Why Hamas is not Iran’s proxy

Tareq Baconi writes: Hamas officials have said that in the event of a war between Iran and Israel, they will not become involved on Tehran’s side. While this is not surprising, other officials within the movement were quick to deny such reports.

Historically, Hamas has always gone to great lengths to assert its independence from any foreign influence. It is widely recognised that it receives support from powers such as Syria (until recently) and Iran. Yet this has never been worn as a badge of honour by the movement.

Rather, its leadership has consistently asserted that the movement cannot be influenced or directed by any external power. It has insisted that it charts its course based on the will of the people – in stark contrast to Fatah and its leadership, who have frequently been portrayed as the pawns of western powers and Israel.

Hamas, which governs Gaza, is also territorialised, limiting its resistance to historic Palestine. Unlike the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and perhaps because of lessons learned from it, Hamas has rarely if ever meddled in regional or global affairs, either rhetorically or through acts of resistance.

Even its sporadic bouts of tension with Jordan were more due to the regime’s discomfort at having an active Islamic party in its backyard and less about Hamas carrying out resistance activities from the kingdom.

Being territorialised also meant that Hamas limited its war to a well-defined battle: that of liberating Palestine from “Zionist occupation”.

Siding with Iran in the much-hyped potential conflict with Israel would act against all these long-standing principles. It would flagrantly present the movement as an entity which is being influenced by an external player. More importantly however, it would demonstrate that the movement is fighting a tangential battle rather than what it sees as its historic one.

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