Hamas, Gaza Strip, Hezbollah: Glossary of terms related to Israel-Palestine conflict you must know

The deadliest fighting in 50 years continued in southern Israel for a second day as Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) sought to regain control of areas infiltrated on Saturday by Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip. While the IDF said it now has full control over 29 points that were breached, there is still fighting in eight southern locations on Sunday.

Israeli police check the occupants of a vehicle near Ashkelon, Israel, on Sunday.(Bloomberg)

There was limited mortar fire on Sunday from southern Lebanon into areas controlled by Israel, which responded with artillery fire. Israel has hit 426 targets in Gaza so far and civilians in Israeli areas near the border are being evacuated on a scale not seen in almost a decade, the IDF said.

Israel is “at war,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday after the surprise attack, which killed at least 300 Israelis and at least 400 Palestinians. The operation Hamas — which included taking scores of Israeli hostages — was an unprecedented incursion into Israel and a likely consequential failure of the nation’s intelligence operations.

Those images — and the mounting death toll — come 50 years and a day after invading forces from Egypt and Syria caught Israel by surprise with the launch of an attack on Israel that set off the 19-day conflict that became known as the Yom Kippur War.

Meanwhile, Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said it fired missiles and artillery fire against three Israeli positions in Shebaa Farms, Mayadeen TV reported, citing a statement from the group. Shebaa Farms is the land claimed by both Lebanon and Syria that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.

Here are glossary of terms related to Israel-Palestine conflict:

Hamas: Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, was founded in 1987 during the first Palestinian Intifada, or uprising. It is backed by Shia Iran and shares the Islamist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was established in Egypt in the 1920s. It has run the Gaza Strip since 2007, after a brief civil war with forces loyal to the Fatah movement led by President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the West Bank and also heads the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The Hamas takeover of Gaza followed its win in Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 – the last time they were held. Hamas accused Abbas of conspiring against it. Abbas described what happened as a coup.

Since then, there have been numerous rounds of conflict with Israel, often involving Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and Israeli airstrikes and bombardment of Gaza. Hamas refuses to recognise the state of Israel and violently opposed the Oslo peace accords negotiated by Israel and the PLO in the mid-1990s.

It is designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US, European Union, Canada, Egypt and Japan. Hamas is part of a regional alliance comprising Iran, Syria and the Shia Islamist group Hezbollah in Lebanon, which all broadly oppose US policy in the Middle East and Israel.

Hezbollah: Backed by Iran, the Shia group has risen from a shadowy faction established during Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war to a heavily armed force with big sway over the Lebanese state. Governments, including the United States. deem it a terrorist organisation. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards founded Hezbollah in 1982 to export its Islamic Revolution and fight Israeli forces that had invaded Lebanon. Sharing Tehran’s Shia Islamist ideology, Hezbollah recruited among Lebanese Shia Muslims.

Hezbollah kept its weapons at the end of the civil war to fight Israeli forces occupying the predominantly Shia south. Years of guerrilla warfare led Israel to withdraw in 2000. Hezbollah demonstrated its military advances in 2006 during a five-week war with Israel, which erupted after it crossed into Israel, kidnapping two soldiers and killing others. The war killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 158 Israelis, mostly soldiers. Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into Israel. Its military power grew after deploying into Syria in 2012 to help President Bashar al-Assad fight mostly Sunni rebels. Hezbollah has deep ties to other Iran-backed groups around the region, including the Palestinian factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad. As Saturday’s attack unfolded, Hezbollah said it was in “direct contact with the leadership of the Palestinian resistance”.

Gaza Strip: It is a 41-km-long and 10-km-wide territory between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. More than 2.3 million people reside here. Gaza city has been continuously inhabited for more than 3,000 years and was a crossroads of ancient civilizations. It is believed to be the burial place of the Prophet Muhammad’s great-grandfather. Four centuries of rule by the Ottoman Empire were briefly interrupted by Napoleonic France and also saw growing Egyptian influence until Britain took control of Gaza and the rest of Palestine in World War One. Egypt took control of the Strip during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The Strip’s population tripled in 1948-49 when it absorbed about a quarter of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees displaced from areas that are now part of Israel. Israel captured the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the 1967 war. Israel conducted large-scale ground operations in June 2006 after militants tunnelled across the Gaza border and captured an Israeli soldier. A year later, Hamas Islamists took control of the Gaza Strip after routing President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah forces.

Israel Defense Forces or IDF: Founded in 1948, the IDF ranks among the most battle-tested armed forces in the world, having had to defend the country in six major wars. Its main tasks include reinforcing the peace arrangements; ensuring overall security in the West Bank in coordination with the Palestinian authority; spearheading the war against terrorism, both inside Israel and across its borders; and maintaining a deterrent capability to prevent the outbreak of hostilities.

Men and women soldiers of all ranks serve side by side as technicians, communications and intelligence specialists, combat instructors, cartographers, administrative and ordnance personnel, computer operators, doctors, lawyers, and the like. More and more women are now serving in combat units as well.

Yom Kippur War: The 1973 Arab–Israeli War was an armed conflict fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria. The war broke out in the Middle East as Egyptian soldiers infiltrated the Sinai Peninsula and Syria entered the Golan Heights. The forces hoped to reclaim lost territory after Israel’s triumph in the six-day war of 1967 and convince Israel’s leaders that a lasting peace deal was necessary, according to the History Channel. Not expecting the attack and with many soldiers away from their posts, Israel was initially overwhelmed before it was able to launch a counteroffensive and repel the attacking forces. It ended in an Israeli victory and recapture of the Golan Heights. The Yom Kippur War drew the US and the Soviet Union nearer to potential nuclear conflict, as each aided its allies after failed attempts at proposing ceasefires. The Soviet Union then began sending weapons to resupply Syria and Egypt, and days later, the US did the same for Israel, according to the State Department. The war continued nearly three weeks, from October 6 through October 25, 1973. Most fighting had ended by October 26. Despite gaining more territory, Israel was criticised for a lack of preparation before the attack, and also suffered many casualties. Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism.

(With inputs from agencies)

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