'The situation now taking place in Gaza was caused by Hamas,' announced George Bush as the Israeli army battered its way into the Gaza Strip.
The US wants to brand Hamas as 'Islamic terrorists'. This is part of a wider attempt to tar all forces opposed to US imperialism with the same brush.
Hamas emerged out of the squalor and misery of Palestinian areas that lived for decades under harsh Israeli military rule.
It rejected the US-backed 'peace process' and warned that the Oslo deal signed in 1993 would deliver nothing for the Palestinian people.
Fatah was the main Palestinian resistance organisation at the time. But its leaders called off the resistance as part of the peace process. Hamas, however, warned that they were walking into a trap.
It soon became clear to the bulk of Palestinians that the 'peace process' was indeed a sham. Israel continued to brutalise the Palestinians and expand its settlements in the West Bank.
Hamas grew in popularity. It became central to the Second Intifada that exploded in 2000. In January 2006 it won the Palestinian national elections.
The West responded by refusing to recognise the election results. Hamas leaders and MPs were arrested or killed. Its supporters were thrown into jail.
The West, led by the US and Britain, backed an Israeli siege of Gaza.
But the strategy backfired. In June 2007 a popular rebellion led by Hamas threw back an attempted coup in Gaza organised by the Egyptian secret service.
As the coup plotters fled, Israel resolved to use all its force to crush Hamas and to punish the Palestinian people for electing it.
But Hamas remains the legitimate government of Palestine – and the bearer of a tradition of Palestinian resistance.