The one huge irony about Palestine we need to remember: Hamas is partly an Israeli creation

Hamas militants
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As The Canary has been extensively reporting over the past few weeks, Israeli military actions in the occupied Palestinian territories have left hundreds dead, including over 60 children. The assaults were prompted by Hamas rockets fired into southern Israel earlier this month. Prof. Ilan Pappé told The Canary in an exclusive interview on al-Nakba Day that Hamas was retaliating to a ‘calculated and cynical provocation’ on the part of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Pappé explained that Netanyahu manufactured this provocation as part of a ploy to stay in power at “the moment he realized he’s not going to be able to form a government, and therefore might find himself on the way to court… if not to the jailhouse.”

But there’s deeper layer behind the Hamas response. Because in a bizarre irony, the Islamist group is in part an Israeli creation. Though this might seem on the surface like a conspiracy theory, there is in fact considerable evidence that Israel played a hand in Hamas’ rise from obscurity. And this reality has even been reported on in one of the most mainstream publications there is.

Enabling Hamas’ rise

In 2014 during another bloody Israeli massacre in Gaza, the Washington Post – one of the most highly circulated newspapers in the US – published an article succinctly titled How Israel helped create Hamas. It states:

To a certain degree, the Islamist organization whose militant wing has rained rockets on Israel the past few weeks has the Jewish state to thank for its existence. Hamas launched in 1988 in Gaza at the time of the first intifada… But for more than a decade prior, Israeli authorities actively enabled its rise.

Palestinian-American activist Mohammad Hammad expands on this in his article, A Brief History of Hamas. He points out that initially “Hamas was a relatively small, fringe movement that came about near the beginning of the first Intifada as an offshoot of what was the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza.” Hammad further explains that Israel, in fact, tolerated and even aided the group in order to weaken the then much more dominant secular Palestinian resistance organizations:

Israel saw them as useful, tolerated their existence, and even went as far as helping to catalyze their growth after realizing they could help destabilize the unified secular Palestinian resistance.

Likewise, the Washington Post article points specifically to an intellectual leader of the Gaza branch of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb. It notes:

Read on...

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The Israelis saw Qutb’s adherents in the Palestinian territories… as a useful counterweight to Arafat’s PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organization].

All part of a cynical exercise

Hammad, meanwhile, notes how during the First Intifada:

While Israel actively sabotaged Fatah efforts, stymied their growth, and assassinated its leaders, they allowed Hamas to flourish in the small vacuums created — never directly confronting the growing Hamas organization in any meaningful way. Their plan was to break the unity of Palestinian society, and turn the overwhelmingly secular Palestinian resistance movement against Israel into a fractured movement comprised of religious fundamentalists/extremists and secular orgs who Israel hoped would spend more time fighting each other than resisting Israel.

He concludes:

Unfortunately, their plan worked, probably even better than Israel would’ve hoped. The downside is that they lost control over their pet-project of Hamas, and we have the organization we see today.

Hamas is the direct result of Israeli settler-colonialism, Israeli meddling, and the rage of Palestinian people at decades of oppression and dispossession and living under the boot of the Israeli military.

Creating a Frankenstein monster

Like Frankenstein’s monster in Mary Shelley’s famous novel, Israel unleashed a beast that it eventually could not contain. The rise of Hamas, however, should not be seen as an entirely negative thing for Israel. Rather, it has provided its government and supporters with a convenient excuse for its misdeeds. Its massacres in Gaza, for instance, get excused with retorts that Gaza’s people “elected a terrorist organization”. Attacks on civilian targets get explained away with claims that they were ‘harboring Hamas terrorists’. And so on…

At the same time though, it is important to keep in mind that while Hamas has grown much more powerful than Israel ever hoped or imagined, it is still nowhere near being a serious military threat to Israel. After all, Israel has the most powerful military in the entire Middle East along with generous backing from the most powerful country in the world, the US. As The Canary has previously reported, Israel is in fact the largest cumulative recipient of US aid since World War II.

So Israel derives a double benefit from Hamas: it can use it as a justification for practically anything, while at the same time it faces no serious military threat from Hamas’ existence. And as the dust settles over the latest escalation of violence against Gaza’s population, it is worth reminding ourselves of this reality again.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

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  • Show Comments
    1. One has only to watch YouTube videos of UK police in action against members of the public and journalists to see that Plague Island is no safer than anywhere else on the planet. Democracy on this archipelago has withered somewhat and badly needs compassion and care to resuscitate.

    2. I often wondered when Hamas started firing rockets why don’t Israel just target the location of the rockets? Surely the drones they have flying over Gaza 24/7 could do that? Yet they attack civilian targets.

      1. Because Hamas launch the rockets from civilian buildings such as schools and hospitals, knowing the IDF will retaliate. Watch Mosab Yousef’s address to the UNHRC. His father was a founding member of Hamas, and Mosab was a Hamas member until he realised that Hamas weaponise civilian deaths.

        1. It all seems to reinforce the idea that Hamas is actually a boon to the the Israel government. They provide a pretext for mass murder, and (as was said in the article) provide very little ‘real’ threat to Israel.

        2. With Israeli drones there would be plenty of evidence if Hamas Launched rockets from civilian areas. In fact, Israel even tried to fake evidence of rockets being launched in civilian areas but were caught out. Considering how over populated Gaza is, it is remarkable achievement for Hamas to find places without nearby civilians to launch their rockets from.

    3. My comment above should have been below the Belarus piece not here…don’t know what happend.

      The latest bombardment started with settler attacks on Palestinians during Ramadan, the holiest period in the Muslim calendar. Netanyahu needs this ‘war on terrorism’ to deflect attention from him as he gears up for court again on corruption charges. The pressure of daily attacks during prayers was deliberate and calculated.
      The settlers are a de facto militia used by the IOF and are now calling for the Al Aqsa Mosque to be burned down.

      With the density of the population/buildings in the West Bank and Gaza, where the hell can Hamas store weapons? Let us not forget that this ethnic cleansing has gone on for sixty years…how would you react if you were made to live in terror or being vaporised by weapons made in the UK and US?
      The Israeli drones and weapons are in part manufactured in the UK and Ireland.

      Please also see: Conservative Friends of Israel, Labour Friends of Israel, The Liberal Friends of Israel to see the list of MP’s who take the shekel to lobby on behalf of The Knesset in the House of Commons and Lords.

    4. It is ironic that the State called Israel hampered its own Vichy regime in the West Bank, in order to set up an efficient Resistance movement.

      Hamas won the last Pal elections, and was set for a landslide if Israel hadn’t blocked the most recent elections by preventing the Palestinians in east Jerusalem from taking part in their own elections – as they should have been forced to do under International Law, however as we all know the “Rules-Based Order” does not apply to the US or vassals.

      Naturally “Abu Yair” started this whole murderous shitshow deliberately. He also knows that due to US UN veto, he is pretty much immune from war crimes. Mark my words, we will see the ICC prosecuting Hamas LONG before they charge any Israeli leaders.

      How unfortunate for the Boers that they didn’t manipulate public opinion regarding the UK’s experimental Concentration camps, and make criticism of THEIR Apartheid system “Anti-Boer racism”.

      Missed opportunity there.

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