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Who are Hamas?


The Executive Editors and News Editors of The Olaf Messenger decided to dedicate this week’s news section to coverage of community reaction to the Israel-Hamas War.  Our coverage’s aim is not to explain the Israel-Hamas War in detail, but to recount reactions and events in our community. Our objective is to provide unbiased reporting that accurately reflects thoughts and opinions of various members and organizations of our community, its also important to note that St. Olaf responses have predominantly supported Palestine. We acknowledge that there are many different perspectives on the conflict, as our community is made up of a diverse group of individuals. The Olaf Messenger extends our condolences to those who are directly affected by these recent events. Campus resources and information about bias reporting can be found here.


Hamas is an Islamist militant group and one of the Palestinian territories’ two major political parties. The group splintered from the Palestinian Branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s. In 1988, Hamas published its charter, calling for the destruction of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic society in historic Palestine.


Hamas is not the only ruling party in Palestine. Fatah, which dominates the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), is the other major party. Hamas rules the Gaza Strip and PLO rules the West Bank. PLO has also renounced the violence of Hamas. In the past, however, this has wavered during times of severe threat from Israel. 


Hamas is most known for its role in resisting Israel. Hamas has been designated as a terrorist group by The United States and the European Union. Many other nations have also ruled Hamas a terrorist group, although some separate their ruling to include only the military branch of Hamas, excluding the political sector of the group. Hamas also has support from outside nations. Iran has historically provided Hamas with weapons, and financial support and Turkey has harbored top Hamas leaders. 


In October 2023, Hamas launched a massive surprise attack on southern Israel, killing more than 1,400 people and taking dozens more as hostages. Israel has declared war on the group in response.

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