Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
What is Hamas? A History of the Terrorist Group Ruling the Gaza Strip
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 6 months ago on
October 10, 2023

Share

BEIRUT — Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, launched an attack inside Israel over the weekend, killing hundreds and taking others hostage. Its unprecedented breach of the border sent fighters inside border communities and military installations, shocked Israel and its allies, and raised questions about the group’s capabilities and strategy.

WHAT IS HAMAS?

The group was founded in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a Palestinian refugee living in Gaza, during the first intifada, or uprising, which was marked by widespread protests against Israel’s occupation.

Hamas is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, and a recognition of the group’s roots and early ties to one of the Sunni world’s most prominent groups, the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in the 1920s.

The group has vowed to annihilate Israel and has been responsible for many suicide bombings and other deadly attacks on civilians and Israeli soldiers.

The U.S. State Department designated Hamas a terrorist group in 1997. The European Union and other Western countries also consider it a terrorist organization.

Hamas won 2006 parliamentary elections and in 2007 violently seized control of the Gaza Strip from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority, dominated by rival Fatah movement, administers semi-autonomous areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Israel responded to the Hamas takeover with a blockade on Gaza, restricting the movement of people and goods in and out of the territory in a step it says is needed to keep the group from developing weapons. The blockade has ravaged Gaza’s economy, and Palestinians accuse Israel of collective punishment.

Over the years, Hamas received backing from Arab countries, such as Qatar and Turkey. Recently, it’s moved closer to Iran and its allies.

 

WHO ARE HAMAS’ LEADERS?

Hamas founder and spiritual leader Yassin — a paralyzed man who used a wheelchair — spent years in Israeli prisons and oversaw the establishment of Hamas’ military wing, which carried out its first suicide attack in 1993.

Israeli forces have targeted Hamas leaders throughout the years, killing Yassin in 2004.

Khaled Mashaal, an exiled Hamas member who survived an earlier Israeli assassination attempt, became the group’s leader soon after.

Yehia Sinwar, in Gaza, and Ismail Haniyeh, who lives in exile, are Hamas’ current leaders. They realigned the group’s leadership with Iran and its allies, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Since then, many of the group’s leaders relocated to Beirut.

WHAT DOES HAMAS WANT?

Hamas has always espoused violence as a means to liberate occupied Palestinian territories and has called for the annihilation of Israel.

Hamas has carried out suicide bombings and over the years fired tens of thousands of increasingly powerful rockets from Gaza into Israel. It also established a network of tunnels running from Gaza to Egypt to smuggle in weapons, as well as attack tunnels burrowing into Israel.

WHY ATTACK ISRAEL NOW?

In recent years, Israel has made peace deals with Arab countries without having to make concessions in its conflict with the Palestinians. The U.S. has recently been trying to broker a deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, a bitter rival of Hamas’ Iranian backers.

Meanwhile, Israel’s new far-right government was working to cement Israeli settlements in the West Bank despite Palestinian opposition.

Hamas leaders say an Israeli crackdown on militants in the West Bank, continued construction of settlements — which the international community considers to be illegal — thousands of prisoners in Israeli jails, and its ongoing blockade of Gaza pushed it to attack.

Its leaders say hundreds of its 40,000 fighters took part in the assault. Israel says that in addition to the fighters, Hamas has an arsenal of rockets, including some with a range of about 155 miles, and unmanned drones.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

DON'T MISS

California Officials Sue Huntington Beach Over Voter ID Law Passed at Polls

DON'T MISS

Indiana Fever Receives No. 1 Overall Draft Pick Caitlin Clark

DON'T MISS

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

DON'T MISS

Trump’s Historic Hush-Money Trial Gets Underway; 1st Day Ends Without Any Jurors Being Picked

DON'T MISS

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

DON'T MISS

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

DON'T MISS

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

DON'T MISS

Why Tortillas Sold in California May Be Forced to Add a New Ingredient

DON'T MISS

Costco Tries Again at City Council for Big NW Fresno Move

UP NEXT

Indiana Fever Receives No. 1 Overall Draft Pick Caitlin Clark

UP NEXT

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

UP NEXT

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

UP NEXT

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

UP NEXT

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

UP NEXT

Why Tortillas Sold in California May Be Forced to Add a New Ingredient

UP NEXT

Costco Tries Again at City Council for Big NW Fresno Move

UP NEXT

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

UP NEXT

Ethiopia’s Lemma Wins, Fresno’s Albertson 7th in Boston Marathon. Kenya’s Obiri Retains Women Title.

UP NEXT

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

12 hours ago

Trump’s Historic Hush-Money Trial Gets Underway; 1st Day Ends Without Any Jurors Being Picked

12 hours ago

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

Local /

13 hours ago

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

14 hours ago

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

14 hours ago

Why Tortillas Sold in California May Be Forced to Add a New Ingredient

14 hours ago

Costco Tries Again at City Council for Big NW Fresno Move

16 hours ago

Scheffler Turns the Masters Into Another Sunday Yawner With a Dominating Win

16 hours ago

Ethiopia’s Lemma Wins, Fresno’s Albertson 7th in Boston Marathon. Kenya’s Obiri Retains Women Title.

16 hours ago

Vegas, US Tour and More Signings: Wrexham Has Plenty of Fun and Work Ahead After Latest Promotion

16 hours ago

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

Alright, cats and kittens, straphang onto your beanies because I’m about to lay a news flash on you that’s so whimsically wild it coul...

11 hours ago

Fresno Monopoly Edition
11 hours ago

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

11 hours ago

California Officials Sue Huntington Beach Over Voter ID Law Passed at Polls

11 hours ago

Indiana Fever Receives No. 1 Overall Draft Pick Caitlin Clark

12 hours ago

Which Fresno Restaurants Are Best? The Pros Picked These Places.

12 hours ago

Trump’s Historic Hush-Money Trial Gets Underway; 1st Day Ends Without Any Jurors Being Picked

Local /
13 hours ago

Fresno-Madera United Way Launches National Search for New CEO

14 hours ago

Justice Thomas Misses Supreme Court Session Monday With No Explanation

14 hours ago

‘Civil War’ Declares Victory at the Box Office, Toppling ‘Godzilla X Kong’

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend