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Fourteen Facts About Hamas Every College Student Needs to Know

Arm yourself with these basic facts to combat disinformation.

Since carrying out brutal terror attacks in Israel on October 7, the terror group Hamas has been in the news constantly—both criticized and, in some corners of the internet, lionized by gullible and mistaken writers who overlook its brutal history and barbaric aims.

Here are 14 facts about Hamas that you need to know to understand the news and battle disinformation.

  1. Hamas Grew Out of Antisemitic Islamist Movements

Hamas grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical Islamist movement that was founded in Egypt in 1928 by a hardline preacher named Hasan al-Banna, who was implacably opposed to a Jewish state. He admired Hitler and established outposts of his movement in Jordan and present-day Israel during World War II. In 1948, he told The New York Times: “If the Jewish state becomes a fact … the Arab peoples … will drive the Jews who live in their midst into the sea….”

An influential proponent of Muslim Brotherhood’s ideas was Ahmed Yassin, a popular preacher who spent most of his life in Gaza. He established a Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1970s and 1980s, getting arrested along the way for raising a private army and amassing a huge collection of arms. In 1987, he co-founded Hamas.

  1. Hamas Is Dedicated to Israel’s Destruction

In Arabic, Hamas is an acronym for “Islamic Resistance Movement”: Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya. (In Hebrew, the word hamas means violence.) From its start, Hamas lived up to both meanings, pledging to destroy all of Israel using all available means. Hamas’ charter calls for the violent destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamist government in all of Israel, Gaza, plus the areas governed by the Palestinian Authority.

  1. Hamas Has Perpetuated Attacks on Israel Since the 1990s

Hamas’ military wing—called the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades—has been attacking Israel since the 1990s. According to the U.S. Government: “These attacks have included large-scale bombings against Israeli civilian targets, small-arms attacks, improvised roadside explosives, and rocket attacks.” (https://bit.ly/3McdExW) In the 2021 Gaza War, for instance, Hamas launched over 4,000 missiles into Israel, causing over 300 injuries and 13 deaths.

  1. Hamas’ Charter Calls For Genocide

Hamas’ Charter is filled with paranoid ranting about Jews and calls for Muslims to kill them. “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people,” the Charter declares. It also quotes a Muslim injunction: “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews. When the Jew will hide behind stones and trees, the stones and trees will say O Muslims … there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him….” In Hamas’ eyes, Jews—not just Israelis—are an enemy to be eradicated.

Some commentators point to a 2017 Statement of General Principles and Policies as “proof” that Hamas became more moderate. In the midst of Arab-Israeli peace talks, Hamas’ new document accepted the possibility of a two-state agreement with Israel establishing an independent Palestinian state—but only as an interim step before Israel’s complete obliteration.

  1. Hamas Was Voted Into Power

There are two main Palestinian political parties: Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority and rules the West Bank, and Hamas, which governs Gaza.

Israel conquered the West Bank from Jordan and Gaza from Egypt during the Six-Day War of 1967. In 2005, under international pressure, Israel withdrew from Gaza, uprooting every Israeli and making sure the area was completely free of Jews. Even Jewish graves were relocated. Two years later, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza held local elections: Hamas won a clear majority of seats in both areas. The Fatah party ejected Hamas from the government in the West Bank, but the terror group tightened its grip on Gaza. There has never been another election in Gaza.

  1. Hamas Is a Designated Terrorist Organization

Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union (and 15 individual EU member states), Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

  1. Hamas Kills and Oppresses Women, Gays and Political Opponents

Women’s rights in Gaza are seriously constrained: Women are barred from most Government positions, compelled to wear a black hijab in some public settings, and face widespread and pervasive state-sanctioned discrimination. Hamas’ charter declares that Muslim women are important only because they “manufacture men.” Amnesty International has documented Hamas’ tolerance of honor killings.

Gaza’s Christian population declined precipitously under Hamas to only a few hundred today. The U.S. Government has documented “individual killings, physical attacks and verbal harassment of worshippers and clergy, and vandalism of (Christian) religious sites” under Hamas. (https://bit.ly/3FuWWGf)

Human Rights Watch calls Hamas’ treatment of political prisoners “crimes against humanity.” They’ve documented widespread torture, imprisonment and murder of any Gazan who dares defy Hamas.

  1. Hamas Uses Its People As Human Shields

Hamas uses its own people as human shields, hiding military sites and targets in civilian areas. NATO calls Hamas’ actions a “war crime.” According to a 2019 NATO report, Hamas fires “rockets, artillery, and mortars from … heavily populated civilian areas, often from … facilities which should be protected according to the Geneva Convention (e.g., schools, hospitals, or mosques).” NATO also documented Hamas’ practice of locating military bases in civilian areas, prioritizing saving the lives of Hamas fighters over those of civilians, and forcing civilians to act as spies, often through blackmail. (https://bit.ly/3Fu4iKc)

  1. Hamas Is Funded by Billions of Dollars

Hamas-Generated Funds—Hamas collects approximately $144 million annually in taxes on goods entering Gaza from Egypt. It also controls a vast and secret network of companies with investments of half a billion dollars around the world. According to the United States’ Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, “Hamas moves funds through the smuggling of physical currency as well as a regional network of complicit money transmitters, exchange houses, and Hezbollah-affiliated banks,” allowing it to collect and invest money around much of the world with impunity.

