Backing & Affiliations :
Attitude toward Israel:
As the chief governing party of the Palestinian territories after their election victory in January 2006, Hamas has tacitly acknowledged a more normal relationship with Israel. And:
In private, Hamas leaders are more pragmatic about their relations with Israel and the prospect of unceasing struggle than their implacable public positions would suggest. They have offered a temporary 'truce' possibly lasting many years if Israel permits a proper Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
It also created a military wing called the Izz Al Din Qassam Brigades, which has been responsible for most Hamas violence, including its suicide bombings in Israel.
- On June 25, 2006, Hamas killed two Israeli soldiers and kidnapped a corporal, Gilad Shalit, demanding the release of all Palestinian prisoners under 18 years old for his return. The case remained unresolved by mid-autumn 2006.
- A February 6, 1996 suicide attack at the Jersualem bus station killed 17 civilians and 9 soldiers.
- On October 19, 1994, a suicide attack on a bus in central Tel Aviv left 21 Israelis and a Dutch tourist dead.
In keeping with its early mission to cleanse Palestinian society, Hamas' first acts of violence were committed against Palestinian criminals or perceived collaborators with the Israelis. They have since claimed responsibility for hundreds of attacks against both military and civilian Israeli targets, in shootings, knifings, and short-range rocket attacks, as well as suicide attacks.
On January 25, 2006, Hamas won 74 of 132 seats in Palestinian Legislative Council, beating out the ruling party, Fatah, which put Hamas in charge of the Palestinian government. Problems immediately ensued, since Western government were unwilling to fund a government run by an organization designated as a terrorist organization. Conflict between the secular Fatah and Hamas has also prevented the creation of a national government.
Hamas grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian Islamist association that began in Egypt in the 1920s. In 1973, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin established a center for Muslim Brotherhood activities in Gaza, which was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, along with the West Bank. Hamas was created in 1987 as the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood but it became an independent organization when it issued its 1988 charter.
Hamas gained traction during the 1987 intifada, or "uprising." West Bank and Gaza Palestinians negatively affected the Israeli economy and morale through several years of low-tech resistance tactics, such as throwing stones at Israeli soldiers and holding strikes. One of the indirect outcomes was the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the PLO. The Accords are a much debated agreement that were meant to bring about some measure of Palestinian self-rule.
Hamas, which was founded in part on its rejection of the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians, gained popularity when it rejected the Oslo accords.
Of related interest: Suicide Terrorism: Definitions, Theories, Groups