Palestinian fighters from the armed wing of Hamas are taking part in a military parade in front of an Israeli military site to mark the anniversary of the 2014 war with Israel, near the border in the central Gaza Strip, on July 19, 2023. (Photo by Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto)NO USE FRANCE

Understanding Hamas: A Complex Reality Amid the Israel-Hamas Conflict

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In the aftermath of the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, Hamas has taken center stage in the global spotlight. But who exactly is Hamas, and what is its relationship with Palestine? While world leaders such as Joe Biden, Narendra Modi, Rishi Sunak, Emmanuel Macron, and others label them a terrorist group, countries like Turkey, Iran, and Jordan offer their support. To comprehensively understand Hamas and its role in the Palestinian territories, we must delve into its origins, beliefs, and the geopolitical landscape that shapes its actions.

The Palestinian territories, which include the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, have been focal points of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1967. The West Bank is under the authority of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a coalition led by the Fatah party. In contrast, the Gaza Strip is governed by Hamas, an ideologically and politically motivated group that rules over more than 2 million Palestinians, positioning itself as the face of the Palestinian movement.

Hamas, an acronym for Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-Islāmiyyah (Islamic Resistance Movement), is a militant Palestinian nationalist and Islamist movement with the primary objective of establishing an independent Islamic state in historical Palestine. It was founded in 1987 by Palestinian imam and activist Ahmed Yassin, shortly after the outbreak of the First Intifada against Israel. Over the years, Hamas has become deeply involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly in opposing key agreements, such as the Oslo Accords, and rejecting the two-state solution.

Hamas achieved significant political success by winning the 2006 Palestinian legislative election and gaining a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Subsequently, it took control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah in 2007. Since then, Hamas has engaged in several wars with Israel, further complicating the already turbulent Middle East region.

The question of who supports and sustains Hamas is a complex one. A list of nations provides financial and ideological support to Hamas, enabling its continued existence and activities. Notable among these supporters are Qatar, which has been a steadfast advocate of Hamas since 2012, and Iran, which not only voices its support but also plays a pivotal role in strengthening Hamas and its ally, Hezbollah. Lebanon and Turkey are additional supporters of Hamas, openly backing the group for years. However, it’s Iran that stands out as the primary financial pillar and supplier of aid and weapons to Hamas.

But what about the Palestinian people? Are they in support of Hamas and the destruction that often accompanies their actions? According to a recent Washington Institute poll conducted in July 2023, Hamas’s decision to break the ceasefire was not widely popular among the Palestinian population, particularly in Gaza. The majority of Gazans (65%) believed there would likely be another military conflict between Israel and Hamas in the same year. Surprisingly, a similar percentage (62%) expressed support for Hamas maintaining a ceasefire with Israel. Moreover, half (50%) agreed with the proposal that Hamas should stop calling for Israel’s destruction and instead accept a permanent two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.

The Israel-Hamas conflict remains a complex and deeply rooted issue, with historical, political, and ideological dimensions that defy easy resolution. Understanding Hamas and its place within the broader Palestinian context is crucial for anyone seeking to grasp the intricacies of this ongoing conflict.

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