a ceasefire Tuesday after a deadly flare-up in violence with Israel raised fears of an all-out war. Earlier last week, Israeli military and Palestinian militants exchanged rocket fire, the most intense since 2014.

This Fall of 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the declaration of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) Charter, in the Palestinian territories. The Charter affirmed that the Movement was founded to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Most of the Islamic World then cheered for Hamas and had hope that Islamist movement would succeed where the secular Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had failed. By the mid-1980s, the PLO had waged fratricidal wars against the Jordanians, the Lebanese, and the Syrians. In addition, the PLO became a paradigm of corruption, and divisiveness among both Palestinians and Arabs. Hamas was hailed then as a “savior” by many Palestinians.

Yet, since the 2007 Hamas landslide victory in the Gaza Strip, the Movement has waged and lost three wars against Israel that forced Tel Aviv to put the Strip under siege, something that turned Gaza into a huge prison. Today, the Gaza Strip is the most densely populated place on the planet and has the highest rate of unemployment in the world (43.9% in 2014).

Recent research conducted by Palestine Center for Policy showed that 55% of Palestinians believe that Hamas should sign a permanent peace treaty with Israel. Prior to that poll, Hamas had issued a policy document, in 2017, declaring that the Movement would accept a Jewish state within the 1967 borders; a new position against the Charter of 1988. “Hamas is attempting to fool the world but it will not succeed,” commented David Keyes, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Summer 2004, before the Israelis withdrew from Gaza, Ahmed Yousef, the political adviser of the Hamas leadership, Director of the United American Studies and Research center in Washington, visited Beirut, Lebanon, where I worked at the Daily Star. His then newly published book; “American Muslims – a Community under Siege,” drew my attention, and I arranged for an interview with him (see the Daily Star, July 28, 2004,<>>).

As Yousef and I sat sipping tea in a restaurant owned by Hamas’ Lebanese ally Hizbollah in the southern suburb of Beirut, I asked the Hamas advisor a casual question: “I guess, since you spent eighteen years of your life in the US, and have had children, I assume they are American-born?!” His reply was shocking: “Not really, Mr. Shehab.” Yousef added: “When my wife was due to give birth, she used to fly to Israel in order to have it there. My wife is an Israeli- Palestinian, and she could then pass the Israeli citizenship to them. The Israeli benefits are better than the US ones.” The Palestinian scholar concluded: “When the Egyptian ruled the Strip before 1967 war, we lived in abject poverty. After that war, when Tel Aviv took the Strip from Cairo, the Israelis brought with them a lot of job opportunities to Gaza, and we have been living far better off than when we were under the Egyptian control.

Thirty years of futile wars that cost thousands of human causalities and billions of dollars in Palestinian property damage, show that radical Islamic groups have failed to meet the expectations and aspirations of the Palestinian people. Many Palestinians today believe that their interests lie with Israel, not in a Don Quixotic and depleting armed Jihad.

Hesham Shehab
Hesham Shehab
Educator, Journalist, Columnist, Islamic Expert, Muslim Expert, Human Rights Activist, Pastor at Salam Christian Fellowship | Website

Adjunct Faculty at College of DuPage, Formerly Adjunct Faculty at American University of Beirut and Pastor at Peace Lutheran Church Lombard, IL Name pronounciation: HI-shahm SHI-hab  Hebrews 12: 4 & Philippians 1: 29

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