The roots of Hamas go back to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood, established by Egyptian Islamist Hasan al-Banna in 1928, made a presence in the British-ruled Palestine in the 1930s. In 1935, Banna sent his brother Abd al-Rahman al-Banna to Palestine to build contacts. Its focus had been on reorienting Muslim society, while the Palestine Liberation Organisatio (PLO), founded in 1964, championed the Palestinian nationalist sentiments.
After Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and Gaza Strip from Egypt in 1967, the PLO, vowing to liberate the whole of Palestine, would start a guerilla war against Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood would still stay away from politics, but their leadership was increasingly critical of the PLO’s secular nationalism.
Hamas was established after the first intifada broke out in 1987. On December 8, 1987, several Palestinians were killed in a traffic incident in Gaza, involving an Israeli driver, leading to a wave of protests. This incident led to an explosion of pent-up anger of the Palestinians, who, despite the
PLO’s fighting and activism, were not seeing any end to the occupation.
The occupied territories were swept by a mass uprising. The PLO called on its supporters to join the intifada. The Brotherhood also found it an opportunity to enter the struggle against the occupation. On December 14, the Brotherhood, under the leadership of Yassin, issued a leaflet, asking Palestinians to stand up to the Israeli occupation. In January, they issued another leaflet under the name Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah (the Islamic Resistance Movement) — in short, Hamas, which means “zeal” in
In 1989, Hamas launched its first attack, abducting and killing two Israeli soldiers. Israel cracked down on the group, arresting Yassin and jailing him for life. Unlike the PLO, which was modelled around the leftist guerilla national movements in the third world, Hamas had a completely different vision. The charter it issued on August 19, 1988 was studded with anti-Semitic remarks.
According to the charter, Palestine is “an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day”; “there is no solution to the Palestine problem except jihad” and all peace initiatives are a “waste of time and acts of absurdity”. When the PLO moved to join peace efforts seeking a solution to the Palestinian issue, Hamas hardened its position. It opposed the Oslo agreement, which allowed the formation of the Palestinian Authority with limited powers within the occupied territories. When the PLO
recognised Israel, Hamas rejected the two-state solution and vowed to liberate the whole of Palestine “from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea”. It has built an organisation with several branches —
the social wing is involved in Islamic education and charity works, while Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing, is in charge of military planning and weapons acquisitions. It also has a political bureau. In October 1994, a year after the Oslo Accord was signed, Hamas carried out its first suicide attack, killing 22 in Tel Aviv.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, Hamas conducted several suicide attacks, targeting Israelis. In 2000, when the second intifada broke out, Hamas was in the driving seat. Hamas supporters fought pitched street battles with Israeli troops, who used brute force to crush the protests. Israel had also taken a policy of targeted assassinations. In March 2004, Israel killed Sheikh Yassin with a helicopter-fired missile in Gaza city. Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, Yassin’s successor, was killed in April 2004. Khaled Meshal, another top leader survived an attempt on his life by Mossad in Jordan. Hamas continued to remain defiant, targeting Israeli troops and settlers. In 2005, faced with Hamas’s violent resistance, Israel unilaterally decided to pull out of Gaza.
Hamas’s violent tactics and Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians in return seemed to have helped the Islamists gain popularity. In the 2006 legislative elections in the Palestinian territory, Hamas won 74 out of the 132 seats, while the Fatah party, the PLO’s backbone, got only 45 seats. In its election manifesto, Hamas showed, for the first time, signs of moderation. It dropped the call for the destruction of Israel, which was mentioned in the 1988 charter, and said its first priority was to change the situation for Palestinians.
Hamas formed the government, but faced opposition from Israel and most international powers. Like Israel, the U.S. and several European countries have designated Hamas as a terrorist organisation. As
tensions rose between Fatah and Hamas in the West Bank, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Hamas government and declared a state of emergency. This led to violent clashes between Fatah and Hamas. Fatah ousted Hamas from the West Bank and Hamas ousted the
former from Gaza in 2007. Since then, Hamas is the government in Gaza. Following Hamas’s capture of Gaza, Israel has imposed a blockade on the strip, which practically turned the territory into an open prison.
While Hamas never gave up its right to armed resistance, the organisation signalled changes in its outlook over the years. It still refuses to recognise Israel but has offered hudna (a lasting ceasefire) if Israel returned to the 1967 border. In 2017, it adopted a new charter from which the anti-Semitic remarks of the original charter were expunged. The new document stated Hamas is not seeking war with the Jewish people — only with Zionism that drives the occupation of Palestine. “Hamas advocates the liberation of all of Palestine but is ready to support the state on 1967 borders without recognising Israel or ceding any rights,” it said.
