Hamas

Hamas

Overview
Hamas is the Palestinian
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 Sunni Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic or Islamist
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

 political party that governs the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades is the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist fundamentalist socio-political organisation Hamas. Created in 1992, under the direction of Yahya Ayyash, the primary objective of the group was to build a coherent military organisation to support the goals of...

. Since June 2007 Hamas has governed the Gaza
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

 portion of the Palestinian Territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

, after it won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament in the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections
Palestinian legislative election, 2006
On January 25, 2006, elections were held for the Palestinian Legislative Council , the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority . Notwithstanding the 2005 municipal elections and the January 9, 2005 presidential election, this was the first election to the PLC since 1996; subsequent...

 and then defeated the Fatah
Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

 political organization in a series of violent clashes. The European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 classify Hamas as a terrorist organization, while nations such as Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, and Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 do not.

Based on the principles of Islamic fundamentalism
Islamic fundamentalism
Islamic fundamentalism is a term used to describe religious ideologies seen as advocating a return to the "fundamentals" of Islam: the Quran and the Sunnah. Definitions of the term vary. According to Christine L...

 gaining momentum throughout the Arab world in the 1980s, Hamas was founded in 1987 (during the First Intifada
First Intifada
The First Intifada was a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The uprising began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem....

) as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood
The Society of the Muslim Brothers is the world's oldest and one of the largest Islamist parties, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna and by the late 1940s had an...

.
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Quotations

"The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders."

Charter of Hamas

"The Movement's programme is Islam. From it, it draws its ideas, ways of thinking and understanding of the universe, life and man. It resorts to it for judgement in all its conduct, and it is inspired by it for guidance of its steps."

Charter of Hamas

"By adopting Islam as its way of life, the Movement goes back to the time of the birth of the Islamic message, of the righteous ancestor, for Allah is its target, the Prophet is its example and the Koran is its constitution."

Charter of Hamas

Charter of Hamas

"The Moslem woman has a role no less important than that of the moslem man in the battle of liberation."

Encyclopedia
Hamas is the Palestinian
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 Sunni Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic or Islamist
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

 political party that governs the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades is the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist fundamentalist socio-political organisation Hamas. Created in 1992, under the direction of Yahya Ayyash, the primary objective of the group was to build a coherent military organisation to support the goals of...

. Since June 2007 Hamas has governed the Gaza
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

 portion of the Palestinian Territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

, after it won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament in the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections
Palestinian legislative election, 2006
On January 25, 2006, elections were held for the Palestinian Legislative Council , the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority . Notwithstanding the 2005 municipal elections and the January 9, 2005 presidential election, this was the first election to the PLC since 1996; subsequent...

 and then defeated the Fatah
Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

 political organization in a series of violent clashes. The European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 classify Hamas as a terrorist organization, while nations such as Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, and Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 do not.

Based on the principles of Islamic fundamentalism
Islamic fundamentalism
Islamic fundamentalism is a term used to describe religious ideologies seen as advocating a return to the "fundamentals" of Islam: the Quran and the Sunnah. Definitions of the term vary. According to Christine L...

 gaining momentum throughout the Arab world in the 1980s, Hamas was founded in 1987 (during the First Intifada
First Intifada
The First Intifada was a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The uprising began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem....

) as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood
The Society of the Muslim Brothers is the world's oldest and one of the largest Islamist parties, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna and by the late 1940s had an...

. Co-founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin stated in 1987 and the Hamas Charter affirmed in 1988 that Hamas was founded to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

 in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. In July 2009, Khaled Meshal, Hamas's Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

-based political bureau chief, said the organization was willing to cooperate with "a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict which included a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders," provided that Palestinian refugees hold the right to return to Israel and that East Jerusalem be the new nation's capital. The charter exhibits the influence of antisemitic conspiracy theories throughout, as evidenced by the explicit mention of the "The Protocols of the Elder of Zion," or statements labeling "Freemasons, The Rotary and Lions clubs" as "sabotage groups ... behind the drug trade and alcoholism in all its kinds." Some experts and advocacy groups believe that statements by some Hamas leaders display similar conspiratorial influences, though Hamas officials are clear to describe the conflict with Israel as political and not religious.

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades is the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist fundamentalist socio-political organisation Hamas. Created in 1992, under the direction of Yahya Ayyash, the primary objective of the group was to build a coherent military organisation to support the goals of...

, the Hamas affiliated military wing, has launched attacks with both military and civilian victims. Tactics have included rocket attacks
Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel
Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip have occurred since 2001. Between 2001 and January 2009, over 8,600 rockets had been launched, leading to 28 deaths and several hundred injuries, as well as widespread psychological trauma and disruption of daily life.The weapons,...

 and, from 1993 to 2008, suicide bombings. Military targets included Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian outposts and border crossings and rival Palestinian militias in the occupied territories.

In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections
Palestinian legislative election, 2006
On January 25, 2006, elections were held for the Palestinian Legislative Council , the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority . Notwithstanding the 2005 municipal elections and the January 9, 2005 presidential election, this was the first election to the PLC since 1996; subsequent...

 Hamas won a decisive majority in the Palestinian Parliament, defeating the PLO
Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

-affiliated Fatah
Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

 party. Following the elections, the United States and the EU halted financial assistance to the Hamas-led administration. In March 2007 a national unity government, headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniya
Ismail Haniya
Ismail Haniyeh ; is a senior political leader of Hamas and one of two disputed Prime Ministers of the Palestinian National Authority, the matter being under political and legal dispute. He became Prime Minister after the legislative elections of 2006 which Hamas won...

 of Hamas, was briefly formed, but this failed to restart international financial assistance. Tensions over control of Palestinian security forces soon erupted into the 2007 Battle of Gaza, after which Hamas retained control of Gaza while its officials were ousted from government positions in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

. Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 then imposed an economic blockade on Gaza, on the grounds that Fatah forces were no longer providing security there.

In June 2008, as part of an Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian-brokered ceasefire
2008 Israel–Hamas ceasefire
-Background: After its victory in the 2006 municipal legislative elections, Hamas assumed administrative control of Gaza. Hamas consolidated this control over Gaza after a military conflict with Fatah. Israel and Egypt then partially sealed their border crossings with Gaza, on the grounds that...

, Hamas ceased rocket attacks on Israel and made some efforts to prevent attacks by other organizations. After a four months calm, the conflict escalated when Israel carried out a military action with the stated aim to prevent an abduction planned by Hamas, using a tunnel that had been dug under the border security fence, killing seven Hamas operatives. In retaliation, Hamas attacked Israel with a barrage of rockets. In late December 2008, Israel attacked Gaza
2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict
The Gaza War, known as Operation Cast Lead in Israel and as the Gaza Massacre in the Arab world, was a three-week bombing and invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israel, and hundreds of rocket attacks on south of Israel which...

, withdrawing its forces from the territory in mid-January 2009. After the Gaza War, Hamas continued to govern the Gaza strip and Israel maintained its economic blockade. On May 4, 2011, Hamas and Fatah announced a reconciliation agreement that provides for "creation of a joint caretaker Palestinian government" prior to national elections scheduled for 2012.

Etymology


Hamas is an acronym
Acronym and initialism
Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations formed from the initial components in a phrase or a word. These components may be individual letters or parts of words . There is no universal agreement on the precise definition of the various terms , nor on written usage...

 of the Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 phrase حركة المقاومة الاسلامية, or Harakat al-Muqāwama al-Islāmiyya or "Islamic Resistance Movement". The Arabic word Hamas also means devotion and zeal in the path of Allah. The Hamas covenant interprets its name to mean "strength and bravery."

Leadership and structure




Hamas comprises three interrelated wings. The social welfare and political wings, which are responsible for the social, administrative, political, and propaganda activities of Hamas, and the military wing, which is engaged in covert activities, such as acting against suspected collaborators, gathering intelligence on potential targets, procuring weapons, and carrying out military attacks.

Consultative councils


The Majlis al-Shura
Majlis al-Shura
The Majlis al-Shura is the overarching political and decision making body of Hamas. It includes representatives from the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Israeli prisons, and the exiled external leadership, the Political Bureau, based in Damascus...

 (consultative council) is the group's overarching political and decision making body. It includes representatives from Gaza, the West Bank, Israeli prisons, and the exiled external leadership, the Political Bureau, based in Damascus. Under this Shura council are committees responsible for supervising Hamas activities, from media relations to military operations. In the West Bank and Gaza, local Shura committees answer to the Shura council and carry out its decisions.

Hamas's highest decision-making body is its Political Bureau, which consists of 15 members and operates in exile in Damascus, Syria. The bureau is elected by members who select their representatives in local Consultative Councils in specific geographic regions. The councils then nominate representatives to the General Consultative Council, and the Political Bureau is elected by members of the General Consultative Council.

Military wing


The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing formed in 1992, is named in commemoration of influential Palestinian nationalist Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam
Sheikh Muhammad Izz ad-Din al-Qassam was a Tijani Sufi who led militant activities against British, French, and Zionist organizations in the Levant in the 1920's and 1930's.-Early life:...

. Armed Hamas cells sometimes refer to themselves as "Students of Ayyash", "Students of the Engineer", or "Yahya Ayyash Units", to commemorate Yahya Ayyash
Yahya Ayyash
Yahya Abd-al-Latif Ayyash was the chief bombmaker of Hamas and the leader of the West Bank battalion of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

, an early Hamas bomb-maker killed in 1996. Since its establishment, the military capability of Hamas has increased markedly, from rifles to Qassam rockets and more.

While the number of members is known only to the Brigades leadership, Israel estimates the Brigades have a core of several hundred members who receive military style training, including training in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. Additionally, the brigades have an estimated 10,000 operatives "of varying degrees of skill and professionalism" who are members of Hamas or their supporters and the internal security forces. These operatives can be expected to reinforce the Brigades in an "emergency situation".

Although the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades are an integral part of Hamas, they also operate independently of Hamas, and at times contrary to Hamas' stated aims. Most analysts agree that although differences of opinion between the Hamas military and political wing exist, Hamas’s internal discipline is strong enough to contain them. Political scientists Ilana Kass and Bard O'Neill liken Hamas's relationship with the Brigades to the Northern Ireland political party Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

's relationship to the military arm of the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

. To further explain the relationship, they quote a senior Hamas official: "The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade is a separate armed military wing, which has its own leaders who do not take their orders from [Hamas] and do not tell us of their plans in advance." However, according to former U.S. Department of Treasury official and terrorism expert Matthew Levitt
Matthew Levitt
Matthew Levitt is an American expert on Islamist terrorism. Levitt is a senior fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and professorial lecturer in International Relations and Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins...

, the Hamas Political Bureau operates as the highest ranking leadership body determining the policy of the Hamas organization and has responsibility for directing and coordinating terrorist acts
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

. Hamas’ founder, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, stated in 1998: "We can not separate the wing from the body. If we do so, the body will not be able to fly. Hamas is one body."

Social welfare


Hamas is particularly popular among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

, though it also has a following in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, and to a lesser extent in other Middle Eastern countries. Its popularity stems in part from its welfare wing providing social services to Palestinians in the occupied territories
Israeli-occupied territories
The Israeli-occupied territories are the territories which have been designated as occupied territory by the United Nations and other international organizations, governments and others to refer to the territory seized by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria...

. Such services are not generally provided by the Palestinian Authority. Israeli scholar Reuven Paz
Reuven Paz
Reuven Paz is an Israeli scholar specializing in Islam and Islamic movements in the Arab and Muslim world, the Arab minority in Israel and Islamic Fundamentalism. He has previously been head of the research department for Israeli General Security Service...

 estimates that 90% of Hamas activities revolve around "social, welfare, cultural, and educational activities." Social services include running relief programs and funding schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues.

In particular, Hamas funded health services where people could receive free or inexpensive medical treatment. Hamas greatly contributed to the health sector, and facilitated hospital and physician services in the Palestinian territory. On the other hand, Hamas’s use of hospitals is sometimes criticised as purportedly serving the promotion of violence against Israel. The party is known to financially support families of those who have been killed (including suicide bombers) or imprisoned while carrying out militant action or supporting such action. Families of militants not affiliated with Hamas sometimes receive less.

Hamas has funded education as well as the health service, and built Islamic charities, libraries, mosques and education centers for women. They also built nurseries, kindergartens and supervised religious schools that provide free meals to children. When children attend their schools and mosques, parents are required to sign oaths of allegiance.
Refugees, as well as those left without homes, are able to claim financial and technical assistance from Hamas.

