Hamas: our aim is to eliminate Israel

Published: 6 September 2005
Briefing Number 154

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Summary: Following Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank, leaders of Palestinian group Hamas have rejected Israel’s right to exist, rejected a two-state solution and pledged to continue violence until Israel is eliminated. This Briefing highlights these statements, which shatter the claim that Hamas is coming round to the idea of living side-by-side with Israel.

In August 2005 Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip and Northern West Bank. Thousands of Israeli soldiers and police evacuated 25 settlements housing 8,500 Israeli citizens, amid scenes of anguish and high emotion.

Israel’s pullout prompted a series of extreme threats against Israel by leaders of Palestinian group Hamas. Examples:-

Muhammed Zahar, Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip

“Israel has no right to one inch of Palestine….”

Full quote: “Now, after the victory in the Gaza strip, we will transfer the struggle first to the West Bank and later to Jerusalem.….. Neither the liberation of the Gaza Strip nor the liberation of the West Bank or even Jerusalem will suffice us. Hamas will pursue the armed struggle until the liberation of all our lands. We don’t recognise the state of Israel or its right to hold onto one inch of Palestine. Palestine is an Islamic land belonging to all the Muslims…”

- from interview published in pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-awsat on 17 August 2005, and reported in The Jerusalem Post (18 August 2005)

Muhammed Deif, Hamas commander and chief bomb-maker in Gaza

“We promise you hell…..”

Full quote: “We tell the Zionists you have left the hell of Gaza in shame and you are continuing to occupy Palestine. We promise you that tomorrow all of Palestine will be hell for you…..”

- from statement published on Hamas website on 27 August 2005, and reported in The Independent (29 August)

Khaled Mashal, leader of Hamas

“The armed struggle is the only strategy that Hamas possesses….”

Full quote: “The resistance and the steadfastness of our people forced the Zionists to withdraw. The resistance is capable of ending the Israeli occupation and achieving all our rights. The armed struggle is the only strategy that Hamas possesses…. As long as Palestinian land remains under occupation [note: to Mashal, all Israel is Palestinian land – Beyond Images], Hamas won’t lay down its weapons….”

- from TV interview given in Beirut, broadcast on Arab TV stations, and reported in the Jerusalem Post (18 August 2005).

Radio Al-Aqsa, Hamas’ radio station

“There is no difference between Jaffa and Gaza, between the Galilee and Hebron. We will ...break out throughout Palestine, to show the way of jihad…”

Full quote: “We will be victorious over Sharon, and you will realise that tomorrow with the help of Allah. The Izzadine al-Qassam battalions [the Hamas cells who send suicide bombers – Beyond Images] will make you tremble in Haifa, in Tel-Aviv. They will strike you in Safed, in Acre.

Wait for us in Jaffa, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Ashkelon. [Note: all the Israeli towns listed here – Safed, Acre, Jaffa, Haifa, Tel Aviv and Ashkelon – are within Israel’s pre-1967 ceasefire lines – Beyond Images]. The knights of Gaza are coming.

Our beloved sons of Palestine, we make no distinction between Israeli-controlled Palestine and the West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestine. There is no difference between Jaffa and Gaza, between the Galilee and Hebron. Hamas will leave Gaza and break out throughout Palestine to show the way of Jihad, which will bring our nation to its summit. Oh sons of Zion, the defeat you suffered in Gaza is just the beginning….”

- from broadcast by Radio Al-Aqsa, translated by Israel’s Centre for Special Studies, and published on the Israel National News website (19 August 2005).

Conclusions and key messages

There are those who claim that Hamas is steadily becoming more “moderate”, and coming round to the idea of living side-by-side with Israel.

The statements quoted above, by the most senior figures in Hamas, shatter this claim.

The overriding objective of Hamas is not peacefully to build Palestinian society, but violently to eliminate Israeli society.

Between 2000 and 2004 Hamas claimed responsibility for over 40 suicide bombings in Israel, killing over 400 civilians. These and other attacks also maimed and traumatised thousands. Giving the outside world the impression that it is showing “restraint” and “moderation” is a Hamas tactical ploy only.

At its core, Hamas is fanatical, uncompromising and rejectionist, and committed to extreme violence and an Islamic exclusivist state.