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In a rapid and catastrophic attack on Israel on Saturday, the Hamas terrorist organization, which governs the Gaza Strip, used waves of rocket launches and hundreds of terrorists, according to officials.
More than 700 people have already died as a result of the attack, according to Israeli health officials, and the Israeli military, which has been at war with Palestinian militants in the occupied West Bank all year, is expected to respond swiftly.
The Palestinian Health Authority reported that Gaza had already had more than 400 fatalities. Over 5,000 people have been hurt.
Here are some things to know about Hamas:
What is Hamas?
Hamas was founded in 1987 as a breakaway group from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and the U.S. government estimates that it has between 20,000 and 25,000 members. Its name is an abbreviation for the Islamic Resistance Movement or Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya.
Hamas is committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the area and opposes Israel’s right to exist. The organization engages in social, political, and military activity while getting substantial assistance and weaponry from Iran.
As the present state of Israel was created in what was then Mandatory Palestine, it is one of many groups engaged in a decades-long campaign for the future of Palestinians. Hamas has been classified as a terrorist organization by the US, EU, UK, and other nations. An idea to designate Hamas in 2018 at the United Nations.
Gaza, commonly known as the Gaza Strip, is one of the two main Palestinian territories. Hamas effectively took control of Gaza after winning elections in 2006 and engaging in a bloody struggle with rival political group Fatah in 2007. Since that time, the West Bank has remained under Fatah’s control.
Previous polls have shown that Hamas has support among Palestinians on various levels, although occasionally competing with Fatah; an analyst had previously informed the Associated Press that Hamas is welcomed amid confrontations.
What’s Behind the Hamas-Israel Conflict?
Recent attacks, according to Hamas, were primarily motivated by escalating tensions near the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Even though Israel has not received international recognition for its decades-old occupation of East Jerusalem, the government of Israel, which is currently led by a coalition of right-wing nationalist parties and also includes far-right religious nationalists, has been rapidly increasing Jewish access to the area nearby the site. Although Israel maintains security authority over the region, Jordan, a neighboring country, is officially in charge of it because of its religious significance.
Israeli settlement growth in the West Bank, which the international community considers to be illegal and which Palestinians and Americans have identified as a barrier to a potential two-state solution, has increased tensions this year. Skirmishes have repeatedly broken out between Israeli forces and militants, particularly at the refugee camp in Jenin.
What Comes Next?
As Israel continues its campaign to target Hamas fighters within its borders and has launched retaliatory actions, including significant bombings on Gaza, there is concern that the death toll as a result of the offensive by Hamas may increase.
According to the White House, President Joe Biden has given his approval for giving “additional assistance” to Israel “in the coming days, beyond the $1 billion in annual military assistance.”
In response to the strikes this past weekend, Israel has stopped all food and electricity shipments to Gaza in order to prepare for a “full blockade,” according to Israeli defense officials.
When Israel sent its troops to Gaza to try and stop missile launches in 2008, it led to the most intense combat between Hamas and Israel, which resulted in a catastrophic urban conflict. Prior to the attacks over the weekend, the group had been sporadically firing rockets into Israeli territory this year, escalating tensions between Israel and the Palestinians and allowing more Jews to enter a dangerous region near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is located in a part of Jerusalem that is significant to both Muslims and Jews.
Hamas collaborates with other armed organizations in Gaza, such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which occasionally launches independent attacks and is regarded as being more radical. In addition to its militancy, Hamas oversees Gaza’s administration and social services.
The Palestinian Authority’s and Fatah’s leader, Mahmoud Abbas, claimed in 2012 that although continuing to be adversaries, his West Bank-based organization and Hamas have settled their disputes.
The United Nations recognizes a third entity, the Palestine Liberation Organization, which leadership Abbas also holds, as the “representative of the Palestinian people.” However, only those Palestinians who reside in two territories that border Israel are recognized, and a decision on their state’s legitimacy is still pending.
Although Washington claims to collaborate with the Palestinian Authority to create a “secure, democratic, and stable Palestinian society and government,” the United States does not formally recognize the existence of the Palestinian state. However, it has long supported a negotiated settlement alongside Israel’s future.