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Gaza Under Hamas : From Islamic Democracy to Islamist Governance (Hardcover) (Bjorn Brenner)
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The landslide victory of Hamas to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006 saw the ascent of a new actor on the parliamentary scene. The elections also constituted the first time Islamists had ascended to power in the Arab world by democratic means. But did Hamas proceed to govern in the same democratic manner it had displayed during these elections? Gaza Under Hamas scrutinizes the workings of the Hamas government, tracing how its governance in the domestic arena unfolded. Particular focus is placed on the ways in which the new government reacted to three key challenges to its power: the competitive political system and main opposition party; violent radicalization and local splinter groups; the need to re-establish societal order and reform the judicial system. The analysis as it unfolds tells the story of an inexperienced but self-confident Hamas in government, that perceived itself to be working under the constant threat of a possible coup d'état. In addition to the author's first-hand observations, analysis is based on interviews with a wide range of Palestinian political personalities in the Hamas government, as well as interviews with military commanders, internal security personnel and members of the Qassam Brigades. Interviewees also included those whom Hamas leaders identified as local troublemakers and critics, notably, Salafi-Jihadis, youth dissidents and members of the Fatah party. Existing work on Islamist governance has been based on predictions and analysis of Islamist ideals, while Gaza Under Hamas uses empirical evidence to reveal exactly what happens when theoretical ideals are translated into political action.