HAMAS–the acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement)—is the largest and most capable militant group in the Palestinian territories and one of the territories’ two major political parties. HAMAS emerged in 1987 during the first Palestinian uprising, or intifada, as an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch. The group is committed to armed resistance against Israel and the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state in Israel’s place. HAMAS has been the de facto governing body in the Gaza Strip since 2007, when it ousted the Palestinian Authority from power.
Primarily in Gaza; also maintains a presence in the West Bank; Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon; and key regional capitals, such as Doha, Qatar, and Cairo, Egypt.
Between 20,000 and 25,000
TACTICS AND TARGETS
HAMAS uses improvised explosive devices, short- and long-range rockets and mortars, small arms, kidnapping operations, rocket-propelled grenades, man-portable air defense systems, antitank missiles, and unmanned aircraft systems in attacks against Israeli military forces and civilians, as well as against ISIS and other Salafist armed group members based in Gaza. The group also uses cyber espionage and computer network exploitation operations.
FOREIGN TERRORIST GROUP DESIGNATION
The US State Department designated HAMAS as a foreign terrorist organization in October 1997.