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PA and Fatah personalities
Mahmoud Al-Habbash
PA and Fatah personalities
Mahmoud Abbas
Abbas Zaki
Yasser Arafat
PA Mufti Muhammad Hussein
Ibrahim Mudayris
Mahmoud Al-Habbash
Ahmed Qurei
Salam Fayyad
Issa Karake
Jibril Rajoub
Mahmoud Al-Habbash

Mahmoud Al-Habbash was appointed Minister of Religious Affairs by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in June 2009. He served in that position until June 2014, when the Fatah-Hamas unity government was formed. He was then appointed Supreme
Shari’ah Judge and Mahmoud Abbas’ Advisor on Religious and Islamic Affairs and Chairman of the Supreme Council for Shari'ah Justice.

In a press conference broadcast on Al-Aqsa TV, Al-Habbash explained that when he served as Minister of Religious Affairs, he was responsible for “all activity within the mosques” including the sermons, which require prior approval by his ministry:

“It should be noted that the Ministry of Religious Affairs held the press briefing in the conference hall at the Ministry of Information to talk about the steps taken by the PA in order to regulate the activity of the mosques…
Al-Habbash [PA Minister of Religious Affairs] emphasized that the mosques and everything related to them belong to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, from the employees – the imam, the speaker, the Quran teacher, the librarian, the caretakers and custodians –via the mosque and its adjacent structures… to regulation of the activity and the functioning, in accordance with Shari’ah and civil law…
He emphasized that the Ministry is responsible for all activity within the mosques – the functioning, the centers for Quran study, the calls to prayer, and the sermons – and that the Ministry would not take lightly or be negligent in the fulfillment of its obligation. He noted that the religious lessons, Quran study and other activities going on in the mosques require prior approval by the Ministry.” [Al-Ayyam, Aug. 16, 2010]

In his capacity as minister, Al-Habbash delivered the Friday sermons transmitted on official PA TV, using them to convey different messages to the people. The sermons, many which of are documented on PMW’s website, are a reflection of the messages that the Ministry of Religious Affairs choose to disseminate to the Palestinian people.

A recurring message propagated in Al-Habbash's sermons is that Palestinians are in a Ribat, an eternal religious conflict with Israel. In many of his sermons, Al-Habbash emphasizes the importance of Ribat as a religious duty incumbent upon all Muslim Palestinians, as expressed in the following example:

"Allah has preordained for us the Ribat (religious war) on this blessed land. We are committed to it by Allah’s command. Let no one be mistaken or under the illusion that Ribat (religious war) is a choice and nothing more. It is a commandment that necessitates hardship and requires the person to rush to fulfill this command. If Allah has chosen you for Ribat on the land of Ribat, you, the choicest of God’s servants, then this is an honor. The enemy is patient, it is waiting for the nation to collapse. The struggle over this land is not merely a struggle over a piece of land here or there. Not at all. The struggle has the symbolism of holiness, or blessing. It is a struggle between those whom Allah has chosen for Ribat and those who are trying to mutilate the land of Ribat." [Official PA TV, Feb. 12, 2010]

PA minister: Abbas and the Palestinian people will not agree to make concessions 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Mar. 14, 2014
Official PA TV broadcast the Friday sermon delivered by PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash from the Al-Taqwa Mosque, Al-Tireh.
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash:
“I am telling you, brothers, and I am telling the whole world, even the US: you will only hear from the President [Abbas] what you have heard him say in the past. You will not hear from him about concession when there is an [entire] nation behind him. If the President cedes – his people will not forgive him. We will stand with him as long as he adheres to [his] principles. But if he deviates from [his] principles, we will not stand with him, and he will find himself alone. He knows this, and he will tell them (i.e., Israel and the US) so.”
PA minister accuses Israel of planning to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque and build Temple 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Mar. 7, 2014
     “[PA] Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash emphasized that the continuing settlement and Judaization of the holy city [Jerusalem], the attacks on its holy sites, the escalating Israeli aggression against Jerusalem, the falsifying of its history with the aim of erasing its cultural, human and historical heritage, and the demographic and geographic changes in the city are all moves that are null and void according to international law, the decisions of the international institutions, and the Geneva and Hague Conventions for the Protection of Cultural Property.
In addition, he warned again of the danger of the racist Israeli violations being planned against [the] Al-Aqsa [Mosque], the Ibrahimi Mosque (Cave of the Patriarchs), and the rest of our people’s holy sites, all of which confirm that Israel’s aim is to tighten its control over [the] Al-Aqsa [Mosque], in preparation for destroying it and building their alleged Temple.”
From WAFA, official PA news agency
PA minister of Religious Affairs calls Hamas terrorist murderers “the great ones” 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Mar. 7, 2014
Official PA TV broadcast the Friday prayers from the mosque at the Presidential residence in Ramallah. The sermon, on the victory of the faithful over the infidels with reference to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, was given by PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash; the audience included PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah Central Committee members Muhammad Shtayyeh and Saeb Erekat.
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Habbash expressed sorrow over Egypt’s decision to declare Hamas a terror organization
: “None of us ever imagined that Hamas – after the history of [its] founders, the Martyrs (Shahids), the great ones, like Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Rantisi, [Ibrahim] Al-Makadmeh, Salah Shehadeh, Ismail Abu Shanab and others – would ever be in such a terrible situation.”

