Understanding Hamas: From Foundation to Function

In the complex tapestry of Middle Eastern politics, Hamas emerges as a significant thread with its unique ideological stance and substantial influence within the Gaza Strip. Unveiling the layers of Hamas helps in comprehending the broader Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the ever-evolving dynamics of the Middle East.

Foundation and Ideological Roots

Hamas, an acronym for Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-Islāmiyyah or the Islamic Resistance Movement, was birthed amidst the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in 1987. Originating from the Muslim Brotherhood, it quickly garnered a wide following. Unlike the secular approach of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) towards the Israeli-Palestinian discord, Hamas advocated for an independent Islamic state in historical Palestine【11†(Britannica)】.

Sunni Islamist Ideology

Shaped by a Sunni Islamist ideology, Hamas received backing from Shi’ite Iran, showcasing a shared Islamist ideology【5†(Reuters)】. The name Hamas, translating to “zeal” in Arabic, embodies the fervor with which the movement approached the Israeli-Palestinian conflict initially【7†(Al Jazeera)】.

Governance in Gaza

Hamas has grown into the de facto government of the Gaza Strip, steering the lives of over 2 million inhabitants. Despite its initial rejection of negotiations ceding any land and denouncing the 1993 peace accord between Israel and the PLO, Hamas displayed a gradual shift in its stance. Notably, it participated in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections and expressed a willingness to endorse a two-state resolution based on pre-1967 borders【11†(Britannica)】【6†(Foreign Policy)】.

Political and Militant Activities

With a blend of political and militant undertakings, Hamas has conducted attacks on both military and civilian targets, often leading to significant Israeli and international backlash. Its journey has seen strained affiliations with other Palestinian factions, courtesy of diverging ideologies and methodologies towards Israel.


Hamas continues to be a pivotal player in the Middle Eastern political arena, with its actions and ideologies significantly impacting the Israeli-Palestinian narrative. Unraveling the intricacies of Hamas provides a lens through which one can better understand the broader dynamics at play in the region.

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