Hamas Conducts Internal Suppression and External Violence

The Al Majd organization of Hamas monitors Arabs suspected of collaborating with Israel or of failing to follow Islamic doctrine according to the stringency Hamas deems appropriate i.e., a form of morality police known as The Virtue Committee, while the Al Qassam Brigades perpetrate terrorist attacks against Israel. In fact, they are two faces of the same organization, Hamas.

Since the founding of Hamas, Al Majd (an acronym for Munazamat al-Jihad wa al-Da’wa, meaning struggle and calling, i.e. struggling for Allah and calling others to Allah) was headed by former student leader Yahya Sinwar and Rawhi Mushtaha, (both now classed as Specially Designated Global Terrorists by the U.S. Department of State.) They handled internal security and hunted local informants, collaborators with Israel, and people defined as “moral deviants,” that is, drug dealers, prostitutes, or people engaging in loose behavior, such as seducing women in hairdressing salons with alcohol, (behavior Hamas claimed was encouraged by Israeli agents). In 1992 alone they executed more than 150 people. In Western media this was reported as typical “intercommunal strife” among Arabs.

Yahya Sinwar started in surveillance and suppression and now heads the military wing as well.

Stasi-Style Internal Surveillance

In May, 2024, it was revealed that “Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar has for years overseen a secret police force in Gaza that conducted surveillance on everyday Palestinians and built files on young people, journalists and those who questioned the government, according to intelligence officials and a trove of internal documents reviewed by The New York Times.” The General Security Service is formally part of the Hamas political party but functions like part of the government. One Palestinian individual familiar with the inner workings of Hamas, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, confirmed that the service was one of three powerful internal security bodies in Gaza. The others were Military Intelligence, which typically focuses on Israel, and the Internal Security Service, an arm of the Interior Ministry.

Imposing a Code of Conduct

Attempts by Hamas to dictate a cultural code of conduct led to violence between different Palestinian sectors. Hamas members reportedly burned down shops for selling books and videos they deemed indecent and heretical. In 1989, a small number of Hamas followers campaigned for the wearing of the hijab, for polygamy, and for women to be homebound and segregated from men, effectively ending access to education. During this campaign, women who chose not to wear the hijab were verbally and physically harassed. After 18 months, the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising condemned it and harassment dropped drastically, though similar campaigns recurred.

Besides producing sons, the Hamas charter recognizes that women could fight for liberation without obtaining their husband’s permission and in 2002 their participation in Jihad was permitted.

In 2005, an outdoor music-and-dance performance was suddenly banned as it was decided that such an event would be “haram” i.e. forbidden by Islam. The municipality also ordered that music no longer be played in the Qalqiliya zoo.

In response, the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish warned that “There are Taliban-type elements in our society, and this is a very dangerous sign.”

Since 2007, some Hamas members have attempted to re-impose the hijab. Their “Islamic Endowment Ministry” has deployed Virtue Committee members to warn citizens of the dangers of immodest dress, card playing, and dating. In 2013, UNRWA canceled its annual marathon after women were prohibited from participating.

Al Majd execution

Palestinian columnist Mohammed Abd Al-Hamid wrote about religious coercion and cited the example of Algeria where “The religious fanatics destroyed every cultural symbol, shattered statues and rare works of art and liquidated intellectuals and artists, reporters and authors, ballet dancers and singers.” In Afghanistan many artists destroyed their own artworks to avoid persecution.

An Example of Majd Brutality

One instance of Majd at work, was the controversial execution of Mohammed Eshtaiwi. In November, 2009, he was arrested by the Palestinian Security Services for being a Hamas supporter. At the time, The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned his arrest as one of the many arbitrary political arrests taking place in the West Bank by the Palestinian Security Services. Mr. Eshtaiwi was a director of Al Aqsa Satellite Channel and a Hamas Brigade Commander. He was released a month later, on 15 November 2009. Eshtaiwi had had a senior role in supervising tunnels that were built to store weapons and attack Israel. However, in 2015, in a brutal and ironic twist of fate, he was subsequently, arrested, tortured, and executed, by Hamas themselves, for Treason, and Moral & Behavioural Trespass, after he contacted members of Hamas cells abroad. This was considered insubordinate. (Some members of the al-Qassam brigade expressed outrage at his execution and split off from the official al-Qassam and started to call themselves The Free al-Qassam brigades.) However, it has subsequently been discovered that he was executed for being homosexual, or at least, Hamas claimed he was gay.

Palestinian photojournalist Ehab Fasfous

Al Qassam Brigades Are the Military Branch

The Al Qassam Brigades perpetrate terrorist attacks against Israel by various means: by firing rockets into civilian communities; by infiltrations to commit murders, by ambushes of IDF soldiers and their vehicles, by dispatching booby-trapped boats towards Israeli ships; by kidnapping soldiers and civilians; by suicide bombings and by smuggling weapons and terrorists using tunnels.

Publicly, Hamas tries to present a separation between their political leadership and their military wing, as if their military activities have no political aim, but in practice the military leadership is subordinate to the political leadership. This presented artificial split has delayed some countries in classing Hamas as a terrorist organization, because they regard the political wing as legitimate, with Great Britain only reclassifying Hamas as a terrorist organization as late as 2021 and Australia in 2022.

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