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PLO and Hamas

From Academic Kids

One issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the charge that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the main political organization of the Palestinians, is allied with Hamas, a Palestinian fundamentalist paramilitary and political organization, which is accused of organizing suicide bombers and other attacks against Israel, often targeting civilians. Hamas is officially characterized as a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

The PLO takes measures to distance itself from Hamas, but because of the widespread popular support of Hamas, the PLO has historically been reluctant to directly confront the organization. While both the PLO and Hamas share a similar goal of different treatment of Palestinians, their rhetoric, methodology, and end-goals have vastly differed at times, leading to ideological and political rifts between the two groups. Hamas has described itself as posing a challenge to the PLO's authority, and charges that many of its leaders have been arrested by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Playing down the differences between the two organizations, Palestinian officials resist Israel's characterization of Hamas as a terrorist organization. The former Palestinian Authority Cabinet Minister Hanan Ashrawi has said "it is not up to Israel to decide or define who is our enemy. Hamas is not the enemy, it is part of the political fabric." (Jerusalem Post, July 25, 1995). The PLO may also at times see Hamas as a strategic asset for pressuring Israel. As Abbas Zakai of the Fatah Central Committee said: "[Hamas's attacks] strengthen the Palestinian position... It would be dangerous to stop these actions, because the accords will crumble if there is nothing to make Israel go forward." (Al Hayat, April 17, 1995)

Under the Oslo Accords, the PLO was obligated to refrain from incitement to terrorism and to act against terrorism. Critics charge, however, that the PLO has violated this agreement by continuing to support Hamas. For example, former PLO leader Yasser Arafat publicly praised Yahya Ayyash, the master Hamas bomb-maker who killed at least 60 Israelis, as "the struggler, the martyr" (New York Times, January 8, 1996) and "a martyr" (Jerusalem Post, July 28, 1996). Following the collapse of the Oslo Accords and the start of the Al Aqsa intifada, on March 22, 2004, the Palestinian Authority declared an official three days of mourning for the former Hamas leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, after he was killed by an Israeli Air Force airstrike. Following Israeli air-strike which killed 14 Hamas members on September 17, 2004, Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei said that: "I'm sure there will be responses and such responses will be justified". [1] (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/mideast)

Israel also accuses the PA of not fighting Hamas terrorism, as they committed to do in the Oslo Accords. In 1996 the PA did a major crackdown on Hamas cells (following 1996 Hamas's wave of suicide bombings which removed dovish Shimon Peres from office) but all the activists were released between 2000 to 2001. Israel says that the PA is taking a "revolving door" policy in which activists are arrested following international pressure and shortly afterwards are being released quietly. At Operation Defensive Shield Israel claimed to found a documemt signed by PA officials asking to release 27 prisoners from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. [2] (http://www.intelligence.org.il/eng/var/release.htm)

Following the al-Aqsa intifada, Israel accused the Palestinian Authority for giving Hamas a "green light" to commit "terrorist attacks" against Israel. Israeli Minister of Defense former IDF General Shaul Mofaz told in a convention in Nes Ziona that on February 2001 "Arafat gathered the leaders of the terrorist organizations and asked why there are no more deads in Israel... and told them: 'You know what should be done'." [3] (http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-2408894,00.html)


Joint violent attacks

The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a militant faction of Yasser Arafat's Fatah, which claimed by Israel to be funded by the Palestinian Authority, have carried numerous attack in cooperation with Hamas against Israel targets, including attacks targeting civilians. After these attacks, the Brigades and Hamas took joint responsibility.

List of joint terrorist and guerrilla attacks

  • A combined attack of explosive jeep, gun assault and Qassam shelling on Erez crossing and a Palestinian Police post was committed on March 6, 2004. A source in the militant group Hamas said it carried out the operation along with al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (one of the Fatah's armed branch), and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
  • On August 3, 2004 two Hamas guerrillas and one al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades guerrilla tried to blow up an Israeli armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozer. The blast killed them and wounded 10 bypassers, causing no damage to the bulldozer and its crew. [6] (http://news.bostonherald.com/international/view.bg?articleid=38361)

Other alleged links between the Hamas and the PLO

Israeli domestic press have asserted that they found some signs of joint activities:

  • Ninety Hamas members were hired to man the PA police force's 'vice department' (Jerusalem Times, November 25, 1994.)
  • In local elections in the West Bank, Arafat's Fatah faction has campaigned on joint lists with Hamas. (Jerusalem Times, June 23, 1995)
  • Hani al-Hasan, one of the associates of Yasser Arafat, said that Arafat will agree to form a new leadership parallel to the Palestinian Authority which consists of all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. [11] (http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/9/527884), [12] (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/palestinians_leadership)
  • Mua'in Atallah, an officer in the Palestinian Authority's "preventive-security" force, which was responsible for securing the Karni cargo crossing from the Palestinian side, was arrested for helping Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades commit the suicide bombing in Ashdod seaport which killed 10 people. Atallah admitted guilty in investigation and revealed that by closing off the crossing, Israel have thwarted a huge terror attack planned by Hamas. [13] (http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART/745/344.html), [14] (http://www.maarivintl.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=article&articleID=8897)
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