Notes: Sheikh Ahmed Yassin – Founder and former head of the Hamas terrorist organization. Hamas is responsible for numerous terror attacks that caused the deaths of hundreds of Israeli civilians. Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi – Co-founder of Hamas. Ibrahim Al-Makadmeh – One of the founders of Hamas' military wing, the Izz A-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, and responsible for planning several terror attacks in which 28 Israelis were murdered. Al-Makadmeh was killed by Israel in March 2003. Salah Shehadeh - head of Hamas' military wing the Izz A-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. He was killed in an Israeli airstrike in 2002. Ismail Abu Shanab – a senior Hamas official.
PA minister accuses Israel of goal to rule over Al-Aqsa; refuses to recognize Israel's "existence in Jerusalem" 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Feb. 28, 2014
Official PA TV broadcast the Friday sermon from the Al-Tashrifat Mosque in the presidential compound. The sermon was delivered by PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash.
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “In the occupation state (i.e., Israel), they are talking about a tale, about a lie and [the] insane [idea] of extending Israeli sovereignty to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. What sovereignty is this? Whoever told you we even recognize your existence in Jerusalem? Whoever said we recognize your right to even a single millimeter of the land of Jerusalem? Who said this? You even talk about [having] sovereignty over our hearts, over our faith, over our religion. Who said this? Who can imagine such insanity? This insanity will not end well. It will not end well; it will not lead to anything good. They must understand that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is not a red line. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is a line of fire that will burn any hand that may be extended towards it to harm it.”
PA minister of Religious Affairs: Al Aqsa Mosque will remain Muslim-only 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 28, 2014
     "Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash… added that that the Al-Aqsa Mosque will remain, by divine decree, a Muslim mosque, will not be shared with anyone, will not be forfeited, and that no one besides Muslims will pray in it."
PA minister of Religious Affairs: Israeli government's "goal is to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque" 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Feb. 25, 2014
Official PA TV program Topic of the Day hosted Mahmoud Al-Habbash, PA Minister of Religious Affairs.
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “Israel is following a systematic, progressive plan supported by the Israeli government and protected by the Israeli army, and its aim – I’m telling you – is not to divide Al-Aqsa, not to divide Al-Aqsa.”
Host: “To impose [their] sovereignty over Al-Aqsa.”
Al-Habbash: “Its aim is to remove the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Host: "As the final goal."
Al-Habbash: "As the final goal - they don’t want to see the shining, golden, elegant Dome of the Rock."
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PA minister: Western Wall "belongs exclusively to Muslims" 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Feb. 21, 2014


PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash:‎ ‎“This is our land and we will not leave our land. ‎Our Al-Aqsa Mosque – no one has the right – no one has the right to a single millimeter of it. The ‎entire Al-Aqsa Mosque is a pure Islamic-Palestinian right. It is not permissible or acceptable that even a ‎single millimeter of it will be ruled, dominated or seized by these usurping terrorist settlers... The right ‎to pray at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque belongs exclusively to Muslims, exclusively to Muslims... The ‎Al-Aqsa Mosque with its courtyards, its colonnades, its stone benches, its domes, its trees, its walls, ‎includes the Al-Buraq Wall (i.e., the Western Wall of the Temple Mount), especially the Al-Buraq ‎Wall... Our land is our land. Our Jerusalem is our Jerusalem. Our Al-Aqsa is our Al-Aqsa. The names will ‎not change. The identity will not change. The place will not change. The Al-Aqsa Mosque will remain ‎the Al-Aqsa Mosque until the Hour [of Resurrection]. We ask Allah the Almighty to watch over it, ‎protect it and liberate it.”‎
Deviation from “sermon topic demanded by the Ministry” only permitted if preacher can “convince” minister 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Feb. 6, 2014
Official PA TV program Topic of the Day hosted PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash.
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “We determined more than four years ago that the [Friday] sermon would have a unified theme - not that the sermon [itself] would be unified. There’s a difference between the two things. For example, [in a sermon] about the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the importance of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the preacher can decide how to express the content of this sermon. Apart from this, if [the preacher has decided] there is a social, human or national issue more important than the sermon topic demanded by the Ministry of Religious Affairs, he can change it… he only needs to convince me that the topic he has chosen is more important than the one we chose; he shouldn’t say: ‘this came from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, I don’t want to listen to them.’ You are a clerk, after all.”
PA minister of Religious Affairs tells Jews and Palestinians conflicting messages 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Feb. 5, 2014
In an address to a Jewish audience, PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash claimed that "the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is clearly political and not religious." This statement is in contrast to Al-Habbash's speeches to Palestinian audiences, in which he says, "We will resist through Ribat (religious conflict/war to defend Islamic land)...Ribat upon this land is an honor." [PA TV, Aug. 17, 2012]
Headline
: “Al-Madani met with a delegation of ultra-Orthodox Jews.”
     “Fatah Central Committee member and head of the Committee for Contact with Israeli Society [Muhammad Al-Madani] met yesterday [Feb. 4, 2014] with a group representing Western Haredi (i.e., European ultra -Orthodox) Jews…
The meeting centered on the [Israeli-Palestinian] negotiations and the importance of establishing peace, ending the occupation and founding an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, alongside Israel… Al-Madani emphasized that the purpose of contact and dialogue with all sectors of Israeli society is to build trust, convey the Palestinian message faithfully and bolster shared conceptions of peace. He noted the importance of refuting the claims of the Israeli right wing, which incite against peace and against the Palestinian leadership.
[PA] Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash emphasized that the nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is clearly political and not religious. He warned against the attempts of the Israeli right wing to transform [it] into a religious conflict. He [Al-Habbash] added that ending the occupation and establishing the Palestinian state alongside Israel [will constitute] the basis for peace in the region...”
From WAFA, official PA news agency

To compare with Al-Habbash's statements regarding Ribat, click "full article."
Minister of Religious Affairs: We are prepared to give our life and blood for Palestine 
Source: Official PA TV Live, Feb. 2, 2014
     "[Our homeland] has given us a divine testimony; Palestine endowed us with this testimony when the Prophet, peace be upon Him, said: ’A group from among my nation will continue to recognize the truth, will defeat its enemies, and will not be harmed by those who opposed it or by the troubles that may afflict it, until Allah gives His ruling. It has been said, ‘Where are they, Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘They are in Jerusalem and its surroundings.’ This land has given us this honor, and therefore, we are prepared to give it the most precious of our possessions - even [our] life and blood, so that it will remain pure, so that it will remain honorable and noble. The State of Palestine will exist, and the occupation is doomed to perdition."
PA minister of Religious Affairs glorifies murderers of Israeli hiker 
Source: Official PA TV Live, Feb. 2, 2014
Official PA TV Live broadcast an event honoring released prisoners in the Salfit District.
The event was attended by PA Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Issa Karake, PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Fatah Central Committee member Jamal Muhaisen and Salfit District Governor Issam Abu Bakr.
Released prisoners Fahim Sarhan, Mustafa Al-Haj and Bilal Damra were honored at the event.

PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “Brothers, honored ones, who we are proud to be honored by today by honoring you, peace be upon you. All words are dwarfed when standing in the presence of such people. Those who, one day, voluntarily gave up part of their lives. And it is possible that while they were waging the battles of honor, resistance and struggle, they were prepared to give up their whole life for Palestine.”

Note: Mustafa Al-Haj murdered Frederick Rosenfeld while he was hiking near the city of Ariel in the West Bank (June 17, 1989). He was released in August 2013 as one of 104 prisoners released by Israel, which was the PA's precondition for renewing negotiations.
Bilal Damra was serving a life sentence for participating in the murder of Frederick Rosenfeld, who was killed while he was hiking near the city of Ariel in the West Bank (June 17, 1989). Damra was released in December 2013 as one of the 104 terrorists whom Israel agreed to release to fulfill the PA's precondition for renewing negotiations.
Fahim Sarhan was serving a life sentence for committing an act of terrorism against Israel. PMW has been unable to verify the details of his crime. He was released in October 2011 as part of the Shalit prisoner exchange deal brokered between the Israeli government and Hamas. In that deal, Israel released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held hostage by Hamas for more than 5 years.

