Overview

Also Known As:

  • Harakat al-Muqawana al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement);
  • Al-Tiar Al-Islami (The Islamic Stream);
  • Al-Athja Al-Islami (The Islamic Trend)

“HAMAS- The Islamic Resistance Movement,” Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January 1, 1993, http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFA-Archive/1993/Pages/HAMAS%20-%20The%20Islamic%20Resistance%20Movement%20-%20Jan-93.aspx.

Summary

Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and emerged in the Gaza Strip in the late 1980s during the first Palestinian intifada (uprising) against Israel. The group’s ideology blends Islamism and Palestinian nationalism and seeks the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Hamas has maintained its ties to the Brotherhood, but also receives financial and military support from Iran, which supports Hamas’s intention to destroy Israel. In recent years, Qatar has also provided significant funding for the group.

Hamas uses its provision of social services to build support amongst grassroots Palestinians, helping it to win the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. However, the group’s engagement in politics and welfare has not tempered its commitment to terrorism.  Hamas’s preferred methods include suicide bombings, rocket and mortar attacks, shootings, and kidnappings. The group has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, the UK, the EU, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan.

Although Hamas formed a Palestinian Authority unity government with its rival Fatah in early 2006, the two groups continued to clash, often violently, leading Hamas to forcibly expel Fatah from the Gaza Strip in 2007. The terror group has ruled Gaza since, surviving on Iranian and Qatari aid, as well as income from the smuggling tunnels it has built beneath the Gaza-Egypt border. In 2013, the Egyptian army sealed off most of the tunnels, throwing Hamas and Gaza into a financial crisis that led the Hamas to seek a reconciliation deal with Fatah in the spring of 2014.

Governance has not moderated Hamas. Hamas has been responsible for thousands of Qassam rockets fired at Israeli towns, a 2006 cross-border raid resulting in the five-year captivity of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and three wars with Israel, most recently in the summer of 2014. Like other Islamist organizations, Hamas seeks power, but has proven unable to provide basic services to the Gazan population. Despite decaying relations with Fatah, heavy damage from the 2014 conflict, and a crumbling Gazan economy, Hamas shows no signs of giving up its goals of destroying Israel or creating an Islamist state.

Doctrine

Hamas, the Palestinian offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, seeks to create an Islamist state of Palestine between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, replacing Israel, which Hamas does not recognize. Like its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood (and unlike the secular, nationalist PLO), Hamas strives to create an Islamist state based on the principles of sharia (Islamic law,). Hamas views the entirety of the land of Mandate Palestine—excluding the 80 percent of Palestine that became modern-day Jordan—as an Islamic birthright that has been usurped. To that end, Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and has dedicated itself to violently seeking Israel’s destruction. Hamas’s slogan, spelled out in Article 8 of the organization’s 1988 charter, sums up the terror group’s belief system: “Allah is [our] target, the Prophet is [our] model, the Koran [our] constitution: Jihad is [our] path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of [our] wishes."“The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” Avalon Project, Yale Law School, August 18, 1988, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp.

Charter

Hamas’s 1988 charter outlines four important themes crucial to Hamas’s doctrine:

Theme One: Relationship to the Muslim Brotherhood
Hamas is a direct descendent of the Muslim Brotherhood, growing out of the Brotherhood’s activities in Gaza, where it began setting up charitable organizations in the 1960s. Article 2 of the charter describes the Muslim Brotherhood as “a universal organization…. the largest Islamic Movement in modern times.“The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” Avalon Project, Yale Law School, August 18, 1988, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp. Hamas is “one of the wings of the Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine.”“The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” Avalon Project, Yale Law School, August 18, 1988, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp. As such, Hamas adheres to an ideology in which Islam dominates all areas of life such as “culture, creed, politics, economics, education, society, justice and judgment, the spreading of Islam, education, art, information, science of the occult and conversion to Islam.”“The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” Avalon Project, Yale Law School, August 18, 1988, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp.

