Izz ad-Din al-Qassam

(1882-1935) A Palestinian religious and resistance figure. Born in Syria, Qassam was a key figure in the 1921 Syrian revolt against the French rule of Greater Syria after World War I and fled to the city of Haifa in British mandate Palestine after the French besieged parts of Syria. In Palestine, he preached among the Palestinian lower classes, gathering a large following among landless ex-tenant farmers who had lost their livelihoods due to purchases of agricultural land by the Jewish National Fund as well as exclusionary labor policies. He became a leading resistance figure against the British and Jews, forming the Black Hand (al-Kaff al-Aswad) in 1930, which was an anti-Zionist and anti-British militant organization, and launched multiple attacks which resulted in the killing of Jewish civilians and sabotaging British rail lines. In 1935, Qassam was killed by the British in a manhunt and gun battle that turned him into a popular hero and an ongoing symbol of resistance. The Izz-Id-Din Al-Qassam Brigades (the military wing of Hamas) is named after Qassam. See "The Life and Thought of 'Izz-Id-Din Al-Qassam'," Salaam.

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