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Hamas and its charter calling for the destruction of Israel

Members of Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, attend a rally in Beit Lahiya, May 30, 2021. (Photo: Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

Hamas is a militant movement and also one of the two major Palestinian political parties. Its name is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (“Islamic Resistance Movement”). 

The Hamas organization was founded in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a Palestinian cleric who became an activist in local branches of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

A few years prior in 1984, Yassin, along with several other Muslim Brotherhood members, were arrested by Israel security forces for stockpiling weapons. He was released in 1985. 

During the First Intifada in 1987, Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi established Hamas, both to fight against Israel and to counter the rise of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), another offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. 

Hamas published its charter in 1988, which called for the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic society in ‘historic Palestine.’ 

Hamas' first suicide bombing came in April 1993, months after the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Accords.

Hamas condemned the PLO’s recognition of Israel. 

Since its founding, Hamas has refused to recognize Israel as a legitimate state. 

Hamas became the ruling authority in Gaza, following an election victory in 2006, and a battle where Hamas fighters successfully took control of the Gaza Strip and removed PLO-affiliated Fatah officials.

However, due to Hamas’ designation as a terror organization, it is unable to receive official assistance from the United States or the European Union, as the Palestinian Authority does. 

Lack of funding has caused severe economic problems for Gaza, which is reliant upon Palestinian expatriates, Islamic charities (many of whom have been sanctioned by the U.S.), and private donors (mostly from Gulf states). 

Iran, Qatar and Turkey are reportedly biggest state supporters of Hamas, with both Qatar and Turkey claiming to only fund the political wing of Hamas. 

Since then, Hamas has largely been driven out of the Palestinian territories in the West Bank, known as Judea and Samaria, because of the Israeli Security Agency ISA) or Shin Bet, and its cooperation with the PA under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas. 

Recently, Hamas has attempted to re-establish itself within the West Bank region, especially ahead of a possible near departure of PA President Abbas. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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