Hamas: A Simple Guide to the Armed Palestinian Group
Hamas, which stands for “Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya” in Arabic (meaning Islamic Resistance Movement), is a Palestinian political and militant organization with a complex history and a significant presence in the Palestinian territories. Here’s a simplified guide to understanding Hamas:
- Founding: Hamas was founded in 1987 during the First Intifada (Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation) in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
- Origins: It emerged as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political and religious organization with a presence throughout the Arab world.
- Islamic: Hamas is deeply rooted in Islamist ideology, seeking to establish Islamic rule in historic Palestine, including Israel, based on its interpretation of Islamic law.
- Resistance: It sees armed struggle as a legitimate means to achieve its goals, including the liberation of Palestinian territories.
- End Israeli Occupation: Hamas’s primary goal is to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, including the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.
- Rejection of Israel: Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and opposes any peace negotiations that don’t meet its demands.
4. Political Wing:
- Dual Role: Hamas has both a political and a military/militant wing.
- Elections: In 2006, Hamas won Palestinian Legislative Council elections, gaining control of the Gaza Strip, while the Palestinian Authority retained control of the West Bank.
5. Armed Wing:
- Qassam Brigades: Hamas’s military wing, known as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is responsible for armed operations, including rocket attacks against Israel.
6. Social Services:
- Charitable Work: Hamas operates schools, hospitals, and other social services in Palestinian territories, providing support to impoverished communities. This has contributed to its popularity in some areas.
7. International Status:
- Terrorist Designation: Israel, the United States, the European Union, and other countries classify Hamas as a terrorist organization due to its use of violence and rejection of Israel’s right to exist.
8. Regional Dynamics:
- Regional Allies: Hamas has received support from countries such as Iran, Qatar, and Turkey, while facing opposition from some Arab states aligned with Israel.
9. Conflict with Israel:
- Rocket Attacks: Periodically, Hamas and Israel engage in conflicts, with Hamas launching rocket attacks into Israel and Israel responding with military operations in Gaza.
10. Peace Process: – Obstacle: Hamas’s refusal to recognize Israel and its commitment to armed struggle have posed challenges to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Understanding Hamas requires recognizing its dual role as both a political entity and a militant organization, its complex ideological underpinnings, and its significant impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and regional dynamics.