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Hamas

The Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Since June 2007 Hamas has governed the Gaza portion of the Palestinian Territories, after it won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament in the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections and then defeated the Fatah political organisation in a series of violent clashes. Israel, the United States, Canada, the European Union, and Japan classify Hamas as a terrorist organization, while Arab nations, Russia, and Turkey do not.

Based on the principles of Islamic fundamentalism gaining momentum throughout the Arab world in the 1980s, Hamas was founded in 1987 (during the First Intifada) as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Co-founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin stated in 1987, and the Hamas Charter affirmed in 1988, that Hamas was founded to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. However, in July 2009, Khaled Meshal, Hamas's Damascus-based political bureau chief, said the organisation was willing to cooperate with "a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict which included a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders", provided that Palestinian refugees hold the right to return to Israel and that East Jerusalem be the new nation's capital.

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas affiliated military wing, has launched attacks on Israel, against both military and civilian targets. Tactics have included rocket attacks and, from 1993 to 2008, suicide bombings. Military targets included Israeli and Egyptian needed outposts and border crossings and rival Palestinian militias in the occupied territories.

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