When the Hamas terrorist movement arose in 1988, the mosque was the main platform for spreading its ideas. Today, more than 26 years later, Hamas has a well-oiled media machine that operates TV channels, newspapers and websites. In order to become more open to the outside world, Hamas recently launched (Arabic link) a range of new digital communication tools in several languages and on different platforms.
This week, Ismail Haniyeh, the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau that runs Gaza with an iron first, launched the new official website of the movement in its new format. He did so from the reconstructed house that is now a shrine to Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin on the occasion of the 11th anniversary of Yassin’s targeted killing. During the launching of the new site,hamas.ps/ar/ (Arabic link), Haniyeh said, “The website will strengthen the relations with the public.”
The Iran-backed terror organization said it uses the media as a tool to directly transfer its worldview to the world, “so it can hear from us, and not about us.” According to Haniyeh, these communication channels makes Hamas more open to the world. In his eyes, the movement’s official website is an official document, an archive, and a legacy conservation tool.
According to the newspaper A-Sharq Al-Awsat (Arabic link), the new Hamas website includes information about Hamas, its leaders, its political bureau members, and its spokesmen, and frequently updates with news concerning the organization and Palestinian politics more generally. Its editors have pledged to provide information without mistakes or distortions.
Other sections in the site are devoted to honoring Hamas militants killed in combat with Israel, and Hamas terrorists held in Israeli prisons. The new site also features rare photographs and videos from the organization’s history.
It didn’t take long for Hamas to demonstrate that a key purpose of its new site is to incite terrorist acts against Israel. In an article (Arabic link) published on the website, the movement expressed its commitment to continued military operations against Israel until the “liberation of all Palestine” – a phrase that means destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamic Palestinian state.
Hamas launched its new media a week after its #askHamas Twitter campaign backfired badly. As part of this campaign, several leaders of the movement were supposed to respond to questions from users, but instead attracted thousands of derisive tweets critical of Hamas, its history as a terrorist organization, and its abuses of Gazans.
Hamas has turned its attention to getting its message out of Gaza at a time that, as analyst Neri Zilber has observed, “Israel, of all the parties involved, has shown the greatest degree of flexibility towards a Gaza Strip still ruled by Hamas.”
[Photo: MEMRITVVideos / YouTube ]