Hamas? Hezbollah? The PLO? Who’s Who in the Conflict with Israel


by Joseph P. Farrell, Giza Death Star:

Politicians around the world are pounding war drums in the wake of the grotesque attacks upon Israel on October 7.  But the first casualty in war is truth, as they say, and maybe a better understanding of the different groups in that region, such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the PLO, will help us understand what is going on and what may happen next.

Post 9/11, there has been a tendency within the U.S. to lump various anti-Western groups together as “Islamic terrorists,” but the reality is a bit more complicated.  Let’s look at some of these groups in more detail, to determine who has been doing what in the region.

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Some background on Palestine and Gaza

Palestinian Arabs have occupied the area now known as Israel from the time the Romans kicked out the Jews nearly 2,000 years ago.  Only very small Jewish communities survived until the 1880s when European Jews began emigrating to Palestine.  Jewish numbers increased in the area slowly at first but then more sharply after World War I.

Palestine had been ruled by the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years.  However, when the Ottoman Empire collapsed after World War I, Britain took control of the area.  In 1917, Britain issued its Balfour Declaration, encouraging the creation of a Jewish state.  Many Jewish populations within Europe were fleeing the devastation wrought by World War I, and Britain thought that Palestine might be a good place to resettle them.  Additionally, with the passage of more restrictive immigration laws in the U.S. in the 1920s, Jews simply found it easier to settle in Palestine.

Naturally, tensions arose.  Many fights broke out between Jewish settlers, Palestinian Arabs, and the British government between the two World Wars.  However, after World War II, Britain could no longer afford to manage its overseas empire, and the United Nations agreed to divide Palestine between Jewish and Arab groups.

In 1948, one day after the announcement of a new Jewish state, the surrounding Arab nations of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq attacked Israel.   At the end of a year-long war, the Israelis won.  With the passage of the Israeli Land Acquisition Law in 1953, most of the land within Palestine was formally transferred from its former Palestinian owners to the new Israeli government.

But tensions never really ceased.  War broke out again in 1967 between Israel, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.   After this war, Israel won control of both Gaza and the West Bank,  leaving the now-landless Palestinians living under the control of the Israeli government.

On top of many other issues, the Palestinians have a very high birthrate, which has made the Gaza Strip bordering Egypt one of the most densely-populated places on earth.  Poor, crowded areas, full of largely unemployed young people, are ripe grounds for terrorist groups to recruit.  And this is exactly what’s happened in Palestine.


The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964 in Cairo, when leaders of 13 Arabic countries pledged to take action to liberate Palestine from Israeli rule.  The PLO acts as an umbrella group for six different Palestinian groups, the most prominent of which has been Fatah, to which Yasser Arafat belonged.

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