Book Review Of Dr. Azzam Tamimi, “Hamas: Unwritten Chapters”


Puan Zarina Nalla (MPF)

Dr Azzam Tamimi’s most recent book; Hamas Unwritten Chapters, is indeed very timely. It comes almost 10 months after Hamas; the Islamic Resistance Movement in Palestine, made a sweeping victory in an election that was unequivocally democratic” bewildering political pundits, making political observers sit up, overturning many assumptions both regionally and globally.

The surprise electoral victory has in fact, led to a renewed interest in Hamas. What does the movement stand for? How did it begin? What do the Palestinians see in them? Who was Sheikh Ahmed Yaasin? Are suicide bombers in the context of Palestine, martyrs or not? These are undoubtedly valid and honest pertinent questions , and those who genuinely seek a clearer and accurate picture of the current conflict, will appreciate Dr Tamimi’s book.

He writes objectively and illuminates a subject which has often been described solely from the Israeli and Western perspective whose analyses often betray HAMAS and its genuine struggle towards peace.

The book traces the origin of Hamas from its birth fifteen years ago at the beginning of the first intifada. It meticulously details the influence of its exiled leadership in Syria and elsewhere, and its internal organisational hierarchy and structure.

The rules and conditions of Madrid 1991, Oslo 1993 or The Road Map have denied the Palestinians their inalienable rights and stripped them of any form of humanity and dignity. The late Edward Said in his book titled, “The End of the Peace Process” (1994) highlighted the failures and injustices of Oslo 1993.

Dr. Azzam very carefully describes the “Hudna”; the Long Term Truce; the peace initiatives of the founding fathers of HAMAS, offering to both Zionists and Palestinians alike a truce; a ceasefire enabling a partnership, a joint quest for peaceful engagements within an agreed time frame. This has conveniently escaped, conscious or unconsciously the attention of political commentators of the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

Below I quote 2 excerpts from the book. The first from Chapter 8 “Jihad and Martyrdom”, “Sacrifice or Suicide ?”

It deals with the legitimacy aspect of a tactic Hamas has been identified with and criticised for, not only by Western nations but even by some Muslims,.

“Defenders of martyrdom operations argue that the Islamic code of war applies only in conventional warfare, and refuse to accept that it should apply in the case of Palestine, where the situation is far from conventional. Palestine in such a view, is an exception. The unarmed and defenceless people of Palestine have been invaded and oppressed by a power that is heavily armed with the most modern weapons, which enable them to kill, maim and destroy while well out of the reach of retaliation on the part of their victims. From this viewpoint, whatever the Palestinians do to defend themselves and deter their oppressors is legitimate. It is often argued that only when the Palestinians have access to the sort of weapons possessed by the Israelis will it be illegitimate for them to resort to unconventional means of self defence.”

The second extract is from the 10th and final chapter ” Towards Intifada III”. P 181

“Nothing the Israelis did in Gaza seemed to [be] able to induce Hamas to yield, though the routine, almost daily bombing claimed many lives and destroyed Gaza’s entire infrastructure. While Israeli artillery pounded the border area, Israeli aircraft bombed the Prime Minister’s office, the Ministry of the Economy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Interior Ministry. Aircraft also bombed bridges and main roads across the Gaza Strip, as well power plants and other services, in an apparent bid to cripple completely the Hamas-led government. This confirmed the suspicion that the entire operation was not about rescuing a single Israeli soldier in Palestinian captivity, but was rather a campaign aimed at destroying Hamas’s ability to govern in Gaza.” P 245

The author goes on to say that a third Intifada may be inevitable given the current state of affairs. Such a conflict may even involve other states and actors from the region.

It is the sincere prayer of every Muslim that true reforms and a better society will emerge eventually.

Dr Tamimi, a staunch advocate for the creation of a free, independent and democratic Palestine, has indeed made a valuable contribution with his book.


  1. I’m reading Hamas: A History From Within, and find it very informative. I’d like to write to the author and ask a few questions about Hamas’ survival strategy and possible disagreements among leaders concerning such things as suicide bombing, qassam rockets and public declaration of Israel’s right or lack of a right to exist, as these seem to be the key areas in which Israeli zionists harness support for their oppressive siege on Gaza and keep the U.S. American public convinced Israel is always only acting defensively.

  2. I’ve gone through Dr. Tamimi’s book on Hamas. He did a tremendous work in presenting a widly misunderstood movement in an objective manner.

  3. Provides a balanced look on the views and recent history of Hamas. While describing the political contexts and major players during recent significant events . In summary, a very good book with an insight into an important organisation in the region.

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