July 24, 2019

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The Myth that “Israel Created HAMAS” (Tomer Ilan)

Lately, HAMAS has been facing allegations of brutal oppression, arbitrary arrest and torture against their own people even from anti-Israel NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

When faced with these allegations, Israel-haters’ turn to one of their favorite conspiracy theories – “Israel created HAMAS” – and try to use it blame Israel for HAMAS wrongdoings.

This theory is pushed by the PLO, blaming Israel for the divide in Palestinian society between PLO and HAMAS. PLO leader Arafat said “Hamas is a creature of Israel”.

In fact, before Hamas came into existence, an non-violent Islamic charity operated in Gaza. Israel did not object to it nor did it have legal justification to ban it.

Once the charity morphed into the terrorist organization Hamas, Israel banned it and arrested and deported its leaders.

Here’s a timeline of events:

1973 – the Islamic charity Mujama al-Islamiya was established in Gaza by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin

1979 – the organization was recognized by Israel

1984 – Ahmed Yassin and others were jailed by Israel

1985 – Yassin was released as part of the Jibril Agreement

1987 – Yassin co-founded the “paramilitary wing” of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, becoming its spiritual leader

Aug 1988 – Paramilitary wing is renamed Hamas and Hamas Covenant is published

May 1989 – Yassin was arrested by Israel and sentenced to life in prison

Oct 1989 – Israel declared Hamas an illegal terrorist organization

Dec 1992 – After a murder of an Israeli policeman by HAMAS, Israel arrests 1200 HAMAS activists and deports 415 of them to Lebanon.

The Islamic charity Mujama al-Islamiya was established in Gaza by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 1973, and started to offer clinics, blood banks, day care, medical treatment, meals and youth clubs, playing an important role for providing social care, particularly those living in refugee camps. It also extended financial aid and scholarships to young people who wanted to study in Saudi Arabia and the West. Mujama al-Islamiya was quiescent and non-confrontational towards Israel. In 1979 it was recognized by Israel and allowed the organization to build mosques, clubs, schools, and a library in Gaza.

At this point in time, Israel had no evidence of terrorist activities that would justify banning the charity organization.

Even those testimonies brought as support for the theory, e.g. Brig. Gen. Yitzhak Segev (Israeli military governor in Gaza in the early 1980s) and Avner Cohen (former religious affairs official in Gaza) say that Israel tolerated or even encouraged the Islamic charity in the 1970’s and early 1980’s before it became HAMAS. Those same officials who implemented that tolerant policy, think it was a mistake. Most of them admit they realize that only in retrospect and all agree that even if Israel didn’t fight the Islamists at that early stage, it was due to negligence, not an attempt to strengthen them.

David Hacham, an Arab affairs expert who worked for the Israeli military in Gaza in the late 1980s and early ’90s, said: “When I look back at the chain of events I think we made a mistake…But at the time nobody thought about the possible results.”

– Brig. Gen. Shalom Harari, a military intelligence officer, says that warnings were ignored due to neglect, not a desire to fortify the Islamists: “Israel never financed Hamas. Israel never armed Hamas.”

– Roni Shaked, a former Shin Bet officer and author of a book on Hamas, says Sheikh Yassin and his followers had a long-term perspective whose dangers were not understood at the time.

In other words, at worst, Israel may be guilty of negligence, by failing to predict that the innocent-looking Islamic charity would, several years later, turn into an Islamist jihadist terrorist organization. At that stage Israel didn’t try to ban it which may or may not have been successful even if Israel tried to.

That’s a far cry from the false claim that “Israel created HAMAS”.

History of Hamas:

Reports about Hamas brutality:

Claims that “Israel created Hamas”:

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