Power of One: The Structure of Hamas

“We cannot separate the wing from the body. If we do so, the body will not be able to fly.”

—Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (Reuters, May 27, 1998)

The political and military wings are the two most prominent wings in Hamas. They operate as one terrorist entity–without the capabilities from the political side, there will be no motivation on the military end and vice versa. We are going to break down the wings one by one, in the interests of keeping things simple.

The political wing is lead by Khaled Meshaal in Damascus, Syria. Under his guidance:

  • The Hamas leadership in Gaza,
  • The District Leadership in Judea and Samaria
  • Hamas delegations abroad, such as the one in Iran

hamas structure infographic

The military wing’s leader is Ahmed al-Jabari. Their Arabic name is Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades, and they’re based in the Gaza Strip. Al-Jabari’s wing is subordinate to the Hamas leadership in Gaza, led by Ismail Haniyeh, which is under direct supervision of Meshaal, the leader of the political wing.

In Damascus, Meshaal makes all of the decisions, whether it be administrative, political, social. He’s also responsible for gathering the money and weapons for his military wing in Gaza. Ismail Haniyeh is the middleman in the supply chain who takes funds and weapons emerging from Syria to the military wing in the Gaza Strip.

Ahmed al-Jabari is highly dependent on Haniyeh for his close relationship with the political bureau in Damascus. Thanks to this supply chain, al-Jabari is capable of keeping his military wing fully stocked in order to maintain their terror fight against Israel.

Khaled Meshaal (lower left) and Ahmed al-Jabari (bottom right)

Khaled Meshaal (bottom left) and Ahmed al-Jabari (bottom right). The political and military wing leaders together.

The brigades has made it clear that their main goal is to throw the “Zionists” into the Mediterranean Sea. Many examples support this ideology, such as the suicide explosion at a restaurant in Haifa in which 20 Israeli civilians in 2003, and a Palestinian suicide bomber detonating himself at the Park Hotel in Netanya in 2002, killing 20 bystanders. Also, current statistics show that in 2011, 627 rockets were fired at Israel, and since the start of 2012, 56 rockets were fired at Israel.

Al-Jabari’s vicious military wing has not only targeted innocent Israeli civilians, but also Israeli soldiers such as Gilad Shalit. Shalit was captured in 2006 after Hamas terrorists infiltrated the border through a smuggling tunnel, and was held in Hamas captivity for over 5 years until his release in 2011. Ezzedeen al-Qassam continues to collaborate with its vital political wing in order to finance its terrorist acts that have killed more than 1,365 Israeli citizens since Hamas’ founding.

Without the Hamas leadership in Gaza, the Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades would not function. Ismail Haniyeh has made sure that the right amount of funds, weapons, and propaganda are injected into the military wing.

Ahmed al-Jabari (Far Right)

Ahmed al-Jabari (far right) stands with Mahmoud al-Zahar (middle)

Al-Aqsa TV, Hamas’ television station, has done an excellent job in buying the hearts and minds of the Palestinian population in Gaza. It has played a major role in maintaining the popularity of the Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades by airing shows targeted at its youth, urging them to join the violent resistance against Israel.

Haniyeh’s administration focuses on keeping the TV station funded and operating, just as  it focuses on keeping Ezzedeen al-Qassam active. This is very important since both the military wing and Al-Aqsa cannot function without the other absent.

So, to sum up: Hamas is really just one body. Its propaganda, military and political machine have to operate on the same wavelength at all times. If any of its components malfunction then Hamas will “not be able to fly”.