The work of Hamas in these fields supplements that provided by the United Nations Relief Works Agency
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is a relief and human development agency, providing education, health care, social services and emergency aid to 5 million Palestine refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as well as in the West Bank and the Gaza...

 (UNRWA). Hamas is also well regarded by Palestinians for its efficiency and perceived lack of corruption compared to Fatah. Since the 2008–2009 Israeli military operation in Gaza, Palestinian public opinion polls have shown Hamas steadily increasing in popularity with 52% support compared to 13% for Fatah. All public opinion surveys conducted recently have supported this trend.

Despite building materials needing to be smuggled into the territory, luxury beach resorts and tourist facilities operated by the interior ministry have been constructed by Hamas government linked charities which include gardens, playgrounds, football fields, a zoo and restaurants aimed to provide employment and low cost entertainment for citizens. Some Palestinians have complained about the admission fee, criticizing Hamas for charging them to use "government-owned" property.

Goals



Hamas's 1988 charter calls for the replacement of Israel and the Palestinian Territories with an Islamic Palestinian state. After the elections in 2006, Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar
Mahmoud al-Zahar
Mahmoud al-Zahar is a co-founder of Hamas and a member of the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip. Since the formation of the Hamas/"Change and Reform" government in the Palestinian National Authority in March 2006, al-Zahar has served as foreign minister in the government of prime minister Ismail...

 did not rule out the possibility of accepting a "temporary two-state solution", and stated that he dreamed "of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it." Xinhua reports that Al-Zahar "did not rule out the possibility of having Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Muslims and Christians living under the sovereignty of an Islamic state." In late 2006, Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, said that if a Palestinian state was formed within the 1967 lines, Hamas was willing to declare a truce that could last as long as 20 years, and stated that Hamas will never recognize the "usurper Zionist government" and will continue "jihad
Jihad
Jihad , an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God ". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is...

-like movement until the liberation of Jerusalem".

In an April 2008 meeting between Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and former US President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

, an understanding was reached in which Hamas agreed it would respect the creation of a Palestinian state in the territory seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

, provided this were ratified by the Palestinian people in a referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

. Hamas later publicly offered a long-term truce
Hudna
Hudna is an Arabic term meaning a temporary "truce" or "armistice" as well as "calm" or "quiet", coming from a verbal root meaning "calm". It is sometimes translated as "cease-fire"...

 with Israel if Israel agreed to return to its 1967 borders and grant the "right of return
Right of return
The term right of return refers to a principle of international law, codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, giving any person the right to return to, and re-enter, his or her country of origin...

" to all Palestinian refugee
Palestinian refugee
Palestinian refugees or Palestine refugees are the people and their descendants, predominantly Palestinian Arabic-speakers, who fled or were expelled from their homes during and after the 1948 Palestine War, within that part of the British Mandate of Palestine, that after that war became the...

s. In November 2008, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh re-stated that Hamas was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1949 armistice lines
1949 Armistice Agreements
The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established armistice lines between Israeli forces and the forces in...

, and offered Israel a long-term truce "if Israel recognized the Palestinians' national rights."

Israel has rejected some truce offers by Hamas because it contends the group uses them to prepare for more fighting rather than peace. The Atlantic magazine columnist Jeffrey Goldberg
Jeffrey Goldberg
Jeffrey Mark Goldberg is an American journalist. He is an author and a staff writer for The Atlantic, having previously worked for The New Yorker. Goldberg writes principally on foreign affairs, with a focus on the Middle East and Africa...

, along with other analysts, believes Hamas may be incapable of permanent reconciliation with Israel. Mkhaimer Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University writes that Hamas talks "of hudna
Hudna
Hudna is an Arabic term meaning a temporary "truce" or "armistice" as well as "calm" or "quiet", coming from a verbal root meaning "calm". It is sometimes translated as "cease-fire"...

 [temporary ceasefire], not of peace or reconciliation with Israel. They believe over time they will be strong enough to liberate all historic Palestine.”

On 1 December 2010, Ismail Haniyeh said that "Hamas will respect the results (of a referendum) regardless of whether it differs with its ideology and principles" and that ‎"We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees."

Charter



The Hamas Charter (or Covenant), issued in 1988, outlined the organization's position on many issues at the time, identifies Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and declares its members to be Muslims who "fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors." The charter states "our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious" and calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel. The Charter also asserts that through shrewd manipulation of imperial countries and secret societies, Zionists were behind a wide range of events and disasters going as far back in history as the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. Among the charter's controversial statements is the following: "The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews [and kill them]; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: Oh Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!” The document also quotes Islamic religious texts to provide justification for fighting against and killing the Jews of Israel, presenting the Arab-Israeli conflict as an inherently irreconcilable struggle between Jews and Muslims, and Judaism and Islam, adding that the only way to engage in this struggle between "truth and falsehood" is through Islam and by means of jihad
Jihad
Jihad , an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God ". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is...

, until victory or martyrdom. The Charter adds that "renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion" of Islam. The charter states that Hamas is humanistic, and tolerant of other religions as long as they do not block Hamas's efforts.

Current Status


Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal indicated to Robert Pastor, senior adviser to the Carter Center
Carter Center
The Carter Center is a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter. In partnership with Emory University, The Carter Center works to advance human rights and alleviate human suffering...

, that the Charter is "a piece of history and no longer relevant, but cannot be changed for internal reasons." Hamas do not use the Charter on their website and prefer to use their election manifesto to put forth their agenda. Pastor states that those who quote the charter rather than more recent Hamas statements may be using the Charter as an excuse to ignore Hamas.

British diplomat
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

 and former British ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

 to the UN Sir Jeremy Greenstock
Jeremy Greenstock
Sir Jeremy Q. Greenstock, GCMG is a retired British diplomat, active from 1969-2004.-Life and career:Greenstock was born in Harrow on the Hill, north-west London, the son of Ruth Margaret and John Wilfred Greenstock. He was educated at the Harrow School and Worcester College, University of...

 stated in early 2009 that the Hamas charter was "drawn up by a Hamas-linked imam some [twenty] years ago and has never been adopted since Hamas was elected as the Palestinian government in 2006". Mohammed Nimer of American University comments on the Charter, “It’s a tract meant to mobilize support and it should be amended... It projects anger, not vision.” Dr. Ahmed Yousef
Ahmed Yousef
Ahmed Yousef is a senior adviser to Gaza's Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.-Bibliography:-References:...

 an adviser to Ismail Haniyeh has questioned the use of the charter by Israel and its supporters to brand Hamas as a fundamentalist, terrorist, racist, anti-Semitic organization and claims that they have taken parts of the charter out of context for propaganda purposes. He claims that they dwell on the charter and ignore that Hamas has changed its views with time.

In March 2006, Hamas released its official legislative program. The document clearly signaled that Hamas could refer the issue of recognizing Israel to a national referendum. Under the heading “Recognition of Israel,” it stated simply (AFP, 3/11/06): “The question of recognizing Israel is not the jurisdiction of one faction, nor the government, but a decision for the Palestinian people.This was a major shift away from their 1988 charter”

Early Islamic activism in Gaza


With its takeover of Gaza after the 1967 war with Egypt, Israel hunted down secular Palestinian Liberation Organization factions but dropped the previous Egyptian rulers' harsh restrictions against Islamic activists. In fact, Israel for many years tolerated and at times encouraged Islamic activists and groups as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the PLO and its dominant faction, Fatah.

Among the activists benefited was Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood
The Society of the Muslim Brothers is the world's oldest and one of the largest Islamist parties, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna and by the late 1940s had an...

 in Gaza, who had also formed the Islamist group Mujama al-Islamiya
Mujama al-Islamiya
The Islamic charity Mujama al-Islamiya was established in Gaza by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 1973, and started to offer clinics, blood banks, day care, medical treatment, meals and youth clubs. The centre plays an important role for providing social care to the people, particularly those living in...

, a charity recognized by Israel in 1979. Israel allowed the organization to build mosques, clubs, schools, and a library in Gaza.

Yitzhak Segev, the acting governor of Gaza in 1979, said he had no illusions about Yassin's intentions, having watched an Islamist movement topple the Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

 as Israel's military attache in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. According to Segev, Yassin and his charity were completely peaceful towards Israel during this time, and Segev and other Israeli officials feared being viewed as an enemy of Islam. Segev maintained regular contact with Yassin, met with him around a dozen times, and arranged for Yassin to be taken to Israel for hospital treatment.

Also, Segev said, Fatah
Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

 was "our main enemy." Islamists frequently attacked secular and leftist Palestinian movements, including Fatah, but the Israeli military avoided getting involved in those quarrels. It stood aside, for example, when Mujama al-Islamiya activists stormed the Red Crescent charity's headquarters in Gaza, but Segev did send soldiers to prevent the burning down of the home of the head of the organization.

In 1984 the Israeli army received intelligence that Sheikh Yassin's followers were collecting arms in Gaza. Israeli troops raided mosques and found a cache of weapons. Yassin was arrested, but told his interrogators the weapons were meant to be used against secular Palestinians, not Israel. The cleric was released a year later and allowed to continue to develop his movement in Gaza.

Around the time of Yassin's arrest, Avner Cohen, an Israeli religious affairs official, sent a report to senior military officers and civilian leadership in Gaza advising them of the dangers of the Islamic movement, but this report and similar ones were ignored. Former military intelligence officer Shalom Harari said the warnings were ignored out of neglect, not a desire to fortify the Islamists: "Israel never financed Hamas. Israel never armed Hamas."

Establishment



In 1987, several Palestinians were killed in a traffic accident involving an Israeli driver, and the events that followed – a Palestinian uprising (now known as the First Intifada) against Israel's West Bank and Gaza occupation – led Yassin and six other Palestinians to found Hamas as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. The new group was supported by Brotherhood-affiliated charities and social institutions that had already gained a strong foothold in the occupied territories. The acronym "Hamas" first appeared in 1987 in a leaflet that accused the Israeli intelligence service
Mossad
The Mossad , short for HaMossad leModi'in uleTafkidim Meyuchadim , is the national intelligence agency of Israel....

s of undermining the moral fiber of Palestinian youth as part of Mossad
Mossad
The Mossad , short for HaMossad leModi'in uleTafkidim Meyuchadim , is the national intelligence agency of Israel....

's recruitment of what Hamas termed collaborators. Nonetheless, Israeli military and intelligence was still focused on Fatah, and continued to maintain contacts with Gaza's Islamic activists. Numerous Islamist leaders, including senior Hamas founder Mahmoud Zahar, met with Yitzhak Rabin
Yitzhak Rabin
' was an Israeli politician, statesman and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–77 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995....

 as part of "regular consultations" between Israeli officials and Palestinians not linked to the PLO.

Hamas carried out its first attack against Israel in 1989, abducting and killing two soldiers. The Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 immediately arrested Yassin and sentenced him to life in prison, and deported 400 Hamas activists, including Zahar, to South Lebanon, which at the time was occupied by Israel. During this time Hamas built a relationship with Hezbollah.

The 1990s


Hamas's military branch, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was created in 1991. During the 1990s the al-Qassam Brigades conducted numerous attacks on Israel, with both civilian and military victims. In April 1993, suicide bombings
Suicide attack
A suicide attack is a type of attack in which the attacker expects or intends to die in the process.- Historical :...

 in the West Bank began. After the February 1994 massacre by Baruch Goldstein
Baruch Goldstein
Baruch Kopel Goldstein was an American-born Jewish Israeli physician and mass murderer who perpetrated the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in the city of Hebron, killing 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers and wounding another 125....

 of 30 Muslim civilians in a Hebron mosque, the al-Qassam Brigades began suicide attacks inside Israel.

In December 1992 Israel responded to the killing of a border police officer by deporting 415 leading figures of Hamas and Islamic Jihad
Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine
The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine known in the West as simply Palestinian Islamic Jihad , is a small Palestinian militant organization. The group has been labelled as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel...

 to Lebanon, which provoked international condemnation and a unanimous UN Security Council resolution condemning the action.

Although the suicide attacks by the al-Qassam Brigades and other groups violated the 1993 Oslo accords
Oslo Accords
The Oslo Accords, officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements or Declaration of Principles , was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict...

 (which Hamas opposed), Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat was reluctant to pursue the attackers and may have had inadequate means to do so. Some analysts state that the Palestinian Authority could have stopped the suicide and other attacks on civilians but refused to do so.

According to the Congressional Research Service
Congressional Research Service
The Congressional Research Service , known as "Congress's think tank", is the public policy research arm of the United States Congress. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS works exclusively and directly for Members of Congress, their Committees and staff on a...

