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Hamas (Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya)


Hamas (Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, meaning “Islamic Resistance Movement”) is a Palestinian Islamist organization established in 1987 to resist the Israeli military and political occupation of the Palestinian-populated Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The group formed during the First Intifada (1987-1993), or uprising, against Israeli occupation. It began as an offshoot of the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt. The group’s stated objective is establishing an independent Palestinian state based on Islamic principles on the area that is now composed of Israel, the Gaza strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the destruction of the State of Israel.

Hamas Logo and SymbolHamas Logo and Symbol


Hamas carried out guerrilla/terrorist attacks against Israeli targets during the Second Intifada (2000-2005), including nearly 60 bombings against civilian Israeli targets. Several hundred Israeli civilians died in these Hamas attacks.

Competing in the Palestinian Authority’s first true parliamentary elections, Hamas won the majority of seats (74 out of 132) in January, 2006. Hamas polled 44 percent of the popular vote, enough to place them in control of the Palestinian government.

In June and July, 2006, Hamas and the other main Palestinian political party, Fatah, engaged in street fighting and other violence as they jockeyed for position and power.

In late June, 2006, Hamas fighters entered Israel and captured an Israeli soldier, sparking an Israeli military offensive into the Gaza Strip.

In June, 2007, Hamas won a brief Palestinian Civil War in the Gaza Strip, defeating the rival Fatah party and ejecting them from Gaza. This set up a de facto Hamas government in Gaza and a rival Fatah government in the West Bank.

In living up to its stated goal of resisting Israel, Hamas regularly launches Qassem rockets into Southern Israel, provoking the Israeli air strikes and invasion of Gaza in the Gaza War in 2008-2009.

In 2011 and 2012, Hamas and other Palestinian Islamist factions continued to launch rockets into Israel, sparking Israeli retaliation. In November, 2012, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense against the Gaza Strip. While the end of this war was largely inconclusive, it did lead to a halt in Hamas attacks on Israel for a short time.

Then, in 2014, following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, Israel launched a massive manhunt in the West Bank for the kidnappers and the victims. Since Israel blamed Hamas, hundreds of Hamas activists were arrested by the Israelis. This led Hamas to again start launching large numbers of rockets at Israel. (Hamas had started launching rockets earlier, but in much smaller numbers). This led Israel to begin Operation Protective Edge against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.


See also:

Arab-Israeli Wars

Gaza War

State of Israel

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