how and why it started

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Clashes between Israelis and Palestinians have resurfaced in recent hours. The Palestinian organization Hamas launched an air, sea and land attack against Israel since the early hours of this Saturday, which has already left at least a hundred dead. Israel said it was at war with Hamas and launched air raids on Gaza, vowing to exact an “unprecedented price.”

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“We are at war,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised speech declaring mass military mobilization. “Not an 'operation', not an 'assault', but in war [...] The enemy will pay an unprecedented price,” adding that Israel “will respond with fire of a magnitude the enemy has never known.”

The force, complexity and timing of the attack shocked Israelis. Hamas fighters used explosives to break through a fence enclosing the territory and then crossed the coast on motorcycles, pickup trucks, paragliders and motorboats. Evenis already considered the "sixth chapter" of the conflict over the Gaza Strip in the Arab-Israeli War against Hamas.

How did the new conflict between Israelis and Palestinians start... and what does Hamas have to do with it?

Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting for decades for control of Jerusalem and the rest of the region, where both claim that they have inhabited the territory since ancient times and have clashed on countless occasions. The bloodshed occurred a day after Israel commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1973 war which brought the country to the brink of catastrophic defeat in a surprise attack by Syria and Egypt.

This has partly given rise to the Islamic Resistance Movement - the acronym for Hamas in Arabic -, a Palestinian political-military group that is a defender of Sunni Islamic fundamentalism - the main branch of Islam - and openly anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist, which has an arm social (Dawah) and a military arm (The Ezzeldin Al-Qassam Brigades).

The head of Hamas's military wing, Mohammed Deif, He claimed that the attack was in response to the blockade of Gaza, Israeli incursions into West Bank cities over the past year, violence at the Al Aqsa Mosque—the holy site in Jerusalem that Jews call the Temple Mount—increasing attacks by Jewish settlers on Palestinians, and the growth of settlements .

"We decided to put an end to all the crimes of the (Israeli) occupation; its time of rampaging without accountability is over," the Islamist movement declared. "We announced the 'Al Aqsa Deluge' operation and fired, in the first 20-minute attack, more than 5 thousand rockets," he indicated.

Since 2006 it has been the main party of the Palestinian Congress and has control of the Gaza Strip region. Meanwhile, Fatah, the second largest political party in Palestine, mainly controls the West Bank and the area occupied by Israel. Hamas has committed various attacks over the last two decades, which is why a dozen countries—including the European Union and the United States—consider them a "terrorist organization."

Hamas's sources of income are completely unknown, although there have been nations that have given money to the organization's cause. As of the latest available report, 85% of its income comes from foreign donations, and is driven by anonymous donors around the world and indirectly by Iran.

How was Hamas founded?

Hamas emerged in 1987 under the leadership of Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, a far-right Islamic party founded in Egypt in the 1920s. This organization was established in the Gaza Strip and was affiliated with the "Islamic Centre", a charity also founded by Yasin.

The formal creation of Hamas took place shortly after the start of the First Intifada (1987-1993), an uprising in which young Palestinians rebelled against the Israeli government in the West Bank. Although the Muslim Brotherhood decided not to get involved in the conflict, Yassin was already preparing the ground for the formation of Hamas.

In 1988, Hamas published a letter, which expressed its anti-Semitic stance and advocated a unified Islamic Palestine, rejecting the resolution to divide the territory into a Jewish and an Arab state. Initially, Israel supported Hamas as a counterweight to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) led by Yasir Arafat.

Hamas's first attack against Israel occurred in the spring of 1989, when they kidnapped and murdered two Israeli soldiers, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Saadon. They subsequently intensified their attacks, mainly through kidnappings, after the al-Aqsa Revolt in 1990.

In 1993, after the signing of the Oslo Accords between Palestine and Israel, Hamas distanced itself from the PLO and continued its activities independently, intensifying its terrorist attacks until the end of the Second Intifada, which occurred between 2000 and 2005 in response to Israeli repression during protests over the visit of Likud leader Ariel Sharon.

Despite sabotaging the electoral processes for the Palestinian Parliament in 1996 and 2005, Hamas decided to participate in the 2006 elections, winning a majority in the legislature and assuming control in Palestine. This triggered a political conflict with Fatah, led by Mahmoud Abbas., which had adopted a more moderate stance in the Arab-Israeli conflict and lost the elections. This dispute culminated in the Gaza War in 2008.

During the armed conflict, Hamas consolidated its de facto government in the Gaza Strip, attracting international attention. As attacks on the border continued, several countries began to consider Hamas a terrorist group.

What has been the international reaction to the conflict?

The United States "unequivocally" condemned this Saturday the attack by "Hamas terrorists" against Israel and He assured that he will ensure that his key ally has "what he needs to defend himself." President Joe Biden was briefed on "the horrific terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel," the White House said in a statement, adding that the president remains in close contact with his Israeli partners as the situation develops.

For his part, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged the international community on Saturday to carry out "diplomatic efforts to prevent an expansion of the conflagration" between Israel and Hamas. An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council has already been called for this Sunday.

The UN "condemns in the strongest terms this morning's attack by Hamas against Israeli cities near the Gaza Strip and in central Israel," it adds.

The Foreign Ministry of Saudi Arabia, which has already established diplomatic relations with Israel, called for an "immediate cessation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians," the state news agency reported.

But Lebanese group Hezbollah, backed by Iran, said the operation was a "decisive response to Israel's continued occupation and a message to those seeking normalization with Israel." An adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei congratulated Palestinian fighters on the attack.

With information from AFP and Reuters | dmr

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