Posts Tagged ‘ Hamas Government ’

Conservative Hamas appoints first spokeswoman

November 10, 2013

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Hamas government of the Gaza Strip has for the first time appointed a woman to represent it to the world.

The hiring of Isra Almodallal as a spokeswoman for the territory’s conservative Islamist rulers is part of a long-running push by the group, which has at times sought to curb women’s freedoms, to present a newer friendlier face both to its own citizens and internationally.

Almodallal, a 23-year-old who speaks fluent British-accented English, has assumed a post normally held by tough-talking men who voice Hamas’ bitter opposition to Israel. She will be responsible for the Gaza government’s communications with the international media.

“We are looking forward to having a different and unique language,” said Almodallal in an interview in her Gaza City office, on her first week in the job. “We will make the issues more human.” The change in policy began six months ago when a new head of the government media department, Ihab Ghussein, took over. He hired younger media people, started a new official government website, began rampant use of social media and started conducting seminars and workshops.

Ghussein said he appointed Almodallal in an effort “to be more open to the West.” He said many women were among the dozens of applicants considered for the position. “Women are partners in our society,” Ghussein said.

Almodallal, a divorced mother of a four-year-old girl, does not have her roots in the Hamas movement. Unlike many other Hamas officials, her office does not bear a photo of Gaza’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. She keeps a book on American history there, alongside the Quran.

She was raised in Gaza and spent five years in Britain as a teenager, studying at Grange Technology College, a high school in Bradford in the U.K. Upon returning to Gaza, she studied journalism at the Islamic University, and worked as a TV reporter for a local station and an English-language satellite channel, which she said taught her how to present herself on camera.

Her appointment is the latest step by Hamas to manage its image. “Hamas, as any other government in the world, want others to listen and believe in them,” said Moean Hassan, a lecturer in media at Gaza’s Palestine University.

Since the group overran the territory in 2007, it has cautiously attempted to enforce its deeply conservative version of Islam and has at times placed some restrictions on women’s behavior. But it has refrained from passing sweeping Islamic legislation, apparently fearing a public backlash, despite criticisms form ultraconservatives who say it is not implementing Islamic law quickly enough.

Under Hamas, there has been mounting social pressure on women to cover up in the traditional Islamic dress of long robes and headscarves. The Hamas government has also banned them from riding on the backs of motorbikes and from smoking water pipes, but these rules have not always been enforced. Earlier this year, the Hamas government barred girls and women from participating in a U.N.-sponsored marathon, prompting a U.N. aid agency to cancel the race.

At the same time, women are permitted to work, drive and hold public office, with one female minister and six female deputy ministers serving in the Hamas government. Some 20 per cent of public servants working for Hamas are women.

Almodallal asserts that women in Gaza are finding their way into politics, medicine, education and media. “Every day, women’s footsteps can be seen advancing more in society,” she said. Almodallal takes a slightly different line than many Hamas spokesmen. She refers to “Israel” rather than the “Zionist entity.” And she does not consider herself a Hamas loyalist, saying she would be equally willing to work as spokeswoman for the rival Palestinian government in the West Bank.

But she does believe — in line with the Hamas position — that the Palestinians should control all of historic Palestine, or the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, including what is now Israel.

She speaks primarily about Gaza government affairs: education and social programs or the Israeli blockade of the territory. She will not discuss Hamas suicide bombings and other attacks, which have killed hundreds of Israelis over the years. Not will she be handling the sensitive reconciliation attempts with the rival Palestinian government in the West Bank. Spokesmen for the Hamas movement, as opposed to the Gaza government, deal with those subjects.

“I am not Hamas. I am a Palestinian activist who loves her country,” Almodallal said. When asked her opinion on Hamas’ history of suicide bombings against Israelis, she did not answer directly but said Israel’s unfair media coverage had given Hamas a bad reputation.

“This is because of the Israeli media, which is a smart media. They change the truth and show the opposite picture of Palestine and the Palestinians,” she said. She takes up the job at a challenging time for the movement. Hamas lost a key ally with the downfall of its parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, in neighboring Egypt after a July 3 coup. The group remains a pariah to many nations in the West.

“I know it’s a big responsibility and it’s not easy to speak on behalf of a government in normal situations, whereas I am working in unique situations,” she says.

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Hamas adds resistance to Israel in Gazan school’s curriculum

2013-11-05

GAZA CITY – The Gaza Strip’s Hamas government said on Tuesday it had added studies to encourage “resistance to Israel” to the territory’s public schools curriculum.

Courses to “strengthen Palestinian rights, update programs and add studies on human rights” would be introduced at three levels in secondary schools, Education Minister Muetassem al-Minaui said.