Theme Two: Palestine
According to Article 11 of the charter, Hamas declares the entirety of pre-1948 Palestine as “an Islamic Waqf [religious endowment] consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day.”“The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” Avalon Project, Yale Law School, August 18, 1988, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp.

Theme Three: Nationalism
For Hamas, nationalism is part of its raison d'être, and it has intertwined nationalism with religious ideology, making it “part of the religious creed.” According to Article 12 of the charter, no need to fight is “more significant or deeper than in the case when an enemy should tread Moslem land.” The resistance and “quelling [of] the enemy become the individual duty of every Moslem, male or female.” The charter even allows for “a woman…. to fight the enemy without her husband's permission, [as well as] the slave: without his master's permission.”“The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” Avalon Project, Yale Law School, August 18, 1988, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp. Hamas has elevated its actions in support of its nationalist agenda—violent and non-violent alike—to the level of religious obligations. Along these lines, Hamas views its struggle against Israel as a cosmic battle of good (Islam) versus evil (Israel). Hamas’s charter is filled with language defining its mission in religious terms, casting Israel as an enemy of God. Article 28, for example, specifies: “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Moslem people. ‘May the cowards never sleep.’”“The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” Avalon Project, Yale Law School, August 18, 1988, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp.

Theme Four: Israel and “armed resistance”
Hamas recognizes the fact that Israel exists, but does not recognize its legitimacy or right to exist. The introduction to the charter quotes Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna as saying “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”“The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” Avalon Project, Yale Law School, August 18, 1988, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp. Hamas upholds “armed resistance” as the only method to liberate Palestine. In Article 13 of the charter, Hamas renounces all peace plans or negotiations to resolve the issue of Palestine. Negotiations are a “contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against [Islam]….”“The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” Avalon Project, Yale Law School, August 18, 1988, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp.

Hamas’s Changing Strategies

Since Hamas joined the Palestinian Authority in 2006—and subsequently formed an independent government after its violent expulsion of the PA from Gaza – the international community has demanded that in order to gain international recognition, Hamas must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and recognize past agreements signed by the PLO. In a 2007 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Hamas’s deputy politburo chief Mousa Abu Marzouk rebuked international demands, asking, “[W]hy should any Palestinian ‘recognize’ the monstrous crime carried out by Israel's founders and continued by its deformed modern apartheid state, while he or she lives 10 to a room in a cinderblock, tin-roof United Nations hut?”Mousa Abu Marzook, “Hamas’ Stand,” Los Angeles Times, July 10, 2007, http://www.latimes.com/la-oe-marzook10jul10,0,4334205.story#axzz2wYFiHYTy. Hamas has remained rigid in its core beliefs, but has demonstrated some flexibility in its positions and strategies.

Hamas’s adherence to its 1988 charter
In his 2007 Los Angeles Times op-ed, Abu Marzouk struck a conciliatory tone regarding Hamas’s charter, referring to it as a revolutionary document that must be looked at in the context of the time when it was written. “If every state or movement were to be judged solely by its foundational, revolutionary documents or the ideas of its progenitors, there would be a good deal to answer for on all sides,” he penned.Mousa Abu Marzook, “Hamas’ Stand,” Los Angeles Times, July 10, 2007, http://www.latimes.com/la-oe-marzook10jul10,0,4334205.story#axzz2wYFiHYTy. While Marzouk’s statement does not entirely annul the charter, it suggests the possibility of a pragmatic path toward moderation in which Hamas is not bound by inflexible dogma.

However, just a year before Marzouk made this remark, Mahmoud Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas, declared that the group would “not change a single word in its covenant.”“Hamas in Their Own Words,” Anti-Defamation League, May 2, 2011, http://www.adl.org/anti-semitism/muslim-arab-world/c/hamas-in-their-own-words.html. Similarly, a senior Hamas leader, Sami Abu Zuhri, stated that the Palestinian legislative council, in preparing for the 2006 elections, would “[adhere] to the constants and strategies outlined in the [Hamas] charter.”“Hamas in Their Own Words,” Anti-Defamation League, May 2, 2011, http://www.adl.org/anti-semitism/muslim-arab-world/c/hamas-in-their-own-words.html.

