Hamas stands for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya in Arabic, which means Islamic Resistance Movement.

Hamas’s goal is to establish an Islamic state for Palestinians in the territory planned before 1948. To achieve that goal, this movement determines that the only path is to fight through violence,

Hamas initially carried out both an armed struggle against Israel and a social welfare program for Palestinians.

Since then, Gaza’s militants have fought three wars with Israel, which along with Egypt maintains a siege on the Gaza Strip to isolate Hamas and apply pressure to stop the attacks.

Hamas gunmen marched in the city of Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip in September 2017.

Hamas in general and sometimes the military wing of the movement are listed as terrorists by Israel, the US, the European Union, the UK and a number of other powers.

However, this Islamic movement has received support and financial support from Palestinians abroad, sponsors in Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries.

Iran has long been considered a major sponsor of the Hamas movement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spoke by phone with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh earlier this week, pledging continued support for the movement.

Hamas rose to prominence after the first intifada when the armed group opposed the Oslo peace accords signed in the early 1990s between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which represents most Palestinians.

In February and March 1996, the group carried out several suicide car bombings, killing nearly 60 Israelis in retaliation for the December 1995 assassination of bombmaker Yahya Ayyash by Hamas.

These bloody bombings angered Israelis, causing Tel Aviv to leave the peace process and bringing Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposed the Oslo accords, to power that year.

In the post-Oslo world, especially after the failure of US President Bill Clinton’s 2000 Camp David summit and the second intifada shortly thereafter, Hamas gained power and influence as Israel

Hamas has set up clinics and schools serving Palestinians frustrated by the corruption and ineffectiveness of the Fatah-dominated government.

Many Palestinians cheered Hamas’s suicide attacks during the early years of the second intifada.

In March and April 2004, Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his successor Abdul Aziz al-Rantissi were assassinated in Israeli rocket attacks in Gaza.

After Fatah leader Yasser Arafat died in November of that year, Mahmoud Abbas, who viewed Hamas’s rocket attacks as counterproductive, took power in Palestine.

Hamas - the Gaza militant group confronts Israel to the end

Graphics: Straits Times.

Hamas’s 1988 charter considers former Palestine, including current Israel, to be the land of Islam and rules out any permanent peace process with the Jewish state.

In 2017, Hamas released a new policy document, softening some of its previous positions and using more moderate language.

Israel claims the Hamas movement is trying to `mislead the world`.

After Hamas overthrew forces loyal to Fatah in Gaza in 2007, Israel tightened its blockade of the territory and fighting between Israel and Hamas continued.

Hamas - the Gaza militant group confronts Israel to the end

Rocket launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel on May 11.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks from the Gaza Strip and has carried out three major military operations in the area.

Israel also used the same reason to launch the Pillar of Defense campaign in November 2012, starting with an airstrike that killed Ahmed Jabari, commander of the Qassam brigade.

After two conflicts, Hamas was damaged militarily but won new support from Palestinians, as the movement survived fighting Israel.

Fighting in Gaza flared up again in mid-2014, when Israel launched a military campaign on the ground to attack many Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

Since 2014, many violent clashes have broken out between the two sides, often ending in ceasefires brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations, preventing the conflict from escalating into full-blown war.

Despite siege pressures, Hamas retains power in Gaza and continues to develop an increasingly sophisticated arsenal.

Meanwhile, the lives of two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are deteriorating day by day.

Hamas - the Gaza militant group confronts Israel to the end

Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Thanh Tam (According to BBC, Times of Israel, AA)