Hamas attacked Israel on Saturday. Mutual exchange of fire is ongoing and hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians have already been killed. We explain what the organization that carried out the unprecedented attack is, what its goals are, and what makes this attack different from others.
On Saturday morning, Palestinian Hamas attacked Israel using several thousand rockets and breaking into the country by land, sea and air. In response, Israeli forces launched airstrikes and bombings in the Gaza Strip. On Sunday, Israel’s Security Cabinet officially announced that the country was at war. At least 700 Israelis and nearly 500 Palestinians had been killed in the clashes as of Monday morning, and thousands more were injured. Hamas fighters they reported that they had kidnapped him an unknown number of people, both civilians and soldiers.
What is Hamas
Hamas, i.e. the Muslim Resistance Movement, is a Palestinian political and military organization, officially recognized as terrorist (by Israel, but also by the European Union and United States). The Arabic word “hamas” itself means enthusiasm or zeal.
The organization was established in 1987, after the beginning of the first intifada, i.e. the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Its founders were Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Abd al-Aziz ar-Rantisi. Hamas was founded as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic organization founded in Egypt in 1928 and was to lead an armed struggle against Israel to liberate Palestine. It is believed that Hamas is currently supported by Iranwhich finances him and provides him with weapons and training, as well as by Syria and the Hezbollah party in Lebanon.
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What is Hezbollah
Hezbollah is a radical Lebanese party (Arabic: party of God) cooperating with the Palestinian Hamas. She admitted on Sunday that she did too attacked Israel using “a large number of artillery shells and guided missiles.” This party, like Hamas, is considered a terrorist organization, among others. by Israel, the United States or Great Britain. However, e.g. The European Union has entered only the armed wing of Hezbollah has been added to the list of terrorist organizations, which leaves an opening for talks with the political wing.
Gaza Strip – what is this area?
Since 2007, Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip, covering an area of approximately 365 square kilometers bordering Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. According to data from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – UNRWA, Gaza Strip It is inhabited by approximately 2 million Palestinians, including approximately 1.7 million Palestinian refugees. They fled there from Israel after its establishment in 1948 and subsequent conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians. The takeover of this area by Hamas occurred as a result of a short civil war between Hamas and Al-Fatah, the Palestinian National Liberation Movement. As a result, Hamas leaders declared themselves the legal government of the Palestinian Authority (which covers the territory of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank).
After the organization took over the Gaza Strip, Israel and Egypt established a land, sea and air blockade around it, closing all border crossings. They are strictly controlled by both countries. Israel also controls the Strip’s airspace and coastline. All this means that the humanitarian crisis in this area is deepening, and the majority (81.5%) of the civilian population living there lives in poverty and with a rate exceeding 46%. unemployment rate. In addition, the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated regions in the world.
Attack in Israel. What makes it different from the previous ones
Hamas does not recognize Israel’s statehood, considers it an illegitimate state and occupier, and seeks to liquidate it and liberate the Palestinian territories. This was one of the reasons why the organization rejected those developed in 1993 Oslo Agreement, intended to guarantee peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Since the organization took control of the Gaza Strip, there have been several escalations between the sides – Hamas has fired thousands of rockets at Israel and carried out other deadly attacks, and Israeli forces have repeatedly attacked Hamas from the air. The last serious attack occurred in 2021.
However, Saturday’s attack by Hamas is considered unprecedented because it took place without any prior warning. BBC security expert Frank Gardner notes that Israel’s intelligence services are probably the most extensive and best-funded in the Middle East, and the country has informants and agents within Palestinian militant groups. Therefore, it may come as a surprise that no one anticipated the attack or took any action earlier.
Jakub Katulski, expert on Israeli-Palestinian relations he spoke on TVN24that Israel was taken by surprise and “it appears that the military was unprepared for the attack, hence the unprecedented number of casualties.” He also suggested that it is possible that the organization was supported by Russia in carrying out the attack.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken he estimated that the reason for the attack Hamas’s attack on Israel may have been a desire to interrupt the recent attempt to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Al Jazeera, BBC, UNRWA, CNN, Reuters, DW
Main photo source: PAP/EPA