The potential acceptance of pre-1967 lines
Hamas leaders have suggested that they may be willing to accept a state of Palestine within the areas captured by Israel in 1967 (the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem), but without the recognition of Israel. In 2006, Hamas’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh stated that Hamas would accept a temporary Palestinian state within the pre-1967 areas and a 20-year truce with Israel.“Haniyeh Calls for Formation of Palestinian State on 1967 Lines,” Haaretz, December 19, 2006, http://www.haaretz.com/news/haniyeh-calls-for-formation-of-palestinian-state-on-1967-lines-1.207641.

Hamas leaders have alluded to their potential participation in and acceptance of a PLO-Israel peace accord, but only if it were approved by a popular referendum of the Palestinian people. As Hamas and the PLO negotiated their unity deal in June 2014, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri declared that while Hamas would continue to not recognize Israel, the group would not “obstruct” any future negotiations between Israel and the PLO.Elhanan Miller, “Hamas: We Will Never Recognize Israel,” Times of Israel, April 27, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-official-denies-group-could-recognize-israel/.

Hamas’s offers of a temporary truce, or hudna, however, demonstrate that it remains committed to the long-term goal of destroying Israel, and that Hamas sees a Palestinian state as a step in that direction.

Hudna
Hudna is an Arabic word for “truce” or “quiet.” Hamas co-founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin stated in 2003 that a hudna does not only signify the cessation of terrorist attacks; Israel would also be expected to “release prisoners, stop killing and dismantle settlements.”Saud Abu Ramadan, “Interview: Hamas Head Sheikh Ahmed Yassin,” UPI, June 16, 2003, http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Security-Industry/2003/06/16/Interview-Hamas-head-Sheikh-Ahmed-Yassin/UPI-87751055774665/.

In 2004, Hamas co-founder Abdel Azziz al-Rantisi offered a 10-year hudna in exchange for Israel withdrawing from all the territories captured in 1967, including east Jerusalem, saying: “we accept a state in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. We propose a 10-year truce in return for (Israeli) withdrawal and the establishment of a state.”Matthew Tostevin, “Israel Scorns Hamas 10-Year Truce Plan,” Reuters, January 26, 2004, http://web.archive.org/web/20040306192510/http://ads.eircom.net/hserver/acc_random=1408048099911/site=eircom/area=news/aamsz=135x57/pos=15. Israel rejected the offer, fearing that Hamas would use the 10-year lull to rearm and Israel, having given up all of the disputed territories, would find itself a victim of renewed Hamas terrorism. Indeed, Rantisi clarified that the hudna offer did not signify an end to the conflict.Matthew Tostevin, “Israel Scorns Hamas 10-Year Truce Plan,” Reuters, January 26, 2004, http://web.archive.org/web/20040306192510/http://ads.eircom.net/hserver/acc_random=1408048099911/site=eircom/area=news/aamsz=135x57/pos=15.

Hamas’s political chief Meshaal offered Israel a hudna twice after that: in 2006 he offered a 20-year truce for a temporary state in the territories,“Haniyeh Calls for Formation of Palestinian State on 1967 Lines,” Haaretz, December 19, 2006, http://www.haaretz.com/news/haniyeh-calls-for-formation-of-palestinian-state-on-1967-lines-1.207641. and in 2008 he called for a 10-year hudna in exchange for Israel’s evacuation from the territories.“Hamas Offers Truce in Return for 1967 Borders,” Associated Press, April 21, 2008, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/24235665/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/hamas-offers-truce-return-borders/#.U-0eFYBdV5w. The offer of the 10-year hudna, he told former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, was “proof” of Hamas’s tacit recognition of Israel, while still avoiding any formal recognition of the Jewish state.“Hamas Offers Truce in Return for 1967 Borders,” Associated Press, April 21, 2008, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/24235665/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/hamas-offers-truce-return-borders/#.U-0eFYBdV5w. Despite Israel’s dismissal of the offer as a re-arming strategy for Hamas, Carter accepted the hudna as proof that Hamas had begun to accept Israel’s right to “live as a neighbor next door in peace.”“Hamas Offers Truce in Return for 1967 Borders,” Associated Press, April 21, 2008, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/24235665/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/hamas-offers-truce-return-borders/#.U-0eFYBdV5w.

