Cover of Hamas Contained by Tareq Baconi
Hamas Contained
A History of Palestinian Resistance
Tareq Baconi


368 pages.

Paperback ISBN: 9781503632622
Ebook ISBN: 9781503605817

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Shortlisted in the 2018 Palestine Book Awards, sponsored by the Middle East Monitor (MEMO).

Hamas has ruled Gaza and the lives of the two million Palestinians who live there since 2006. Hamas Contained, first published in 2018, offers a history of the group, drawing on interviews with organization leaders and their publications. Tareq Baconi maps Hamas's thirty-year transition from fringe military resistance towards governance, culminating in Israeli efforts to contain the movement to the Gaza Strip. Baconi argues that under Israel's approach of managing rather than resolving the conflict, Hamas's demand for Palestinian sovereignty has effectively been marginalized in favor of military action against Hamas, and by implication, all Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. This dynamic—a violent equilibrium between Hamas and Israel and the movement's containment in the Gaza Strip—lasted for sixteen years, until it was decidedly shattered by Hamas's offensive on October 7, 2023.

Now with new material that provides an analytical framework and reflection on Hamas's offensive of October 7, 2023, and Israel's ensuing war on Gaza, Hamas Contained is an even more essential guide to understanding Hamas and the brutal violence of Israel's war on Palestinians.

About the author

Tareq Baconi is a former Senior Analyst for Israel/Palestine and Economics of Conflict at the International Crisis Group, based in Ramallah. He serves as the president of the board of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network and the book review editor for the Journal of Palestine Studies. His writing has appeared in the London Review of Books, New York Review of Books, New York Times, and Washington Post, among others.

"Groundbreaking, rigorously researched, and strikingly fair-minded, Hamas Contained is essential reading to understand Middle East politics today. Tareq Baconi weaves a counter-narrative, upending common assumptions about the controversial Islamic organization. He persuasively argues that there can be no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without diplomatic engagement with Hamas."

—Avi Shlaim, author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World

"Hamas Contained is by far the best book on this vital topic. Meticulous and deeply sourced, this is essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in Hamas, Palestine, Israel, or Islamist political movements anywhere in the Middle East."

—Rashid Khalidi, author of Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East

"Tareq Baconi has written a detailed and thoughtful book about the history of Hamas and its effect on the Palestinian national movement. Avoiding black and white simplifications, Baconi puts the story of Hamas within its proper context—the tragedy of an occupation."

—Marwan Muasher, Vice President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

"Judicious and impartial, this important work adds nuance to the portrait of one of the Middle East's most divisive players."

Publishers Weekly

"[Hamas's] status as an important component of the Palestinian struggle against Israel is ably chronicled by Tareq Baconi in Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance... [It] is well worth reading even today because it is thorough and comprehensive in scale and scope."

—Sheldon Kirshner, The Times of Israel

"[Hamas Contained] probably gives the fullest background to the current situation in Gaza."

—Duncan Bowie, Chartist

"The book's main virtue is its chronological format. It covers Hamas's relatively brief existence – compared, say, to the much longer lifespan of the Muslim Brotherhood from which it derived – year by year, thereby giving the reader a fairly clear sense of how Hamas's perceptions and strategies have changed over time, particularly after Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005."

—Steven Simon, Survival

"Baconi's book remains invaluable. It is of crucial importance for anyone interested in understanding Hamas [and] the Palestinian struggle today."

—Joseph Daher, Spectre