TEL AVIV (May. 22)
The Israel Defense Force has cracked down on the Moslem fundamentalist organization Hamas, whose declared aim is to destroy Israel.
More than 150 Hamas activists were arrested in the Gaza Strip on Sunday and others have been apprehended in recent days.
They included its leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and its so-called “foreign minister,” Dr. Yassin, and its so-called “foreign minister,” Dr. Mahmoud a-Zaher, a senior lecturer at the Islamic College in Gaza and a former chairman of the Gaza Medical Association.
Also in custody was Bassam Jarar of Ramallah, regarded as the most prominent member of Hamas in the West Bank.
Several of the detainees reportedly have confessed to involvement in political murders of Arabs they suspected of collaboration with Israel.
Considering the extremist, uncompromising and violent nature of the organization, Israclis found it surprising that Zahar was one of more than a dozen Palestinian dignitaries invited to a meeting last week with Dennis Ross, head of the U.S. State Department’s policy planning staff.
Hamas, an organization of Shiite Moslem extremists identified with the Moslem Brotherhood, has recently emerged as the second strongest force among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Sheikh Yassin, 51, who is a quadriplegic, allegedly leads the movement from his wheelchair and is also its religious mentor.
Hamas’ influence is said to rival that of the largely secular Palestine Liberation Organization and it has been involved directly in some of the most violent incidents of the Palestinian uprising.
It states plainly that it seeks the annihilation of Israel and demands “every inch” of Palestine, which it believes belongs to the Moslem Wakf, the organization in charge of Islamic shrines.
Hamas calls for the liberation of the land by jihad–holy war –and has been trying to impose Islamic religious law on residents of the Gaza Strip.