During the summer of 2015, Hamas and Israel reportedly discussed a long-term ceasefire of 10 to 15 years, according to various reports. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied direct or indirect contacts with Hamas. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was reportedly meeting with Hamas to discuss a long-term truce.Khaled Abu Toameh, “Hamas, Fatah spar over peace talks with Tony Blair,” Jerusalem Post, August 13, 2015, http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Hamas-holds-talks-with-Fatah-on-recent-efforts-to-reach-truce-with-Israel-412048. Fatah condemned Blair’s rumored role and said Hamas should coordinate its ceasefire talks through the PLO.Khaled Abu Toameh, “Hamas, Fatah spar over peace talks with Tony Blair,” Jerusalem Post, August 13, 2015, http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Hamas-holds-talks-with-Fatah-on-recent-efforts-to-reach-truce-with-Israel-412048.

The gun is the ‘only response’
Despite what may be cracks in Hamas’s rigidity, the group remains committed to its foundational goals and the role in which it has cast Israel. In 2013, Haniyeh reaffirmed Hamas’s refusal to compromise or renounce violence, declaring the “gun” the “only response” to Israel.“Haniyeh: No Compromise, Only Armed Resistance,” Jerusalem Post, February 13, 2012, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Haniyeh-No-compromise-only-armed-resistance. He argued that Hamas would obtain its goals “only through fighting and armed resistance,” and that “no compromise should be made with the enemy.”“Haniyeh: No Compromise, Only Armed Resistance,” Jerusalem Post, February 13, 2012, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Haniyeh-No-compromise-only-armed-resistance. In May 2014, just weeks after Hamas and the PLO announced their intention to form a unity government, Abu Marzouk referred to the recognition of Israel as “a red line” that Hamas would never cross.Adnan Abu Amer, “Hamas’ Abu Marzouk Says Recognizing Israel a ‘Red Line,’” Al-Monitor, May 5, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulseen/originals/2014/05/interview-abu-marzouk-hamas-israel-fatah-reconciliation.html.

Organizational Structure:

Hamas’s leadership is split between its political bureau and its Gaza government, which at times find themselves at odds. Hamas does not have an explicit split between its political and military wing.

Political bureau

At the top of Hamas’s leadership hierarchy sits Khaled Meshaal, who has headed the group’s political bureau since 2004. The bureau is the organization’s principal authority and was previously based in Syria until Hamas leaders fled in 2012, having endorsed the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.Nidal Al-Mughrabi, “Hamas says its Iran ties worsen over Syrian civil war,” Reuters, June 19, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/19/us-syria-crisis-hamas-idUSBRE95I0W220130619. Meshaal moved to Qatar, while other Hamas leaders relocated to Egypt.

The Shura Council (Majlis al-Shura) Hamas’s central consultative body, is primarily responsible for making decisions. Smaller Shura committees are employed to supervise various government activities anywhere from military operations to media relations, and then report back to the Shura council.Mathew Levitt, “Playing Hardball Within Hamas,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, January 6, 2009, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/political-hardball-within-hamas-hardline-militants-calling-shots-in-gaza.

Gaza government

Ismail Haniyeh is prime minister of Gaza’s Hamas government, responsible for the daily rule of the Gaza Strip.

Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades are Hamas’s military wing, created in 1992 with the aim to block negotiations between Israel and the PLO. The wing is named after a Muslim preacher who, in 1930, organized the Black Hand, an anti-Zionist and anti-British organization. The Brigades are led by Marwan Issa, who took power after previous leader Ahmed Jabari was killed by an Israeli airstrike in 2012.Jack Khoury, “Jabari deputy likely to be Hamas’ next military commander,” Haaretz, November 25, 2012, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/jabari-deputy-likely-to-be-hamas-next-military-commander.premium-1.480253.

