Preface: A Touch of History
With turmoil and upheaval rising in the Middle East and in particular between Israel and Gaza, I find it important to write and share a few thoughts to consider. It is of everyone’s interest to understand some of the dynamics that govern the reciprocal relationship between Hamas and Terrorism, especially in light of the uprising of the Muslim Brotherhood and the “In the name of God” (or alternatively “in the name of Allah”). One must consider, on the balance of reasonableness, whether or not Hamas’ actions and justifications make sense. For it takes one quick and sound look at the facts to understand what every layman can understand – it makes no sense. How are Hamas’ action any different than the “Dear Leader” in Korea, Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations? Is shooting rockets at Jerusalem, a Holy city to Christians, Jewish and Muslim alike justified? Does it sound reasonable to say it’s “In the name of God”. Is it? I hope you read more and do the math – it’s quite simple.
abc News Video: watch throughout and follow this article further, and in specific Colonel Richard Kemp, to question the testament of Hamas in the video
You Must be Wondering: Whether Israel Actions are Reasonable or Unreasonable?
“More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas’ way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice its own civilians.” “and I say this again, the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”
Is Hamas a Terrorists Organization?
The following excerpt from Wikipedia provides every person who is keen to know the following:
“Since June 2007 Hamas has governed the Gaza portion of the Palestinian Territories, after it won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament in the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections and then defeated the Fatah political organization in a series of violent clashes. Israel, the United States, the European Union, Canada and Japan classify Hamas as a terrorist organization, while Arab nations, Russia, and Turkey do not.”
It continues to describe a few of Hamas’ actions as Political Violence and Terrorism and further reads:
“… the Hamas Political Bureau operates as the highest ranking leadership body determining the policy of the Hamas organization and has responsibility for directing and coordinating terrorist acts. Hamas’ founder, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, stated in 1998: “We can not separate the wing from the body. If we do so, the body will not be able to fly. Hamas is one body.”
Although it’s only Wikipedia, I invite you to read more and investigate on your own accord.
Can You Define Terrorism?
Nevertheless, You may still wonder what is Terrorism? How can we define it?
The Characteristics of Terrorism
Terrorist activity is characterised with a number players:
- First is the team that threatens to carry out a violent act or has actually carried it out, in order to humiliate the authority or to achieve a different political or ideological achievement.
- The second is the team targeted by terrorists who wish to inflict harm upon them; normally these are innocent civilians. The terrorists choose their victims randomly, so long and provided that harming their victims will materially influence the third player.
- The third is the government or other authority, which terrorist wish to humiliate or alternatively to coerce influence upon whilst exploiting its responsibilities, concerns, and accountability to the safety and security of the target the terrorist wish to harm or have already harmed.
- The fourth player relates to a specific population which the terrorist organisation pretends to act on behalf of it. The support of such a group is vital in feeding terrorists with logistic, financial and manpower resources.
Those who watch the “show”, where drama occurs in front of their eyes and are such to hold different approaches which may affect the course and outcomes of such a “show” can be divided into three major categories:
- The people, which are controlled by the designated government (the government in which terrorists wish to harm).
- Other governments, which share similar interests and / or similar responsibilities and accountabilities.
- Other terrorist organisations that hold similar strategic, ideological, and political interest in respect of the conflict or in its outcome.
Terrorism presents the targeted government with a basic dilemma, in which it has to assert how can it defends its citizens, institutions, and interests from the threats of terrorism, while at the same time preserve the state’s basic institutional traits, public support and willingness to follow the state’s policy.
Terrorism Definition in Legislations
The United States of America (“US”)
Following the Oklahoma City bombing, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEDPA”), an Act of Congress, passed with broad bipartisan support by Congress (91-8-1 in the US Senate, 293-133-7 in the House of Representatives) and asserted a number of Federal amendments in the US legislation. AEDPA, inter alia, seeks “to provide the Federal Government the fullest possible basis, consistent with the Constitution, to prevent persons within the US, or subject to the jurisdiction of the US, from providing material support or resources to foreign organisations that engage in terrorist activities.”
The AEDPA therefore authorizes the Secretary of State to designate an organisation as a “foreign terrorist organisation” (“FTO”), meaning that it is a non-U.S. organisation that engages in terrorist activity that threatens U.S. nationals or national security.
To engage in terrorist activity is, under the Act, to commit “in an individual capacity or as a member of an organisation, an act of terrorist activity or an act which the actor knows, or reasonably should know, affords material support to any individual, organisation, or government in conducting a terrorist activity at any time.”
Terrorist activity includes such acts as hijacking, kidnapping, assassination, and the use of any explosive or firearm, “with the intent to endanger, directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals or to cause substantial damage to property.” Threats, attempts, and conspiracies to commit the above acts also come within the definition.
“Acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries” is defined in Cap. VII as one of different offences, which are carried out in order to efficiently affect governance behavior through deterrence, coercion or vengeance. This legislation deals with broad treatment to unconventional terrorist threat as well as the obligations of ISPs to maintain and provide information upon demand by the US government.
The United Kingdom
In the midst of 1998, the UK government published a consultation paper, which expressed the view that, the then, existing definition to ‘terrorism’ was too restrictive, and which proposed to redefine it in such way that ‘terrorism’ will be defined similarly to US Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”)’s definition:
”the use of serious violence against persons or property, or the threat to use such violence, to intimidate or coerce a government, the public or any section of the public for political, religious or ideological ends”.
