The Fatah Movement (in Arabic: فتح, a reversal of the initials of حركة تحرير فلسطين, Palestine Liberation Movement) is a Palestinian movement that plays a central role in Palestinian politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Fatah was founded at the end of the 1950s by operatives of the Palestinian student organization in Cairo, led by Yasser Arafat. Since its establishment, Fatah has championed a violent Palestinian struggle against the State of Israel. Until the First Lebanon War, Fatah maintained an extensive military infrastructure in Lebanon and was the main element in the PLO. After the expulsion of the terrorists from Lebanon and in the wake of the Oslo Accords, its military and political center of gravity shifted to Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
Fatah has carried out deadly terror attacks against Israel. On August 31, 1986, it was declared a terrorist organization by the State of Israel. Fatah’s main military organization in the territories during the First Intifada was called the Fatah Hawks. This organization carried out operations against IDF soldiers as well as acts of terror against Israeli civilians.
As part of the Oslo Accords, Israel recognized the PLO umbrella organization, comprising mainly Fatah operatives, as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. With the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah became its ruling party, and many of its operatives hold positions in the Palestinian Authority’s (security and civilian) apparatuses. During the years between the establishment of the Palestinian Authority and the beginning of the Second Intifada, Fatah’s status as the dominant party became stronger. During the Second Intifada, Fatah resumed its attacks against Israel, directly or through military sub-organizations. After Arafat’s death, Fatah found itself in a crisis. On August 8, 2009, during the sixth Fatah conference in Bethlehem, Mahmoud Abbas was elected to head the movement.