What Is The Palestinian Militant Group 'Hamas' And Who Are Its Supporters

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What Is The Palestinian Militant Group 'Hamas' And Who Are Its Supporters

Hamas and Israel have now signed a ceasefire deal that brought to an end almost two weeks of conflict that has left hundreds dead, mostly Palestinians. During this time, Hamas has fired almost 4,000 rockets into Israel, most of which were destroyed by the Israeli Iron Dome anti-rocket system. But who are the Hamas?


Hamas is an Islamist and Palestinian nationalist group that has controlled the Gaza Strip since elections in 2007. The rest of Palestine is controlled by Fatah, which was aligned with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, and which was the main opponent to Israel in the region until recently. Since a peace deal was signed in 1993, the PLO is no longer considered a terrorist organisation, unlike Hamas, which is outlawed in most countries. Fatah is also a secular organisation, which means unlike Hamas, and its ally Palestinian Islamic Jihad, they have Christian, Muslim and non-religious members.


Hamas was formed in the 1980s and has been opposed firmly to the PLO and Israel. Many claim that Israel itself funded Hamas in order to undermine the PLO.


Unlike the PLO, who signed a peace agreement with Israel in the 1990s, Hamas does not accept that Israel has a right to exist and believes that all land should be taken back by the Palestinians and the Jews thrown out of the country. Since the PLO signed a peace agreement, Hamas has carried out hundreds of terror attacks on Israel including suicide bombings of civilian targets. As all Israeli citizens serve in the Israeli military, Hamas does not see a difference between civilian and military Israeli targets.


Since huge walls were constructed separating Palestine and Israel, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of terror attacks on Israel. However, Hamas has gotten around this by firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel.


These rockets are smuggled into Gaza by secret tunnels and are thought to originate in Iran. Iran is regarded as a key funder of Hamas despite the fact that the Iranian state and Hamas follow two separate brands of Islam.


Hamas also receives funding from Qatar. Qatari Emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has donated over $1.5 billion to Hamas. While Qatar claims this is for humanitarian reasons, much of the money goes into funding terror.


In recent years autocratic far-right Turkish leader Recep Erdogan has also backed Hamas and their leader, Ismail Haniyeh.


Worryingly, as more Palestinian land is stolen by Jewish settlers in the Palestinian West Bank, in clear breach of international law, it is possible that more and more Palestinians will move away from the moderate secular Fatah and towards the Islamist Hamas group.


[h/t: DW]


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Thinking Humanity: What Is The Palestinian Militant Group 'Hamas' And Who Are Its Supporters
What Is The Palestinian Militant Group 'Hamas' And Who Are Its Supporters
Hamas and Israel have now signed a ceasefire deal that brought to an end almost two weeks of conflict that has left hundreds dead, mostly Palestinians
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