Political scientists Ilana Kass and Bard O'Neill described Hamas’s relationship with the Brigades as reminiscent of Sinn Féin's relationship to the military arm of the Irish Republican Army, quoting a senior Hamas official who said, “The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade is a separate armed military wing, which has its own leaders who do not take their orders [from Hamas] and do not tell us of their plans in advance.”Ilana Kass and Bard E. O'Neill, The Deadly Embrace: The Impact of Israeli and Palestinian Rejectionism on the Peace Process (Lanham: University Press of America, 1997), 267. However, senior Hamas leaders have themselves pointed out that a neat separation between the political and military wing does not exist. Hamas's founder Sheikh Ahmad Yasin stated in an interview with Reuters that Hamas did not have uncoordinated wings: “we cannot separate the wing from the body. If we do so, the body will not be able to fly. Hamas is one body."Matthew Levitt, “Hamas from cradle to grave,” Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2004, http://www.meforum.org/582/hamas-from-cradle-to-grave. This view was supported by Hamas military commander Salah Shehadeh, who said: "the political apparatus is sovereign over the military apparatus, and a decision of the political [echelon] takes precedence over the decision of the military [echelon], without intervening in military operations.”Matthew Levitt, “Hamas from cradle to grave,” Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2004, http://www.meforum.org/582/hamas-from-cradle-to-grave.

The apparently decentralized structure of the organization appears to be misleading. While Hamas may have different power centers, decisions appear to clearly rest with the political bureau. Hamas commander Mohammad Deif, who has led the Qassam Brigades since 2002, is widely suspected of ordering suicide bombings and other attacks by the Brigades.Martin Asser, “Profile: Hamas Commander Mohammed Deif,” BBC News, September 26, 2002, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2284055.stm. Israeli authorities suspect that Deif resumed command of the Brigades after Jabari’s death and that he controlled the rocket fire during the July 2014 conflict.Elhanan Miller, “Is Prime Israel Target Muhammad Deif Overseeing Hamas’s Strategy?” Times of Israel, July 23, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/is-prime-israel-target-muhammad-deif-overseeing-hamass-strategy/.

Deif survived two assassination attempts, leaving him wheelchair-bound after losing his arms and legs in a July 2006 Israeli airstrike, as well as an eye in a September 2002 helicopter strike.Elhanan Miller, “Is Prime Israel Target Muhammad Deif Overseeing Hamas’s Strategy?” Times of Israel, July 23, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/is-prime-israel-target-muhammad-deif-overseeing-hamass-strategy/. According to former deputy Shin Bet commander and current Kadima MK Yisrael Hasson, Deif is “very experienced in the field. He knows how to calculate his moves and acts in utter secrecy. But that won’t help him. He will die the natural death that befits a criminal terrorist.”Elhanan Miller, “Is Prime Israel Target Muhammad Deif Overseeing Hamas’s Strategy?” Times of Israel, July 23, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/is-prime-israel-target-muhammad-deif-overseeing-hamass-strategy/.

Deif went into hiding after the 2006 assassination attempt, and his deputy, Ahmad Jabari, took over the Brigades’ leadership, with Deif remaining the honorary leader.Elhanan Miller, “Is Prime Israel Target Muhammad Deif Overseeing Hamas’s Strategy?” Times of Israel, July 23, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/is-prime-israel-target-muhammad-deif-overseeing-hamass-strategy/. Jabari was killed by an Israeli strike in November 2012, marking the beginning of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense.

