Sheikh Ahmad Yassin: The Father of Palestinian Resistance

Ahmed Ismael Yassin was born in 1938 in the
destroyed village of Al-Joura, Majdal district, near
the present-day Zionist town of Ashkelon — or
Askalan in Arabic. Yassin’s father died when he was
five years old.
The young Ahmed Yassin joined Al Jora elementary
school and continued studying there till the fifth
grade until 1948. In 1948 Nakba or the usurpation of
most of Palestine at the hands of Zionist gangs the
young Yassin was forced to flee at the age of 12
along with his family and thousands of other
refugees southwards to the Gaza Strip after Zionist
forces overran his village and threatened to kill its
inhabitants. This nightmarish experience seems to
have had a particularly strong impact in shaping the
psychological build-up of a boy who would later
become one of the Zionists most trenchant
enemies. His birthplace was bulldozed, along with
nearly 500 other Palestinian towns and villages in
1948, following the occupation of Palestine.
Yassin who survived the Palestinian Disaster (Al
Nakba) of 1948 learned an important lesson that
impacted his intellectual and political life forever, a
lesson that says Palestinians can only depend on
themselves and arm their people without depending
on other nations or the international community.
Yassin graduated from secondary school in the
year 1957/1958 and managed to get a job as a
teacher despite objection to his health condition. In
1959 he went to Egypt where he spent some time
studying at Ain Shams University. There he
received a college diploma and, more importantly,
was deeply influenced by the ideas of the Muslim
In 1962, shortly after his return to Gaza, Yassin was
briefly detained by the Egyptian authorities in
connection with his activities within the Muslim
Brotherhood in opposition to the regime of then
Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser. He was
put in a solitary confinement cell for a month, until
he was released after he was proved not to be
involved with the Brotherhood. His detention period
affected him significantly, and “rooted the hate of
injustice” in his soul, as he said in an interview.
Work under the life of agony:
In Gaza things changed and he and his family lived
the life of refugees, similar to most of the
Palestinians at that time, tasting the bitter feelings of
hunger and deprivation. He used to go to the
Egyptian army camps near Gaza to gather the
soldiers’ leftovers and go back with it to his family.
Yassin quit school between 1949-1950 to support
his seven-member family working in one of the
restaurants in Gaza, and then returned back to
school. In 1952, Yassin was injured while playing
sport, leaving him a quadriplegic for the rest of his
life. However, paralysis did not put an end to his
ambitions. He worked as an Arabic and religion
teacher and later a preacher in the Gaza mosques.
He turned into one of the most vociferous and most
famous Khatibs in the Gaza Strip following its
occupation in 1967.

Political life:

In his 20’s, Yassin participated in the
demonstrations that broke out in Gaza to denounce
the 1956 tripartite aggression on Egypt, and showed
immense public speech and political intellect . He
became actively involved in the calls opposing to an
international supervision over Gaza, stressing the
need to regain Egyptian administration on the lands
Working as a preacher in Gaza allowed him to
spread the MB ideas and to gather hundreds of
supporters who later came to form the nucleus of
Hamas. The message he spread was that the loss
of Palestine in 1948 was merely a symptom of the
stagnation of the Islamic Ummah. The solution he
demanded lay in the reinstatement of Islam as a
unifying political force by overthrowing all existing
Arab secular regimes which he described as un-
Islamic or anti-Islamic.
After the 1967 war, in which the Zionists occupied
all the Palestinian territories including the Gaza
Strip, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin continued inspiring the
Muslims and Palestinians from the Al Abbasi
Mosque’s rostrum, calling to the resistance of the
occupation. He turned into one of the most
vociferous and most famous preachers in the Gaza
Strip following its occupation in 1967. At the same
time he was involved in gathering donations to help
the families of the martyrs and prisoners, later to
work as a president of the Islamic Complex in
Sheikh Yassin follows the principles and ideology of
the Islamic Brotherhood that was established in
Egypt in 1928 by the Imam Hassan Al Banna.
Yassin Began to Work with Mujahedin
In 1982, Yassin started to form local resistance
cells under the code name Majd, with the help of
some prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures in
Jordan who financed his weapon purchases. Soon
afterwards the Zionist occupation authorities found
out and Yassin was arrested and sentenced to 13
years in prison for forming a resistance group and
possessing “illegal” weapons. He also worked as a
chairman of the Islamic Complex in Gaza before his
arrest in 1984
In 1985 he was released from Zionist custody as
part of a prisoner swap between the Zionist entity
and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
General Command, headed by Ahmed Jebril.
The Sheikh Founded Hamas -1987
After his release, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin founded the
Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in
mid-1987, along with a group of Islamic leaders
including Dr. Abd al Aziz al Rantissi in the Gaza
Strip. Hamas' aims are to resist the Zionist
occupation in order to liberate historical Palestine.
Hamas had a significant role in the Palestinian
Intifada that broke out at that time, and was known
as “the revolution of the mosques”. Since that time,
Sheikh Yassin was considered the spiritual leader of
the movement. Hamas carried out a number of
effective attacks mainly on Zionist occupation
troops in the Gaza Strip, killing a number of Zionist
occupation soldiers and officers.
Arrested again
As the Intifada stepped up its momentum against
the Zionist occupation, the Zionists began to think of
means to stop Yassin’s activities, so Zionist
soldiers raided his home on August 1988, searched
it and threatened him of punishment to Lebanon.
In 1989, two years into the first Intifada, Yassin was
again arrested by Zionist occupation authorities.
This time he was sentenced to 40 years in prison,
charged with calling to armed resistance and
charges of inciting to kill and kidnap Zionist
occupation soldiers as well as founding of Hamas
movement and its military wing.

