‘Hamas wants an Islamic state….’:
Why this is only half-true

Published: 22 August 2007
Briefing Number 200

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“Hamas wants an Islamic state….” – Jane Corbin, BBC TV reporter, 20 August 2007

This statement is often repeated. In one sense it is true. But it is also dangerously incomplete, and only tells half the story.

Hamas wants an Islamic state, but they also want to eliminate the Jewish state: steadily wearing Israel down by violence, adopting tactical truces to rebuild their military power and consolidate alliances (eg with Iran and Hizbollah) and preparing for future conflict. Hamas explicitly calls for the eradication of Israel as a core element of their Islamist ideology. See their Charter (Beyond Images Briefing 165).

Hamas leaders and spokespeople are now cultivating Western opinion, portraying themselves as pragmatists, who call for a truce if Israel withdraws to the pre-1967 ceasefire lines. But that is not a basis for peace. A Hamas truce on those terms, with its ideology intact, is merely a prelude to future war.

Here are some recent indications of the Hamas vision for Palestine :-

“ Israel is a vile entity that has been planted on our soil, and has no historical, religious or cultural legitimacy…..”

- Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas leader and former foreign minister, October 2006, quoted in Al-Ayyam, Palestinian newspaper

“The constants and the strategy of Hamas do not change according to circumstances. Hamas will stay faithful to Jihad, to resistance, to guns, to Palestine and to Jerusalem ….”

- Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader and Palestinian Prime Minister (till June 2007), quoted in the Gulf Daily News, Bahrain , 20 January 2006

“Hamas will continue to wield its weapons and to claim its right to resist. Resistance will continue to be a strategic option until the last piece of Palestinian land is liberated, until the last refugee returns….”

•  Khaled Mashal, Damascus-based leader of Hamas, December 2005, speaking in Damascus

“The Hour [Resurrection] will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, and the rock and the tree will say: “Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, kill him!...” Palestine and the Al Aqsa mosque will not be liberated through summits nor by international resolutions but through the rifle….”

•  Ismail Radwan, Hamas spokesman in Gaza , sermon broadcast on PA TV, 30 March 2007

“To the Zionists who plundered our land…. We promise you that tomorrow all of Palestine will be hell for you, with Allah's help….”

- Muhammed Deif, leader of the Izz al-Din Al Qassam Brigade, the so-called ‘military wing' of Hamas, August 2005 (from statement posted on the Brigade's website on 27 August 2005 ). The Brigade has carried out over 50 suicide bombings, killing over 400 Israelis. Deif operates freely in the Gaza Strip in which Hamas claims to be imposing ‘law and order'.

Key Message: saying “Hamas wants an Islamic state” misrepresents their ideology. It whitewashes their key goal: the elimination of the Jewish state.