Some key resources for understanding Hamas

Helena Cobban
4 min readApr 12, 2024


(This resource list is a work in progress, as I’m planning to add additional resources and more commentary onto it. It is part of Just World Ed’s preps for the launch later this month of our forthcoming Online Learning Hub “Understanding Hamas and the Gaza/Palestinian Resistance”. Stay tuned for news of that launch! ~HC)

Part 1. Hamas’s goals, actions in the Oct. 7 breakout

Ghazi Hamad interview with LBC (Lebanon), 24 Oct 2023

In this interview, Hamad, a hardline, veteran Hamas leader, stated that Hamas would repeat Oct.7 again and again until it “finishes” Israel. He called for an end to the Israeli occupation, defining that to include the 1948 lands as well as those seized in 1967. (Source: Memri.)

Hamas’s official “Our Narrative” for Operation Al-Aqsa Flood (PDF), 21 Jan 2024

Hamas issued this 18-page explainer in late January after what was almost certainly a lot of internal discussion on its text. This explainer states that the goals of the operation were wholly military, but it admits there may have been some violations of international law committed and calls for an independent international investigation of all the events of October 7. The text also contains an outline of Hamas’s history and current political position. (Source: Hamas’s account on Telegram, in English.)

Al-Jazeera’s hour-long investigation into October 7, 21 Mar 2024

Al-Jaz’s summary accurately states that this report,”reveals widespread human rights abuses by Hamas fighters and others who followed them through the fence from the Gaza Strip… [But the investigation] has also found that many of the stories that came out in the days following the attack were false.” The report pulls together much of the material previously published by Electronic Intifada, The Greyzone, etc, that debunks Israel’s more lurid claims of atrocities, and also includes impressive commentary from London-based experts.

What Is Hamas Thinking Now? (Huffpost), 6 Apr 2024

Akbar Shahid Ahmed, an apparently non-Arabic-speaking journo from Huffpost, went to Qatar at the end of March 2024 and secured interviews, either separately or together, with Hamas leaders Mousa Abu Marzouk and Basem Naim. His write-up gives intriguing excerpts from their statements on the goals of the Oct 7 breakout, the ongoing hostage negotiations, and Hamas’s broader strategic/political position. Ahmed admits that prior to publication he “shared key Hamas statements included in this article with spokespeople at the State Department, the National Security Council at the White House and Israel’s embassy in Washington…” (A strange practice for a journalist.)

Part 2: History of Hamas

“Hamas” explainer from Makan

Basic explainer of the history of Hamas from its founding in 1987–88 through October 7, 2023. Makan is a UK-based educational organization focusing on Palestinian issues.

Hamas charter as revised in Spring 2017

The link at left provides the full text of the 2017 version of the charter, adopted after extensive internal consultations. This revision of the 1988 original version is widely judged (including here) to have made three main changes: Hamas came closer than before to accepting a two-state situation in Palestine/Israel, even if only as a temporary measure; it cut out most or all of the anti-Semitic language of 1988; and it codified Hamas’s separation from the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Hamas Contained, by Tareq Baconi (Stanford UP, 2018)

Excellent study of the movement, drawing strongly from its own publications, but also some interviews and other materials. Baconi completed the manuscript shortly after Hamas’s adoption of the new, 2017 charter. Despite the title of the book, Baconi wrote (p.248), “There is little doubt that another conflagration is forthcoming”, though he predicted this would follow the pattern of previous (very damaging but politically inconclusive) Israeli “lawn-mowing” exercises.

“Hamas’s Next Steps”, 3 May 2006

Report I published in Boston Review based on a reporting trip I made to Gaza and the West Bank a few weeks after the PA parliamentary elections held in late January 2006. Hamas made the crucial decision to take part in those elections- and then won them. The report includes material from interviews I conducted with Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Zahhar in Gaza, and other elected Hamas parliamentarians from the West Bank. The conclusion I penned there, predicting that Israel and the U.S. would learn to live with Hamas ruling over at least Gaza and possibly also the West Bank, proved disastrously wrong: in 2007, those two parties and the Ramallah-based PA colluded in trying to launch a coup to overthrow Hamas. Still, some of my interview material and analysis has continuing value…

“Sisterhood of Hamas”, 14 Mar 2006

A short-ish report in Salon of the days I spent during my February 2006 reporting trip to Gaza, interviewing and reporting on the activities of some of Hamas’s women leaders and organizers. I thought that covering this little-understood feature of Hamas’s grassroots organizing was important (and I was impressed by the pedagogy they practised in the pre-school I visited with them.) Later, the org’s encouragement of women’s roles outside the home came to seem like one of the key distinctions between Hamas and ISIS.

Originally published at on April 12, 2024.



Helena Cobban

Veteran analyst of global affairs, w/ some focus on West Asia. Pres., Just World Educational. Writes at