Disease but No Release:

Yassin spent nearly eight years in jail where he
suffered a number of other disabilities and diseases
including loss of eyesight in his right eye due to
Zionist blows during round of interrogations, in
addition to weakness in his left eye, as well as
chronic otitis and lung allergy, also caused by harsh
detention conditions in the Zionist jails. He also
suffered from chronic inflammation in his ear, lung
infection and other stomach diseases.
On 13/12/1992 a commando cell affiliated with the
Qassam Brigades, military wing of Hamas,
kidnapped a Zionist soldier and offered to set him
free in return for the release of Sheikh Ahmed
Yassin and a number of other detainees in Zionist
jails including sick and elderly Arab captives.
However, the Zionist government refused the offer
and stormed the house where the soldier was held
leading to his death along with commander of the
attacking unit and two other soldiers before the
martyrdom of the three members of that cell in Bir
Nabala near occupied Jerusalem.
Released by Fate but it was not too late
In 1997, Yassin was freed from prison after the late
King Hussein of Jordan insisted that the Zionist
government of Benyamin Netanyahu release him in
exchange for the release from Jordanian custody of
two Mossad agents who carried out an
unsuccessful assassination attempt on Khaled
Meshaal, the head of the Hamas contingency in
Amman. Yassin’s subsequent triumphant return to
Gaza significantly enhanced Hamas’ status and
granted the movement the position of “second
among equals” vis-a-vis the Palestinian Authority.
Yassin insisted on the Palestinians Right of Peaceful
During the ongoing Al-Aqsa Intifada, Yassin
consistently held fast to the “robe of resistance”. He
argued that freedom is earned, not granted on a
silver platter, and that which is taken by force can
be only recovered by force. He vehemently
defended martyrdom bombings against the Zionist
entity, explaining that they constituted only weapon
available to the Palestinian people in the face of the
enemy with far more powerful military capabilities
that is hell-bent on exterminating and crushing the
Palestinian people. He repeatedly demanded an end
to all attacks targeting Palestinian civilians and un-
uniformed Zionists. However, the Zionist entity
consistently rejected all initiatives to that effect.
The first attempt to assassinate the Sheikh
Thousands of cheering supporters turned out to
watch him vow revenge for the first Zionist attempt
on his life in September 2003. This was mirror by
millions of Muslims worldwide, having sent shock
waves and new calls for Jihad throughout the
However, for a staunchly ideological movement like
Hamas — where the idea is more important than the
leader — it is unlikely that Yassin’s death will
seriously undermine the movement in any
permanent way. In fact, he had already effectively
stopped running the movement’s day-to-day affairs
several years ago due to his deteriorating health
and relatively old age.
Sheikh Yassin lived his life in his humble home in
the Al Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City. He survived
with minor injuries a failed attempt on his life by the
Zionist occupying forces on September 6, 2003
while he was visiting a friend in Gaza. He was only
lightly injured in his right arm. Nonetheless, he
remained until his death the most effective and
eloquent spokesman of Hamas and the entire
Palestinian Islamic camp, despite his severe
physical disability.