Hamas [ Arabic “zeal”, “fighting spirit” ], also short for Harakat al-muqawama al-islamija [ “Islamic resistance movement” ], Islamist movement in Palestine.
During the first and second Intifada (1987–93 / 94, 2000–03 / 05) he was responsible for numerous terrorist attacks, in particular suicide bombings against Israel, and in 2005 began to transform itself into a political party. The EU declared the politico-military arm of Hamas – because of the responsibility for the terrorist attacks v. a. since 1994 – September 2003 to a terrorist organization.
Establishment of Hamas
After the beginning of the first Intifada triggered by the Jihad Islami in the Gaza Strip on December 8, 1987, Hamas was founded by the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (established in 1967) as a separate organization on December 14, 1987 to carry out social reform work in the Islamic Center in Gaza as well as v. a. not to endanger health care, but still be able to actively participate in the resistance against the Israeli occupying power.
The intellectual center of Hamas, which is supported by Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria, became the University of Gaza; Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was the founder and spiritual leader from his stay in Israeli custody from 1989-97 until his targeted killing by Israeli security forces in March 2004.
In August 1988, Hamas passed a “charter” as a founding program, in which the “jihad” was invoked against Israel and the establishment of an Islamic state within the boundaries of the former British mandate. Hamas thus lost all sympathy on the Israeli side. It was banned as an organization in the occupied territories by Israel in 1989, but remained active underground and from abroad.
Inner Palestinian power struggles
As a radical opponent of the Middle Eastern peace process that was launched in 1993, Hamas viewed any negotiation on regulations that deal with the partition of Palestine as blasphemy. Hamas therefore developed into the largest opposition movement against the PLO and its policy of autonomy, which it also fought with its military arm, the brigades (“armed forces”) of Issedin al-Kassam. This position corresponded to the boycott of the first elections in the autonomous region on January 20, 1996; In the second parliamentary elections for the Autonomous Council on January 25, 2006, Hamas won an absolute majority of the seats under the motto “for reform and change”. Palestinian President M. Abbas then commissioned the leading Hamas politician Ismail Haniya with the formation of the government. His sole government of Hamas, in office from the end of March 2006, was confronted with a boycott on the part of Israel and the Western countries (refusal of the customs and value added tax revenue or financial donations to which the autonomy authority is entitled based on the Oslo Accords). In addition, there were repeated power struggles between supporters of Hamas and the politically increasingly fragmented Al-Fatah and their respective militias.
After a “reconciliation summit” at the beginning of February 2007 – mediated by King Abdallah Ibn Abdul Asis al-Saud of Saudi Arabia – the foundations for a Palestinian unity government were laid down in the Mecca Agreement (February 8, 2007). With the participation of all relevant groups, the new one – continued to be dominated by Hamas and Haniyah led – government confirmed by parliament on March 17th, 2007. The bloody power struggle with Al-Fatah escalated into civil war in the Gaza Strip in June 2007 and ended with the victory of the Hamas militia and the takeover of sole control of this part of the Palestinian autonomous territories by Hamas. The replacement of the head of government by President Abbas (Fatah) did not recognize Haniyah and Hamas.
Gaza Wars in 2008, 2012 and 2014
In 2008, attacks by radical Palestinians from the Gaza Strip on Israeli border cities intensified, leading to extensive military actions by Israel and cordoning off the Gaza Strip. On June 19, 2008, a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, mediated by Egypt between Israel and Hamas, came into force. After an Israeli commando operation in the Gaza Strip, Hamas terminated the ceasefire in November 2008 and resumed its rocket attacks on the south of Israeli territory. Israel then launched Operation Cast Lead with air strikes on Hamas’ infrastructure. From 03/01/2008, ground troops were also deployed. The conflict (“Gaza War”) ended on January 18, 2009 with both sides declaring an armistice.
Hamas quickly regained control of the Gaza Strip after the Israeli withdrawal. In May 2011, Hamas and Fatah agreed on a reconciliation agreement through Egyptian mediation, but a joint government did not materialize. In the same year Khalid Meschal (* 1956), the militant General Secretary of the Hamas Politburo, moved to Doha from his exile in Damascus.
After renewed rocket attacks, the Israeli army carried out another military operation (“Pillar of Defense”) against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in November 2012. Ahmed al-Jabari (* 1960), the organization’s military leader, was killed in the process. Egypt brokered a ceasefire. On December 8, 2012, Secretary General K. Meschal took part in the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of Hamas in Gaza.
In April 2014, Hamas and Fatah agreed to form a Palestinian unity government and hold new elections, but the conflict remained virulent. In July 2014, tensions between Hamas and Israel escalated again into a bloody military confrontation. A newly formed Palestinian government in 2015 did not recognize Hamas.
In May 2017 the organization presented a revised “charter” in which the positions of the program adopted in 1988 were toned down. referred to the possible establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. However, Hamas did not abandon its fundamental hostility and willingness to confront the State of Israel. In May 2017, I. Hanija was appointed as the successor to K. Meshal in the office of General Secretary of Hamas.
In October 2017, Hams and Fatah signed another reconciliation agreement to overcome the division that has persisted in the Palestinians since 2007. Nonetheless, even years later, the unity government of both parties has not yet been achieved, so that the de facto division of the Palestinian government authority, which was cemented in the 2007 conflict, continues. In short, this means: Hamas rules in the Gaza Strip and Fatah in the West Bank.
In May 2021, the Middle East conflict between Hamas and Israel escalated again. After an attack on Israel on May 10, 2021, there were mutual heavy air strikes for eleven days. After mediation by the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi , a ceasefire was reached on May 21, 2021.