, Hamas admitted to having executed Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israeli authorities in the 1990s. A transcript of a training film by the al-Qassam Brigades tells how Hamas operatives kidnapped Palestinians accused of collaboration and then forced confessions before executing them.

In 1996, Yahya Ayash, the chief bombmaker of Hamas and the leader of the West Bank battalion of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was assassinated by the Israeli secret service.

In September 1997, Israeli agents in Jordan attempted but failed to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, leading to chilled relations between the two countries and release of Sheikh Yassin, Hamas’s spiritual leader, from Israeli prison. Two years later Hamas was banned in Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, reportedly in part at the request of the United States, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority. Jordan's King Abdullah feared the activities of Hamas and its Jordanian allies would jeopardize peace negotiations with Israel, and accused Hamas of engaging in illegitimate activities within Jordan. In mid-September 1999, authorities arrested Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal and Ibrahim Ghosheh on their return from a visit to Iran, and charged them with being members of an illegal organization, storing weapons, conducting military exercises, and using Jordan as a training base. Hamas leaders denied the charges. Mashaal was exiled and eventually settled in Syria.

Second Intifada



Al-Qassam Brigades militants were among the armed groups that launched both military-style attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli civilian and military targets during the Second Intifada (also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada , which began in late September 2000. This Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 uprising against Israeli rule in the occupied territories was much more violent than the First Intifada
First Intifada
The First Intifada was a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The uprising began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem....

. The military and civilian death toll is estimated at 5500 Palestinians and more than 1100 Israelis, as well as 64 foreigners. A 2007 study of Palestinian suicide bombings during the second intifada (September 2000 through August 2005) found that about 40 percent were carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades.

The immediate trigger for the uprising is disputed, but a more general cause, writes U.S. political science professor Jeremy Pressman, was “popular Palestinian discontent [that] grew during the Oslo peace process because the reality on the ground did not match the expectations created by the peace agreements.” Hamas would be the beneficiary of this growing discontent in the 2006 Palestinian Authority legislative elections.

In January 2004, Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin
Ahmed Yassin
Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Hassan Yassin was a founder of Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian paramilitary organization and political party. Yassin also served as the spiritual leader of the organization...

 said that the group would end armed resistance against Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

, and east Jerusalem
East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

, and that restoring Palestinians' "historical rights" (relating to the 1948 Palestinian exodus
1948 Palestinian exodus
The 1948 Palestinian exodus , also known as the Nakba , occurred when approximately 711,000 to 725,000 Palestinian Arabs left, fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Civil War that preceded it. The exact number of refugees is a matter of dispute...

) "would be left for future generations." On January 25, 2004, senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi
Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi
Dr. Abdel Aziz Ali Abdulmajid al-Rantissi ; 23 October 1947 – 17 April 2004) was the co-founder of the militant Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas with Sheikh Ahmed Yassin....

 offered a 10-year truce, or hudna
Hudna
Hudna is an Arabic term meaning a temporary "truce" or "armistice" as well as "calm" or "quiet", coming from a verbal root meaning "calm". It is sometimes translated as "cease-fire"...

, in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state and the complete withdrawal by Israel from the territories captured
Green Line (Israel)
Green Line refers to the demarcation lines set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbours after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War...

 in the 1967 Six Day War. Al-Rantissi stated that Hamas had come to the conclusion that it was "difficult to liberate all our land at this stage, so we accept a phased liberation." Israel immediately dismissed al-Rantissi's statements as insincere and a smokescreen for military preparations. Yassin was assassinated on March 22, 2004, by a targeted Israeli air strike, and al-Rantisi was assassinated by a similar air strike on April 18, 2004.

2006 presidential and legislative elections


While Hamas boycotted the 2005 Palestinian presidential election
Palestinian presidential election, 2005
The 2005 Palestinian presidential election — the first to be held since 1996 — took place on January 9, 2005 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Voters elected PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas as the new President of the Palestinian Authority to replace Yasser Arafat, who died on November 11,...

, it did participate in the 2005 municipal elections
Palestinian municipal election, 2005
Municipal elections were held to elect members of local councils in the Palestinian Territories between December 2004 and December 2005. They were the first local elections held in Palestinian areas in almost thirty years....

 organized by Yasser Arafat in the occupied territories. In those elections it won control of over one third of Palestinian municipal councils, besting Fatah
Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

, which had for long been the biggest force in Palestinian politics.

In its election manifesto for the 2006 Palestinian legislative election
Palestinian legislative election, 2006
On January 25, 2006, elections were held for the Palestinian Legislative Council , the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority . Notwithstanding the 2005 municipal elections and the January 9, 2005 presidential election, this was the first election to the PLC since 1996; subsequent...

, Hamas omitted a call for an end to Israel, though it did still call for armed struggle against the occupation. Hamas won the 2006 elections, winning 76 of the 132 seats to Fatah's 43. Seen by many as primarily a rejection of the Fatah government's corruption and ineffectiveness, the Hamas victory seemingly had brought to an end 40 years of PLO domination of Palestinian politics.

In early February 2006, Hamas offered Israel a 10-year truce "in return for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories: the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem," and recognition of Palestinian rights including the "right of return." Mashal added that Hamas was not calling for a final end to armed operations against Israel, and it would not impede other Palestinian groups from carrying out such operations.

After the election, the Quartet on the Middle East
Quartet on the Middle East
The Quartet on the Middle East, sometimes called the Diplomatic Quartet or Madrid Quartet or simply the Quartet, is a foursome of nations and international and supranational entities involved in mediating the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Quartet are the United Nations, the...

 (the United States, Russia, the European Union (EU), and the United Nations) stated that assistance to the Palestinian Authority would only continue if Hamas renounced violence, recognized Israel, and accepted previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements, which Hamas refused to do. The Quartet then imposed a freeze on all international aid to the Palestinian territories.

In 2006 after the Gaza election, Hamas leader sent a letter addressed to George Bush where he among other things declared that Hamas would accept a state on the 1967 borders including a truce. However, the Bush administration didnt reply.

Electoral Platform for Change and Reform

The Change and Reform List adopts a set of principles stemming from the Islamic tradition that we embrace. We see these principles as agreed upon not only by our Palestinian people, but also by our Arab and Islamic nation as a whole. These principles are:

1. True Islam with its civilized achievements and political, economic, social, and legal aspects is our frame of reference and our way of life.
2. Historic Palestine is part of the Arab and Islamic land and its ownership by the Palestinian people is a right that does not diminish over time. No military or legal measures will change that right.
3. The Palestinian people, wherever they reside, constitute a single and united people and form an integral part of the Arab and Muslim nation . . . [Quranic verse]. Our Palestinian people are still living a phase of national liberation, and thus they have the right to strive to recover their own rights and end the occupation using all means, including armed struggle. We have to make all our resources available to support our people and defeat the occupation and establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
4. The right of return of all Palestinian refugees and displaced persons to their land and properties, and the right to self-determination and all other national rights, are inalienable and cannot be bargained away for any political concessions.
5. We uphold the indigenous and inalienable rights of our people to our land, Jerusalem, our holy places, our water resources, borders, and a fully sovereign independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
6. Reinforcing and protecting Palestinian national unity is one of the priorities of the Palestinian national action.
7. The issue of the prisoners is at the top of the Palestinian agenda.

Legislative policy and reforming the judiciary.

"stress the separation between the three powers, the legislative, executive and judicial; activate the role of the Constitutional Court; re-form the Judicial Supreme Council and choose its members by elections and on the basis of qualifications rather than partisan, personal, and social considerations . . . ; enact the necessary laws that guarantee the neutrality of general prosecutor . . . [and] laws that will stop any transgression by the executive power on the constitution".

Public freedoms and citizen rights.

"Achieve equality before the law among citizens in rights and duties; bring security to all citizens and protect their properties and assure their safety against arbitrary arrest, torture, or revenge; stress the culture of dialogue . . . ; support the press and media institutions and maintain the right of journalists to access and to publish information; maintain freedom and independence of professional syndicates and preserve the rights of their membership".

Hamas–Fatah conflict



After the formation of the Hamas-led cabinet on March 20, 2006, tensions between Fatah and Hamas militants progressively rose in the Gaza strip as Fatah commanders refused to take orders from the government while the Palestinian Authority initiated a campaign of demonstrations, assassinations and abductions against Hamas which led to Hamas responding. Israeli intelligence warned Mahmoud Abbas that Hamas had planned to kill him at his office in Gaza. According to a Palestinian source close to Abbas, Hamas considers president Abbas to be a barrier to its complete control over Palestine and decided to kill him. In a statement to Al Jazeera, Hamas leader Mohammed Nazzal, accused Abbas of being party to besieging and isolating the Hamas-led government.

On June 9, 2006, during an Israeli artillery operation, an explosion
Gaza beach blast
The Gaza beach blast was an incident on June 9, 2006 in which eight Palestinians were killed and at least thirty others injured in an explosion on a beach near the municipality of Beit Lahia in the Gaza Strip...

 occurred on a busy Gaza beach, killing eight Palestinian civilians. It was assumed that Israeli shellings were responsible for the killings, but Israeli government officials denied this. Hamas formally withdrew from its 16-month ceasefire
Ceasefire
A ceasefire is a temporary stoppage of a war in which each side agrees with the other to suspend aggressive actions. Ceasefires may be declared as part of a formal treaty, but they have also been called as part of an informal understanding between opposing forces...

 on June 10, taking responsibility for the subsequent Qassam rocket
Qassam rocket
The Qassam rocket is a simple steel artillery rocket developed and deployed by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas. Three models have been produced and used between 2001 and 2011....

 attacks launched from Gaza into Israel.
On June 25, two Israeli soldiers were killed and another, Gilad Shalit
Gilad Shalit
Gilad Shalit is an Israeli – French citizen and Israel Defense Forces soldier. On 25 June 2006, he was captured inside Israel by Hamas militants in a cross-border raid via underground tunnels near the border with Gaza. The Hamas militants held him for over five years, until he was released on...

, abducted following a joint incursion by Fatah, Islamic Jihad
Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine
The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine known in the West as simply Palestinian Islamic Jihad , is a small Palestinian militant organization. The group has been labelled as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel...

, and Hamas. In response, the Israeli military launched Operation Summer Rains three days later, to secure the release of the kidnapped soldier, arresting 64 Hamas officials. Among them were 8 Palestinian Authority cabinet ministers and up to 20 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council
Palestinian Legislative Council
The Palestinian Legislative Council, the legislature of the Palestinian Authority, is a unicameral body with 132 members, elected from 16 electoral districts in the West Bank and Gaza...

, The arrests, along with other events, effectively prevented the Hamas-dominated legislature from functioning during most of its term.

On February 2007 Saudi-sponsored negotiations in Mecca produced agreement
Hamas & Fatah Mecca Agreement
Hamas & Fatah Mecca Agreement is an agreement between Fatah and Hamas signed in the city of Mecca on February 8, 2007 after eight days of talks, agreeing to stop the military clashes in Gaza and form a government of national unity. Representatives from the Fatah side included the President of the...

 on a signed by Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas , also known by the kunya Abu Mazen , has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation since 11 November 2004 and became President of the Palestinian National Authority on 15 January 2005 on the Fatah ticket.Elected to serve until 9 January 2009, he unilaterally...

 on behalf of Fatah and Khaled Mashal
Khaled Mashal
Khaled Mashal, also known as Khaled Mashaal, Khaled Meshaal, and Khalid Mish'al, has been the main leader of Hamas since the assassination of Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in 2004. In addition, Mashal heads the Syrian branch of the political bureau of Hamas.Mashal was born in Silwad, a village north of...

 on behalf of Hamas. The new government was called on to achieve Palestinian national goals as approved by the Palestine National Council, the clauses of the Basic Law and the National Reconciliation Document (the "Prisoners' Document") as well as the decisions of the Arab summit.

In March 2007, the Palestinian Legislative Council
Palestinian Legislative Council
The Palestinian Legislative Council, the legislature of the Palestinian Authority, is a unicameral body with 132 members, elected from 16 electoral districts in the West Bank and Gaza...

 established a national unity government, with 83 representatives voting in favor and three against. Government ministers were sworn in by Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas , also known by the kunya Abu Mazen , has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation since 11 November 2004 and became President of the Palestinian National Authority on 15 January 2005 on the Fatah ticket.Elected to serve until 9 January 2009, he unilaterally...

, the chairman on the Palestinian Authority, in at a ceremony held simultaneously in Gaza and Ramallah. In June that year, renewed fighting broke out between Hamas and Fatah. In the course of the June 2007 Battle of Gaza, Hamas exploited the near total collapse of Palestinian Authority forces in Gaza, to retain control of Gaza, ousting Fatah officials. President Mahmoud Abbas then dismissed the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government. and outlawed the Hamas militia. At least 600 Palestinians died in fighting between Hamas and Fatah. Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based group, accused both sides in the conflict of torture and war crimes.

Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 estimates several hundred Gazans were "maimed" and tortured in the aftermath of the Gaza War. 73 Gazan men accused of "collaborating" had their arms and legs broken by "unidentified perpetrators" and 18 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel, who had escaped from Gaza’s main prison compound after Israel bombed the facility, were executed by Hamas security officials in the first days of the conflict.

Hamas security forces reportedly shot and tortured Palestinians who opposed Hamas rule in Gaza and openly supported Israel's attack. One victim, recovering from multiple gunshot wounds in the leg, told Human Rights Watch he was "so happy they bombed that I was giving out sweets
Candy
Candy, specifically sugar candy, is a confection made from a concentrated solution of sugar in water, to which flavorings and colorants are added...

.”

In another case, a Palestinian had criticized Hamas in a conversation on the street with some friends. Later that day, more than a dozen armed men with black masks and red kaffiyeh took the man from his home, and brought him to a solitary area where they shot him three times in the lower legs and ankles. The man told Human Rights Watch that he was not politically active.

Hamas security forces attacked hundreds Fatah officials who supported Israel. Human Rights Watch interviewed one such person:

Gaza War


On June 17, 2008, Egyptian mediators announced that an informal truce had been agreed to between Hamas and Israel. Hamas agreed to cease rocket attacks on Israel, while Israel agreed to allow limited commercial shipping across its border with Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

, barring any breakdown of the tentative peace deal; Hamas also hinted that it would discuss the release of Gilad Shalit
Gilad Shalit
Gilad Shalit is an Israeli – French citizen and Israel Defense Forces soldier. On 25 June 2006, he was captured inside Israel by Hamas militants in a cross-border raid via underground tunnels near the border with Gaza. The Hamas militants held him for over five years, until he was released on...

. Israeli sources state that Hamas also committed itself to enforce the ceasefire on the other Palestinian organizations. Even before the truce was agreed to, some on the Israeli side were not optimistic about it, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin
Yuval Diskin
Yuval Diskin was the 12th Director of Shabak .In the Israel Defense Forces, Diskin served as deputy company commander of Sayeret Shaked . In 1978, he was recruited to the Shabak and served as area coordinator for the Nablus district...

 stating in May 2008 that a ground incursion into Gaza was unavoidable and would more effectively quell arms smuggling and pressure Hamas into relinquishing power.
While Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire, the lull was sporadically violated by other groups, sometimes in defiance of Hamas. For example, on June 24 Islamic Jihad
Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine
The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine known in the West as simply Palestinian Islamic Jihad , is a small Palestinian militant organization. The group has been labelled as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel...

 launched rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot; Israel called the attack a grave violation of the informal truce, and closed its border crossings with Gaza. On November 4, 2008 Israeli forces, in an attempt to stop construction of a tunnel, killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid inside the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

. Hamas responded by resuming rocket attacks, a total of 190 rockets in November according to Israel's military.

With the six-month truce officially expired on December 19, Hamas launched 50 to more than 70 rockets and mortars into Israel over the next three days, though no Israelis were injured. On December 21, Hamas said it was ready to stop the attacks and renew the truce if Israel stopped its "aggression" in Gaza and opened up its border crossings.

On December 27 and 28, Israel implemented Operation Cast Lead against Hamas. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said "We warned Hamas repeatedly that rejecting the truce would push Israel to aggression against Gaza." According to Palestinian officials, over 280 people were killed and 600 were injured in the first two days of airstrikes. Most were Hamas police and security officers, though many civilians also died. According to Israel, militant training camps, rocket-manufacturing facilities and weapons warehouses that had been pre-identified were hit, and later they attacked rocket and mortar squads who fired around 180 rockets and mortars at Israeli communities. Chief of Gaza police force Tawfiq Jabber, head of the General Security Service Salah Abu Shrakh, senior religious authority and security officer Nizar Rayyan, and Interior Minister Said Seyam
Said Seyam
Said Seyam was the Interior Minister of the Palestinian government of March 2006. He joined Hamas, and became one of its top commanders. During the Gaza War, Seyam was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Jabalia.-Personal life:...

 were among those killed during the fighting. Although Israel sent out thousands of cell-phone messages urging residents of Gaza to leave houses where weapons may be stored, in an attempt to minimise civilian casualties, some residents complained there was nowhere to go because many neighborhoods had received the same message. Israeli bombs landed close to civilian structures such as schools, and some alleged that Israel was deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians.

Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire on January 17, 2009. Hamas responded the following day by announcing a one week ceasefire to give Israel time to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip. Israeli, Palestinian, and third-party sources disagreed on the total casualty figures from the Gaza war, and the number of Palestinian casualties who were civilians. In November 2010, a senior Hamas official acknowledged that up to 300 fighters were killed and "In addition to them, between 200 and 300 fighters from the Al-Qassam Brigades and another 150 security forces were martyred." These new numbers reconcile the total with those of the Israeli military, which originally said were 709 "terror operatives" killed.

After the Gaza War


On August 16, 2009, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal stated that the organization is ready to open dialogue with the Obama administration because its policies are much better than those of former US president George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

: "As long as there's a new language, we welcome it, but we want to see not only a change of language, but also a change of policies on the ground. We have said that we are prepared to cooperate with the US or any other international party that would enable the Palestinians to get rid of occupation." Despite this, an August 30, 2009 speech during a visit to Jordan in which Mashaal expressed support for the Palestinian right of return
Palestinian right of return
The Palestinian right of return is a political position or principle asserting that Palestinian refugees, both first-generation refugees and their descendants, have a right to return, and a right to the property they or their forebears left or which they were forced to leave in what is now Israel...

 was interpreted by David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Washington Institute for Near East Policy
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy is a think tank based in Washington, D.C. focused on United States foreign policy in the Middle East. It was established by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 1985...

 as a sign that "Hamas has now clearly opted out of diplomacy." In an interview on May 2010, Mashaal said that if a Palestinian state with real sovereignty was established under the conditions he set out, on the borders of 1967 with its capital Jerusalem and with the right of return, that will be the end of the Palestinian resistance, and then the nature of any subsequent ties with Israel would be decided democratically by the Palestinians.

In July 2009, Khaled Meshal, Hamas's political bureau chief, stated Hamas's willingness to cooperate with a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict which included a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, provided that Palestinian refugees be given the right to return
Palestinian right of return
The Palestinian right of return is a political position or principle asserting that Palestinian refugees, both first-generation refugees and their descendants, have a right to return, and a right to the property they or their forebears left or which they were forced to leave in what is now Israel...

 to Israel and that East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

 be recognized as the new state's capital.

Funding


the Council on Foreign Relations
Council on Foreign Relations
The Council on Foreign Relations is an American nonprofit nonpartisan membership organization, publisher, and think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs...

 estimates Hamas's annual budget in at $70 million.

In the early 2000s the largest backer of Hamas was Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, with over 50% of its funds coming from that country, mainly through Islamic charity organizations. An earlier estimate by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Israel)
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs is one of the most important ministries in the Israeli government. The ministry's role is to implement Israel's foreign policy, and promote economic, cultural, and scientific relations with other countries....

 estimated a $50 million annual budget, mostly supplied by private charitable associations but with $12 million supplied directly by Gulf states, primarily Saudi Arabia, and a further $3 million from Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. In 2002, a Saudi Arabian charity, the Saudi Council to Support the Palestinian Intefada run by the Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz stated the council will give the families of 102 Hamas militants killed, including eight suicide bombers, $5,340 each.

Saudi owned al-Taqwa Bank
Al Taqwa Bank
The Al Taqwa Bank is a financial institution incorporated in 1988. It is based out of The Bahamas, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein...

 has been identified of holding money for Hamas as early as 1997. Jamie C. Zarate, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department, told Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 that 60 million was moved to Hamas accounts with al-Taqwa bank. The Al Taqwa bank has also been used to launder funds for Al Qaeda. The funding by Saudi Arabia continued despite Saudi pledges to stop funding groups such as Hamas that have used violence, and its recent denouncements of Hamas' lack of unity with Fatah. According to the US State Department
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

, Hamas is funded by Iran, Palestinian expatriates, and "private benefactors in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states." Saudi spokesman Adel Al Jubeir said that “no Saudi government money goes to Hamas, directly or indirectly.” He added that it “very likely” that “some Saudi individuals” have provided financial support to Hamas.

In 2004, reports citing unidentified U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials indicated that Saudi funding for Hamas had been curtailed and replaced by other regional sponsors. In June 2004 testimony before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, former Treasury Department General Counsel David Aufhauser quoted “informed intelligence sources” as saying that “for whatever reason, the money going to Hamas from Saudi Arabia has substantially dried up.” Aufhauser indicated that Saudi financial support “has been supplemented by money from Iran and Syria flowing through even more dangerous rejectionist groups in the West Bank.” Similarly, Israeli daily Maariv quoted in 2004 an unidentified Israeli military official as saying that “for the first time in years the Saudis have begun to reduce the flow of funds to Hamas and to the Gaza Strip.” This source attributes this change largely to U.S. pressure on Saudi Arabia to stem the flow of funding to Hamas and other terrorist organizations. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), another reported funding source for Hamas is through the 21,000 Arabs of Palestinian and Lebanese descent who live in the Foz do Iguaçu
Foz do Iguaçu
Foz do Iguaçu is the 7th largest city in Paraná state, Brazil, with a population of 255,900 inhabitants. It is located approximately 650 km west of Curitiba, Parana's capital city, being the westernmost city in that state...

 area of the tri-border region of Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

. According to Paraguayan Interior Minister Julio César Fanego, they have donated "something between $50 and $500 million" to 16 Arab extremist groups between 1999 and 2001, in amounts ranging from $500 to $2,000.

In the late 1980s, 10% of all Hamas funding came Islamic Republic of Iran. Later, from 1993 to 2006, Iran provided Hamas with approximately $30 US million annually. More recent assessments indicate that Iranian funding has increased significantly between 2006–2009, to hundreds of millions of Euros per year. After 2009, sanctions on Iran made funding difficult, forcing Hamas instead to rely on religious donations by individuals in the West Bank, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Since June 2011 funding from the Islamic Republic of Iran has been cut to show "displeasure at Hamas's failure to hold public rallies in support of President Assad
Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad is the President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Ba'ath Party. His father Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years until his death in 2000. Al-Assad was elected in 2000, re-elected in 2007, unopposed each time.- Early Life :...

" in the face of the Syrian uprising
2011 Syrian uprising
The 2011 Syrian uprising is an ongoing internal conflict occurring in Syria. Protests started on 26 January 2011, and escalated into an uprising by 15 March 2011...

, and funding from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is an Islamist religious, political, and social movement. Following the 2011 Revolution the group was legalized, and with an estimated 600,000 members or supporters it's considered the largest, best-organized political force in Egypt...

 has been cut so the MB can diverts funds "to support Arab Spring
Arab Spring
The Arab Spring , otherwise known as the Arab Awakening, is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began on Saturday, 18 December 2010...

 revolts". The shortages have meant that Gaza's 40,000 civil service and security employees were not paid July 2011.

Hamas-linked charities in 2010 invested heavily in Gaza business ventures, with the condition that much of revenue stream from those ventures go to Hamas-linked charitable purposes in Gaza. Generally, Hamas and its members have increasingly dominated the Gaza economy, in particular since the 2006 Israel-led blockade of Gaza and Gaza elections.

Gaza domestic funding


Hamas approved a 540 million dollar government budget for 2010 with up to 90% coming from "undisclosed" foreign aid which includes funding from Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

's Muslim Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood
The Society of the Muslim Brothers is the world's oldest and one of the largest Islamist parties, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna and by the late 1940s had an...

 according to western intelligence agencies. Due to the Gaza blockade, Hamas still faces a financial crisis. With a bureaucracy of around 30,000 staff, the organisation is growing faster than can be handled with salaries being delayed or prioritised for the lowest paid. To fund it's budget, Hamas has raised new taxes on businesses and imposed a 14.5% tax on luxury goods smuggled through the tunnels. Gaza businessmen have accused Hamas of profiting from the blockade and using these taxes to buy large tracts of land and private buildings for public facilities in competition to established businesses.

