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Hamas use of mosques for military and political purposes

Maandag, Maart 16, 2009 / Last Modified: Zaterdag, Juni 23, 2012

IICC Report, March 16, 2009.

According to international laws governing of armed conflict, mosques
used for military purposes lose the special protection afforded houses of
worship and may become legitimate targets for attack.

  1. Operation Cast Lead illustrated the varied military uses made by Hamas of
    the mosques under its control in the Gaza Strip. During the operation evidence
    (which was extensively documented by the Intelligence and Terrorism
    Information Center) was found about the storage of weapons in mosques
    (rockets, IEDs, light arms and even an anti-aircraft gun), and about using the
    mosques for military training and as bases from which to launch rockets into
    Israel and mortar shells at IDF forces nearby.
  2. The extensive use made of mosques by terrorist organizations and radical
    Islamic groups for military, terrorist and political purposes is not limited to the
    Gaza Strip. This study also examines similar uses made by Hamas in Judea and
    Samaria, Hezbollah in south Lebanon, and global jihad and other radical Islamic
    groups in various countries around the Arab-Muslim world (in conflict focal
    points such as Iraq and Pakistan) and even in the Muslim communities in
    Europe.In many locations both in the Middle East and beyond, radical Islamic
    terrorist organizations exploit the mosques to hide weapons, organize in
    preparation for attacks, enlist supporters and terrorist operatives, preach
    terrorism and indoctrinate Muslims who come to worship with hatred for Israel,
    the Jewish people, the West in general and the United States in particular, as
    well as for pro-Western Arab and Islamic regimes.
  3. The study also examines the religious and social roots of the use of mosques
    for military and political purposes. Senior Islamic clerics, both Sunni and Shi’ite
    (particularly the Sunni sheikh Yussuf Qardawi and the Shi’ite Ayatollah
    Khamenei), repeatedly claim that making such use of the mosques for jihad
    objectives is legitimate according to Islamic point of view. They also encourage
    their use for spreading jihad ideology and terrorism (muqawamah, i.e.,
    “resistance”) against the enemies of Islam. Their religious views are based on
    the Islamic oral traditions (hadiths) which say that the prophet Muhammad
    himself used a mosque for military and political purposes, beyond the classic
    use of the mosque as house of worship.
  4. The use made by terrorist organizations of mosques for military purposes and
    as launching pads for terrorist attacks is liable to endanger innocent civilians
    who have no link to the organizations. It harms the status and special
    protection afforded houses of worship by international laws of armed combat,
    as well as the protection afforded civilian structures and the civilian population
    in general. The laws of armed conflict unequivocally state that houses of
    worship used for military purposes lose their right to protection and thus expose
    themselves to attack.Hamas and Islamic terrorist groups claim that attacking mosques (even
    though they were put to military-terrorist purposes) is illegal and is an
    infringement of the freedom of worship. Those claims, aimed primarily at
    Western ears where public opinion regards the mosques as places used
    exclusively for religious purposes, are worthless. The measures taken by the
    IDF in the Gaza Strip against mosques used for military purposes, as well as
    those taken by other countries, including, for example, the United States in
    Iraq, were in accordance with international law and arose from the natural
    commitment of any state to defend its citizens .
  5. The legitimate battle against the military and political use made of mosques
    by terrorist organizations and radical Islamic elements has been waged in
    various ways: during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, the IDF attacked
    mosques used for such purposes by Hamas; in Iraq, the United States attacked
    mosques in Fallujah and other cities because they were being used as military
    bases by insurgents and other terrorist elements; in Judea and Samaria the
    Palestinian Authority invaded mosques controlled by Hamas and confiscated
    weapons and propaganda materials, and detained clerics; in Pakistan the regime
    was forced to take over the entire Red Mosque precinct in Islamabad, where
    radical Islamic activities were being held and from which terrorist groups
    affiliated with the global jihad launched their attacks.
  6. Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia have been forced to impose close
    security supervision on the mosques which are home to global jihad groups
    whose activities are also directed against the host countries (the sheikh of
    Al-Azhar mosque, Muhammad Al-Tantawi, who is a senior religious authority in
    the Sunni Muslim world, determined that a country has the full right to attack a
    mosque to preserve its security interests). In addition, European countries
    (especially Britain) and the United States were also forced to impose close
    security supervision on mosques which had become focal points for global jihad
    incitement and terrorist activities, especially after September 11, 2001 .
  7. The radical Islamist terrorist exploitation of mosques for military and political
    purposes can be expected to continue. The struggle against such exploitation
    has met several serious difficulties, especially since in many places Islamic
    terrorist organizations enjoy great popularity with those who come to the
    mosques (popularity which is sometimes greater than that of the countries and
    regimes fighting terrorism, each in its own way). Nevertheless, the struggle
    must be continued in a variety of ways as an integral part of the global war
    against terrorism and its various manifestations.

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