Gaza Protests, Killings: 6 Things to Know About Israel-Palestine

2. What Is Hamas and What Is Their Role?

Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a rally marking the twelfth anniversary of the death of late Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was killed in an Israeli attack in Gaza City, March 23, 2016. |

As BBC News points out, Hamas is the largest of several Palestinian militant Islamist groups, and in 2005 won political elections in Gaza, where it has its headquarters. 

It presents itself as a resistance movement looking to purge Israel from land it considers belongs to Palestine, though Israel and the U.S. have branded it a terrorist organization, blaming it for decades of attacks and bloodshed.

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs keeps statistics of the various suicide bombing attacks it says the group has carried out, including the constant rocket and mortar shell fire Israeli border communities are subjected to. 

Israel said that the past two years have seen a significant increase in rocket fire, positioning that while it is often not lethal, it has a "devastating effect on the daily life and sense of security of the 200,000 residents of the western Negev."

Hamas has disputed reports that it is forcing its supporters to sacrifice their lives, though as The New York Times reported, it has responded to the latest violence by urging thousands of worshipers to join the protests. 

Hamas speakers have blamed Trump and the U.S. government for sparking further chaos by moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"America is the greatest Satan," said Sheikh Marwan Abu Rass, a cleric.

"Now we are heading to Jerusalem with millions of martyrs. We may die, but Palestine will live," he added, echoing rhetoric that is often repeated from the Islamist group.

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