Thanks to the Mossad, Israel's "Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks", the Hamas was allowed to reinforce its presence in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, Arafat's Fatah Movement for National Liberation as well as the Palestinian Left were subjected to the most brutal form of repression and intimidation
Let us not forget that it was Israel, which in fact created Hamas. According to Zeev Sternell, historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, "Israel thought that it was a smart ploy to push the Islamists against the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)".
Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Islamist movement in Palestine, returning from Cairo in the seventies, established an Islamic charity association. Prime Minister Golda Meir, saw this as a an opportunity to counterbalance the rise of Arafatís Fatah movement. .According to the Israeli weekly Koteret Rashit (October 1987), "The Islamic associations as well as the university had been supported and encouraged by the Israeli military authority" in charge of the (civilian) administration of the West Bank and Gaza. "They [the Islamic associations and the university] were authorized to receive money payments from abroad."
The Islamists set up orphanages and health clinics, as well as a network of schools, workshops which created employment for women as well as system of financial aid to the poor. And in 1978, they created an "Islamic University" in Gaza. "The military authority was convinced that these activities would weaken both the PLO and the leftist organizations in Gaza." At the end of 1992, there were six hundred mosques in Gaza. Thanks to Israelís intelligence agency Mossad (Israelís Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks) , the Islamists were allowed to reinforce their presence in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, the members of Fatah (Movement for the National Liberation of Palestine) and the Palestinian Left were subjected to the most brutal form of repression.
In 1984, Ahmed Yassin was arrested and condemned to twelve years in prison, after the discovery of a hidden arms cache. But one year later, he was set free and resumed his activities. And when the Intifada (Ďuprisingí) began, in October 1987, which took the Islamists by surprise, Sheik Yassin responded by creating the Hamas (The Islamic Resistance Movement): "God is our beginning, the prophet our model, the Koran our constitution", proclaims article 7 of the charter of the organization.
Ahmed Yassin was in prison when, the Oslo accords (Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government) were signed in September 1993. The Hamas had rejected Oslo outright. But at that time, 70% of Palestinians had condemned the attacks on Israeli civilians. Yassin did everything in his power to undermine the Oslo accords. Even prior to Prime Minister Rabinís death, he had the support of the Israeli government. The latter was very reluctant to implement the peace agreement.
The Hamas then launched a carefully timed campaign of attacks against civilians, one day before the meeting between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators, regarding the formal recognition of Israel by the National Palestinian Council. These events were largely instrumental in the formation of a Right wing Israeli government following the May 1996 elections.
Quite unexpectedly, Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered Sheik Ahmed Yassin to be released from prison ("on humanitarian grounds") where he was serving a life sentence. Meanwhile, Netanyahu, together with President Bill Clinton, was putting pressure on Arafat to control the Hamas. In fact, Netanyahu knew that he could rely, once more, on the Islamists to sabotage the Oslo accords. Worse still: after having expelled Yassin to Jordan, Prime Minister Netanyahu allowed him to return to Gaza, where he was welcomed triumphantly as a hero in October 1997.
Arafat was helpless in the face of these events. Moreover, because he had supported Saddam Hussein during the1991 Gulf war, (while the Hamas had cautiously abstained from taking sides), the Gulf states decided to cut off their financing of the Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile, between February and April 1998, Sheik Ahmad Yassin was able to raise several hundred million dollars, from those same countries. The the budget of The Hamas was said to be greater than that of the Palestinian Authority. These new sources of funding enabled the Islamists to effectively pursue their various charitable activities. It is estimated that one Palestinian out of three is the recipient of financial aid from the Hamas. And in this regard, Israel has done nothing to curb the inflow of money into the occupied territories.
The Hamas had built its strength through its various acts of sabotage of the peace process, in a way which was compatible with the interests of the Israeli government. In turn, the latter sought in a number of ways, to prevent the application of the Oslo accords. In other words, Hamas was fulfilling the functions for which it was originally created: to prevent the creation of a Palestinian State. And in this regard, Hamas and Ariel Sharon, see eye to eye; they are exactly on the same wave length.
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© Copyright H ZEROUKY 2004. For fair use only/ pour usage ťquitable seulement. This article originally appeared in French in LíHumanitť. Translation by Global Outlook, 2002.
In Ha'aretz today, Brad Burston, an Israeli journalist, offers ten ways that the Israeli right both helped create Hamas and keeps it going. None of this is particularly surprising to those of us who follow Middle East events closely but it will certainly upset those who believe that Israelis always prefer Palestinian moderates to Palestinian radicals.
They don't. So long as Hamas is in power, the Israeli right can safely state that it has "no partner" with whom to negotiate which means it can keep doing what it likes doing (build settlements and make life miserable for Palestinians). And keep the war going.
All of this is pretty depressing to those of us who care about Israel. The fact is that there will be no security for Israel without security for the Palestinians. The status quo types here in the US -- the ones who go crazy every time America attempts to broker peace -- are helping to destroy the Jewish state.
But, hey, neocons are always ready to fight to the last Israeli or the last American. Just so long as it's not their kids doing the fighting. Being an armchair hawk is a very manly exercise.
On a related note, so many Democrats here are getting so tired of the Obama-Clinton battle that we almost forget the miserable state of progressives in other countries. In America, the Democrats will always nominate a candidate who is to the left of the Republican, like Obama or Clinton or Kerry or Gore, whatever. There is always a more liberal alternative to the right in this country, even if it is not our own preferred candidate.
Pity the poor Israelis. The head of the Labor party (once the proud home of Yitzhak Rabin) is now led by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak who is, on matters of war and peace, well to the right of the incumbent Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In fact, Barak is doing everything he can to thwart Olmert's attempts to reach an agreement with Palestinian President Abbas.
In other words, we ought to consider ourselves lucky. There are worse things than choosing between Clinton and Obama. Ask any Israeli.