The new charter also doesn’t have a mention of the group’s parent organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood.
But Saturday’s attack, which indiscriminately targeted both Israeli troops and civilians, suggests that Hamas has returned to its original tactics—fight the Israelis using any means available to them.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to destroy the enemy. Israeli retaliation would “reverberate” across West Asia, he thunders. But Israel will have to factor in two realities when it sets the goals of its anti-Hamas military operation. Hamas may not have the capability to push Israel
back to the 1967 border. But the Islamist group has emerged as the main pillar of Palestine’s political landscape, which in the past had largely been driven by secular nationalism. A solution to the Israel-Palestine problem cannot be reached without taking Hamas into consideration — unless Hamas is totally destroyed. Two, it survives. Over the years, Hamas has lost most of its founding leaders, it has been categorised as a terrorist outfit and faced Israeli attacks frequently. Every time it bombs Gaza, Israel vows to destroy Hamas’s militant infrastructure. But Hamas survives, to fight another day. This is Mr. Netanyahu’s biggest test this time.
The Israel-Palestinian conflict has been simmering for over a century, with its roots tracing back to the Zionist movement’s push for a Jewish homeland in Palestine during the early 20th century. The situation reached a boiling point in 1948 with Israel’s declaration of independence, leading to
the Arab-Israeli War.
This conflict resulted in the displacement of numerous Palestinians. Over the years, repeated conflicts have rocked the region, the 2014 Gaza War being one of the most devastating, claiming the lives of over 2,000 Palestinians and 70 Israelis.
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is an ongoing military and political conflict in the Levant Beginning in the mid-20th century, it is one of the world’s longest continuing conflicts. Various attempts have been made to resolve the conflict as part of the Israeli–Palestinian peace process, alongside other efforts to resolve the broader Arab–Israeli conflict.
Public declarations of claims to a Jewish homeland in Palestine, including the First Zionist Congress of 1897 and the Balfour Declaration of 1917, created early tensions in the region after waves of Jewish immigration. Following World War I, the Mandate for Palestine included a binding obligation for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. Tensions grew into open sectarian conflict between Jews and Arabs.
The 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was never implemented and provoked the 1947–1949 Palestine War. The current Israeli-Palestinian status quo began following Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Six-Day War, known as the Palestinian territories. Progress was made towards a two-state solution with the Oslo Accords of 1993–1995. Final status issues include the status of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, borders, security and water rights as well as Palestinian freedom of movement and the Palestinian right of return.
The violence of the conflict in the region—rich in sites of historic, cultural, and religious interest worldwide—has been the subject of numerous international conferences dealing with historic rights, security issues, and human rights; and has been a factor hampering tourism in, and general access to, areas that are hotly contested.
The majority of peace efforts have been centred around the two-state solution, which involves the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. However, public support for a two-state solution, which formerly enjoyed support from both Israeli Jews and Palestinians, has dwindled in recent years.
Within Israeli and Palestinian society, the conflict generates a wide variety of views and opinions. Since its inception, the conflict’s casualties have not been restricted to combatants, with a large number of civilian fatalities on both sides. A minority of Jewish Israelis (32 percent) support a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Israeli Jews are divided along ideological lines, and many favor maintaining the status quo. Approximately 60 percent of Palestinians (77% in the Gaza Strip and 46% in the West Bank), support armed attacks against Israelis within Israel as a means of ending the occupation, while 70% believe that a two-state solution is no longer practical or possible as a result of the expansion of Israeli settlements. More than two-thirds of Israeli Jews say that if the West Bank were annexed by Israel, Palestinians resident there should not be permitted to vote. Mutual distrust and significant disagreements are deep over basic
issues, as is the reciprocal skepticism about the other side’s commitment to upholding obligations in an eventual bilateral agreement.
Since 2006, the Palestinian side has been fractured by conflict between Fatah, the traditionally dominant party and its later electoral challenger, Hamas, a militant Islamist group that gained control of the Gaza Strip. Attempts to remedy this have been repeated and continuing. Since 2019, the Israeli side has also been experiencing political upheaval, with four inconclusive legislative elections having been held over
a span of two years. The latest round of peace negotiations began in July 2013 but were suspended in 2014. Since 2006, Hamas and Israel have fought five wars, the most recent in 2023.
The two parties that engage in direct negotiation are the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Official negotiations are mediated by the Quartet on the Middle East, which consists of the United Nations, the United States, Russia, and the European Union. The Arab League, which has proposed the Arab Peace Initiative, is another important actor. Egypt, a founding member of the Arab League, has historically been a key participant in the Arab–Israeli conflict and related negotiations, more so since the Egypt–Israel peace treaty.