PA minister accuses Israel of “racist” assault on Jerusalem’s inhabitants 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 25, 2014
     “[PA] Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash called for the launch of a campaign to support Jerusalem’s resolve and struggle in light of Israeli plans to alter the geographic and demographic state of affairs in the Holy City. In a press release two days ago [Jan. 23, 2014], Al-Habbash emphasized the importance of [providing] financial aid to the Holy City to bolster its resolve and defend its Arab and Islamic importance, in view of the racist, Israeli assault that labors day and night to empty it of its inhabitants.”
From WAFA, official PA news agency
Abbas applauds following call for Jihad in Jerusalem 
Source: Official PA TV Live, Jan. 13, 2014
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “There is a message we must convey to those who kidnapped the Yarmouk [Palestinian] refugee camp [in Syria] with baseless false slogans, pretexts, and excuses. We say to them: ‘The venue for resistance and Jihad is not the Yarmouk refugee camp. Whoever wants resistance, whoever wants Jihad, the direction for Jihad is well-known and clear. Everyone knows it. I don’t think that there is anyone who doesn’t know where Jihad is supposed to take place. [Applause from the audience] I don’t think that there is anyone who doesn’t know to where we should direct efforts or where to concentrate the masses. I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t know this. Those who send young people to Syria or elsewhere to die for a misdirected cause must stop and understand that Jerusalem is still waiting. Jerusalem is the direction, Jerusalem is the address. [Abbas and audience applaud.] A compass that does not point to Jerusalem, Muhammad has nothing to do with it. Put an end to your ignorance, and recognize that you [those fighting in Syria] are nothing more than small tools in a game [controlled by] malicious hands that are running a filthy game to crush the Ummah (Islamic Nation) and diminish it, and deflect the compass, away from its true direction.”
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Note: A large sign on stage announced that the event was under the auspices of Abbas.
PA Minister of Religion promotes “victory or Martyrdom” in Friday sermon 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Dec. 20, 2013
PA TV broadcast the Friday sermon delivered by PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash from the Al-Yarmouk Mosque in Ramallah:
     “We know for certain that as long as we [adhere] to the truth, we will face challenges and be made a target – as individuals and as groups – we know this for certain. Nonetheless, we are also confident in the words of Allah: ‘Say, ‘Do you await for us except one of the two best things’ (Quran, Sura 9:52, translation Sahih International). What do you expect, enemies, cowards (indistinct word), what do they expect will happen to us? ‘One of the two best things.’
Brothers, Allah willing, only one of the two best things will happen to us – victory or Martyrdom (Shahada) – and what a good fate this is, what a good level is this – victory or Martyrdom…
I swear in a God, beside whom there is no other God, that the end of the tyranny and the tyrants is near. This occupation and its growths and creations that wish to spread corruption in our land… We tell them all, the occupation and the occupation’s instruments and any who serve the occupation: ‘Await for us except one of the two best things’ – we, Allah willing, [will be] either Martyrs or victors on our land. […]
We ask for victory more than we ask for life. We ask for the strengthening of our people in this good and blessed land.”
PA minister: Western Wall is part of Al-Aqsa Mosque and belongs to Muslims by right 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Dec. 6, 2013
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash: "Jerusalem is religion's trust and history's trust in the hands of all Muslims, in the hands of this Ummah (Islamic Nation). We are Muhammad's heirs. It is we who inherited Jerusalem, by its being conquered religiously through the Prophet [Muhammad]'s will, and later by [Islam] actually conquering it [in 683]. We are its inheritors and it belongs to us and to no one else. Visit Jerusalem. We, as Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, must visit the Al-Buraq Wall. The Al-Buraq Wall (i.e., the Western Wall of the Temple Mount) is an authentic part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque only... It [the Wall] is our right, it is our permanent right. It is part of our Al-Aqsa [Mosque], without intending to harm the rights of others in any way, and without harming the rights of others. Freedom of worship in our Jerusalem is guaranteed to all... We do not dispute anyone's traditions, and we do not dispute anyone's religion. Nonetheless, we have rights, principles and positions that cannot possibly be altered."
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PA daily announces official Facebook page of PA Minister of Religious Affairs 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 27, 2013
