Hamas’ Leaflet #1 – January 1988

When an Israeli vehicle crashed in Gaza, killing four Palestinians, Arab resistance to the Israeli occupation reached new heights.[1]  There was an explosion of violence, anger and hatred, which set Israel at odds with Hamas –the Islamic Resistance Movement (Harakat al-muqawwamah al-Islamiyyah).[2]  Hamas was committed to armed conflict in order to reclaim Israel in the name of Islam.[3]  Born from forty years of anger, persecution, repression and removal from their native lands, Hamas’ Leaflet Number 1 is the epitome of the tension, indignation and hatred shared by Palestinian refugees.  By invoking Islam rather than the secular rights advocated by its rival the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hamas sought to unite the Muslim world against the Zionists, who they viewed as foreign conquerors who needed to be removed from the land of Palestine by force.

There is no question that parts of Leaflet Number One are emphatically anti-Jewish.[4]  This document is a desperate expression of decade’s worth of pent up anger over injustices that have not been acknowledged or resolved by the neighboring Arab States or the international community at large.  In this context, while the language is inexcusable, it becomes more understandable – especially in light of the fact that this insulting verbiage is not one-sided.  On theological grounds, the Quran mandates that Muslims respect both Jews and Christians, and for many centuries all three religions lived in relative peace throughout the Middle East.[5]  Leaflet number one and the Hamas Charter also published in 1988 do have strong anti-Jewish sentiments, but later documents express regret and some of the original language, and clarify the position that Hamas is anti-Zionism, not against the Jewish religion or Jewish people as a whole.[6]  For Hamas, the creation of the State of Israel was illegal, and was done with the approval of both Europe and the United States, effectively establishing a foreign power in the Palestinian homeland, and forcibly removing hundreds of native Palestinians from their homes, their land, and their property.[7]  Although the leadership of Hamas has since tried to distance itself from its original inflammatory language in both Leaflet Number 1 and its original charter, it cannot possibly distance itself from the reality that on the ground in the territories, Zionists, Jew and Israeli are all used interchangeably.[8]

From Hamas’ inception, it defined itself as a military organization, yet proclaimed explicitly its willingness to resort to terrorism, originally found in this document.  When speaking of Palestinian Arabs that had been killed by Israeli forces, Leaflet No. 1 states that “every drop of blood shall become a Molotov cocktail, a time bomb, and a roadside charge that will rip out the intestines of the Jews.  Only then will their sense return.”[9]  Also explicit in this published document is the dichotomy of only two possible outcomes.  Arabs face either martyrdom in the resistance or victory.[10]  Hamas does not differentiate between civilian and military targets, and the more they take the offensive against Israel, the more Israel retaliates, leading to an endless cycle of violence and bloodshed that does not seem to have contemporary conclusion.  It is little wonder, then, that Israel views Hamas – like the PLO – as a terrorist organization that needs to be exterminated for the sake of its security.[11]  Conversely, Israel is hardly free from the blood of innocents, commonly retaliating against Arab communities regardless of fault.[12]

As an organization rooted in Islamic ideology, theology and society, Hamas challenges the effectiveness of the secular-leaning PLO, and aims to unite Muslims worldwide under its banner of resistance against what they view as tyranny and injustice.[13]  They are, by all counts, a terrorist organization that allows for the targeting of civilians.  Their aim is to liberate Palestine from the State of Israel and set up an Islamic State throughout Palestine as the heart of the Muslim world.[14]  While their methods fall outside the realm of typically accepted behavior, Hamas’ motives and purpose are understandable.  With decade’s worth of inaction, refusal on the part of Israel and the sluggish movement of the Arab States to act, Hamas’ Leaflet Number One is an expression of rage over injustice – an injustice that can only be solved through force in the name of Islam.








Abu-Amr, Ziad.  “Hamas: A Historical and Political Background.”  Journal of Palestinian Studies 20, no. 4 (Summer 1993): 155-69.


Hamas.  “Leaflet No. 1.” Written January 1988.  Accessed April 4, 2017.  http://www2.trincoll.edu/~kiener/INTS206_HAMAS_Leaflet_1.htm


Hroub, Khaled.  “Hamas, Israel and Judaism.”  In Hamas: A Beginner’s Guide, 34-44.  London: Pluto Press, 2010.


Hroub, Khaled.  “Hamas’ History.”  In Hamas: A Beginner’s Guide, 1-14.  London: Pluto Press, 2010.


Smith, Charles D.  Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.  Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017.

[1] Charles D Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017), 399.

[2] Hamas, “Leaflet No. 1,” Trinity College, January 1988, accessed April 4, 2017, http://www2.trincoll.edu/~kiener/INTS206_HAMAS_Leaflet_1.htm

[3] Hamas, “Leaflet No. 1.”

[4] Hamas, “Leaflet No. 1.”

[5] Khaled Hroub, “Hamas, Israel and Judaism,“ in Hamas: A Beginner’s Guide (London: Pluto Press, 2010), 34.

[6] Hroub, “Hamas, Israel and Judaism,” 35.

[7] Hroub, “Hamas, Israel and Judaism,” 35.

[8] Hroub, “Hamas, Israel and Judaism,” 37.

[9] Hamas, “Leaflet No. 1.”

[10] Hamas, “Leaflet No. 1.”

[11] Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 407.

[12] Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” 407.

[13] Ziad Abu-Amr, “Hamas: A Historical and Political Background,” Journal of Palestine Studies 22, no. 4 (Summer, 1993): 12.

[14] Hamas, “Leaflet No. 1.”

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