GAZA, March 22 (Xinhuanet) -- Israeli gunship helicopters fired missiles at Palestinian Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin,killing him and two of his body guards early Monday. Following is a brief introduction to the Hamas movement.
Hamas is the Arabic acronym for "The Islamic Resistance Movement" . It is a radical Islamic organization which became active in the early stages of the first Palestinian Intifada or uprising which began in broke out in 1987, operating primarily in the Gaza Strip but also in the West Bank.
Hamas has played a major role in violent fundamentalist subversion and radical terrorist operations against both Israelis and Arabs. In its initial period, the movement was headed primarily by people identified with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) inthe Territories.
In the course of the Intifada, Hamas gained momentum, expandingits activity also in the West Bank, to become the dominant Islamic fundamentalist organization in the Territories.
It defined its highest priority as Jihad (Holy War) for the liberation of Palestine and the establishment of an Islamic Palestine "from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River".
The immediate means to achieve this goal is the escalation of the armed struggle, and ultimately all-out Jihad, with the participation not only of Palestinian Muslims but of the entire Islamic world.
By its participation in street violence and murder, it boosted its appeal in the eyes of the Palestinians, further enhancing its growth potential and enabling it to play a central role in the Intifada. As a result of its subversive and terrorist activity, Hamas was outlawed in September 1989.
During the second Palestinian Intifada which began in late September 2000, Hamas has perpetrated a spate of suicide bombing attacks against the Israelis and has been a major target of Israeli strikes. A number of key Hamas leaders were assassinated in Israeli targeted killings over the past more than three years of bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.
The Israeli air strikes against Yassin early Monday was part of the latest Israeli operation against Hamas. Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the cabinet Sunday morning that the Israel Defense Forces was putting together a plan to battle against Hamas.
Mofaz said that the operation against Hamas would entail thwarting terror attacks, stopping the transfer of funds to Hamas,and operations to destroy supporting infrastructure etc. The Israeli defense establishment sees it particularly important to weaken the Palestinian militant organization before Israel pulls out the Gaza Strip, said the defense minister.
"In light of the wave of terror we have decided to create a counter wave of continuous, constant pressure on Hamas and Tanzim terror groups which are supported by Hezbollah," he was quoted as saying by Israel Radio. Enditem