The use of mosques in the Gaza Strip for military purposes by Hamas and other terrorist organizations: the case of the Al-Farouq Mosque

Issued on: 14/07/2014 Type: Article

The Al-Farouq Mosque in the Nuseirat refugee camp after being attacked on July 12, 2014, by the Israel Air Force.According to Israeli military sources, the mosque was used for storing rockets and weapons and as a compound for Hamas operations. The Arabic graffiti written on the wall reads “We will stand firm, Netanyahu. The Al-Farouq Mosque, July 12, 2014” (Filastin al-'Aan, July 12, 2014).

Attack on the Al-Farouq Mosque

1.      During Israeli air strikes in Operation Protective Edge, theAl-Farouq Mosque in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the middle of the Gaza Strip was attacked on July 12, 2014. Israeli media, relying on military sources, reported that the mosque was used as a compound for Hamas operations and for storing rockets and weapons (Israel Radio 2, Walla News, July 12, 2014).

2.      Dr. Hassan al-Difi, deputy minister of religious endowments in the Gaza Strip, strongly condemned what he called “attacking mosques in Gaza,” which “reveals the true face of the barbaric Israeli occupation ...” (Palestine Info, July 12, 2014). Sheikh Yousef al-Dais, minister of endowments in the national consensus government in Ramallah, called the attacks on the Al-Farouq Mosque and other mosques in Gaza “war crimes” of Israel. He added that Israel is engaging in “cultural-religious persecution of the Palestinian people in general and the residents of the Gaza Strip in particular” (Wafa News Agency, July 13, 2013).

Military uses of the Al-Farouq Mosque and other mosques

3.      Military use of the Al-Farouq Mosque by Hamas is not an exception. Hamas and other terrorist organizations systematically use many mosques in the Gaza Strip for military and political purposes. Mosques in the Gaza Strip are used not only for worship but also for diverse military and political purposes, such as recruiting operatives for terrorist activity, storing weapons, meeting places for terrorist operatives, points of departure for terrorist attacks, training sites, places for firing rockets and mortar bombs and centers for political and ideological activity.

4.      Military use of mosques is rooted in the perception of senior Sunni and Shiite clerics, including Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Hamas’s main religious role model[1], that the use of mosques for military purposes as part of jihad (holy war) is legitimate. This perception is based on Islamic tradition (hadith) that states that the Prophet Muhammad himself used a mosque for military and political purposes, in addition to the classic function of the mosque as house of worship for the faithful[2].

5.      Photos uploaded tothe Facebook page of the congregation of the Al-Farouq Mosque indicate that the mosque was used by Hamas and was frequented by operatives of the Hamas military wing. Here are some examples:

Death notice, published on the Facebook page, about the deaths of two Hamas military operatives who were part of the Hamas arms manufacturing system. The two were members of the congregation of the Al-Farouq Mosque in Nuseirat and were killed on April 16, 2014, during what was called a “jihad mission” i.e., a Hamas military mission (Facebook page of the congregation of the Al-Farouq Mosque, July 11, 2014)
Death notice, published on the Facebook page, about the deaths of two Hamas military operatives who were part of the Hamas arms manufacturing system.The two were members of the congregation of the Al-

Military training in mosques for children and teenagers

6.      During the summer camps held by Hamas in the summer of 2014, children and teenagers underwent semi-military training at schools and mosques.

Military use of mosques in the Gaza Strip exposed during Operation Cast Lead

7.   During Operation Cast Lead (December 2008 - January 2009), Hamas and other terrorist organizations made extensive use of mosques for military-terrorist purposes. During the operation, evidence of a variety of uses of mosques was revealed:

A.    Storing arms, ammunition and military equipment.The items found in mosques included rockets, IEDs, Kalashnikov rifles, magazines and even an anti-aircraft gun. Videos of the Israel Air Force strikes during the operation show powerful secondary explosions after attacks on mosques, indicating the large quantity of explosives and weapons stored there. Based on the terrorist organizations’ perception of mosque compounds as sites of combat, IEDs were placed near them, military positions were set up and tunnels were dug near them.

B.    Launching rockets and mortar shells at Israel and IDF troops.Israel Air Force videos from Operation Cast Lead and aerial photographs clearly show rockets being launched from the courtyards of mosques and firing posts and IEDs located near mosques.

C.   Teaching military courses at mosques.Hamas military operative, resident of Al-Atatra in the northern Gaza Strip by the name of Subhi Majed Attar, told about the theoretical military training that he received at the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque in Al-Atatra. As part of the military training, he studied various topics such as firing rockets and RPG missiles.

 

[1]Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi asserted at the time that mosques may be used for political, social, cultural and religious purposes, including on issues related to jihad. He noted that in the days of the Prophet Muhammad, the mosque was the center of activities for the entire Muslim society. The mosque was not only a place to worship Allah, but also a place of study, a gathering place for consultation, a place for people to get to know one another and the like. According to him, in the days of the Prophet Muhammad, delegations would travel from the Arabian Peninsula to meet with the Prophet at the mosque. In those days, Friday sermons were delivered at mosques, and instructions from the Prophet were given to his followers on various topics, including religious, social and political matters. In Al-Qaradawi’s opinion, since the inception of Islam, the mosque has played an important role in encouraging Muslims to embark on jihad and in the management of the "resistance against the enemies of the [Muslim] community, from among invaders who seek to govern it [i.e., the Muslim community]." Al-Qaradawi noted that mosques play an important role in any jihad. Moreover, in his opinion, it is permissible to preach in a mosque against a government that does not comply with Sharia (Islamic religious law), and mosques must not become a tool in the hands of the various regimes that want to utilize them to control the Muslim population http://www.qaradawi.net/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=3598&version=1&template_id=230&parent_id=17).
[2]For an analysis of military use of mosques by terrorist organizations, see the ITIC Information Bulletin of March 2, 2009: "The use of mosques for military and political purposes by Hamas and other terrorist organizations and Islamic groups. This use, which found expression in Operation Cast Lead, is widespread in the Arab and Muslim world. According to international laws of war, mosques used for military purposes lose the special protection afforded to them and may become legitimate targets for attack” (www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/article/18308).
[3]Hamas military operative from Nuseirat. He joined the ranks of the Hamas military wing in 2002. He initially manufactured hand grenades, IEDs and mortars. Subsequently, he asked for a transfer to military activity at the combat level. He was killed on June 15, 2007, during exchanges of fire with national security operatives in Nuseirat (http://www.nnw1.net/ website, September 2, 2008).

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