After seven decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war between Israel and Hamas is in one of its most violent phases. According to official figures, the death toll following bombings and attacks on civilians has risen to 1,500 in the past few hours, the biggest attack on the Gaza Strip in half a century.
The unprecedented offensive in which Hamas fighters entered border regions and military installations on Saturday, October 7, shocked Israel and its allies, so some questions have been raised about the origin of this extremist group and if this force is the only one governing Palestine.
For years, the Palestinian territories have been governed by two main factions: Hamas and the so-called Palestinian National Authority, two organizations that maintain internal disputes over power and control of these regions.
What is Hamas, and how did it arise?
Founded in 1987, Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) was born during the first Palestinian Intifada against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a popular uprising aimed at liberating the Palestinian territories from attack by Israel.
Its founder is Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a Palestinian refugee who lived in Gaza during the rebellions that lasted until 1993, the year in which the Oslo Accords were signed between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization, to maintain a temporary peace.
Unlike the Palestinian resistance, Hamas was created under the rules of being nationalist, Islamist, and jihadist, with the main inspiration being the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, an ancient Islamic organization whose ideology is based on the teachings in the Koran.
Hamas forces have de facto ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, when they won the last elections held in Palestine and overcame the forces of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah), loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas.
Since then, this extremist group has been classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, and many Western countries, while its allies include Iran and Qatar.
What is the Palestinian Authority, and what is its origin?
The Palestinian National Authority, or self-proclaimed State of Palestine, is the governing body of the Palestinian autonomous regions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It was established in 1994 as part of the Oslo Accords.
It was founded by the historical leader Yasir Arafat after the creation of Israel and continued the creation of a Palestinian state, although it was not Islamist, unlike Hamas.
The Palestinian Authority is governed by a temporary constitution known as the Basic Law, which can be amended by lawmakers with a two-thirds majority. In addition, the president is directly elected for a four-year term with a two-term limit.
Currently, the State of Palestine controls the West Bank, the other Palestinian territory next to Gaza, after it was driven from Gaza in 2007 by the Hamas militia. Since then, these two factions have been at odds.
Differences between Hamas and the Palestinian National Authority
The ideology and politics behind these two organizations are very different. And although both groups are working toward the same goal of establishing a Palestinian state in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, which include East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, there are some marked differences. difference between the two.
While Hamas does not recognize Israel and promotes the use of armed resistance against it, the Palestinian Authority accepts the government of Israel and completely rejects the use of violence against this country, admitting that negotiations are a way to a more diplomatic solution. in conflict.
Regarding the religious issue, there is also a clash between secularism and Islam in Palestine, because while the Palestinian Authority believes in separating God from public life and in a nationalist and secular system, Hamas, on the other hand, is more involved in radical Islam and terrorism.
In his official letter of 1988 alone, he called for the “total destruction of Israel by raising the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.”
It should be noted that the two parties agreed in 2020 to hold new elections, but the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, postponed them “indefinitely” at the end of April of that year.