Four Critical Facts About Hamas and Its Jihad Against Israel

(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Hamas is once again on the national stage after it launched a surprise attack on Israel that has claimed over 200 lives so far. The assault prompted a swift declaration of war from Jerusalem, and the international community, along with the United States, was swift to condemn the group’s actions.


Hamas’ attack is the latest development in the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, which has a long and storied history. Here, we will discuss five important facts to know about the organization.

Hamas’ History

Hamas is a militant movement founded in 1987 during the First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule. Sheikh Ahmed Yaassin, a Palestinian cleric and member of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded the organization. It was created due to a lack of progress towards Palestinian self-determination and has engaged in many violent attacks over the past three decades.

The organization’s ideology is based largely on political Islam and was intended to be a religious alternative to the secular Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Its stated objective is to establish an Islamic state in historic Palestine, which it views as belonging to the Palestinians.

Hamas governs the Palestinian territory in the Gaza Strip but has a presence in the West Bank and Lebanon as well. It rules over more than two million people in the region. Dozens of countries have designated it as a terrorist organization, though this label applies only to its military wing. Fatah, its rival party, dominates the PLO and governs the West Bank, another Palestinian territory.

Political and Military Structure

Hamas is divided into a political and military wing. Each serves its own distinct, but interrelated function in advancing the movement’s goals. The political wing handles Palestinian governance and diplomacy, and administers operations in the Gaza Strip. The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the organization, is known for its military operations against Israel. Over the years, its operatives have attacked Israel by launching rockets, carrying out bombings, springing cyberattacks, and engaging in other forms of violence.


Hamas rose to power in Gaza after a surprise electoral victory in 2006. Ismail Haniyeh became the leader of the administration. The outcome of the election sparked violent confrontations between Hamas and Fatah. In 2007, Hamas emerged victorious and seized control of the region in 2007.

Since then, Hamas has ruled over Gaza, which has led to a geographical and political rift between the region and the West Bank. It is seen as one of the most difficult obstacles to Palestinian unity and peace in the region today.

Hamas’ International Relations

Hamas’ relationship with the international community has been fraught with contention. As stated previously, many nations view the organization as a terrorist group due to its constant violent attacks against Israeli civilians. This has severely complicated diplomatic efforts to resolve an already complex conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

However, Hamas is not without allies. Some countries, especially in the Middle East, have engaged with the group.

Iran Backs Hamas

Iran, despite having a complicated history with Hamas, is one of the group’s primary backers. Since the group’s inception, Tehran has supported it with funding, military training, and weapons. It is part of the country’s broader geopolitical and ideological objectives.

The relationships between Hamas and Iran became strained during the Syrian civil war, when they found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. However, recent years have seen a renewal of ties between the two entities, especially when it comes to their common enemy, Israel.


Hamas remains one of the most pivotal actors in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has maintained influence over the Middle Eastern geopolitical landscape. In this current military conflict, Hamas has inflicted more damage than its previous operations, which has raised eyebrows across the globe as to what is behind this incursion. Needless to say, this action will likely become yet another landmark moment in the history of the Israel/Palestinian conflict.


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