They were intended to instill “faith in the role of the resistance to win rights and to raise awareness of the importance of effective preparations to face the enemy,” he said.

The new material tells of Israel’s winter 2008-2009 and November 2012 military offensives into the Gaza Strip and shows photos of dead Palestinians and of buildings destroyed by Israeli strikes.

“All of Palestine from the (Mediterranean) sea to the river (Jordan) belongs to us, to us Muslims,” it states, in accordance with the beliefs of the militant Islamic group, which refuses to recognize Israel.

The new courses will be taught only in education ministry schools and not those of the United Nations Relief and Works agency, in which close to half of the 463,000 pupils in the strip study, the agency’s operations director Robert Turner told journalists on Tuesday.

At the start of this year, Hamas launched an experimental program of basic military training for about 10,000 high school students.

Source: Middle East Online.
Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=62413.

Hamas supporters rally against Sisi in Jerusalem

August 16, 2013

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Hundreds of Hamas supporters rallied on Friday at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound in protest against Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the army chief who ousted Egypt’s Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

Some 600 people affiliated with the Palestinian Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip held the demonstration after Friday prayers, an AFP correspondent said.

They also conducted a special prayer for the hundreds of Morsi supporters killed on Wednesday when security forces dispersed Cairo protest camps set up by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

The demonstrators, who held posters commemorating the dead, called Sisi an “American collaborator” who served Israel and chanted that Morsi was still Egypt’s president.

Some compared Sisi to Hitler, who they said “killed Jews for his people,” while the Egyptian army chief “killed his people for the Jews”.

Other Islamist movements also took part in the demonstration, with Israeli police not intervening.

A large rally in support of Morsi was being planned by the northern faction of the Israeli Islamic Movement for Saturday afternoon.

Source: The Daily Star.

Link: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/Aug-16/227561-hamas-supporters-rally-against-sisi-in-jerusalem.ashx.

Abbas rejoices, Hamas goes quiet after Egyptian president’s fall

By Noah Browning and Nidal al-Mughrabi

RAMALLAH/GAZA | Thu Jul 4, 2013

(Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas praised Egypt’s military on Thursday for toppling President Mohamed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood, the ideological ally of Abbas’s Hamas rivals.

The fall of Mursi’s government deprived Hamas of a sympathetic neighbor, and may strengthen Abbas’s chances of nudging Hamas toward a long-delayed reconciliation and power-sharing pact.

By intervening to remove Mursi, the Egyptian army had prevented Egypt’s “slide toward an unknown fate”, Abbas said.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top official in the Palestine Liberation Organization headed by Abbas, said: “This is a historic day for Egypt, and we are learning a lesson from the Egyptian example. Hamas should take note of what popular will can achieve.”

Palestinians are riven by political and cultural splits that mirror Egypt’s. A Hamas victory in 2006 parliamentary polls led to a short civil war which left the Islamists ruling Gaza, while Abbas’s Fatah faction holds sway in the West Bank.

Hamas officials largely shunned the media on Thursday, and the movement took no position on the sudden removal of Mursi.

“We pray to God to preserve the security and the stability of Egypt and its people and to prevent bloodshed,” a Hamas spokesman, Ehab Ghussein, told Reuters.

The group had seen its star rise in the Arab world following a tide of uprisings in 2011 that swept religious-inspired governments to power in Tunisia and Egypt.

The leader of influential oil-rich Gulf state Qatar, a major backer of both the Brotherhood and Hamas, visited Gaza in October bearing hefty aid gifts. Egypt’s prime minister, along with an Arab League delegation, came to the territory last November, even as Hamas and Israel fought an eight-day war.

BORDER CRACKDOWN

Hamas’s muted response may signal its caution at upsetting an Egyptian military that controls Gaza border lifelines.

“It would be wrong to say relations won’t be affected. Relations could become cold for a period,” said Hamas official Mustafa Assawaf, who stressed he was speaking as a political analyst about future ties with Egypt’s new government.

Hamas leaders and supporters greeted Mursi’s election last year with delight, believing his leadership would usher in the beginning of the end of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade on Gaza and a near-total international diplomatic quarantine.

But the Brotherhood, buffeted by Egypt’s internal storms and exercising little authority over the security forces, furnished Hamas with few concrete advantages.

In recent weeks, Egypt’s army, citing security concerns as it confronts Islamist militants in the Sinai desert, has stepped up a crackdown on border tunnels with Gaza through which food, fuel and weapons are smuggled.

The campaign has dismayed Hamas and pushed up prices in the impoverished coastal enclave.

Gaza residents say that dozens of Egyptian troops have reinforced the border areas since mass protests calling for Mursi’s ouster began on June 30. The army also controls the Rafah border terminal, Gaza’s main link to the outside world.

