Skip to main content

Hamas co-founder dies in Gaza

Hammad al-Hassanat, the co-founder of the Hamas movement, dies at 80
Hammad al-Hassanat, one of the co-founding leaders of the Hamas movement (MEE/Palinfo)

Hammad Elian al-Hassanat, the co-founder of the Hamas movement, died in Gaza from health complications on Monday evening. He was 80.

Hamas’ Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh sent condolences to the Hassanat family and in a statement, paid tribute to the late leader, who lived for years in the al-Nusairat refugee camp in central Gaza. 

Hassanat, Haniyeh said, "was a brilliant leader of the Islamic movement, and one of the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Hamas movement in Palestine."

Haniyeh added that Hassanat "died after a life of giving and sacrifice for Palestine and the Islamic Dawa."

Family members said that Hassanat’s death had deteriorated rapidly shortly before his death.

Born in 1935 in B’ir Sabe’, known as Beer Sheba today, Hassanat went to high school in Gaza, before attending Cairo University where he received a bachelor's degree in geography in 1963.

His two brothers, Raji and Muhareb, were both killed on the same day in 1951 at the hands of armed Israeli groups.

In 1979, Hassanat founded the Islamic Society in Nuseirat. He also participated in the founding of the Razi Medical and Health Complex.

He was arrested by Israel and was exiled to Marj al-Zuhur, a mountainous region in southern Lebanon, in the winter of 1992 with 419 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The exile period lasted for a year, during which the Palestinians mobilised to demand a return to their communities.

Hassanat’s son Yaser, who was one of the founders of the armed wing of Hamas, the Qassam Brigades, was killed in May 1992 after an armed clash battle with the Israeli army in the Sabra area of Gaza city.

His other son, Ziyad, was pursued by the Israeli army until he was forced to leave the country.

Along with the movement’s spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, Hassanat co-founded Hamas on 14 December 1987.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.