"Martyrdom is life": Jihad and martyrdom in the ideology of Hamas

Meir Litvak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article analyzes the articulation of the doctrine of "Jihad of the Sword" and martyrdom by the Islamic Resistance Movement of Palestine, Hamas, as a central pillar of Palestinian identity and as a major source of political mobilization and national empowerment. As part of this concept Hamas presents martyrdom as the epitome of jihad and of Islamic belief. The end-goal of jihad is the destruction of Israel and the elimination of the Jews. By emphasizing the centrality of "Jihad of the Sword" Hamas's ideas reveal a certain similarity to, or inspiration by, radical Salafi-jihadist Islamic movements. While Hamas adopted a pragmatic approach on short-term tactics, these doctrines impose constraints on the scope of a profound ideological transformation it can undergo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)716-734
Number of pages19
JournalStudies in Conflict and Terrorism
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010


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