(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Source: Reuters.

Link: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/07/04/uk-egypt-protests-palestinians-idUKBRE9630LM20130704.

Hamas MP praises Arab Idol winner’s ‘thankfulness to God’

23/06/2013

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — A Hamas MP praised Muhammad Assaf for becoming the first Palestinian to win the popular TV competition Arab Idol on Saturday night via Facebook.

MP Yahya Mousa posted on his Facebook page that he welcomed Assaf’s thanks to God and his kneeling to the ground as though in prayer when he was announced the winner.

Assaf won Arab Idol and dedicated his winning to the Palestinian people.

Later it was announced that he was to be made the first Palestinian refugee ambassador for UNRWA, the UN agency tasked with providing services to Palestinian refugees in Palestine and the Middle East.

Assaf, a 23-year-old from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, has become a household name in Palestine.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Link: http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=607472.

Hamas calls for unity, end to internal Palestinian feuds

Gaza, June 15 : Islamic Hamas movement Saturday called for unity and ending the internal Palestinian feuds and division on the sixth anniversary for its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip, reported Xinhua.

The Hamas movement, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since June 2007, said in a statement that six years had passed “while the world still imposes its unfair requirements on the movement,” referring to international conditions that the militant group recognizes Israel and renounces violence if it wants to open to the world.

“Hamas reiterates that unity and reconciliation are strategic and the movement is looking forward to finalize it in order to devote more time to the conflict with the occupation,” said the statement.

The statement blamed Israel on hindering any chance for Palestinian unity, saying that: “For six years, the crimes of the (Israeli) occupation against our people have been going on, and these crimes mount every time we are getting close to achieve unity and reconciliation.”

Meanwhile, Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum slammed the security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority, which is based in the West Bank.

“The policy of the security coordination with the occupation caused and would cause lots of harms to our just Palestinian cause,” Barhoum said, adding “the Palestinians should exert more efforts to unite and resist the occupation.”

Hamas won the last legislative elections held in the Palestinian territories in January 2006.

As it could not agree on a partnership with the mainstream Fatah party, headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, it routed pro-Abbas forces and ousted Fatah, keeping them confined to the West Bank and deepening political split between the two territories.

Over the past six years, Egypt and then Qatar have been mediating between Hamas and Fatah to end their division and form a transitional unity government that prepares for new presidential and legislative elections.

So far, the Arab efforts to end the Palestinian split have all but failed due to substantial differences on security issues, general elections and unity government.

Source: New Kerala.

Link: http://www.newkerala.com/news/story/30337/hamas-calls-for-unity-end-to-internal-palestinian-feuds.html.

Gazans rally with exiled Hamas chief

December 08, 2012

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas vowed to continue fighting Israel Saturday, as hundreds of thousands of flag-waving Gazans turned out to celebrate the organization’s 25th anniversary.

Khaled Mashaal’s visit to the Palestinian territory — a first in his lifetime of exile — underscores Hamas’ rising clout and regional acceptance since its eight-day conflict with Israel last month. At the main stage in Gaza City, a roaring crowd greeted Mashaal and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who emerged from a door built into a large model of a rocket fired at Israeli cities during the recent fighting.

Hamas’ green dominated the gathering, where some children wore military uniforms and others carried guns. Masked gunmen holding automatic rifles flanked the podium where Mashaal gave a fiery speech. “We are not giving up any inch of Palestine. It will remain Islamic and Arab for us and nobody else. Jihad and armed resistance is the only way,” Mashaal said, referring to holy war. “We cannot recognize Israel’s legitimacy.”

Mashaal said he would continue to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails — referring to a swap last year where an abducted Israeli soldier was exchanged for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.

The 56-year-old Mashaal, who left the West Bank as a child and now leads Hamas from the Gulf state of Qatar, entered Gaza on Friday via Egypt. Hamas has received a boost from the political ascension of its parent movement, the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, in the wake of last year’s Arab Spring revolts — especially in Egypt.

It has also upped its profile as master of the Gaza Strip, leading it through the bloodiest round of fighting with Israel in four years and coming to a cease-fire arrangement in talks brokered by Egypt.

Hamas claimed victory in the conflict after holding its own despite airstrikes and maintaining an almost constant barrage of rocket attacks on Israeli cities. The Nov. 21 cease-fire stipulated Israel would stop targeting militants. That, along with unprecedented support from Egypt, allowed Mashaal to make the visit without fear of Israeli assassination, which he has narrowly escaped in the past.

Israel, the U.S. and European Union list Hamas as a terrorist organization. Israel is now holding indirect talks with the group as a result of the cease-fire arrangement.

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