     “The [PA] Ministry of Religious Affairs denied that Minister Mahmoud Al-Habbash has an additional account, other than his personal account, on the social networking website, Facebook, and it announced that it will take full legal action against anyone impersonating him. Also, in a statement released yesterday [Nov. 26, 2013] it stressed that all statements attributed to him in the social networking websites do not represent him and have nothing to do with him… and that he has only one account, which is:
https://www.facebook.com/mahmoud.alhabbash?fref=ts”
PA minister: “There is no status Allah has exalted more than Martyrdom” 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Nov. 8, 2013
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PA Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “After prophecy and righteousness there is no status Allah has exalted more than Shahada (Martyrdom)... ‘And think not of those who have been killed in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord.’ Allah forbade us to consider them [the Shahids] (as dead or to speak of them as being dead… The Shahid has merit with Allah, a merit that no one else has... No one - not even the righteous - yearns to return to this world after death. Only Shahids. Why? Because they see the great honor Allah has prepared for them. One of them aspired to return to this world in order to be killed again, in order to die as a Shahid yet again...  After all he saw in Paradise, he wanted to return and be killed [again] in order to taste the pain of death a second time...
Allah Himself is conveying to us the message from the Shahids. The prophets convey Allah’s message and Allah conveys the message of the Shahids. What kindness!
‘The Shahid - his sins are forgiven with the first gush of his blood from his wound... The Shahid advocates on behalf of 70 members of his family, and saves them all from hell...'
When they threatened Yasser Arafat, [he said] ‘You threaten me with death? I yearn to die! I come only to it; I seek only it.’
We will never reach the level of the prophets. We won’t. So let us reach the level of the Shahids."
Click to view video
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F
PA Minister of Religious Affairs: Arafat was poisoned by Jews, like Islam's Prophet Muhammad 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Nov. 8, 2013
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash: 
     “Yasser Arafat died a Martyr – we don’t have the slightest doubt that they (i.e., the Jews/Israelis) killed him. One way or another, they killed him. Even Allah’s Messenger [Muhammad] - they (i.e., the Jews) killed him with poison. When he was dying, he said to [his wife] Aisha: ‘I feel the same pain I felt from the poison that I ate at Khaibar (Jewish village).’ Poison that he ate at Khaibar. He continued to feel the pain until he died. ‘I feel the same pain I felt from the poison that I ate at Khaibar...’ Be satisfied, oh mighty one, oh Martyr Arafat, that you were killed the same way Allah’s Messenger was killed... We have no doubt, and I don’t think there is a single one among us who has the slightest doubt that Arafat was killed. Deep inside we all know who killed him.”
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PA Minister of Religion praises founder of Hamas as an “exalted national figure” 
Source: Official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 13, 2013
Official PA TV broadcast of the Friday sermon given by PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash:
     “Almost ten years after the death of the great leader Yasser Arafat, a leader over whom there was no dispute among the Palestinian people… No one dared come out against him and accuse Arafat of treason. Can Arafat be accused of treason? Can Ahmed Yassin be accused of treason? Can they be accused of treason? They are exalted national Palestinian figures; they are icons. People teach their children about them, about their legacy, their Jihad, their actions and their morality.”

Note: Sheikh Ahmed Yassin - Founder and former head of the terrorist organization Hamas. The Hamas movement is responsible for numerous terror attacks and the deaths of hundreds of Israeli civilians.
Arch-terrorist Ahmed Yassin is "exalted Palestinian figure" - PA Minister of Religious Affairs 
Source: Official Palestinian Authority TV, Sept. 13, 2013
PA Minister of Religious Affairs:
     "Almost ten years after the death of the great leader Yasser Arafat, a leader over whom there was no dispute among the Palestinian nation... No one dared come out against us and accuse Arafat of treason. Can Arafat be accused of treason? Can Ahmed Yassin be accused of treason? Can they be accused of treason? They are exalted national Palestinian figures. They are icons about whom people teach their children about their legacy, their Jihad, their actions and their morality."
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Note: Ahmed Yassin - Founder and former head of the terrorist organization Hamas. The Hamas movement is responsible for numerous terror attacks and the deaths of hundreds of Israeli civilians.
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