Hamas has an estimated 20,000 fighters, with another 20,000 in its police and security forces.Yasmine Saleh, “Exclusive: With Muslim Brotherhood Crushed, Egypt Sets Sights on Hamas,” Reuters, January 14, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/14/us-egypt-gaza-idUSBREA0D09D20140114. Following the 2014 reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the PLO, it was revealed that some 25,000 Hamas employees in Gaza work in the security services, and that a majority of them belong to the Qassam Brigades.Adnan Abu Amer, “Hamas Not Giving up Military Wing, despite Agreement,” Al-Monitor, May 2, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulseen/originals/2014/05/qassam-weapons-hamas-fatah-reconciliation.htm. According to one Qassam official, these employees would take orders from the Brigades—and not the Ministry of Interior—after the formation of a unity government with the PLO.Adnan Abu Amer, “Hamas Not Giving up Military Wing, despite Agreement,” Al-Monitor, May 2, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulseen/originals/2014/05/qassam-weapons-hamas-fatah-reconciliation.htm.

As of March 2016, Meshaal is reportedly struggling to maintain power. According to Israeli analysts, Meshaal faces a challenge to his authority from a Gazan named Yahya Sinwar. Sinwar is a co-founder of Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and reportedly has orchestrated power shifts within the Gaza-based Hamas leadership. As of December 2015, he was reportedly the highest political power in Gaza, above former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Sinwar advocates closer ties with Iran, which has continued funding the al-Qassam Brigades while cutting funding to Hamas as a whole. Meshaal has tried to move the organization closer to Saudi Arabia while opposing the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Illustrating the divide, Meshaal has called for a suspension of smuggling beneath the Gaza-Egypt border as Hamas has moved to reconcile with Egypt. Despite this, Sinwar and the al-Qassam Brigades have continued their tunneling activities and continue coordinating with the ISIS affiliate in the Sinai.Avi Issacharoff, “Inside Hamas, a bitter and very personal battle for control,” Times of Israel, March 19, 2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/inside-hamas-a-bitter-and-very-personal-battle-for-control/; Avi Issacharoff, “Rising new Hamas leader is all too familiar to Israel,” Times of Israel, December 18, 2015, http://www.timesofisrael.com/rising-new-hamas-leader-is-all-too-familiar-to-israel/.

Financing:

Hamas’s budget in 2013 was more than $700 million, with $260 million earmarked to the administrative costs of running Gaza.Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Isolated Hamas Faces Money Crisis in Gaza Strip,” Reuters, October 9, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/09/us-palestinian-hamas-crisis-idUSBRE99804P20131009.

To fill its coffers and fund its administrative and terrorist activities, Hamas turns to several sources: funding, weapons, and training from Iran; donations from the Palestinian global diaspora;“Country Reports on Terrorism,” U.S. Department of State, accessed June 24, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2007/103714.htm. and fundraising activities in Western Europe and North America.“Country Reports on Terrorism,” U.S. Department of State, accessed June 24, 2014, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2007/103714.htm.

Charities

Global charities affiliated with Hamas collect donations on its behalf. These charities operate in countries that label Hamas a terrorist organization, and are often themselves designated as terrorist organizations when exposed by authorities. For example, Ottawa labeled the Canadian charity International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy a terrorist organization, and launched a “terrorist financing investigation” which revealed the organization’s funneling of approximately $14.6 million worth of resources to various groups affiliated with Hamas between 2005 and 2009.Olivia Ward, “Canadian Charity with Alleged Ties to Hamas Listed as ‘terrorist’ Organization,” Toronto Star, April 29, 2014, http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/04/29/canadian_muslim_charity_listed_as_terrorist_organization.html.

On December 6, 2001, the United States froze the funds of the Holy Land Foundation, then the largest Muslim charity in the United States. Following a long investigation by the FBI into the activities of the organization, five of its leaders were convicted on charges of funneling money and supplies to Hamas. Hamas had previously been designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization in the United States. According to the findings of the court, the charity, which was set up in the 1980s, gave millions of dollars to charities in Gaza and the West Bank, which were Hamas social institutions.Terry Baynes, “Muslim charity leaders lose appeal in Hamas case,” Reuters, December 7, 2011, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/08/us-crime-hamas-idUSTRE7B707L20111208. According to an FBI report of a bugged meeting of the foundation, the then-head of the American political arm of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzouk, stated that the Holy Land Foundation was the “primary fund-raising entity in the United States” of the Palestinian resistance movement.Glenn R. Simpson, “Holy Land Foundation Allegedly Mixed Charity Money With Funds for Bombers,” Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2002, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB101476025597651120.