The term “serious violence” would be defined so as to include “serious disruption” resulting, for example, from attacks on computer installations, electronic data or public utilities. Domestic terrorism, that is, terrorism by indigenous groups prepared to engage in serious violence to further their cause, as well as Irish and international terrorism, would be included. Following the recommendation of the committee the UK legislated the Terrorism Act 2000, which defines the term ‘terrorism’ in a broad approach that included, inter alia, the use or threat which is designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation, or to intimidate the public or a section of the public; whether the threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial, or ideological cause; involves serious violence against a person, serious damage to property, creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public or is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
Views are invited on whether this definition strikes the right balance between being too narrow and too wide. Arguably, this definition is too vague and too broad and may not facilitate a correct balance, for it may be exploited to advance inadequate coercion or measures not in context with a terrorism act. Nevertheless, it can also be argued that such vagueness and broadness strikes the right balance for it allows the state with flexibility and preparedness to answer a terrorism act efficiently and effectively. Thus, the Terrorism Act 2000 expands the definition of terrorism to such extent that it may include actions considered to be criminal offences. This legislation has an extraterritorial capacity whereas its definition was also adopted by the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.
The State of Israel (“Israel”)
The Israeli Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (“PTO”), reads as follows:
“Terrorist organisation” means a body of persons resorting in its activities to acts of violence calculated to cause death or injury to a person or to threats of such acts of violence;”
A new definition was recently enacted under the Prohibition on Terrorist Financing Law, and which delimits terrorism in the following way:
An act of terrorism” –
(a) an act that constitutes an offence or a threat to commit an act that constitutes an offence that was committed or was planned to be committed in order to influence a matter of policy, ideology or religion if all of the following conditions are fulfilled:
(1) it was committed or was planned to be committed with the goal of causing fear or panic among the public or with the goal of coercing a government or another governing authority, including the government or governing authority of a foreign country to take action or to refrain from taking action; for the purposes of this paragraph – foreseeing, as a nearly certain possibility, that the act or the threat will cause fear or panic among the public is equivalent to having a goal to cause fear or panic among the public;
(2) the act that was committed or that was planned or the threat included:
(a) actual injury to a person’s body or his freedom , or placing a person in danger of death or danger of grievous bodily injury;
(b) the creation of actual danger to the health or security of the public;
(c) serious damage to property;
(d) serious disruption of vital infrastructures, systems or services;
Accordingly, the Israeli legislative definition is inherently similar to the UK legislation. Apart from the Israeli legislation’s part, which deals with the protection of infrastructures versus the UK legislation that deals with electronic systems, these legislations are virtually identical.
Key to Have in Mind: Striking Civil Liberties and Protection Against the Constant Threat of Terrorist Attacks
Anti-terrorist legislation tests the balance of the rights and freedoms of citizens against the restrictive measures necessary for protection. Democracy seeks to protect citizen rights while also ensuring security. In approaching that struggle, the UK, US, and Israel all enacted legislation that strikes a balance between liberal civil liberties and protection against the constant threat of terrorist attacks. By providing confidence and reducing fear in society these enactments support democracy.
All in all, it is in everyone’s interest to have peace in the Middle East. However, having in mind Hamas is a terrorist organization (evidently self testified as such), could there be peace with such an organization? What would you have done should your citizens, friends and family be constantly bombed “in the name of God”? Do you have the right to protect your civilians? Your family?
Think about it.
 Kupperman, Robert H. / Darrell M. Trent, Terrorism: Threat, Reality, Response (Stanford, California: Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, c1979) p 67.
 See above at n 27.
 The Oklahoma City bombing was a bomb attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City on 19 April, 1995. In relation to the Turner Diaries See D’ smith, Freedom of Speech and the literature of Terrorism, Economist, 2002, p 2.
 Signed into law on April 24, 1996. Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, introduced by former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Available at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=104_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ132.104.pdf
 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, §301, 18 U.S.C. §2339B note (Supp. IV 1998). For background, see H.R. CONF. REP. NO. 104-518, at 113 (1996), reprinted in 1996 U.S.C.C.A.N. 924, 944; Statement on Signing the Antiterrorism and
Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, 1 PUB. PAPERS 630–32 (1996); Jennifer A. Beall, Note, Are We Only Burning Witches? The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996’s Answer to Terrorism, 73 IND. L.J. 693 (1998). AEDPA receives more extensive treatment in the case report by Derek Jinks, infra at 395.
 8 U.S.C. §1189(a)(1) (Supp. IV 1998).
 Ibid §1182(a)(3)(B)(iii) (1994 & Supp. IV 1998).
 Ibid §1182(a)(3)(B)(ii).
 Legislation Against Terrorism a consultation paper, available at http://www.archive.official-documents.co.uk/document/cm41/4178/4178.htm
 Ibid at Chapter 3.
 United Kingdom Terrorism Act 2000, Part 1, s. 1, ss. 1-4. Available at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/11/contents
 Available at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2005/2/contents
 No 33 of 5708-1948. Available at http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/1900_1949/Prevention%20of%20Terrorism%20Ordinance%20No%2033%20of%205708-19
 5765-2004. Available at http://www.google.com.hk/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCAQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.justice.gov.il%2FNR%2Frdonlyres%2F4FE9E898-1264-4561-B7AA-0957F6DEA67A%2F0%2FProhibitionTerroristFinancing.doc&ei=5nl5TY_JBMfJcfS04bwE&usg=AFQjCNEOXf7ioSkwbwbyuhhfmmG2oR7q3g
 See above.