Hamas

(Arabic for "zeal" and an acronym for "Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya" or "Islamic Resistance Movement.") A Palestinian political party and Islamist national movement. Founded in 1987 and ideologically and organizationally modeled after the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, Hamas is comprised of a militant wing responsible for armed operations, a political bureau, and a social services branch that helped it gain much support. In 2006, Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian legislative elections resulted in the end of Fatah’s long-standing political dominance, but their victory was dismissed by the Middle East Quartet and Fatah. A bloody Hamas-Fatah conflict followed. There is much controversy around whether Hamas is seeking to end the Israeli occupation of territories conquered in the 1967 War, or whether they are seeking to replace Israel with an Islamist state. Though Hamas’s charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel, has not been changed, more recent statements and documents (including Hamas’s 2006 legislative program) indicate a willingness towards moderation on the question of Israel’s existence. Members of the international community, including Israel, the United States and the European Union, designate Hamas as a terrorist organization for its use of tactics that target Israeli civilians, such as suicide bombings and rocket attacks from Gaza, and do not recognize it as a legitimate government. Hamas signed multiple unity agreements with Fatah, the most recent being in April 2014, though as of May 2015, it had yet to be meaningfully implemented. See "Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza: Engaging the Islamist Social Sector," Sara Roy, Princeton University Press, 2012; and Backgrounders, Hamas, Zachary Laub, Council on Foreign Relations. See also "Hamas drops call for destruction of Israel from manifesto," Chris McGreal, The Guardian, January 11, 2006.

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