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The Hamas-Israeli Conflict: Background, Primers, FAQs.

What You Need to Know About the Hamas-Israeli Conflict


The Hamas-Israeli conflict is a sub-plot of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, itself a sub-plot of the larger Arab-Israeli conflict. The Hamas-Israeli conflict especially is complicating prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis, not least because Hamas, a militant, Sunni fundamentalist organization, is in conflict with Fatah, the secular Palestinian organization. Hamas doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist. Fatah does. But Hamas' lawmakers have been duly elected to a majority of the Palestinian parliament. Israel doesn't recognize their legitimacy. Here's a primer on making sense of it all.

1. Hamas and Israel: The Latest

gaza wreckage
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Egypt brokered a shaky six-month truce between Hamas and Israel in June 2008. The truce began its collapse well before its six months ran out. On Dec. 27, Israel launched an assault of staggering firepower on Gaza, killing more than 350 Palestinians in three days. These links chronicle developments since the June truce:

2. Hamas, Israel and the Peace Process

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For all the animosity between the two sides, Hamas and Israel have negotiated on several occasion, albeit indirectly. Both sides also recognize that conflict as a default position is ultimately self-defeating. That said, neither side appears willing or able to cede the slightest concession. Attempts at conciliation, let alone peace, are tentative, dubious and shaky. But those attempts are also persistent, given the worse alternative—outright war.

  • What Israelis Say About Talking With Hamas
  • Should Jimmy Carter Have Met With Hamas?
  • Hamas-Israel Truce: Background, Terms and Conditions
  • Who Is Gilad Shalit and Why Is Hamas Holding Him Hostage?
  • Israel and Gaza: A Withdrawal That Did Not End Israel's Occupation of Gaza
  • 3. The Hamas-Israeli Conflict: The Players

    Suhaib Salem - Pool/Getty Images
    Understanding who’s fighting whom and what organization stands for what can get confusing. Here are answers to basic questions and profiles of individuals or countries involved.
  • What Is Hamas ?
  • What is the PLO - The Palestine Liberation Organization?
  • What Is Fatah?
  • What Is al-Naqba, or al-Nakba, the Palestinian "Catastrophe"?
  • Profile: Hamas' Khaled Mashaal
  • Palestine and the Palestinians: Profile
  • Israel: Country Profile
  • 4. The Battle Over Gaza

    In January 2006, Hamas swept the Palestinian parliamentary elections, which were observed by international monitors to be free and fair. Israel did not recognize the results. Nor did the United States. Both nations contended that Hamas would not be recognized until it explicitly renounced terrorism and accepted Israel’s right to exist. Hamas did neither. It consolidated its power in Gaza in a brief civil war with Fatah, then faced off against Israel’s siege of the Strip.
  • Hamas Attacks and Israeli Retaliation: Causes and Solutions
  • First Suicide Bombing in Israel in Over a Year
  • Bloodletting in Gaza
  • U.S. Presidential Candidates: Eyeless On Gaza
  • From Gaza to Jerusalem: Slaughter to Slaughter
  • 5. The Hamas-Israeli Conflict in the Context of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

    Ronen Zvulun-Pool/Getty Images

    6. Hamas-Israeli Conflict: Vital Documents

    In trying to understand the Hamas-Israeli conflict, primary sources are important: it helps to read about Hamas in its own words. The following documents and sources shed light on the organization, unfiltered by interpretation or assumptions.

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    6. Hamas-Israeli Conflict - Background and Primers on the Hamas-Israeli Conflict

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