Another equally key participant is Jordan, which annexed the West Bank in 1950 and held it until 1967, relinquishing its territorial claim over it to the Palestinians in 1988. An Israel–Jordan peace treaty was signed in 1994. The Jordanian royal family, the Hashemites, are responsible for custodianship over Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem.
Background on Hamas
Established in 1987, Hamas is both a political party and a militant group. It holds power in the Gaza Strip and is labelled a terrorist organization by multiple nations, including Israel, the USA, and the European Union. A pivotal point of contention remains Hamas’s refusal to recognize Israel, as outlined in their charter which seeks Israel’s destruction.
Why Did Hamas Launch the Attack?
Hamas cited multiple justifications for their assault on Israel. The group’s military commander, Muhammad Al-Deif, named the operation “Al-Aqsa Storm”, emphasizing its significance. Central to their reasons are:
- Alleged attacks on Palestinian women and accusations of the desecration of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem – a crucial religious site in Islam.
- The longstanding blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt, which started in 2007. This embargo has severely hampered Gaza’s economic growth, leading to deteriorating living conditions for its residents.
- A staunch opposition to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, with Hamas championing the creation of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
This recent attack seems interwoven with the events surrounding Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, a site sacred to both Jews and Muslims, amplifying the reasons for the war in Israel.
Why Did Hamas Attack, and Why Now? Where Is the Conflict Headed?
The operation reflects a pattern of four wars and regular outbreaks of violence between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza since 2005, when Israel withdrew its military posts and forcibly removed 9,000 Israeli
settlers from the territory.
Each time Hamas has launched rockets at Israel or engaged in similar provocations, it has drawn heavy retaliation from Israel in the form of major bombings on the Gaza Strip. Hamas, however, seems
to regard this as a cost of doing business.
An important factor motivating Hamas towards violence is that it has to watch its flanks. Other smaller, but increasingly extremist groups, are contesting its authority in Gaza, notably Palestinian Islamic
These groups have, at times, independently launched rocket attacks on Israel, which bring retribution on the whole territory. On top of this, the Israeli government formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last December is the most right wing in Israeli history. This government has made no secret of its desire
to annex the West Bank and has permitted significant expansion of Jewish settlements in the territory, which are illegal under International law.
A visit to the Temple Mount by Ariel Sharon in 2000, then the leader of the opposition in Israel’s government, is generally regarded as the spark that ignited the Second Intifada from 2000-2005.
Under an agreement predating Israel’s foundation, Jordan has custodianship of the Al-Aqsa religious complex. Israel aimed to respect Jordan’s role when it signed the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty in 1994. But Palestinians see the visits by Israeli ministers and non-Muslim tourists as disrespectful of the sanctity of the site and counter to this undertaking.
Hamas has also claimed these visits have led to the desecration of the Al-Aqsa site, an argument obviously aimed at winning support from Muslims throughout the Arab and wider Islamic world.
Where is the conflict headed?
Where the conflict is headed is unclear. The Hezbollah militantgroup in Lebanon has already fired on positions in Israel’s north. But the extent to which it will become seriously involved will depend on
its sponsor, Iran.
Tehran has generally been seen to want to keep Hezbollah’s considerable rocket and missile strength in reserve in case of an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. There is also the question of whether “Lions’ Den” militants in the West Bank will launch their own attacks, effectively creating a third front against Israel. And a possible fourth front could come from attacks on Jewish Israelis by Arab Israelis living in Israel.
US President Joe Biden has already promised support for Israel, so there can be little doubt Israel will eventually get on top of these challenges. Netanyahu has warned of a long war, but it may prove reasonably short if Israel goes all out in its retaliation. The main constraint on Israeli action against Gaza will be the fact that an unknown number of Israeli citizens have been kidnapped by Hamas militants and taken to the strip. Indiscriminate Israeli bombing would certainly put those lives at risk.
Israel will also be reluctant to put its defence forces in Gaza because of the risk of heavy casualties. However, it may send special forces if it gains intelligence on the whereabouts of its kidnapped citizens. A further risk for Israel in its retaliation is that too brutal an assault on Gaza could turn Western opinion against it. So far, however, Western governments are strongly supportive of Israel and unsympathetic towards Hamas.
