Understanding Hamas: Violent Terrorism as Political Strategy

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Understanding Hamas: Violent Terrorism as Political Strategy Introduction Kydd and Walter (2006:50) assert that violent terrorism is effective as a political strategy "because it causes governments and individuals to respond in ways that aid the terrorists' cause." For Hamas, violence against civilians for political aims does play a role in its political strategy. However, violence in and of itself is not the ultimate aim of the organization. Formed in 1987 during the Palestinian uprising (the Intifada), Hamas exists as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which, according to the United States National Counterterrorism Center (2013), aims at erecting "a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital." Because Israel also desires to claim Jerusalem as its capital and has shown itself eager to expand its own boundaries, violent conflict has ensued between the people of Palestine and the people of Israel. This paper will discuss the role which political violence plays in Hamas' political strategy. By applying the Kydd and Walter "strategies of terrorism" framework alongside an analysis of the tensions between war and peaceful democratic participation, one may see why Hamas views terrorism as a necessary component in its strategic quest for statehood. The Terror Strategy It is Kydd and Walter's claim that there are five basic strategies underlying terrorist activity. In no essential order, the strategies are: 1) the attrition strategy, through
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