As the Gaza Strip hurtles towards becoming one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, with the image of ruling party Hamas wholly demonised in the West, Tareq Baconi's book, Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance, is a timely read that takes a refreshingly objective look at the history of one of Palestine's most iconic resistance groups.
Hamas Contained traces the movement's role in Palestinian affairs in a series of chapters dividing its work into distinct stages, from its founding, its military and then political resistance, Israel's subsequent crackdown and the division between the Palestinian factions, all of which have culminated in its ultimate "containment and pacification".
Starting from the movement's origins early during the First Intifada (1987-1993), Baconi attributes Hamas's rise to that of Islamic Palestinian nationalism, with the group centring its objective on the fate of the Palestinian people, but celebrating the transnational Islamism that marked so many other regional movements. However, it combined this with a strong commitment to military resistance, a strategy that was apparently imprudent from the start. In the second chapter, "Military Resistance Comes Undone", Baconi notes Hamas's limited success against the force of the Israeli state during the Second Intifada, with resistance acts being used by Israel to entrench the narrative of Palestinian terrorism. However, he points out that the movement also recognised the limits of violent resistance and sought to make the Palestinian project more effective and sustainable.
This book has been shortlisted for the Palestine Book awards 2018, please click here to read the full review on the Palestine book awards site