In August 2011, the U.S State Department threatened to cut a 100 million dollars in aid it sends to the Gaza Strip if Hamas continues to insist upon auditing American foreign aid organizations after Hamas suspended operations of the International Medical Corps
International Medical Corps
International Medical Corps is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs...

 following the group's refusal to submit to an onsite audit. Most foreign charities submit their own audits to the Interior Ministry in Ramallah
Ramallah
Ramallah is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank located 10 kilometers north of Jerusalem, adjacent to al-Bireh. It currently serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority...

. Charities must be audited by law, possibly to ensure money is not diverted for political or intelligence-gathering purposes but as the U.S. government forbids direct contact with Hamas the action prompted Washington to issue the threat via a third party. Aid provided by American and other foreign groups goes to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza, where most of the 1.6 million residents are refugees

A US official based in the region said "USAID-funded partner organizations operating in Gaza are forced by Hamas's actions to suspend their assistance work. (They) were put on hold effective August 12." According to the official, Hamas demanded access to files and records of NGOs, which would reveal financial and administrative information, details of staff members and information on beneficiaries. He said Hamas shut down IMC and USAID after the US objected to "unwarranted audits". Hamas administration official Taher al-Nono said Hamas had a right to monitor their work in the territory but an understanding had been reached that would allow independent auditing teams to inspect the files of NGOs.

A day after the US announced it was suspending financial aid to Gaza, Hamas officials said they had reached an agreement with the United States that would allow USAID to continue operations.

In August 2011, the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip imposed new travel restrictions on Palestinians active in non-governmental organizations by requiring them to provide details of the trip to the ministry in what the Palestinian NGO Network regards as another Hamas attempt to control and hamper them. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights is an independent Palestinian human rights organization based in Gaza City, founded and directed by Raji Sourani...

 condemned the new laws. Tharut al Bic, head of the interior ministry’s NGO department, stated that “the new instructions are intended to make it easier for travellers to better organize their trip and to preserve order”. Hamas requires sick people wishing to leave the Gaza Strip to submit applications and meet various conditions, in addition to restrictions Israel imposes on Palestinians leaving Gaza.

Media


In 2005, Hamas announced its intention to launch an experimental TV channel, "Al-Aqsa TV
Al-Aqsa TV
Al-Aqsa TV is the official Hamas-run television channel. Its programming includes news talk, children's shows , and religiously inspired entertainment...

". The station was launched on January 7, 2006, less than three weeks before the Palestinian legislative elections
Palestinian legislative election, 2006
On January 25, 2006, elections were held for the Palestinian Legislative Council , the legislature of the Palestinian National Authority . Notwithstanding the 2005 municipal elections and the January 9, 2005 presidential election, this was the first election to the PLC since 1996; subsequent...

. It has shown television programs, including some children's television, which deliver anti-semitic messages. Hamas has stated that the television station is "an independent media institution that often does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed by Ismail Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement," and that Hamas does not hold anti-semitic views.

In the Gaza Strip



From 1987 to 1991, during the first intifada
First Intifada
The First Intifada was a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The uprising began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem....

, Hamas campaigned for the wearing of the hijab alongside other measures, including insisting women stay at home be segregated from men, and the promotion of polygamy. In the course of this campaign women who chose not to wear the hijab were verbally and physically harassed, with the result that the hijab was being worn 'just to avoid problems on the streets'.

Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, some of its members have attempted to impose Islamic dress or the Hijab
Hijab
The word "hijab" or "'" refers to both the head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women and modest Muslim styles of dress in general....

 head covering on women. Also, the government’s "Islamic Endowment Ministry" has deployed Virtue Committee members to warn citizens of the dangers of immodest dress, card playing and dating. However, there are no government laws imposing dress and other moral standards, and the Hamas education ministry reversed one effort to impose Islamic dress on students. There has also been successful resistance to attempts by local Hamas officials to impose Islamic dress on women.

Hamas officials deny having any plans to impose Islamic law, one legislator stating that “What you are seeing are incidents, not policy,” and that Islamic law is the desired standard "but we believe in persuasion.” The Hamas education ministry reversed one effort to impose Islamic dress on students. In March 2010, the BBC interviewed five "middle-class" women in Gaza City in March 2010, and all indicated there had been little or no change toward more conservative dress and mores.

In the West Bank


In 2005, the human rights organization Freemuse released a report titled "Palestine: Taliban-like attempts to censor music", which said that Palestinian musicians feared that harsh religious laws against music and concerts will be imposed since Hamas group scored political gains in the Palestinian Authority local elections of 2005.

The attempt by Hamas to dictate a cultural code of conduct in the 1980s and early 1990s led to a violent fighting between different Palestinan sectors. Hamas members reportedly burned down stores that stocked videos which they deemed indecent and destroyed books which they described as "heretical."

In 2005, an outdoor music and dance performance in Qalqiliya were suddenly banned by the Hamas led municipality, for the reason that such an event would be forbidden by Islam, or "Haram
Haram
The Arabic term has a meaning of "sanctuary" or "holy site" in Islam.-Etymology:The Arabic language has two separate words, and , both derived from the same triliteral Semitic root . Both of these words can mean "forbidden" and/or "sacred" in a general way, but each has also developed some...

". The municipality also ordered that music no longer be played in the Qalqiliya zoo, and mufti Akrameh Sabri issued a religious edict
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

 affirming the municipality decision. In response, the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish
Mahmoud Darwish
Mahmoud Darwish was a Palestinian poet and author who won numerous awards for his literary output and was regarded as the Palestinian national poet...

 warned that "There are Taliban-type elements in our society, and this is a very dangerous sign".

The Palestinian columnist Mohammed Abd Al-Hamid, a resident of Ramallah, wrote that this religious coercion could cause the migration of artists, and said "The religious fanatics in Algeria destroyed every cultural symbol, shattered statues and rare works of art and liquidated intellectuals and artists, reporters and authors, ballet dancers and singers – are we going to imitate the Algerian and Afghani examples?"

Tayyip Erdoğan's Turkey as a Role Model


Some Hamas members stated that the model of Islamic government that Hamas seeks to emulate is that of Turkey under the rule of Tayyip Erdoğan. The foremost members to distance Hamas from the practices of Taliban and to publicly support the Erdoğan model were Ahmad Yousef and Ghazi Hamad
Ghazi Hamad
Ghazi Hamad isChairman of the border crossings authority in the Gaza StripHe holds a Bachelor degree in Veterinary Medicine [1] and speaks both English and Hebrew in addition to his native Arabic....

, advisers to Prime Minister Hanieh. Yusuf, the Hamas deputy foreign minister, reflected this goal in an interview to a Turkish newspaper, stating that while foreign public opinion equates Hamas with the Taliban or al-Qaeda, the analogy is inaccurate. Yusuf described the Taliban as “opposed to everything,” including education and women’s rights, while Hamas wants to establish good relations between the religious and secular elements of society and strives for human rights, democracy and an open society. According to professor Yezid Sayigh
Yezid Sayigh
Yezid Sayigh, Baltimore, Maryland. Sayigh is Professor of Middle East Studies in the Department of War Studies at King's College London, member of the Academic Board of the Gulf Research Center and member of the Board of Trustees of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research...

 of the King's College
King's College London
King's College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and a constituent college of the federal University of London. King's has a claim to being the third oldest university in England, having been founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington in 1829, and...

 in London, how influential this view is within Hamas is uncertain, since both Ahmad Yousef and Ghazi Hamad were dismissed from their posts as advisers to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Hanieh in October 2007. Both have since been appointed to other prominent positions within the Hamas government. Khaled al-Hroub of the West Bank-based and anti-Hamas Palestinian daily Al Ayyam added that despite claims by Hamas leaders that it wants to repeat the Turkish model of Islam, "what is happening on the ground in reality is a replica of the Taliban model of Islam".

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism


According to academic Esther Webman, antisemitism is not the main tenet of Hamas ideology, although antisemitic rhetoric is frequent and intense in Hamas leaflets. The leaflets generally do not differentiate between Jews and Zionists. In other Hamas publications and in interviews with its leaders attempts at this differentiation have been made. In 2009 representatives of the small Jewish sect Neturei Karta
Neturei Karta
Neturei Karta is a Haredi Jewish group formally created in Jerusalem, British Mandate of Palestine, in 1938, splitting off from Agudas Yisroel...

 met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniya
Ismail Haniya
Ismail Haniyeh ; is a senior political leader of Hamas and one of two disputed Prime Ministers of the Palestinian National Authority, the matter being under political and legal dispute. He became Prime Minister after the legislative elections of 2006 which Hamas won...

 in Gaza, who stated that he held nothing against Jews but only against the state of Israel.

Hamas Charter (1988)


  • Article 7 of the Hamas Covenant provides the following quotation, attributed to Mohammed:


"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews."

  • Article 22 states that the French revolution
    French Revolution
    The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

    , the Russian revolution, colonialism and both world wars were created by the Zionists or forces supportive of Zionism:


"You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate
Ottoman Caliphate
The Ottoman Caliphate, under the Ottoman Dynasty of the Ottoman Empire inherited the responsibility of the Caliphate from the Mamluks of Egypt....

, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it."

  • Article 32 of the Covenant refers to an antisemitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
    The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
    The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a fraudulent, antisemitic text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for achieving global domination. It was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the twentieth century...

    :

"Today it is Palestine, tomorrow it will be one country or another. The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 to the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying."

Statements by Hamas members and clerics


In 2008 Imam
Imam (Sunni Islam)
In Sunni Islam, an imam khatib is a leader, often the worship leader of a mosque and the Muslim community. This compound title is merely a common combination of two elementary offices: leader of the congregational prayer, which in larger mosques is performed at the times of all daily prayers; and...

 Yousif al-Zahar of Hamas said in his sermon at the Katib Wilayat
Welayat Mosque
Welayat Mosque or Kateb al-Welaya Mosque is a small historic mosque located along Omar Mukhtar Street in Gaza City in the Zaytoun Quarter of the old city. The mosque was built by the Mamluks in 1432, however, the structure could date as far back as 1344...

mosque in Gaza that "Jews are a people who cannot be trusted. They have been traitors to all agreements. Go back to history. Their fate is their vanishing.". In an interview on the same year, Hamas Culture Minister Atallah Abu Al-Subh stated that " The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a fraudulent, antisemitic text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for achieving global domination. It was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the twentieth century...

 is the faith that every Jew harbors in his heart".

Another Hamas legislator and imam, Sheik Yunus al-Astal, discussed a Koranic verse suggesting that "suffering by fire is the Jews' destiny in this world and the next". He concluded "Therefore we are sure that the Holocaust is still to come upon the Jews".

According to MEMRI, in September 1996 the Hamas monthly Falastin Al-Muslima had published a series of articles by Shaykh Ibrahim Al-'Ali, on how Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 punished the Jews of Iliya, transforming them into animals, a punishment that left a mark on Jews - "their opinions, their feelings, and their ways of thought – which are reflected in face and external appearance – became like their nature and like the appearance of apes and pigs". Al-'Ali explained that the Jews later invented the theory of evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

, to prove that the entire human race was descended from apes, to cover their own shame of being "the brothers of apes and pigs". Sunni tradition also holds that Shi'ites suffered the same fate "because the Jews invented the Shi'a (Shia religion)...and is pervaded by [the Jews'] beliefs."

Statements on the Holocaust


Hamas has been explicit in its Holocaust Denial. In reaction to the Stockholm conference on the Jewish Holocaust, held in late January 2000, Hamas issued a press release which it published on its official website, containing the following statements from a senior leader:
This conference bears a clear Zionist goal, aimed at forging history by hiding the truth about the so-called Holocaust, which is an alleged and invented story with no basis. (...) The invention of these grand illusions of an alleged crime that never occurred, ignoring the millions of dead European victims of Nazism during the war, clearly reveals the racist Zionist face, which believes in the superiority of the Jewish race over the rest of the nations. (...) By these methods, the Jews in the world flout scientific methods of research whenever that research contradicts their racist interests.
In August 2003, senior Hamas official Dr Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi wrote in the Hamas newspaper Al-Risala that the Zionists encouraged murder of Jews by the Nazis with the aim of forcing them to immigrate to Palestine.

In 2005, Khaled Mashaal called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's December 14, 2005 statements on the Holocaust that Europeans had "created a myth in the name of Holocaust") as "courageous." Later in 2008, Basim Naim, the minister of health in the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government in Gaza countered holocaust denial, and said "it should be made clear that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian government in Gaza denies the Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

. The Holocaust was not only a crime against humanity but one of the most abhorrent crimes in modern history. We condemn it as we condemn every abuse of humanity and all forms of discrimination on the basis of religion, race, gender or nationality."

