Question: "What is Hamas?"
Answer: Hamas is a Palestinian nationalist group that seeks to eliminate the nation of Israel, replacing it with an Islamic state. Hamas is an acronym for Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-Islāmiyyah, which in English translates to “Islamic Resistance Movement.”
Hamas is a militant Muslim group that functions through several semi-independent branches, each focusing on a category such as charity, media, or military action. While social welfare is admirable, the group’s use of violence and anti-Semitic propaganda have resulted in its being designated a terrorist organization by many nations worldwide. The group most notably operates in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of Israel. Hamas is heavily supported by nations such as Iran, Qatar, and Turkey.
The “military” efforts of Hamas are routinely denounced as acts of terrorism. These include suicide bombings, the mass launching of homemade, unguided rockets, and other acts directly targeting Israeli civilians. Observers have also criticized Hamas for deliberately placing weapons and other military resources in civilian areas. Some have gone further and accused the group of using Palestinians as human shields. Defenses against such charges tend to rely on technicalities and legalese. Without question, Hamas has shown itself willing to endanger Palestinian people to further their political and religious goals.
Hamas also participates in anti-Semitic propaganda and media production. This includes programs targeted at children that encourage martyrdom, hatred for Jews, and support for terrorist acts. Due to the claimed separation of Hamas’s different branches, it is sometimes argued that these radio, television, and print productions do not represent the actual views of Hamas. Given that the branches of Hamas share common resources, leadership, and aims, this is not a reasonable defense.
Criticism of Hamas is by no means limited to pro-Israeli, Western, or anti-Islamic voices. A great many Palestinian people also disagree with Hamas’s tactics. Some also reject their more extreme goals. Though Hamas is nominally a Sunni Muslim organization, many Muslims disapprove of the group. Regardless of how one views the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, groups primarily dealing in hatred and terrorism, such as Hamas, should not be supported.