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Inside Hamas: The Untold Story of the Militant Islamic Movement Hardcover – April 6, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this compelling and sober portrayal, Chebab, an intrepid Palestinian journalist (who was nearly blown up in 2002), explains how the highly organized and notoriously militant Islamic group Hamas was elected to head the Palestinian government in January 2006, to the surprise of much of the world. Having tracked Palestinian resistance for decades, Chebab gained extraordinary access to key players in Hamas, like Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the group's spiritual leader until his 2004 assassination, and political leader Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Rantisi, also assassinated that year. Along the way, he details the group's history, from the dawn of the first intifada in 1987 to the present day, and looks to the political and economic dilemmas that hang over the group's future. Most fascinating are hidden figures Chebab brings to light: like Yehia Ayyash, "the Engineer," who introduced the suicide bomb into Hamas's deadly repertoire; suicide-bomb hopefuls who claim that "martyrdom is like a dream"; and proud mothers like Umm Nidal, who has three (of six) sons who have died as suicide bombers. The book is likely to be recognized as among the most definitive and important accounts of this divisive organization, whose goal remains to "reclaim the whole of Palestine as it had been before 1948... and to dismantle the [Israeli] settlements." (May)
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"Zaki Chehab's new book, Inside Hamas, lives up to its title. Chehab, a prominent Palestinian journalist born in a refugee camp, has the credentials to tell this secret history of the radical Muslim group that now dominates Palestinian politics. Chehab draws on his interviews with Hamas leaders and Palestinian sources to draw vivid portraits of Hamas, their suicide bombers--and of its wheelchair-bound founder, Sheik Yassin. It's all here--from Hamas's Iranian connection to its secret war with the mainstream Fatah movement. Reading this book, it's obvious that Chehab has had access to some of the PLO's most sensitive files." -- David Ignatius, Washington Post columnist and author of Body of Lies
Top customer reviews
Forget what the newspapers and other media outlets say about Hamas. If you want a truly engrossing but accurate portrayal of this movement, this is a must read.
Chehab begins by explaining that one of Israel's strategies has focused on removing the influential and charismatic leaders needed to hold Hamas together. Assassinations, based on information from Palestinian collaborators (estimated to total over 20,000 over the years), are a frequent occurrence - both within and outside Palestine (eg. Jordan, Syria).
How does Israel obtain so many collaborators? Examples include mocked up photos to create sexual blackmail, blackmail regarding small initial acts of real of apparent cooperation, and arresting those suspected of having knowledge and then offering a choice between cooperation or torture. Another trick is to entice Palestinians into supposed al Qaeda cells, and then threaten to (or actually) tip the Palestinian Authority off regarding their identity.
Also included are stories of martyrs and their families (grieving, yet proud), along with Israeli retaliation by bulldozing the martyrs' former homes without allowing time to even remove personal treasures, and sometimes shooting relatives or celebrants within the area.
"Inside Hamas" reports that Hamas carried out suicide attacks after Israel agreed to stop financing and building settlements in Palestinian territory. "Why?" was not explained, and remains a mystery.
Palestinian martyr families received payouts from Saddam Hussein (Iraq), and from rich donors in Saudi Arabia. Monies have also been donated by Iranian and Jewish Arabs to families whose breadwinner had been killed or disabled, or whose homes had been destroyed by Israel.
The U.S. is seen as strongly pro-Israel. Weapons smuggling from Iran and other sources is a sometimes important activity, involving small ships and trucks. Tunnels are also used - Israelis bulldoze them as well as houses possibly hiding tunnel entrances.
The U.S. (and others) were totally surprised when Hamas won elections in the Palestinian Authority. The U.S. and Israel have tried to force Hamas to withdraw (eg. holding back funds for the Palestinian Authority); however, Chehab suspects this effort has hurt Fatah more than Hamas as Hamas has its own sources of funding.
Bottom Line: Despite "Inside Hamas'" limitations, it is clear that an enormous amount of money and talent are wasted by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority in jockeying back and forth, and that little, if any progress is being made.