In an open letter to Gaza Strip UNRWA chief John Ging
John Ging
John Ging is an Irish national and former officer in the Irish Army who has served as head of the United Nation's Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip since 2006...

 published August 20, 2009, the movement's Popular Committees for Refugees called the Holocaust "a lie invented by the Zionists," adding that the group refused to let Gazan children study about it. Hamas leader Younis al-Astal continued by saying that having the Holocaust included in the UNRWA curriculum for Gaza students amounted to "marketing a lie and spreading it." Al-Astal continued "I do not exaggerate when I say this issue is a war crime, because of how it serves the Zionist colonizers and deals with their hypocrisy and lies."

Proximity to civilians during warfare


New York Times journalist Steven Erlanger
Steven Erlanger
Steven J. Erlanger is an American journalist who has been the Paris bureau chief for The New York Times since 2008. Erlanger joined the Times in September 1987....

 reported that "Hamas rocket and weapons caches, including rocket launchers, have been discovered in and under mosques, schools and civilian homes." Another report published by Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
Not to be confused with the California-based "Terrorism Information Center".The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center is an Israeli-based non-governmental organization with close ties to the Israel Defense Forces....

 revealed that Hamas used close to 100 mosques to store weapons and as launch-pads to shoot rockets. The report contains testimony from variety Palestinian sources, including a Hamas militant Sabhi Majad Atar, who said he was taught how to shoot rockets from inside a mosque. Hamas has also been criticized by Israeli officials for blending into or hiding among the Palestinian civilian population During the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict
2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict
The Gaza War, known as Operation Cast Lead in Israel and as the Gaza Massacre in the Arab world, was a three-week bombing and invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israel, and hundreds of rocket attacks on south of Israel which...

. The Israeli government published what it said was video evidence of human shield tactics by Hamas. Israel said that Hamas frequently used mosques and school yards as hideouts and places to store weapons, and that Hamas militants stored weapons in their homes, making it difficult to ensure that civilians close to legitimate military targets are not hurt during Israeli military operations. Israeli officials also accused the Hamas leadership of hiding under Shifa Hospital during the conflict, using the patients inside to deter an Israeli attack.

The Israeli government a filed report entitled "Gaza Operations Investigation: Second Update" to the United Nations accusing Hamas of exploiting its rules of engagement by shooting rockets and launching attacks within protected civilian areas. Israel says 12,000 rockets and mortars were fired at it between 2000 and 2008 - nearly 3,000 in 2008 alone.

In one case, an errant Israeli mortar strike killed dozens of people near a UN school. Hamas said that the mortar killed 42 people and left dozens wounded. Israel said that Hamas militants had launched a rocket from a yard adjacent to the school and one mortar of three rounds hit the school, due to a GPS error. According to the Israeli military probe, the remaining two rounds hit the yard used to launch rockets into Israel, killing two members of Hamas' military wing who fired the rockets.

Human Right Watch called Hamas to "publicly renounce" the rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and hold those responsible to account. Human Right Watch program director Iain Levine said the attacks by Hamas were "unlawful and unjustifiable, and amount to war crimes", and accused Hamas of putting Palestinians at risk by launching attacks from built-up areas. Hamas spokesman relied that the report was "biased" and he denied that Hamas uses human shields.

Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 investigated 19 incidents involving 53 civilian deaths in Gaza which Israel said were the result of Hamas fighting in densely populated areas and did not find evidence for existence of Palestinian fighters in the areas at the time of the Israeli attack. In other cases where no civilians had died, the report concluded that Hamas may have deliberately fired rockets from areas close to civilians. HRW also investigated 11 deaths that Israel said were civilians being used as human shields by Hamas. HRW found no evidence that the civilians were used as human shields, nor had they been shot in crossfire.

The Israeli 'human shields' charge against Hamas was called "full of holes" by "The National (Abu Dhabi)
The National (Abu Dhabi)
The National is a government-owned English-language daily newspaper published in Abu Dhabi. The editor-in-chief since June 8, 2009 has been Hassan Fattah. Prior to this, and from the launch of the newspaper Martin Newland was editor-in-chief. Mubadala Development Company, an investment company...

", which stated that only Israel accused Hamas of using human shields during the conflict, though Hamas "may be guilty" of “locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas” and for "deliberately firing indiscriminate weapons into civilian populated areas".

Criticism of rocket and mortar attacks


The rocket attacks by Hamas have been condemned by Human rights organizations as war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

s, both because they usually target civilians and because the weapons' inaccuracy would disproportionately endanger civilians even if military targets were chosen. Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 has also condemned the attackers for firing from near residential structures, thus putting Gazan civilians at unnecessary risk.

In July 2008 Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, then the Democratic presidential candidate, said: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing." On December 28, 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush...

 said in a statement: "the United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel". On March 2, 2009 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attacks.

The August 2, 2010 Rocket attacks on Eilat and Aqaba
Rocket attacks on Eilat and Aqaba
Rocket attacks on the neighboring cities of Eilat and Aqaba have been a tactic used by militants from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and organizations linked with al-Qaida because of the relative ease of launching rocket attacks against these two cities from adjacent desert areas.In 2005 Al...

 and Aqaba sparked rage in Egypt at Hamas and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. The Egyptian press stated that the firing of the rockets from Egyptian territory by Hamas or by organizations cooperating with it constituted the crossing of a red line. The Egyptian position is that Iran is employing local proxies, such as Hamas, to escalate violence in the Middle East and to sabotage the Palestinian reconciliation efforts, as well as efforts to renew Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. Later that year, the Egyptian government daily Al-Gumhouriyya also slammed Hamas's firing of "primitive" rockets at Israel that, according to the writer, serve only to prompt a deadly response from Israel. He blamed Hamas for turning the Gaza Strip into a "big prison" isolated from the world, where the residents suffer poverty while the leaders live in luxury.

Children as human shields


Israel has accused Hamas of using children as human shields. The Israeli government released video footage of Hamas in which it describes as two Hamas militants grabbing a young boy's arm from behind holding him to walk in front of them toward a group of people waiting near a wall. The IDF argues the militants were placing the boy between themselves and an Israeli sniper. The second scene shows an individual, described as a Hamas militant, grabbing a school boy off of a floor, where he is hiding behind a column from IDF fire, and using him as a human shield to walk to a different location.

In November 2006, the Israeli Air Force warned Muhammad Weil Baroud, a Palestinian militant accused of launching rockets into Israeli territory, to evacuate his home in a Jabalya refugee camp apartment block in advance of a planned Israeli air strike. Hamas responded by calling for volunteers to protect the apartment block and nearby buildings and, according to the Jerusalem Post, hundreds of local residents, mostly women and children, responded. Israel suspended the air strike. Israel termed the Hamas action an example of the use of human shields, although surrounding an apartment block under most interpretations of international law is not such an example, since the term "human shield" involves warring parties placing civilians in "proximity to a legitimate military target." In response to the incident, Hamas proclaimed: 'We won. From now on we will form human chains around every house threatened with demolition.'" In a November 22 press release, Human Rights Watch condemned Hamas, stating: "There is no excuse for calling civilians to the scene of a planned attack. Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm's way is unlawful". Political scientist Norman Finkelstein
Norman Finkelstein
Norman Gary Finkelstein is an American political scientist, activist and author. His primary fields of research are the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the politics of the Holocaust. He is a graduate of Binghamton University and received his Ph.D in Political Science from Princeton University...

 organized a campaign against the Human Rights Watch condemnation, asking "Is it a war crime to protect one’s home from collective punishment?"

When the UN-sponsored Goldstone Commission Report on the Gaza War
United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, known as the Goldstone Report, was a team established in April 2009 by the United Nations Human Rights Council during the Gaza War as an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate alleged violations of international...

 was commissioned in 2009, it stated that it "found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack."

Children as combatants


The Israeli government released a video compiled mostly from Arab news sources showing Palestinian children under the age of 15 going through military training and carrying and firing arms. The video's narration explains that Hamas indoctrinates these child combatants and that Hamas operators send the children "on missions from which they would not risk their own lives." According to the Israeli government, the children are used as spotters, to transport explosives and weapons, sent to play in areas to deter Israeli attacks and are sent unknowingly with explosive devices in their schoolbags to be blown up in the vicinity of Israelis. The United Nations defines the use of children for military purposes as a war crime and a form of slavery. See Military use of children
Military use of children
The military use of children takes three distinct forms: children can take direct part in hostilities , or they can be used in support roles such as porters, spies, messengers, look outs, and sexual slaves; or they can be used for political advantage either as human shields or in...

.

Although Hamas admits to sponsoring summer schools to train teenagers in handling weapons they condemn attacks by children. Following the deaths of three teenagers during a 2002 attack on Netzarim
Netzarim (settlement)
Netzarim was formerly an Israeli settlement established in Gaza in 1972. It began as a secular Nahal outpost of the Hashomer Hatzair movement; in 1984 it became an orthodox kibbutz. A few years later, the residents decided to change from a kibbutz to a village...

 in central Gaza, Hamas banned attacks by children and "called on the teachers and religious leaders to spread the message of restraint among young boys".

Children's Magazine



Al-Fateh ("the conqueror") is the Hamas children's magazine, published biweekly in London, and also posted in an online website. It began publication in September 2002, and its 108th issue was released in mid-September 2007. The magazine features stories, poems, riddles, and puzzles, and states it is for "the young builders of the future".

According to MEMRI, the magazine includes incitement to jihad and martyrdom and glorification of terrorist operations and of their planners and perpetrators. as well as characterizations of Jews as "murderers of the prophets" and laudatory descriptions of parents who encourage their sons to kill Jews. In each issue, a regular feature titled "The Story of a Martyr" presents the "heroic deeds" of a mujahid from one of the organizations who died in a suicide operation, including operations against civilians, or who was killed by the IDF. MEMRI also noted that the magazine includes illustrations of figures, including child warriors, who embody the ethos of jihad and martyrdom, presenting them as role models. These include the magazine's titular character, Al-Fateh ("The Conqueror") - a small boy on a horse brandishing a drawn scimitar - as well as children carrying guns, and photos of Hamas fighters launching Qassam rockets.

Al-Aqsa TV


Al-Aqsa TV is a television channel founded by Hamas. The station began broadcasting in the Gaza Strip on January 9, 2006. Its programming includes ideologically tinged children's shows, news talk, and religiously inspired entertainment. According to the Anti-Defamation League
Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League is an international non-governmental organization based in the United States. Describing itself as "the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency", the ADL states that it "fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects...

, the station promotes terrorist activity and incites hatred of Jews and Israelis. Hamas has stated that the television station is "an independent media institution that often does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed by Ismail Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement," and that Hamas does not hold anti-semitic views.

Al-Aqsa TV is headed by Fathi Ahmad Hammad
Fathi Ahmad Hammad
Fathi Ahmad Hammad is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and the chairman of al-Ribat Communications and Artistic Productions - a Hamas-run company which produces Hamas's radio station, Voice of al-Aqsa, it's television station, Al-Aqsa TV and its bi-weekly newspaper, The Message.In...

, chairman of al-Ribat Communications and Artistic Productions - a Hamas-run company which also produces Hamas's radio station, Voice of al-Aqsa, and its bi-weekly newspaper, The Message.

Teenage Academic Scholars Travel Ban


In September 2011, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the Hamas minister of education informed eight high school National Merit Scholar
National Merit Scholarship Program
The National Merit Scholarship Program is a United States academic scholarship competition for recognition and college scholarships administered by National Merit Scholarship Corporation , a privately funded, not-for-profit organization. The program began in 1955...

 students that they could not leave the Gaza Strip to study in the United States, saying the reasons were "social and cultural."

Dissent and the media


Human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 groups and Gazans have accused the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip of restricing freedom of the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

 and forcefully suppressing dissent. Both foreign and Palestinian journalists report harassment
Harassment
Harassment covers a wide range of behaviors of an offensive nature. It is commonly understood as behaviour intended to disturb or upset, and it is characteristically repetitive. In the legal sense, it is intentional behaviour which is found threatening or disturbing...

 and other measures taken against them. In September 2007 the Gaza Interior Ministry disbanded the Gaza Strip branch of the pro-Fatah Union of Palestinian Journalists, a move criticized by Reporters without borders
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders is a France-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press. It was founded in 1985, by Robert Ménard, Rony Brauman and the journalist Jean-Claude Guillebaud. Jean-François Julliard has served as Secretary General since 2008...

. In November of that year the Hamas government arrested a British journalist and for a time canceled all press cards in Gaza. On February 8, 2008 Hamas banned distribution of the pro-Fatah Al-Ayyam newspaper, and closed its offices in the Gaza Strip because it ran a caricature that mocked legislators loyal to Hamas,. The Gaza Strip Interior Ministry later issued an arrest warrant for the editor.

