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Who is Hamas?

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Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni Islamic terrorist organization and militant group that has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007. Hamas was founded in 1987, soon after the start of the first intifada. The name Hamas is an Arabic acronym for “Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya,” which translates to Islamic Resistance Movement. Here is some background on who Hamas is and what they stand for:

History and Formation of Hamas

Hamas was established in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Mohammad Taha as an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (another known militant-political organization) which had spread to the Palestinian territories starting in the 1970s. Hamas was created as a resistance movement against Israel, with two long term goals in mind: to annihilate the Jewish state and create in its place an Islamic state, from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea. Hamas rapidly expanded its support through its network of mosques and media channels.

Ideology and Goals of Hamas 

Hamas describes itself as a Palestinian Islamic national liberation and resistance movement. Its avowed aim is to liberate historical Palestine, including present-day Israel, from Zionist occupation and to establish an Islamic state. Hamas’ ideology stems from a radical interpretation of Islam. Hamas combines Palestinian nationalism with Islamic fundamentalism. Its founding charter nowadays, calls for “liberation of Palestine” and the return of the Palestinian people to “their original lands” from 1967, by force. 

What are the real activities of Hamas?

In addition to the political and religious control of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Hamas has an active militant wing. Hamas began carrying out suicide bombings and attacks against Israel military and civilian targets in the 1990s. Hamas’ military wing is known as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Hamas also participates in the Palestinian political process. It contested legislative elections in 2006 and won a surprise victory, taking over the Palestinian Authority legislature, which up to that point was controlled mainly by the Fatah organization. In 2007, clashes between Hamas and Fatah led to Hamas violently expelling Fatah from Gaza and taking over governance of the territory. 

Despite this political status, Israel, the US, and EU don’t view Hamas as a legitimate governor of the area and consider it a terrorist organization that can’t act as a partner for negotiation. This is due to its long-term attacks targeting civilians, in different methods such as: bombs, rockets, kidnaps, and more, and which reached their peak during the horrifying brutal events that took place on the 7th of October 2023.

On 7th October 2023 morning, at the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, infiltrating with the goal of kidnapping and killing Israelis, any way possible. Over 40 babies were murdered, 260 teenagers were killed by massive shootings during a music festival that took place in the area that day. Many families were burnt alive and women were both raped and kidnapped along with their children to Gaza. Up to the writing of this article, over 1200 Israelis were killed and 3000 were wounded by the attack, and many more are still missing. During the attack over 100 citizens were kidnapped to the Gaza strip as well. 

Governance of Gaza by Hamas 

Since 2007, Hamas has been the de facto government of the Gaza Strip, after winning the elections in 2006. Hamas has implemented Islamic laws and customs in Gaza. For example segregating schools by gender. Hamas’ rule has been criticized as authoritarian by human rights groups. Hamas continues to refuse recognizing Israel as a state or renounce violence against it. Hamas and other militant groups continue to periodically launch rockets into Israel and to violently suppress dissent in Gaza. 

Hamas’ funding

Hamas continues to receive significant funding and arms from Iran. It also maintains relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, from which it originated. Egypt under Al-Sisi has cracked down on Hamas and the Gaza border, viewing it as aligned with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned as a terror group. Hamas’ relations with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has fluctuated between cooperation and armed clashes. Even though throughout the years their relationship with Iran was considered amateur, in 2017 Iran officially returned to fund the organization as well as arming and training its military units. 

In summation, Hamas is a terrorist Palestinian Islamic organization that has ruled Gaza since 2007. The movement combines Palestinian nationalism with Islamic fundamentalism in its founding charter and activities. Hamas opposes negotiations or compromises with Israel, and seeks to establish an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel. It continues to launch attacks on IDF and civilian targets as well, harming and killing innocent citizens, women, children,  babies and the elderly.  Iran and ISIS supply Hamas with propagandas which view people who are not Muslim as unworthy of life. The state of Israel is perceived as the “occupied land” which needs to be returned by force and fist. 

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