In a bid to shed its image as an Islamist terrorist group, Hamas on Monday launched a new political program that draws a distinction between Jews and “Zionists” as the enemy, but stopped short of recognizing Israel or renouncing violence.
“Resistance and jihad for the liberation of Palestine will remain a legitimate right, a duty and an honor for all the sons and daughters of our people and our Ummah [Islamic community],” the document declares.
“Resisting the occupation with all means and methods is a legitimate right guaranteed by divine laws and by international norms and laws. At the heart of these lies armed resistance, which is regarded as the strategic choice for protecting the principles and the rights of the Palestinian people.”
“Armed resistance” as executed by Hamas since its establishment three decades ago has taken the form of suicide bombings, shootings, stabbings and rocket attacks that have left hundreds of Israelis – and at least 15 Americans – dead
The U.S. government designated Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office dismissed the new document as a ‘smoke screen,” saying Hamas was continuing to invest its resources in preparing for war and inciting the children of the Gaza Strip to want to destroy Israel.