HAMAS (Arab. "zeal"; abbreviation of harakat muqawama alislamiyya – Islamic Resistance Movement), Palestinian Islamic movement engaged in community activity and armed struggle against Israel; from 2006 the majority party in the Palestinian parliament and government. Hamas was officially founded during the first intifada in 1988 under the leadership of Sheikh   Ahmad Yasin (later assassinated by Israel) as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, operating both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. From its establishment it remained the main opposition to the palestine liberation organization and, from 1993, to the peace process. Throughout this period it launched particularly violent terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians while expanding its civil base through wide-ranging social services to the Palestinian population, including schools, hospitals, mosques, family centers, and welfare. Establishing its political bureau abroad to protect it against Israeli crackdowns, it also sought legitimacy by running in Palestinian elections. With increasing popular support and charges of corruption being leveled against the palestinian authority , it scored an upset victory in the January 2006 parliamentary elections and formed a new government replacing the Palestine Liberation Organization in power. Attacks against Israel continued, however, until Israel again entered Gaza in summer 2006. For a summary of the latter events, see israel , State of: Historical Survey; for a detailed review of Israel's war against terrorism, see israel , State of: Israel Defense Forces ("The War against Terrorism"). See also Palestine Authority; palestine liberation organization .

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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