Hamas considers ceasefire talks after Abbas meeting

Saturday, February 12, 2005

GazaHamas announced that it will continue its undeclared ceasefire while it considers whether to officially join a ceasefire with Israel declared this week by the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government at a conference in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas held talks earlier in the day with Hamas leaders at an undisclosed location, with the aim of persuading them to officially join the ceasefire. The BBC is reporting that Hamas is concerned about the pace of peace talks, worrying that protracted negotiations may lead to little benefit for the Palestinians.

Hamas (حماس), an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah (Arabic: Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas is also Arabic for 'zeal' or 'courage'), is a Palestinian Islamist paramilitary and political organization, regarded by some as a militant organization and by others as a terrorist group.

The United States, Canada, Israel and the European Union, among others, consider Hamas a terrorist organization.

Hamas was founded by Shaikh Ahmed Yassin (later assassinated by the Israelis) and Mohammad Taha in late 1987, inspired by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Currently led by Khaled Mashaal, the movement is dedicated to fighting the Israeli occupation of Palestine, which, in Hamas' definition, includes all of Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. The organization is highly popular among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It also has a following in the West Bank, and, to a lesser extent, in Israel, other Middle Eastern countries and throughout the Palestinian diaspora.

The movement's popularity stems from its paramilitary activities and its charitable operations; the provision of welfare and social services to the Palestinian poor.

Hamas is notorious for using the tactic of suicide bombing against Israel, particularly against civilians in busy city areas.