What you should know about Hamas

Hamas is a Palestinian militant group whose ideology mixes Islamist extremism and Palestinian nationalism.

Hamas was founded in 1987 and opposes Israel’s existence within any borders. The group’s secular rival, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, takes a more moderate approach and supports a two-state solution.

Hamas pioneered the use of suicide bombers in the 1990s and 2000s and is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israeli civilians and soldiers. It is considered a terrorist group by the US and EU, while the UK has designated its armed wing as a terror organisation.

Hamas won the most recent Palestinian elections in 2006 and subsequently seized power in Gaza by force and drove out its Fatah rivals. The group fires rockets into Israel but is increasingly focused on improving economic and humanitarian conditions in Gaza as a way of preserving its own grip on power in the Strip.