In the immediate aftermath of the 1948 war and for the two decades that followed, for many Palestinians their time was taken up with the concerns of everyday living in harsh conditions. There was little time left for organising or planning a response to the challenge that now faced the Palestinian people. However, small groups of individuals continued to take a stand against the Israeli state. It was some time later that Palestinian political movements emerged, with the aim of representing the Palestinian people and providing a united voice. The two major movements representing Palestinians today are Fatah and Hamas.
Fatah today controls the West Bank and Hamas controls the Gaza Strip. Hamas is an organisation that is viewed in a number of different ways by the international community. The US, Canada, Europe and Japan view Hamas as a terrorist organisation. For many Palestinians, Hamas is a social and political party which represents their need to end the Israeli occupation. In 2006, Palestinians held elections which were widely acclaimed for their fairness and transparency. The result of the elections shocked Israel and the US – a Hamas-led government was voted in. Immediately, Israel refused to deal with a Palestinian government that included Hamas. Israel withheld tax revenues, and the US and Europe cut aid. Palestinians were being punished for exercising their democratic voice. It was hoped that this would cause Palestinian support for Hamas to dissipate. In the tensions which followed, it was reported that the US were fuelling conflict between Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip by training up Fatah members. As a result, Hamas took over control of the Strip. Thus, Hamas now controls Gaza and Fatah controls the West Bank.