“Hamas rejects all attempts to erase the rights of the refugees, including the attempts to settle them outside Palestine and the so-called alternative homeland. Compensation to the Palestinian refugees for the harm they have suffered as a consequence of banishing them and occupying their land is an indisputable right that goes hand in hand with their right to return. They are to receive compensation upon their return and this does not negate or diminish their right to return,” this was a quote from article 13 of Hamas’s Document of General Principles and Policies launched by the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in May 2017.
This document, which included all positions, principles and general political lines adopted by the Movement since its formation, emphasizes that Palestine’s borders are from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. And from Ras Al-Naqoura in the north to Umm Al Rashrash in the south, as an integral territorial unit: the land of the Palestinian people and their homeland.
The document added, “The expulsion and banishment of the Palestinian people from their land and the establishment of the Zionist entity therein do not annul the right of the Palestinian people to their entire land and do not entrench any rights therein for the benefit of the expansionist Zionist entity.”
Hamas has established a special department for refugees in 2001, under the leadership of the Movement, as a specialized department for Palestinian refugees wherever they are.
Since its formation, the Department has endeavored to preserve the historical, political, economic and cultural rights of the Palestinian refugees, to raise awareness among the Palestinian people about their cause, to improve their situation and to support and coordinate local, regional and international efforts to protect their rights and compensation and to contribute to realizing the conditions that enable them to return to their cities and villages.
According to Dr. Essam Edwan, the head of the refugees department, “The department seeks to develop the institutional work of refugees in line with the comprehensive project of liberation, and to strengthen the steadfastness of refugees in places of refuge so as to enable them to uphold their rights and constants.”
Edwan pointed out in a statement to the PIC that the Department contributes to the activation of the cause of refugees, mobilizing them in their places of refuge, in order to qualify them to play a leading role in the liberation and return projects.
It also seeks to develop a unified national Palestinian position that preserves the rights of refugees, as well as to improve the level of media discourse and cultural and artistic works to serve the refugees’ issue.
Edwan stressed his Movement’s keenness to bring about positive change at the Arab, Islamic and international levels in favor of the refugees’ issue.
On more than one occasion, the leaders of the Hamas Movement, headed by Ismail Haneyya, who recently became the head of the political bureau of Hamas, reiterated their absolute rejection of the alternative homeland project, or giving any concessions by his Movement on the refugees’ issue.
Hamas’s Document of General Principles and Policies, summarized this issue by saying, “The right of the Palestinian refugees and the displaced to return to their homes from which they were banished or were banned from returning to – whether in the lands occupied in 1948 or in 1967 (that is the whole of Palestine), is a natural right, both individual and collective. This right is confirmed by all divine laws as well as by the basic principles of human rights and international law. It is an inalienable right and cannot be dispensed with by any party, whether Palestinian, Arab or international.”
It is noteworthy that most of the leaders of the Hamas Movement are refugees, especially the head of the political bureau Ismail Haneyya, who hails from the village of Jura in the 1948 occupied city of Ashkelon, and who is still living in a refugee camp to the west of Gaza city.
Writer and political analyst Ali Huwaidi stressed that Hamas has viewed the issue of return and refugees with strategic aspirations, based on what is stated in its newly released document, which assured that the Palestinian issue is essentially an issue of an occupied land and a forcibly-displaced people.
Huwaidi clarified that the Hamas document has worked on setting the foundations and roots of the right of return, through its adherence to the principle of resistance as a strategic option to liberate Palestine, achieve return, and build a full sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Huwaidi stressed that “In line with this sense, the Hamas Movement, 30 years after its formation, and after 69 years since the Nakba of Palestine, has maintained its national principles and strategic vision for the issue of refugees and displaced persons, and their right of return to their homes in Occupied Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and not to any other place, conditioning this return in its historic document to liberation, the thing that the vast majority of the Palestinian people believe in.”
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