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Explaining the language and terms of Hamas

Palestinian relatives of prisoner Younis Jahjouh decorate the street ahead of his release from Israeli prisons in the Qalandia refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011.

Majdi Mohammed/Majdi Mohammed/AP

1947 partition plan: The UN General Assembly decided in 1947 to create Jewish and Arab states along these lines, with Jerusalem to be an internationalized city, but it was never enacted

1967 borders: De facto borders of Israel until 1967.

Al-Qassam Brigades: The military wing of Hamas, but also the umbrella for other smaller terrorist groups. This group is responsible for most of the attacks on Israeli civilians.

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Change and Reform: Hamas-dominated political grouping that gained the most votes in the last Palestinian elections in 2006.

Fatah: The largest and most important of the organizations that make up the PLO. It was founded in secret in the late 1950s and appeared publicly on the scene in 1965. In 1968 it took over the PLO, and its leader, Yasser Arafat became the organization's chairman until his death. It is Hamas's chief rival for support of the Palestinians.

Gaza Strip: The smaller of the two Palestinian territories is next the Mediterranean sea. Until it pulled out in 2005, Israel occupied much of Gaza, and had several settlements of Israelis there. The area is now controlled by Hamas, but blockaded by Israel, which controls the land borders and airspace and a marine exclusion zone around area.

Green Line: The cease fire line between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon as was determined in the ceasefire treaty of 1949 after Arab-Israeli war, which held up until the Six Day War in 1967. Its name comes from the green pencil used to draw on the map.

Hamas: A paramilitary organization formed in 1987 that supports the Palestinian cause and rejects peace with Israel. It has been branded a terrorist organization by a number of countries including Canada for its indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets with tactics such as suicide bombings. It remains popular, however, with the Palestinian population because it has established social welfare programs in the West Bank and Gaza. Hamas has built and operated schools, hospitals, orphanages, mosques, health care clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues for Palestinians.

Historic Palestine: Most commonly refers to Palestine as it existed before Israel's founding 1948.

Intifada: Arabic word for shaking off or shivering because of fear or illness. It also means abrupt and sudden waking up from sleep or unconcerned status. Politically, the word came to symbolize the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation.

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Islamist: Advocate of Islamic political rule.

Legislative Council: Legislative body of the Palestinian Authority.

Martyrdom operation: Euphemism among Palestinians for a suicide attack.

Martyr: Euphemism among Palestinians for a suicide attacker, or anyone who's died resisting Israel.

Muslim Brotherhood: Islamic religious, social and political movement, that was founded in Egypt, but is active in many Arab states.

Palestinian: The term used to refer mostly to the Arabs with roots in the land that is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

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Palestinian Authority (aka Palestinian National Authority): The Palestinian government in Gaza and areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank from which the Israeli forces have pulled back.

Palestine Liberation Organization: The main political body representing Palestinian Arabs, and the quest for a Palestinian state. It was founded in 1964 as an umbrella organization of refugee groups and militant organizations, but the militants have always dominated it.

Palestinian territories: Collective term for the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

Refugee: The UN defines Palestinian refugees as people whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, and who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. There are currently 4.8-million people who meet that definition, and they live mainly in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Settlements: New towns for Israelis built in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza after they were seized by Israel in the wake of the 1967 war. Palestinians say these settlements represent a colonization of Palestinian lands; but the Israeli settler movement and its political supporters say these lands are part of the ancient biblical state of Israel. Israel has given up its settlements in Gaza, but continues to create them in West Bank.

Sharia: Islamic law set out by the Koran, the actions and sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, and religious rulings. It guides all aspects of a Muslim's life.

Two-state solution: The proposal for peace between Israelis and Palestinians that has each population living separately in a sovereign state.

West Bank: The larger of the two Palestinian territories, it is governed by the Palestinian Authority, but has been occupied Israel since 1967.

Yani: Literally translated as "it means," it's a common Arabic vocal pause, similar to "like," "um," and "er" in English.

Sources: NPR, Library of Congress, Canadian Heritage, The Israel Project

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