by Marco Chown Oved
Article published on the 2008-04-24 Latest update 2008-04-26 06:32 TU
Hamas was founded in 1987 by Sheik Ahmed Yassin at the beginning of the first intifada (uprising) of Palestinians against Israeli occupation. Its armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam brigades, quickly became well-known for suicide-bombings and other violent forms of opposition to Israel and its occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Hamas's founding charter called for the destruction of the state of
The first intifada finished with the
Hamas, along with other radical Palestinian groups, opposed the Oslo agreement and refused to take part in elections in 1996. The peace process collapsed and in 2000 a second intifada flared up.
Hamas participated in legislative elections in January 2006 and won 74 of the 132 seats the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Israel refused to deal with the new government and stopped handing over the Palestinian share of customs duties. The so-called "Quartet" – the
After five months of political crisis, a Palestinian unity government was formed by the former majority party, Fatah, and Hamas. But factional struggles continued and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the government in June 2007.
Shortly thereafter, Hamas’ militias forced remaining Fatah members from key posts in the Gaza Strip, taking sole control of the region and leaving Fatah controlling the
The Quartet resumed limited funding to the West Bank Fatah government following the scission.
Hamas largely observed a unilateral ceasefire between 2005 and 2007 and has made several offers of peace with