Donations—Hamas receives a huge amount of donations: at least $100 million annually from Iran, $360 million—plus fuel—from Qatar, as much as $300 million annually from Turkey, plus donations from individual donors and charities around the world.

Theft of Aid—All this is on top of the aid money that flows into Gaza, much of which is stolen outright by Hamas. The U.N. spends about $600 million in Gaza annually, providing schools, medical care and food. Qatar has donated about $1.3 billion in aid money since 2012. The Palestinian Authority donates about $1.7 billion in aid money each year. Other countries, including Egypt and the United States, plus the European Union, also donate tens of millions of dollars for discreet aid projects. Most of this aid money winds up not aiding poor civilians, but in the pockets of Hamas’ officials.

  1. Iran Trains Hamas’ Army

Besides funding, Iran provides Hamas with advanced weaponry, military training, cyber security and expertise to manufacture military equipment inside Gaza. Hamas now maintains a naval commando unit and a standing 40,000-man army.

Since October 7, Iran has provided support for Hamas by using Hezbollah, another proxy army it controls, to bomb Israel from Lebanon. With two borders to defend, Israel has found its resources stretched and its population severely traumatized.

  1. Hamas Built 500 km of Terror Tunnels—And No Bomb Shelters

Hamas used billions of dollars in aid money to build a network of 500 kilometers—about 300 miles—of deep tunnels underneath Gaza and extending into Israel and Egypt. According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, “Gaza tunnel entrances are hidden under houses, mosques and schools….” guaranteeing that any military assault on them will cause widespread casualties.

Tunnels are up to 10 stories deep, reinforced with concrete and wired for ventilation, electricity and communication.

While Hamas leaders and fighters shelter in the tunnels, this huge underground network is off-limits to ordinary Gazans. For Palestinian civilians used as human shields, there’s no protection during wartime: Hamas has built no bomb shelters in Gaza.

  1. Hamas Is Bombing Israel Daily—And 20% of Hamas Bombs Fall on Gaza

Hamas has regularly attacked Israel for years, sending mortars, rockets and incendiary devices into Israeli cities and towns. Since October 7, 2023, Hamas has launched missiles into Israel daily, aiming for major centers such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. 20% of Hamas’ missiles malfunction and fall within Gaza, causing casualties among the civilian population, as in the Al-Ahri Hospital, which was hit by a bomb launched by the Hamas-affiliated group Islamic Jihad on October 17, 2023.

  1. Hamas’ Leaders Are Protected, With Many Abroad

Hamas’ political chief is Ismail Haniyeh, who lives in Doha, Qatar. Several senior Hamas leaders live with their families in Turkey, where they’ve gained citizenship and run their own lucrative businesses. Muhammad Qassem Sawalha lives in a taxpayer-subsidized house in London, where he’s helped plan terror attacks and launder money to Hamas.

Saleh al-Arouri heads Hamas’ Lebanon office and lives in Lebanon, with homes in Qatar, Iran and Turkey. Khaled Mashal, Hamas’ former leader, lives in Qatar and recently called on a global jihad against Jews. Khaled Qaddoumi is Hamas’ representative in Iran, Hamas’ chief backer in recent years.

High-level Hamas leaders actually living in Gaza include Gaza political leader Yahya Sinwar (who served 22 years in jail in Israel for arranging the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers), Issam al-Da’alis, who serves as a de facto prime minister in Gaza, and Marwan Issa and Mohammed Deif, who command Hamas’ military organization, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

  1. Hamas Is Admired in Much of the World

After Hamas’ horrific, brutal attacks on Israel on October 7, 2023 that brutally murdered 1,400 and kidnapped over 200, leaders in much of the Muslim world praised the attacks and Hamas. Leaders of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Lebanon complimented Hamas on the attacks. In the West, some groups—including individual chapters of the Democratic Socialists for America and independent chapters of Black Lives Matter—spoke warmly of Hamas’ attacks. The leaders of a recent 100,000-strong pro-Palestinian march in the center of London have ties to Hamas, yet their march was allowed to go ahead.

Actions We Can Take

We all can help weaken Hamas. Urge your elected representatives to impose tough financial sanctions on Hamas. Call your representatives today and ask them to support steps that aggressively shut down charities and businesses shown to have Hamas ties.

Push for stronger Iranian sanctions. As Hamas’ greatest backer, a stronger Iran means a stronger Hamas. The United States has been leading the way, imposing sanctions on people and companies with ties to Iran’s ballistic missile and drone programs. It’s crucial that we don’t let up the pressure, and that more countries crack down on firms that do business with Iran.

The global conventional arms embargo on Iran expired on October 18, 2023. The United States is attempting to gain backing for a snapback provision in the United Nations, which would allow a permanent reimposition of sanctions without the resolution going to a vote in the Security Council (which Russia and China would prevent passing). Urge your representatives to support snapback, ensuring that Iran doesn’t gain access to even more military goods.

Finally, speak up. Educate yourself about the war between Israel and Hamas (and Hezbollah). Blog about it. Post on social media, drawing attention to the danger Hamas poses. Fill people in on what’s at stake. Become a foot soldier in the war of public opinion now, during Israel’s hour of need.

Dr. Alt Miller lives with her family in Chicago, and has lectured internationally on Jewish topics. Her latest book, “Portraits of Valor: Heroic Jewish Women You Should Know,” describes the lives of 40 remarkable women who inhabited different eras and lands, giving a sense of the vast diversity of Jewish experience. It’s been praised as inspirational, fascinating, fun and educational.

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