More widely, in late August 2007 the group was accused in The Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning broadsheet newspaper distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. The newspaper was founded by Arthur B...

, a conservative British newspaper, of torturing, detaining, and firing on unarmed protesters who had objected to policies of the Hamas government. Also in late August, Palestinian health officials reported that the Hamas government had been shutting down Gaza clinics in retaliation for doctor strikes – The Hamas government confirmed the "punitive measure against doctors" because, in its view, they had incited other doctors to suspend services and go out on strike.

In September 2007 the Hamas government banned public prayers, after Fatah supporters began holding worship sessions that quickly escalated into raucous protests against Hamas rule. Government security forces beat several gathering supporters and journalists.

In October 2008, the Hamas government announced it would release all political prisoners in custody in Gaza. Several hours after the announcement, 17 Fatah members were released.

Human rights abuses


In June 2011, the Independent Commission for Human Rights based in Ramallah
Ramallah
Ramallah is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank located 10 kilometers north of Jerusalem, adjacent to al-Bireh. It currently serves as the de facto administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority...

 published a report whose findings included that the Palestinians in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 and the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

 were subjected in 2010 to an “almost systematic campaign” of human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as well as by Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i authorities, with the security forces belonging to the PA and Hamas being responsible for torture, arrests and arbitrary detentions.

Political violence and terrorism



Hamas uses both political activities and violence in pursuit of its goals. For example, while politically engaged in the 2006 Palestinian Territories parliamentary election campaign, Hamas stated in its election manifesto that it was prepared to use "armed resistance to end the occupation".

From 2000 to 2004, Hamas was responsible for killing nearly 400 Israelis and wounding more than 2,000 in 425 attacks, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 2001 through May 2008, Hamas launched more than 3,000 Qassam rockets and 2,500 mortar attacks into Israel.

Attacks on civilians


In the first years of the First Intifada
First Intifada
The First Intifada was a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The uprising began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem....

 (1987–1993), Hamas violence was directed first at collaborators with Israel and at individuals it considered moral deviants, and then later at the Israeli military. A new direction began with the formation of the al-Qassam Brigades militia in 1992, and in 1993 suicide attacks began against Israeli targets on the West Bank.
The first such attack occurred on April 16, 1993, when an al-Qassam Brigades operative detonated explosives in a car he parked next to two buses, one military and one civilian, in the West Bank town of Mehola
Mehola Junction bombing
The Mehola Junction bombing was the first suicide car bomb attack carried out by Palestinian militants and took place on April 16, 1993....

, killing a Palestinian civilian and wounding 8 Israeli soldiers. After the February 1994 massacre by Baruch Goldstein
Baruch Goldstein
Baruch Kopel Goldstein was an American-born Jewish Israeli physician and mass murderer who perpetrated the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in the city of Hebron, killing 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers and wounding another 125....

 of 30 Muslim civilians in a Hebron mosque, the al-Qassam Brigades expanded suicide attacks to target primarily civilians. The first of the suicide bombings that targeted civilians was at Afula
Afula Bus suicide bombing
The Afula Bus suicide bombing was the suicide bombing attack that was carried out on April 6, 1994 at a bus next to a Egged bus in the center of Afula, Israel. Eight Israeli civilians were killed in the attack and 55 additional people were injured...

 on April 16, 1994, when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden car next to a bus, killing nine (including the bomber) and wounding 50. The most deadly suicide bombing was an attack on a Netanya
Netanya
Netanya is a city in the Northern Centre District of Israel, and is the capital of the surrounding Sharon plain. It is located north of Tel Aviv, and south of Haifa between the 'Poleg' stream and Wingate Institute in the south and the 'Avichail' stream in the north.Its of beaches have made the...

 hotel on March 27, 2002, in which 30 people were killed and 140 were wounded. The attack has also been referred to as the Passover massacre since it took place on the first night of the Jewish festival of Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

 at a Seder
Passover Seder
The Passover Seder is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. It is conducted on the evenings of the 14th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, and on the 15th by traditionally observant Jews living outside Israel. This corresponds to late March or April in...

.

Hamas defended the suicide attacks as a legitimate aspect of its asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly....

 against Israel, but the practice is illegal under international law. Hamas renounced suicide attacks in April 2006. In a 2002 report, Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 stated that Hamas leaders "should be held accountable" for "war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

s and crimes against humanity" committed by the al-Qassam Brigades.

In May 2006 Israel arrested a top Hamas official, Ibrahim Hamed
Ibrahim Hamed
Ibrahim Hamed is a Hamas military commander in the West Bank who ordered suicide bombing attacks during the Al-Aqsa Intifada until he was apprehended by Israeli security sources on May 23, 2006...

, who Israeli security officials alleged was responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks on Israelis. Hamed’s trial on those charges has not yet concluded.

While the suicide attacks ceased in 2005, al-Qassam Brigades rocket and mortar attacks on towns and settlements near Gaza continued. Since 2002, paramilitary soldiers of al-Qassam Brigades and other groups have used homemade Qassam rockets to hit Israeli towns in the Negev
Negev
The Negev is a desert and semidesert region of southern Israel. The Arabs, including the native Bedouin population of the region, refer to the desert as al-Naqab. The origin of the word Neghebh is from the Hebrew root denoting 'dry'...

, such as Sderot
Sderot
Sderot is a western Negev city in the Southern District of Israel. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics , at the end of 2009 the city had a total population of 20,700. The city has been an ongoing target of Qassam rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip...

. Al-Qassam Brigades was estimated in 2007 to have launched 22% of the rocket and mortar attacks, which killed fifteen people between the years 2000 and 2009 (see Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel
Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel
Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip have occurred since 2001. Between 2001 and January 2009, over 8,600 rockets had been launched, leading to 28 deaths and several hundred injuries, as well as widespread psychological trauma and disruption of daily life.The weapons,...

). The introduction of the Qassam-2 rocket in 2008 enabled Palestinian paramilitary groups to reach, from Gaza, such Israeli cities such as Ashkelon
Ashkelon
Ashkelon is a coastal city in the South District of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, south of Tel Aviv, and north of the border with the Gaza Strip. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Neolithic Age...

.

In 2008, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, offered that Hamas would attack only military targets if the IDF would stop causing the deaths of Palestinian civilians. Following a June 19, 2008 ceasefire, the al-Qassam Brigades ended its rocket attacks and arrested Fatah militants in Gaza who had continued sporadic rocket and mortar attacks against Israel. The al-Qassam Brigades resumed the attacks after the November 4 Israeli incursion into Gaza.

Rocket attacks on Israel


According to Human Rights Watch, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have launched thousands of rockets into Israel since 2001, killing 15 civilians, wounding many more, and posing an ongoing threat to the nearly 800,000 Israeli civilians who live and work in the weapons’ range. Hamas officials have said that the rockets were aimed only at military targets, saying that civilian casualties were the "accidental result" of the weapons’ poor quality. According to Human Rights Watch statements by Hamas leaders suggest that the purpose of the rocket attacks was indeed to strike civilians and civilian objects. From January 2009, Hamas largely stopped launching rocket attacks on Israel and has on at least two occasions arrested members of other groups who have launched rockets, "showing that it has the ability to impose the law when it wants". In February 2010, Hamas issued a statement regretting any harm that may have befallen Israeli civilians as a result of Palestinian rocket attacks during the Gaza war. It maintained that its rocket attacks had been aimed at Israeli military targets but lacked accuracy and hence sometimes hit civilian areas. Israel responded that Hamas had boasted repeatedly of targeting and murdering civilians in the media.

Attempts to derail 2010 peace talks


In 2010, Hamas, who have been actively sidelined from the peace talks by Israel, spearheaded a coordinated effort by 13 Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 militant groups, in attempt to derail the stalled peace talks
Direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in 2010
Direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority have been taking place since September 2010, between United States President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and ended when Netanyahu refused to extend...

 between Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas , also known by the kunya Abu Mazen , has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation since 11 November 2004 and became President of the Palestinian National Authority on 15 January 2005 on the Fatah ticket.Elected to serve until 9 January 2009, he unilaterally...

, President of the Palestinian Authority. According to the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories
Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories is a unit in the Israeli Ministry of Defense that engages in coordinating civilian issues between the Government of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces, international organizations, diplomats, and the Palestinian...

 Major Gen. Eitan Dangot, Israel seeks to work with Salam Fayyad
Salam Fayyad
Salam Fayyad is a Palestinian politician and Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority of the Palestinian National Authority. His first appointment, on 15 June 2007, which was justified by President Mahmoud Abbas on the basis of "national emergency", has not been confirmed by the...

, to help revive the Palestinian economy, and hopes to hopes to ease restrictions on the Gaza Strip further, "while somehow preventing the Islamic militants who rule it from getting credit for any progress". According to Dangot, Hamas must not be seen as ruling successfully or be allowed to "get credit for a policy that would improve the lives of people." The campaign consists of attacks against Israelis in which, according to a Hamas declaration in early September, "all options are open". The participating groups also include Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees
Popular Resistance Committees
The Popular Resistance Committees are a coalition of various armed Palestinian factions that oppose the conciliatory approach adopted by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah towards Israel...

 and an unnamed splinter group of Fatah
Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

.

As part of the campaign, on August 31, 2010, 4 Israeli settlers, including a pregnant woman, were killed by Hamas militants
August 2010 West Bank shooting
The August 2010 West Bank shooting attack was an attack near Kiryat Arba, carried out by Hamas militants. Four Israeli settlers were killed after gunmen attacked their vehicle...

 while driving on Route 60 near the settlement Kiryat Arba
Kiryat Arba
Kiryat Arba or Qiryat Arba , lit. "Town of the Four," is an Israeli settlement in the Judean Mountains region of the West Bank on the edge of Hebron. Its settlers consist of a mix of Russian immigrants, American immigrants, and native-born Israelis numbering close to 10,000...

, in the West bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

. According to witnesses, militants opened fire on the moving vehicle, but then "approached the car" and shot the occupants in their seats at "close range". The attack was described by Israeli sources as one of the "worst" terrorist acts in years. A senior Hamas official said that Israeli settlers in the West Bank are legitimate targets since "they are an army in every sense of the word".

Themes of martyrdom


According to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch, in 2008, Fathi Hamad, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council
Palestinian Legislative Council
The Palestinian Legislative Council, the legislature of the Palestinian Authority, is a unicameral body with 132 members, elected from 16 electoral districts in the West Bank and Gaza...

, stated on Al-Aqsa TV
Al-Aqsa TV
Al-Aqsa TV is the official Hamas-run television channel. Its programming includes news talk, children's shows , and religiously inspired entertainment...

, “For the Palestinian people death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly (Palestinians) created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: 'We desire death as you desire life'."

In 2010, Hamas speaker Ahmad Bahr praised the virtues of martyrdom and Jihad, and said that 2.5 million black-eyed virgins were waiting in the Garden of Eden
Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is in the Bible's Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, lived after they were created by God. Literally, the Bible speaks about a garden in Eden...

 which could be entered only by prophets, by the righteous, and by martyrs. He continued by saying that nobody on Earth "will be able to confront the resistance, or to confront the mujahideen, those who worship Allah and seek martyrdom."

Guerrilla warfare


Hamas has made great use of guerrilla tactics
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 in the Gaza Strip and to a lesser degree the West Bank. It has successfully adapted these techniques over the years since its inception. According to a 2006 report by rival Fatah party, Hamas had smuggled between several hundred and 1,300 tons of advanced rockets, along with other weaponry, into Gaza.

Hamas has used IED
Improvised explosive device
An improvised explosive device , also known as a roadside bomb, is a homemade bomb constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action...

s and anti-tank rockets against the IDF
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 in Gaza. The latter include standard RPG-7
RPG-7
The RPG-7 is a widely-produced, portable, unguided, shoulder-launched, anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Originally the RPG-7 and its predecessor, the RPG-2, were designed by the Soviet Union, and now manufactured by the Bazalt company...

 warheads and home-made rockets such as the Al-Bana
Al-Bana
The al-Bana rocket launcher is a weapon developed by Hamas's Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades under the direction of Adnan al-Ghoul and Mohammed Deif. Made from raw material and equipment smuggled into the Gaza Strip using tunnels in Rafah, the al-Bana was the first example, during the Al-Aqsa...

, Al-Batar
Batar
The Batar rocket launcher is a weapon developed by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian militant group Hamas during the Al-Aqsa intifada. The weapon was reportedly created and produced in clandestine workshops in the Gaza strip under the direction of Adnan al-Ghoul...

 and Al-Yasin. The IDF has a difficult, if not impossible time trying to find hidden weapons caches in Palestinian areas — this is due to the high local support base Hamas enjoys.

