Hamas, established in 1987 in the Gaza Strip, defines the elimination of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic Palestinian state as its primary objective. Modeled after the Muslim Brotherhood, the terrorist organization places an emphasis on supporting mosques, kindergartens, clinics and educational institutions.
According to the Hamas charter, "The Islamic Resistance Movement is the branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood is a global organization and the largest Islamic movement in modern times. It excels in profound understanding and has an exact, fully comprehensive perception [shumuliyyah] of all Islamic concepts in all areas of life: understanding and thought, politics and economics, education and social affairs, law and government, spreading [i.e., indoctrinating the tenets of radical] Islam [da’wah] and teaching, art and the media, by that which is hidden and by martyrdom [shahadah] and in the other areas of life."
The Hamas (1988) covenant states that the Palestinian issue is a religious conflict between Islam and the "infidel" Jews. "Israel will arise and continue to exist until Islam abolishes it, as it abolished what went before." As such, the conflict cannot be resolved by a poltiical compromise, but rather by means of jihad (holy war) to liberate all of Palestine, "from the river to the sea."Indeed, Article 11 of the Hamas Charter clearly states, "The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is a religious Islamic endowment [waqf] for all Muslims until Resurrection Day. It is forbidden to relinquish it or any part of it or give it up or any part of it. It does not belong to any Arab country, or to all the Arab countries, or to any king or president, or kings or presidents, or to any organization or organizations, whether they are Palestinian or Arab, because Palestine is sacred Islamic endowment land and belongs to Muslims until Resurrection Day. Its legal status is in accordance with Islamic law [al-shari’ah al-islamiyyah]. It is subject to the same law to which are subject all the territories conquered by Muslims by force, for at the time of the conquest [the Muslim conquerors] consecrated it [i.e., Palestine] as a Muslim religious endowment for all Muslim generations until Resurrection Day."
During the 1990's, suicide bombings were perceived as the organization's primary "strategic" weapon. Indeed, the first Palestinian suicide bombing attack, in Mehola, was perpetrated by a Hamas terrorist on April 16, 1993. Since 2000, Hamas has been the leading perpetrator of such attacks (approximately 40%), including the infamous Tel Aviv Dolphinarium and Netanya Park Hotel bombings. The terrorist organization has also developed various missiles, including the Qassam and Nasser.
Hamas military personnel undergo intensive, systematic training, which includes basic training (fitness, rifle shooting and field training) advanced training in sniping, anti-tank warfare, intelligence and artillery.
Basic training, conducted in the Strip, is taught by local instructors. Advanced professional training is held abroad in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon (via Hizballah). Operatives of the internal security services (Executive Force, the police, etc.) also undergo basic and advanced training in the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas army (Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades) is currently comprised of 10-15,000 combatants and remains the dominant military force in the Gaza Strip.
Dozens of Hamas training camps were established in the Strip after Israel withdrew from the area. New recruits are instructed in the following basic military skills:
- Target practice
- Launching rockets (RPG, anti-tank & Qassam)
- Infiltrating barbed wire (fenced) perimeters
- Gaining control of enemy structures
- Artillery (missiles & rockets)
- Explosives (IEDs, EFPs)
- Explosives (raw material)
- Suicide (squads)
- Special Forces
- Navy (200 operatives, led by Jamil Al Dahashan -- armed with heavy machine guns and mortars)
- Information (propaganda)
The Morabitan (fighters who defend Muslim land and prepare for jihad against the enemy) is the largest unit in the Gaza Strip. It is comprised of the following brigades:
- Northern (commanded by Ahmed Ghandour -- Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahia and Al-Atatra serve as the primary launching sites for rocket attacks against Sderot, Ashqelon and western Negev population centers)
- Central (previously commanded by Ayman Nawfal)
- Gaza City (two brigades commanded by Ahmed Ja’abari)
- Southern Sector (Khan Yunis, commanded by Muhammad Sinwar and Rafah, commanded by Ra’ed al-Atar
Each brigade is further divided into platoons and squads. A squad is comprised of 10 soldiers -- parsed into two cells. Each cell has five combatants and a commanding officer. Each squad is armed with two anti-tank launchers, and includes the following operatives: snipers, combat engineers and (standard) infantry.The Hamas arsenal includes:
- Rifles (various)
- Machine guns
- Imported RPGs (hundreds of PG-2 and PG-7 anti-tank rocket launchers, several dozen advanced anti-tank missiles of various types, including Konkurs [AF-5] and Saggers)
- Indigenously produced Yassin RPGs
- Qassam rockets
- Grad (Katyusha) rockets
- Anti-aircraft weapons
- IEDs & EFPs
- Night vision equipment
IDF Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, head of the IDF intelligence research department, confirmed that Hamas has smuggled advanced anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles into the Gaza Strip. Israeli security officials have also expressed concern that Hamas may have smuggled a number of Sagger, Konkur and Kornet anti-tank missiles from the Sinai into the Gaza Strip.
The Sagger AT-3 is a Russian-manufactured anti-tank missile, capable of striking a target at distances between 500 meters and three kilometers, and is able to penetrate 400mm of armor. It is a relatively slow missile, whose rate of flight does not exceed 120 meters per second, and requires approximately 25 seconds from the time it is launched until its impact. It should be noted that Hamas does not rule out conditional, temporary cease-fires (hudna), which aims to reduce the level of confrontation with Israel (tahdi'a) when it serves Palestinian interests.