Hamas's overwhelming electoral victory in January 2006 transformed politics in the Middle East and shocked the world. The March 2007 meeting in Mecca that resulted in a national unity government including both Fatah and Hamas confirmed Hamas-despite its status as a terrorist organization in Israel, the US, and the EU-as a fixture in Palestinian politics. In such an environment, Azzam Tamimi's Hamas: A History from Within is a vital book. Tamimi's longtime relationships and extensive interviews with Hamas's leading members allow him to create a more intimate portrait of Hamas, in its own words and from its own members, than has yet been available in English. This is an unmediated history of Hamas, from its origins among the Muslim Brotherhood in the first intifada, to today, illuminating the organization's perspective on the problems with and authority of its Charter, the relationship between its leadership within and outside Palestine, between its political and military wings, as well as the possibility of hudna (long-term truce) with Israel.
A grass-roots organization that commands wide respect among Palestinians for its incorruptibility, Hamas is divided into two main sections: one is responsible for establishing schools, hospitals and religious institutions; the other for military action and terror attacks carried out by its armed underground wing the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades.
One must understand Hamas in order to understand the current state of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Hamas: A History from Within provides an unrivalled account of Hamas's history, structure, and objectives, largely in its own words.
Azzam Tamimi is founder of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London and author of Rachid Ghannouchi: A Democrat within Islamism (2001).