Hamas and the Robbery of Islam July 22, 2007 Originally published in Zaman Today (Turkey

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Author Bio Adam E. Stahl is the Executive Coordinator for the Counter-Terrorism Executive Studies Program and Research Assistant at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), Herzliya Israel.

According to the Prophet Muhammad, a faithful Muslim is to “Feed the hungry and visit a sick person, and free the captive, if he be unjustly confined. Assist any person oppressed, whether Muslim or non-Muslim.” Those who openly condemn Hamas are quick to label the organization by a number of terms such as terrorist, militant, extremist and Islamic. While the first three descriptions are certainly accurate, the last one could not be further from the truth. Hamas’ actions, especially towards fellow Palestinians, have proven beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the organization abides by unIslamic rules. Islam is not a militant religion, yet groups such as Hamas have not simply distorted the true essence of the religion but rather turned it into a belief system that is unrecognizable to true and faithful Muslims. It can be said that Hamas has become the greatest thieves to ever rob Islam, as they have stolen the religion’s most important messages from true Muslims. Hamas’ outright killings of Muslims and non-Muslim civilians, similar actions committed by global jihadists, such as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, and their role in leading Gaza to the brink of a humanitarian disaster, has proven that their agenda not only excludes the betterment of the Palestinians but inaccurately portrays the Islamic message all over the world. Born out of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is a radical Palestinian terrorist organization, which has successfully carried out hundreds of attacks since its inception in 1988. The hierarchical organization, which is headed by a religious command at the top, has twisted Islamic doctrine to justify atrocities, from sniping, knifing, and kidnapping to suicide terrorism. Hamas’ latest abuses can be seen, with irrefutable clarity, in the Gaza Strip. Since its violent siege of Gaza in June, over 600 Palestinians have been killed in infighting, including more than 50 women and children, Moreover, Hamas has applied its signatory acts of terrorism to Muslims, which has caused many Gazans to openly condemn the organization as unIslamic. Speaking from an Israeli hospital where he was being treated for multiple execution-style gunshot wounds inflicted by Hamas, one Palestinian stated, “…That's not Islam. That's evil and hypocrisy. How ironic that Israel is rescuing us from our Muslim 'brothers’.” Another Palestinian deliberately shot by Hamas gunmen stated. “I wanted to shoot myself for voting Hamas…we really believed Hamas would change things.” Perhaps most consequential is Hamas’ deliberate attacks on peace protestors, international aid workers and on Israeli efforts, who are all attempting to relieve the suffering that Hamas is causing in the Strip. Two peace protestors, marching under a banner of “Stop the Killing”, were shot and killed as they approached a Hamas-secured position. Additionally, Hamas shot and killed two employees of UNRWA, a United Nations’ agency, which provides Palestinian

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refugees with assistance. As a result, the UN organization announced that it was suspending its operations in the Strip. The most senior UN official in Gaza stated, “it is very clear the responsibility lies with the Palestinians” and that Hamas’ activities in the Gaza Strip “directly impacts on the humanitarian plight of the Palestinians living in Gaza”. UNRWA has acted as the key UN humanitarian agency for the Palestinians since the 1950s. Why would a group claiming to fight in the name of Islam kill employees, civilians nonetheless, of the very agency that seeks its betterment? Hamas’ most unIslamic actions can be seen in the incessant and deliberate attacks on humanitarian efforts. There have been incidents in which Hamas gunmen have fired on, and thrown hand grenades at, Palestinians waiting at crossing points for the delivery of aid. Moreover, when Israel does open crossings, Hamas has used the opportunity to fire Qassam rockets into Israel-proper or dispatch suicide bombers. Despite the organization’s belligerent actions towards Palestinians and Israelis, the Israeli army, in conjunction with the Gaza District Coordination and Liason Office, and international aid organizations, has succeeded in transferring humanitarian supplies into the Strip. Medical supplies are provided on a near-daily basis, as is medical assistance to Palestinians. In one instance, over 100,000 vaccines against chicken pox, tuberculosis, tetanus and rubella were delivered by way of the Erez Crossing within two days. Injured Palestinians are brought into Israel for medical assistance on a daily basis; the delivery of hundreds of tons of baby formula has also been ensured. The point is that humanitarian efforts to alleviate the sufferings in Gaza are constantly being countered by Hamas, ensuring that the hardships of Palestinians in Gaza continue. There is nothing in Islam that justifies such nefarious acts to be taken against its own people or against innocent civilians working to assist in Gaza. How can Hamas’ killings of Muslims and the deliberate actions to halt humanitarian aid be explained in true Islamic terms? The fact is that it cannot be explained using Islam as a platform. In the end, Hamas’ opponents are correct to claim that the group is terrorist, militant, and extremist. But, as is continuously seen in Gaza, Hamas could not be further from the true Islamic path. The true Muslim works to bring peace to his people, not execute them by throwing fellow Muslims off of rooftops or fire on them whilst waiting for the delivery of humanitarian supplies. The solution to the crisis in Gaza will not be recognized when Hamas falls from power but rather when Palestinian Muslims recognize that Hamas has led them from the true Islamic path that should have brought betterment to its people.

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) or any other organization.

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