What is Hamas, Palestinian terror group that carried out attacks on Israel?
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What is Hamas, Who Backs it & Why It is Fighting Against Israel Now | Explained

The recent air and ground offensive initiated by the Palestinian group Hamas has ushered in a new chapter in the long-standing Israel-Palestine conflict. In an unexpected move, Hamas launched an assault from Gaza into Israel on Saturday, marking one of the most significant escalations in recent years.

According to reports, Hamas currently holds a “significant number” of Israeli civilians and soldiers hostage in the Gaza Strip. This ongoing conflict has resulted in a devastating toll, with over 200 Israelis killed and more than 1,000 wounded. Tragically, civilian casualties have been mounting on both sides, with bodies strewn along roads in Israel and casualties surpassing 313 in Gaza, along with over 1,700 reported wounded.


Hamas, an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya, is an Islamic Resistance Movement established in 1987 during the First Intifada, also known as the Palestinian uprising. Since 2007, it has governed the Gaza Strip, following a brief civil war with forces loyal to the Fatah movement led by President Mahmoud Abbas. President Abbas is based in the West Bank and heads the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Hamas’s control of Gaza followed its victory in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections. Since then, Hamas has maintained its commitment to the destruction of Israel and has engaged in several wars with Israel since assuming power in Gaza in 2007.


Hamas receives backing from Shiite Iran and shares the Islamist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Islamist organization founded in Egypt in the 1920s. Hamas is part of a regional alliance that includes Iran, Syria, and the Shiite Islamist group Hezbollah in Lebanon. These groups broadly oppose US policy in the Middle East and Israel. Iran provides financial support to Hamas and offers assistance for weapons and training.

Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada, Egypt, and Japan designate Hamas as a terrorist organization. While its power base is in Gaza, Hamas also garners support across the Palestinian territories, and its leaders are scattered throughout the Middle East, including in countries like Qatar.


Hamas is currently led by Ismail Haniyeh, who was elected as the head of Hamas’s Politburo in 2017. Hamas’s rival, the Fatah party, is led by Mahmud Abbas. Despite being considered a terrorist organization by much of the Western world, Hamas officials visit Turkey and maintain favorable relations with President Erdogan.


Hamas has been involved in numerous rounds of conflict with Israel over the past two decades, frequently launching rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel. The group adamantly refuses to recognize the state of Israel and vehemently opposed the Oslo peace accords negotiated by Israel and the PLO in the mid-1990s. These accords, signed by Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat in 1993, aimed to negotiate an end to the conflict based on a two-state solution. Hamas also maintains an armed wing known as the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, which has previously deployed gunmen and suicide bombers into Israel.

While Hamas remains dedicated to the creation of an independent Palestinian state, in recent years, the group has indicated its willingness to consider a two-state solution as a potential path to resolution.


Tensions between Israel and Hamas have been a longstanding issue. However, the recent attack on Saturday took place without warning. Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, and dozens of Hamas fighters breached the border, resulting in casualties on both sides, including civilians, and the capture of several Israeli soldiers. The exact triggers and motivations behind this particular escalation may vary, but it is rooted in the complex history and ongoing disputes between the two parties.

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