Hamas straddles different designations. Often called a terrorist organization, a resistance movement and a political party, Hamas fulfills multiple functions and titles.
As a wing of the Army, Hamas is often dubbed a terrorist group.
Hamas favours suicide attacks as their principal attack against the Israeli territory, military and citizens. Rocket launches onto Israeli towns such as Ashdod, Sderot and Be’er Sheva are also a common tactic used by Hamas. The group also targets Palestinians who collaborate with the Israeli government and Israeli forces. (Since January 2005, Hamas has ceased Kamikaze suicide attacks.)
Hamas not only exerts itself with the political realm of Palestinian society, but is also involved with economic and professional associations.
Hamas often combines its political obligations with charitable activities. Hamas constructs orphanages and clinics and employs women in clothing manufacturing. It also builds schools and cultural institutions.
As a major philanthropic contributor, Hamas is a popular organization among all Palestinian social classes.
Hamas’ annual budget is estimated between 250-300 million dollars. This impressive amount demonstrates the party’s rise as an undeniable financial power within the region. Its influence is noted by Palestinian citizens.
Created in 1987 by Sheikh Yassin in the Gaza Strip, Hamas is an outgrowth of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas progressively grew to hold an important place within Palestinian politics culminating in their win in the Legislative elections in January 2006.
In June 2007, Hamas took control of the entire Gaza Strip in a fraternal war with Fatah, opposing Palestinian political and military group founded by the late Yasser Arafat.
On September 19th, 2007, Israel declared the Gaza Strip a "hostile entity".
Hamas governs a territory of over 360 km2 that is populated by an estimated 1,300,000 inhabitants. Over 80% of the population (56% are children) depend on humanitarian aid. However, because of Hamas’ classification as a terrorist organization, by the international community (namely the United States and the European Union) most Palestinians are denied humanitarian aid and isolated from the international community.
Although the war initiated by Israel in January 2009 ended in their military victory, the Israeli government cannot deny that the set goals of the war were not fulfilled. Hamas still maintains a solid grip on power in Gaza. The tunnels from Rafah that facilitate the transfer of weapons still exist even after the cease-fire. And Qassam rockets are subsequently shot into Israel.
Because of the extensive Israeli military presence and the restriction of access for press to this territory in January 2009; a part of the public opinion has seen the distressing situation of the average Palestinian, who is regularly punished and taken hostage.
Recently, many countries, namely European have recognized the importance of negotiating and communicating with Hamas.