Hamas Celebrates 25-Year Anniversary—and Rising International Clout
On December 7 in Gaza, thousands of Hamas supporters rallied together to celebrate 25 years since Hamas’s inception. As a part of the celebration, Gazan Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and formerly exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal entered center stage by walking out of a large model rocket.
Highlights of their speeches that day included such phrases as “not giving up any inch of Palestine” and “We cannot recognize Israel’s legitimacy.” Despite these and other deplorable actions, there has been little-to-no international outcry. Instead, much of the international community has become sympathetic toward the 25-year-old organization. This jubilant celebration and growing international acceptance illustrates a dangerous new perspective the world has on Hamas.
If people were to delve into the last 25 years of Hamas’s history, that perspective might be different.
For instance, on March 4, 2001, a Hamas suicide bomb went off in Netanya. Three people were killed, and at least 60 were wounded. On Aug. 9, 2001, at a pizzeria in Jerusalem, a Hamas suicide bomber killed 15 and wounded 130. Then you have June 1, 2001, when a Hamas suicide bomb in Tel Aviv killed 21 teenagers and wounded 132 other people. The history goes on.
On Dec. 1, 2001, two Hamas suicide bombs on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem killed 11, and 188 were wounded. The next day, Hamas suicide bombs went off in Haifa: 15 were killed, 40 wounded.
That was in the course of one year.
But there is more: On March 9, 2002, a Hamas suicide bomb in a café in Jerusalem killed 11, and 51 were wounded. Next, on March 27, 2002, a Hamas suicide bomb was detonated during Passover Seder: 30 were killed and 140 wounded. March 31, 2002: A Hamas suicide bomb claims the lives of 16 people, at least 40 were wounded. May 8, 2002: Another suicide bomb, and another 16 people were murdered, and 55 wounded. On June 18, 2002, a Hamas suicide bomb went off on a bus: 19 people were killed, 74 wounded. July 31, 2002: A Hamas operative placed a bomb in the crowded Hebrew University cafeteria in Jerusalem. Nine were killed, and 100 wounded. Sept. 19, 2002: Six killed and 70 were wounded in yet another bus bombing. Then, on Nov. 21, 2002, a Hamas suicide bomb on a bus in Jerusalem killed 11 people and wounded 50.
That was a brief look at two years out of 25.
In addition to using suicide bombers to conduct random attacks on Israeli civilians, Hamas has continually bombarded the Israeli cities closest to the Gaza border with rockets.
Hamas became the de facto ruling body in the Gaza Strip when Hamas gunmen forcibly ousted the Fatah party in mid 2007. In late 2008 and early 2009, it grew in popularity after Israeli Operation Cast Lead.
Last month Israel mounted another offensive against Hamas in an attempt to end the rocket barrage that has been falling on Israeli towns and cities since 2001.
This year alone, 1,697 rockets have fallen on Israel so far—a significant escalation from last year’s count of 627. In the eight days of fighting that ensued after Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense, six Israeli civilians were killed and the death toll in Gaza reached over 100 people. While Gaza also incurred some civilian casualties, Israel maintains that a majority of deaths in Gaza were carefully calculated strikes on terrorist targets. Recent reports have proven that Hamas is guilty of faking deaths and injury counts in an attempt to prop up its public image, as well as intentionally placing civilians in the line of fire.
Yet, Hamas has lived in the light of positive public opinion and has been viewed as the underdog in the conflict. People today have taken the effect—Israel’s retaliation for hundreds of rockets fired every year—and made it the cause. The world condemns Israel for its attacks on Gaza, yet forgets the years of terrorizing that Israel has endured since the establishment of Hamas during the first intifada in 1987.
Since that time, Israel has been desperately trying to stop the terrorism that is emanating from the Gaza Strip. Yet as you can see from the attacks listed above, it has not been successful in stopping Hamas.
In fact, Israel’s continued failed attempts to appease its violent neighbors have become a seeping wound for the nation of Israel. And as with all injuries, without proper treatment such wounds will only get worse and worse. The latest ceasefire between Israel and Hamas following Pillar of Defense may yet prove to be merely a small bandage on the gaping wound that is Israel’s failed “peace” process.
For further proof on why the latest ceasefire will not solve the problem, watch “Judah’s Wound.”