Other targets and activities


In addition to killing Israeli civilians and armed forces, Hamas has also attacked suspected Palestinian collaborators
Collaborationism
Collaborationism is cooperation with enemy forces against one's country. Legally, it may be considered as a form of treason. Collaborationism may be associated with criminal deeds in the service of the occupying power, which may include complicity with the occupying power in murder, persecutions,...

, and Fatah rivals. In the wake of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in January 2009, Hamas has been accused of systematically rounding up, torturing and summarily executing Fatah supporters suspected of supplying information to Israel.

On February 2007, members of the Palestinian Red Crescent, speaking on conditions of anonymity, said that Hamas had confiscated their humanitarian supply convoys that were destined for Palestinian civilians.

Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 has cited a number of summary executions as particular examples of violations of the rules of warfare, including the case of Muhammad Swairki, 28, a cook for Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's presidential guard, who was thrown to his death, with his hands and legs tied, from a 15-story apartment building in Gaza City.

Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups are accused of frequently extrajudicially executing or otherwise punishing those considered collaborators with Israel. Frequent killings of unarmed people have also occurred during Hamas-Fatah clashes.

Thousands of angry Hamas loyalists marched on February 24, 2008 at the funeral of a Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 preacher who died in PNA
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

 custody, turning the ceremony into a rare show of defiance against President Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas , also known by the kunya Abu Mazen , has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation since 11 November 2004 and became President of the Palestinian National Authority on 15 January 2005 on the Fatah ticket.Elected to serve until 9 January 2009, he unilaterally...

.

On August 14, 2009 Hamas fighters stormed the Mosque of radical cleric Abdel-Latif Moussa. The cleric was protected by at least 100 fighters from Jund Ansar Allah
Jund Ansar Allah
Jund Ansar Allah is an armed Islamist organization operating in the Gaza Strip. On August 14, 2009, the group's spiritual leader, Sheikh Abdel Latif Moussa, announced the establishment of an Islamic emirate in the Palestinian territories and criticized the ruling power, Hamas, for failing to...

 ("Army of the Helpers of God"), an Islamist group with links to Al-Qaeda. The resulting battle left at least 13 people dead, including Moussa and 6 Hamas fighters, and 120 people injured.

International designation of Hamas

Country Designation
 Australia The military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, is listed as a terrorist organization.
 Canada Lists Hamas as a terrorist group in the Canadian Criminal Code.
 European Union Hamas has been included in the black list of EU-designated terrorists groups since 2003
 Israel The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that "Hamas maintains a terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank, and acts to carry out terrorist attacks in the territories and Israel."
 Japan Stated in 2005 that it had frozen the assets of "terrorist organizations, including... Hamas."
 Jordan Banned Hamas in 1999
 Norway Norway was the first Western country to recognize the 2007 Palestinian government consisting of both Hamas and Fatah, and Norwegian officials have met with Hamas representatives on several occasions. "We know that the USA and the EU have legal obligations since they have Hamas on their terrorist list. We must be able to take an independent decision about contact," Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Støre
Jonas Gahr Støre
Jonas Gahr Støre is the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, having been appointed to Jens Stoltenberg's second cabinet on 17 October 2005. He represents the Norwegian Labour Party.-Personal life:...

 responded to a 2006 United States' attempt to dissuade Norwegian contact with Hamas.
 Russia Russia does not designate Hamas a terrorist organisation, and held direct talks with Hamas in 2006, after Hamas won the Palestine elections, stating that it did so to press Hamas to reject violence and recognise Israel. An Israeli official has said that Russia will reduce its ties to Hamas.
 Switzerland Switzerland does not forbid any organizations except Al Qaida. Swiss officials have regular contacts with Hamas representatives as the de-facto authority of the Gaza strip. The Swiss Federal Council
Swiss Federal Council
The Federal Council is the seven-member executive council which constitutes the federal government of Switzerland and serves as the Swiss collective head of state....

 has condemned the “terrorist attacks” committed by the Hamas against Israel.
 Turkey The Turkish government met with Hamas leaders in February 2006, after the organization's victory in the Palestinian elections. In 2010, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described Hamas as "resistance fighters who are struggling to defend their land."
 United Kingdom Hamas as a whole was designated a terrorist organization by the UK Government in 2003 with no distinction made between its military and non-military wings.
 United States Lists Hamas as a "Foreign Terrorist Organization"

United States designation of Hamas


The State Department decided to add Hamas to its U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations
U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations
"Foreign Terrorist Organization" is a designation of non-United States-based organizations declared terrorist by the United States Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act...

 in April 1993. , Hamas is still listed.

The United States states that its strong stand against Hamas arises from the group's use of violence, its opposition to U.S. interests in the Middle East, and because Hamas is allegedly receiving support from Iran and collaborating with the Lebanese group Hezbullah. The Hamas representative in Iran denied the allegation that it had received $30 million from Iran in 1992, but acknowledged Iranian assistance to Palestinian groups. In particular, the U.s. alleges that Hamas soldiers have been given refuge in southern Lebanon, where they receive training and support from Hezbollah guerrillas.

The FBI and United States Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 also stated, in 2004, that Hamas threatened the United States through covert cells on US soil. Researcher Steven Emerson
Steven Emerson
Steven Emerson, is an American journalist and author, who writes about national security, terrorism, and Islamic extremism.Emerson is the author of six books, and co-author of two more. His television documentary Jihad in America won the 1994 George Polk Award for best Television Documentary, and...

 in 2006 alleged that the group had "an extensive infrastructure in the US mostly revolving around the activities of fundraising, recruiting and training members, directing operations against Israel, organizing political support and operating through human-rights front groups." Emerson added that while the group had never acted outside of Israel or the Palestinian Territories, it does have the capacity to carry out attacks in the U.S. "if it decided to enlarge the scope of its operations." FBI director Robert Mueller in 2005 testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that, the FBI's assessment at that time was that there was "a limited threat of a coordinated terrorist attack in the US from Palestinian terrorist organizations" such as Hamas. He added that Hamas had "maintained a longstanding policy of focusing their attacks on Israeli targets in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and that the FBI believed that the main interest of Hamas in the U.S.remained "the raising of funds to support their regional goals." Mueller also stated that, "of all the Palestinian groups, Hamas has the largest presence in the US, with a robust infrastructure, primarily focused on fundraising, propaganda for the Palestinian cause, and proselytizing. Although it would be a major strategic shift for Hamas, its US network is theoretically capable of facilitating acts of terrorism in the US

On 2 May 2011, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 in Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 by the United States. Haniyeh praised Bin Laden, the founder of the jihadist organization al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

, as a "martyr" and an "Arab holy warrior". The United States government condemned his remarks as "outrageous".

In Arab countries



In a 2007 Pew
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1990, Donald S...

 Global Attitudes Survey, 62% of Palestinians had a favorable opinion of Hamas, as do majorities or pluralities in Jordan and Morocco. Opinions of Hamas are divided in Egypt and Kuwait, and Hamas is viewed negatively in Turkey and Lebanon.

In Israel


In February 2008 a Haaretz
Haaretz
Haaretz is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English in Berliner format. The English edition is published and sold together with the International Herald Tribune. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the Internet...

 poll indicated that 64% of Israelis favour their government holding direct talks with Hamas in Gaza about a cease-fire and the release of captives.

According to a November 2009 survey conducted by Haaretz
Haaretz
Haaretz is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English in Berliner format. The English edition is published and sold together with the International Herald Tribune. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the Internet...

, 57% of Israelis support the view of MK Shaul Mofaz
Shaul Mofaz
Lt. General Shaul Mofaz is an Israeli politician who serves as the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs And Defense Committee at the Knesset...

 of Kadima
Kadima
Kadima is a centrist and liberal political party in Israel. It was established on 24 November 2005 by moderates from Likud largely to support the issue of Ariel Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, and was soon joined by like-minded Labor politicians...

, that Israel should establish a dialogue with Hamas under certain conditions, for example, that Hamas renounces violence, recognizes Israel's right to exist as a Jewish nation, and loses its designation as a terrorist organization. Hamas responded to this by labeling it "Zionist vulgarity" and stating that they will never negotiate with or recognize their "enemy", the state of Israel.

In the USA


The charitable trust
Charitable trust
A charitable trust is an irrevocable trust established for charitable purposes, and is a more specific term than "charitable organization".-United States:...

 Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development
Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development
The Holy Land Foundation was the largest Islamic charity in the United States. Headquartered in Richardson, Texas, it was originally known as Occupied Land Fund....

 was accused in December 2001 of funding Hamas. The US Justice Department filed 200 charges against the foundation. The case first ended in a mistrial, in which jurors acquitted on some counts and were deadlocked on charges ranging from tax violations to providing material support for terrorists. In a retrial, on November 24, 2008, the five leaders of the Foundation were convicted on 108 counts.

In 2004, a federal court in the United States found Hamas liable in a civil lawsuit for the 1996 murders of Yaron and Efrat Ungar near Bet Shemesh
Bet Shemesh
Beit Shemesh is a city in Israel's Jerusalem District, with a population of 80,000. The history of Beit Shemesh goes back to pre-biblical times...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. Hamas has been ordered to pay the families of the Ungars $116 million. On July 5, 2004, the court issued a default judgment against the PNA
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

 and the PLO
Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

 regarding the Ungars' said that the Palestinian Authority and the PLO provide safe haven to Hamas.

On August 20, 2004, three Palestinians, one a naturalized American citizen, were charged with a "lengthy racketeering conspiracy to provide money for terrorist
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 acts in Israel." The indicted include Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, senior member of Hamas, believed to be currently in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and considered a fugitive
Fugitive
A fugitive is a person who is fleeing from custody, whether it be from private slavery, a government arrest, government or non-government questioning, vigilante violence, or outraged private individuals...

 by the US.

On February 1, 2007, two men were acquitted of contravening US law by supporting Hamas. Both men argued that they helped move money for Palestinian causes aimed at helping the Palestinian people and not to promote terrorism.

In January 2009, a Federal prosecutor accused the Council on American-Islamic Relations
Council on American-Islamic Relations
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is America's largest Muslim civil liberties advocacy organization that deals with civil advocacy and promotes human rights...

 of having links to a charity designated as a support network for Hamas. The Justice Department identified CAIR as an “un-indicted co-conspirator” in the Holy Land Foundation
Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development
The Holy Land Foundation was the largest Islamic charity in the United States. Headquartered in Richardson, Texas, it was originally known as Occupied Land Fund....

 case in Dallas, which concluded with the sentencing of the two founders of the foundation to life in prison for funneling $12 million to Hamas. Later, a federal appeals court removed that label for all parties and instead, named them "joint venturers."

In Germany


A German federal court ruled in 2004 that Hamas was a unified organisation whose humanitarian aid work could not be separated from its "terrorist and political activities." In July 2010, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 also outlawed Frankfurt-based International Humanitarian Aid Organization (IHH e.V.), saying it had used donations to support Hamas-affiliated relief projects in Gaza. While presenting their activities to donors as humanitarian assistance, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere
Thomas de Maizière
Karl Ernst Thomas de Maizière is a German politician , currently serving as the Minister of Defence in the Second Cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel....

 said, IHH e.V. had "exploited trusting donors’ willingness to help by using money that was given for a good purpose for supporting what is, in the final analysis, a terrorist organization.” A spokesperson for the Islamic Human Rights Commission
Islamic Human Rights Commission
The Islamic Human Rights Commission is a non-profit organization. Its stated mission is to, "... work with different organizations from Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds, to campaign for justice for all peoples regardless of their racial, confessional or political background.". The group is...

 described the decision as "a victory for those who seek to stigmatise all Islamic activism as supporting terrorism."

See also

  • Fatah-Hamas conflict
    Fatah-Hamas conflict
    The Fatah–Hamas conflict , also referred to as the Palestinian Civil War , and the Conflict of Brothers , i.e...

  • Hamastan
    Hamastan
    Hamastan is a pejorative neologism, merging 'Hamas', a Palestinian militant organization and political party, and '-stan', a suffix of Persian origin meaning "home of/place of".-Linguistic history:...

  • Human rights in the Palestinian National Authority
    Human rights in the Palestinian National Authority
    Human rights in the Palestinian National Authority refers to the human rights record of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza. Since Israel's implementation of its unilateral disengagement plan in 2005 and the evacuation of all Jewish settlements from Gaza Strip, the Palestinian...

  • List of Hamas suicide attacks
  • List of political parties in the Palestinian National Authority

External links