Hamas, a Palestinian faction ruling Gaza Strip celebrated 23rd anniversary on December 15. Hamas was founded in 1987. It defeated Fatah faction lead by Mahmoud Abbas in elections held in 2007. Hamas, an Islamic resistance movement, does not recognize Israeli state.
Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Middle East war. It withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005, but heightened its blockade on the territory after Hamas came to power in 2007. Hamas is designated a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US and the EU, but it is seen by its supporters as a legitimate resistance movement. It is still holding Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, captured by militants during a cross-border raid in June 2006.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya addressed a Palestinian gathering of tens of thousands in Gaza city on the occasion. Mr Haniya repeated his group’s pledge never to recognise Israel, BBC reported. It may be better for Hamas to recognise Israel in order to form an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.