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Full Form of Hamas

Full Form of Hamas

Hamas, full form is Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement). In October 2023, Hamas, an Islamist militant group governing the Gaza Strip, launched a massive surprise attack on southern Israel, killing hundreds of civilians and soldiers and taking dozens as hostages. This unprecedented assault has led to a significant escalation in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Origins of Hamas

  • Hamas, short for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement), was founded in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a Palestinian cleric with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • It emerged during the first intifada as the political arm of the Brotherhood in Gaza.

Leadership

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  • Hamas has a complex leadership structure, including an exiled politburo responsible for setting overall policy, with Ismail Haniyeh as its current political chief.
  • Yahya Sinwar oversees day-to-day affairs in Gaza, and Marwan Issa and Mohammed Deif lead the military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Funding

  • Hamas faces financial challenges due to its designation as a terrorist organization by several countries.
  • Historically, it received funding from Palestinian expatriates and private donors, as well as some Islamic charities.
  • Qatar has provided financial assistance, while Iran is a significant benefactor, contributing funds, weapons, and training.
  • Turkey has been accused of funding Hamas, and it has also received foreign aid via the Palestinian Authority and UN agencies.

Hamas Governance in Gaza

Governing Gaza:

  • Since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Hamas has been the de facto authority in the territory.
  • It won a majority in the PA’s legislature in 2006 and established its government.
  • It gained popularity for the social services it provided and as a rejection of Fatah’s perceived corruption.

Authoritarian Rule:

  • Hamas established a judiciary and put in place authoritarian institutions in Gaza.
  • It governs in accordance with sharia-based Palestinian Basic Law but has been more restrictive in some areas, such as dress codes and gender segregation.

Lack of Accountability:

  • Watchdog groups have noted the lack of transparency in Hamas’s operations, including funding and procurement.
  • The group also represses media, political opposition, and NGOs, limiting accountability.

Palestinian Perspective on Hamas

Divided Palestinian Territories:

  • The division between the West Bank and Gaza is widely unpopular among Palestinians. Many view it as a detrimental development for their people.
  • A significant number of Palestinians in both territories would vote for Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh over PA President Mahmoud Abbas, but Abbas has postponed national elections, potentially to prevent a Hamas victory.

Hamas’s Challenges to Israel

Previous Attacks:

  • Hamas has historically fired rockets and mortars into Israel, and it gained the ability to build its own missiles after training with Iran’s IRGC.
  • The group also launched incendiary balloons and carried out incursions into Israeli territory, resulting in conflicts with Israel.

2023 Attack:

  • Hamas’s 2023 assault on Israel, “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm,” was unprecedented in its strategy, scale, and secrecy.
  • It involved launching thousands of rockets into Israel, breaching the Gaza border, and infiltrating Israeli towns.
  • This attack was a response to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, its occupation of Palestinian lands, and alleged crimes against Muslims, including the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Israeli Response:

  • Israel declared war on Hamas in response to the 2023 attack, launching air strikes and ground operations.
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a “long and difficult war,” and the situation is expected to be extraordinary.

Potential Escalation:

  • An Israeli invasion of Gaza could lead to wider regional conflicts, potentially involving Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is backed by Iran.
  • This situation carries the risk of further escalation and instability in the region.

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