Hamas is a fundamentalist Sunni Muslim organization founded in the Gaza Strip in 1987 by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. It seeks to establish an Islamic state on the entire territory of the State of Israel and does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.
The Hamas leadership has two branches: the internal leadership, which includes the military wing and the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, responsible for the day-to-day activities of governing the Gaza Strip population, in addition to social, educational activity vis-à-vis the population of the Gaza Strip; and the external leadership, Hamas’s political bureau, located beyond the borders of the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria. The external leadership maintains relations with various countries and bodies, and deals mainly with raising money and finding other resources for Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas’s ideology seeks to establish an Islamic Palestinian state on the entire territory of Israel. The preferred way to achieve this goal is through armed struggle. Hamas has a military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which carries out terrorist attacks against Israel, including rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and various kinds of other attacks (such as shooting, suicide bombings, abductions etc.) in the territories of Judea, Samaria and Israel.
Over the years, Hamas has challenged the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, causing conflicts between the sides, culminating in June 2007 with Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip and the suppression of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority members. Ever since, the rift between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority has grown.
Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by several countries, including Israel, the United States, and the European Union.