7 October 2023 will remain an indelible date in the history of Israel and in the conscience of the world. A massacre without a name, crimes that even the most necrotic of imaginations would have been incapable of devising. Innocent people had a rendezvous with death at its most despicable. A death deliberately inflicted by fanatical men who had no more than a vague and deceptive notion of humanity.
Hamas, an acronym for Harakat al-Mouqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement), was created at the end of 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi and Mahmoud Mohamed Taha. This was just after the start of the first Intifada.
The genesis of Hamas is twinned with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement which, by instrumentalizing the cause of the Palestinians, found the opportunity to enter the political arena of one of the most fragile and bruised peoples in modern history.
Contrary to popular belief, although Hamas took shape at the end of the 1980s, it was as early as the 1940s that groups sharing similar Islamist ideologies emerged in the region, following the creation of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Today, experts confirm in unison that the Muslim Brotherhood is the most radsical and influential Islamist movement in the Middle East, if Iran is excluded from the equation.
For more than 80 years, the ramifications have been titanic. The Palestinian branches were established as early as 1946, two years before the creation of the Israeli State. Thus, carrying out a coup in which religion and politics become one and the same. The fantasy of Islamic expansion, which began in the seventh century, is part of the design of these extremist branches of Islam.
Through Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood has managed to juggle a legitimate cause with a fanatical and extremist discourse that which imposes a binary choice to its population. Binary, but also of unparalleled violence, as we witnessed on our television screens on 7 October.
Hamas, like the FIS (Front Islamique du Salut) in Algeria, in 1990s, knows that a cause defended under the cover of religion is a cause dedicated to obtaining an anchor on solid foundations. Mosques and religious institutions (as well as schools and public places) spread throughout the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Following the example of Algeria in the 1990s, these projects aimed at the population (financed by the petro-monarchies) serve to consolidate a popular base that sees these terrorist organisations as the only ones capable of responding to the urgency of a life in eternal suspension.
And in fact, the youngest members of the new Palestinian generation, who see Hamas as a saviour, are victims of the brainwashing carried out by the Muslim Brother ideologues of the Islamist movement, whose discourse is easily audible and whose preachers have unstoppable verve. They know what to say, how to say it and who to say it to. Evil ‘‘heroes’’ who wield propagandist doublespeak to indoctrinate and manipulate the masses. The dirty work is then entrusted to the fanatical young activists of the millennium generation, the ones who have been inculcated, through Islamist cyber-tutorials, how to disembowel, to slit throats and to decapitat, without any qualms and regardless of age or sex.
Because the inhuman situation that has prevailed in Gaza for nearly two decades is bound to generate a younger generation that finds no alternative or way out. And they see, through the window of the Net, that life in Gaza is very different from the rest of the world. As one French observer so rightly put it: “being 20 today in the Gaza Strip also means never having left these 365 km2”.
Hamas, like any terrorist group, knows where the rub is, knows the right formulas, those capable of alienating minds when the foggy horizon blocks the future of the young Palestinian generations, and ruins their lives, as it did those of their parents and grandparents. Or even worse! And so, what constitutes the height of horror beyond all human comprehension ends up appearing to them as a legitimate and justified act.
To legitimise such barbarity, extremist movements such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood from which it springs use religious manipulation as a formidable weapon, not only to justify violence and hatred, but also to take possession of the conscience of their followers and hinder their free will to the point of committing the abject.