Demystifying Hamas: Ideology, Funding, and Key Differences from Hezbollah
Demystifying Hamas: Ideology, Funding, and Key Differences from Hezbollah – The recent devastating attack on Israel by the Palestinian militant group Hamas has drawn international attention. This article delves into the background of Hamas, exploring its ideology, charter, sources of funding, and how it differs from another Iran-backed group, Hezbollah.
Hamas, short for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya or Islamic Resistance Movement, is committed to armed resistance against Israel and seeks to establish an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel. This ideology sets the stage for its confrontations with Israel.
The Hamas Charter
Hamas’s 1988 charter explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel. It views all of Israel and Palestine as Muslim lands, challenging the legitimacy of Israel and Jewish claims to those territories. This uncompromising stance has been a source of tension in the region.
Funding Sources for Hamas
Hamas receives substantial material and financial support from Iran. This backing has sustained its military capabilities and activities. However, it’s important to note that Iran’s involvement in recent attacks on Israel remains indirect.
Iran’s Role in Supporting Hamas
Iran openly acknowledges its support for Palestinian groups in Gaza. Leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another group involved in the attacks on Israel, regularly visit Iran. The Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has reaffirmed Iran’s commitment to supporting the Palestinian cause.
Hamas and Iran’s Connections
Hamas leaders have openly acknowledged Iran’s support. In the past, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard general Qassem Soleimani offered full support to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Soleimani’s assassination in 2020 was a significant event in the region.
Military Drills and Hezbollah’s Role
Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have conducted military drills in the Gaza Strip. Hezbollah, another Iran-backed group, has also engaged in military exercises in southern Lebanon. These activities contribute to regional tensions.
Hamas’ Presence and Operations
Hamas primarily operates in the Gaza Strip but also has a presence in the West Bank. In addition to these Palestinian territories, it has a footprint in Middle Eastern capitals like Doha, Qatar, and Cairo, Egypt, as well as Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
Hamas’ Palestinian Roots
Hamas emerged in 1987 as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political movement founded in Egypt in 1928. In 2007, it ousted the Palestinian Authority from power in Gaza.
Designation as a Terrorist Group
Hamas has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department since October 1997. This designation makes it illegal for Americans to provide support to the group, and U.S. financial institutions must freeze any of its funds in their possession.
Differences Between Hamas and Hezbollah
While both Hamas and Hezbollah are Iran-backed groups with political and militant wings, they have significant differences. Hezbollah operates in south Lebanon, bordering northern Israel, and collaborates with Lebanon’s armed forces. On the other hand, Hamas primarily focuses on the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. They also follow different branches of Islam, with Hamas being predominantly Sunni and Hezbollah Shiite.
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What is Hamas fighting over?
Hamas has historically used violence as a means to liberate occupied Palestinian territories and has called for the annihilation of Israel. Their fight is rooted in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the goal of reclaiming land they consider to be part of historic Palestine.
Is Hamas in Israel or Palestine?
Hamas primarily operates in the Palestinian territories, with its stronghold in the Gaza Strip. While Gaza is considered part of historic Palestine, it is currently administered by Hamas, which controls much of the territory. Hamas also has a presence in the West Bank and other Middle Eastern regions.
What is the role of Hamas?
Hamas, founded in 1987, has played a multifaceted role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It functions as both a political and military organization. Politically, Hamas has represented Palestinian interests and aspirations, while militarily, it has engaged in armed resistance against Israel. In 1997, the United States designated Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization due to its involvement in violent actions against Israelis, particularly during the second intifada in the early 2000s.