The overall lesson for Israel is that it has to develop a policy for managing the Palestinians living in the areas it controls. The current situation, in which hardline militants are contained in Gaza, while Israeli forces curtail the actions of Palestinians living in Israel and the West Bank, has suited the Israeli government for many years. It has been able to ignore Arab and international pressure to negotiate a two-state solution or to acquiesce in a one – state solution.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz have agreed to form an emergency unity government and a war Cabinet to oversee the fight against Hamas militants. It will consist of Netanyahu, Gantz, current Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and two other top officials serving as “observer” members.
The government would not pass any legislation or decisions that are not connected to the war as long as the fighting continues. Also, the Israeli Ministry on Wednesday night said that it received reports of suspected infiltration from Lebanon into Israeli airspace. Sirens blared across northern Israel
as it urged citizens there to shelter.
On Wednesday, the Energy Ministry in Palestine said that Gaza’s only power plant was forced to shut down after it ran out of fuel, further deepening the misery of a war sparked by Hamas attacks in Israeli neighbourhoods on Saturday. This leaves only generators to power the territory now, but they also run on fuel that is in short supply.
After the Hamas attack, Israel stopped the entry of food, water, fuel and medicine into the territory a 40-kilometre-long strip of land wedged among Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea that is home to 2.3 million Palestinians.
The Israeli Defence Force on Wednesday said that its Air Force launched a strike on Hezbollah’s lookout position in retaliation for cross-border fire. Lebanese militant group Hezbollah had fired missiles at an Israeli military position in the northern border town of Aramsha. The group claimed in a statement today that the attack led to a “large number” of wounded as well as some killed troops and said the attack was in response to Israeli shelling Sunday that had killed three Hezbollah militants.
Countries participating in this war
Overall, there are 32 countries currently in conflict, and the types of conflict vary widely. While the severity and duration of these conflicts differ, they all have significant impacts on the affected populations and can result in a high number of casualties as well as humanitarian crises.
One of the most common types of conflict currently taking place is terrorist insurgency. This type of conflict often involves non-state actors, such as extremist groups, who engage in violent activities to achieve their political goals. Countries such as Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, and Yemen are all currently experiencing some form of terrorist insurgency.
Civil wars are also prevalent around the world. These conflicts arise from various factors, including political, economic, and social issues, and often involve different factions within a country fighting against each other.
Countries such as Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria are all currently experiencing civil wars, resulting in significant casualties and displacement.
Drug wars are another form of conflict that can result in significant violence and unrest. Countries such as Colombia and Mexico are currently experiencing drug wars, which are characterized by violence and organized crime associated with drug trafficking and distribution.
Finally, ethnic violence is a form of conflict that arises from tensions between different ethnic groups within a country. South Sudan is currently experiencing ethnic violence, which has resulted in significant casualties and displacement.
Effect of Israel-Hamas war on the world Economy
The war between Israel and Hamas poses a whole new series of risks to an already fragile global economy, and economists are warning it could take some time for the fallout to be clear.
“The global economy is limping along, not sprinting,” said International Monetary Fund chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas said at a joint meeting of the IMF and the World Bank in Morocco this week.
The annual meeting and its forecasts were all overshadowed by the crisis unfolding in southern Israel and Gaza.
“It’s a humanitarian tragedy and it’s an economic shock we don’t need,” World Bank President Ajay Banga told Reuters. Hamas militants swept across the border into Israel this weekend unleashing an unprecedented wave of attacks on villages near the Gaza border. More than 1,000 Israelis were killed, and more than 100 were dragged back into captivity in Gaza.
Israeli warplanes have responded with days of airstrikes. Palestinian authorities say at least 900 people have been killed in Israeli airstrikes, and at least 4,500 have been wounded As the world watched those events in horror, the price of oil jumped by as much as five dollars per barrel, futures markets fell and the Israeli currency, the shekel, sunk to a seven-year low. Since then, market reaction has been relatively subdued. But most experts believe that’s because no one really knows what will happen in the days ahead.
“Anything in the Middle East has always been high-risk of spreading,” said Paul Samson, the president of the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont
Risk of conflict widening
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas had made a mistake “of historic proportions.” “We will exact a price that will be remembered by them and Israel’s other enemies for decades to come,” he said in a prepared statement.
Israel has called up 300,000 reservists and mobilized tanks along the border. The U.S. is moving an aircraft carrier strike group into the region as a show of support for its ally Israel.
Experts say all that raises the stakes that the conflict could widen. “If this expands and brings in other parties, then the outlook is for even a weaker global economy, even more inflationary pressures. And the markets are going to be finding it hard to deal with that,” renowned economist Mohamed El-Erian told the financial news channel CNBC. Right now, oil traders seem to be watching along with the rest of the world unsure of what comes next.