The Islamist movement Hamas was behind the massive offensive launched on Israel on October 7. In power in the Palestinian territory of the Gaza Strip, the group is at war with Israel.

Hamas is Israel’s number one enemy. The Prime Minister of the Jewish state, Benyamin Netanyahu, has also pledged to “destroy” the Palestinian armed group in Gaza. A promise made on Saturday October 7, 2023 after the largest offensive ever launched on Israel by Hamas. But this hatred is mutual since the goal of the Palestinian Islamist movement in Gaza is none other than to wipe Israel off the map and create a Palestinian Muslim state instead. A 1988 charter specifies Hamas’s raison d’être: to retake Palestine, described as a land given to Muslims by God, and to wage jihad – the “Holy War” – against Israel which has, according to it, “usurped” the Palestinian lands.

With its surprise offensive, Hamas could bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a new war, fifty years to the day after the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The leader of the movement since 2017, Ismaïl Haniyeh, launched during a speech broadcast on the Hamas television channel, Al-Aqsa TV, that the assault led by Gaza could extend to the West Bank and then to Jerusalem.

Hamas – an acronym for “harakat al-muqâwama al-‘islâmiya” which translates as “Islamic resistance movement” – was born in 1987 after the first intifada, an “uprising” of the Palestinian people against Israel’s colonies. It was only in 1993 that the movement created by three men from the Muslim Brotherhood took off by refusing the Oslo Accords which provided for a peace process and the sharing of Palestinian territory between Israel and the people of Palestine. From then on, Hamas began to carry out ultra-violent and sometimes terrorist actions against the Israeli government and civilians, including suicide attacks.

The Islamist movement, which began as an armed group, also became a political group around 2005 when the Palestinian enclave that is the Gaza Strip was evacuated by the Israelis. Hamas won the legislative elections in 2007 and has ruled Gazan territory ever since. If Hamas is present in Gaza, it is not present in the West Bank which represents the majority of Palestinian lands and where Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah is in place. Since the arrival of Hamas at the head of Gaza, numerous wars have followed one another in 2008, 2012, 2014, 2021 and again in 2023.

As a result of these violent actions and its war crimes, Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union. The movement is also accused by the international community and certain NGOs such as Amnesty International of regularly violating human rights by organizing executions or kidnappings. A violation of rights and oppressive actions that Hamas itself blames on Israel.

If Hamas is in the sights of the West, it also has some allies who support and finance it such as Turkey, Qatar and Iran. The latter is the most important financial, political and military support of the Palestinian movement. He may also be involved in the organization of the offensive carried out on Israel on October 7, according to the Wall Street Journal which cites representatives of Hamas and Iranian Hezbollah. Tehran, for its part, declared that it “supports the self-defense of the Palestinian nation” but denied any involvement. Lebanese Hezbollah, financed by the Iranian organization, is also said to be close to Hamas.