During the second intifada, Middle East charities created by Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and other governments collected and funneled millions of dollars to Hamas and other terror organizations for so-called martyr payments. In November 2001 alone, the Saudi Committee in Support of the Intifada al Quds passed $41 million to the families of suicide bombers, prisoners, and those wounded in the intifada.Josh Lipowsky, “‘A Way to Thwart Their Funding,’” Jewish Standard, August 1, 2014, http://jstandard.com/index.php/content/item/a_way_to_thwart_their_funding/.

A group of terror victims’ families took the Jordan-based Arab Bank to task for facilitating funding to Hamas terrorists through these “charities” in the first civil case against a financial institution accused of violating the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act. On September 22, 2014, after a 10-year legal process, a U.S. jury found Arab Bank liable for helping finance about two dozen Hamas suicide bombings.Erik Larson and Christie Smythe, “Arab Bank Found Liable for Hamas Terrorist Attacks,” Bloomberg, September 23, 2014, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-22/arab-bank-found-liable-for-hamas-terrorist-attacks.html. Damages for the plaintiffs, about 300 victims of the attacks or their families, will be decided in a separate hearing.

Hamas is responsible for about 60 percent of the attacks cited in the lawsuit, such as the 2001 bombing of the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem and a 2003 bus bombing in the city, while the rest are credited to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and others.Josh Lipowsky, “‘A Way to Thwart Their Funding,’” Jewish Standard, August 1, 2014, http://jstandard.com/index.php/content/item/a_way_to_thwart_their_funding/.

Attorneys for the victims hope the case will send a message to financial institutions to weigh the costs of doing business. “There are only a limited number of financial institutions that operate in the Palestinian territories. It’s one thing to move a million dollars through a courier through a tunnel. The kind of money needed to run a proto-government can only be done through formal banking channels,” said Gary Osen, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiff.Josh Lipowsky, “‘A Way to Thwart Their Funding,’” Jewish Standard, August 1, 2014, http://jstandard.com/index.php/content/item/a_way_to_thwart_their_funding/.

Taxes and the tunnel economy

The smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt also provided Hamas with a flow of tax revenue on smuggled goods, generating roughly $500 million of Hamas’s annual budget, which lies just under $900 million.Karin Laub and Ibrahim Barzak, “Hamas in Worst Cash Crisis since Seizing Gaza,” Associated Press, March 13, 2014, http://news.yahoo.com/hamas-worst-cash-crisis-since-seizing-gaza-181239758.html.

Constructing the tunnels was not a cheap endeavor, as each one cost between $80,000 and $200,000 to construct.Nicolas Pelham, “Gaza’s Tunnel Phenomenon: The Unintended Dynamics of Israel’s Siege,” Journal of Palestine Studies 41, no. 4 (Summer 2012), http://palestine-studies.org/jps/fulltext/42605http://palestine-studies.org/jps/fulltext/42605. Instead of promoting policies that would lead to Israel and Egypt lifting the blockade, Hamas has invested in the continuation of underground smuggling. To pay for the tunnels’ construction, Hamas turned to Gaza’s mosques and charities, which began offering pyramid schemes to invest in the tunnels with high rates of return.Nicolas Pelham, “Gaza’s Tunnel Phenomenon: The Unintended Dynamics of Israel’s Siege,” Journal of Palestine Studies 41, no. 4 (Summer 2012), http://palestine-studies.org/jps/fulltext/42605http://palestine-studies.org/jps/fulltext/42605. The number of tunnels grew from a few dozen in 2005, with an annual revenue of $30 million per year, to at least 500 by December 2008, with an annual revenue of $36 million per month.Nicolas Pelham, “Gaza’s Tunnel Phenomenon: The Unintended Dynamics of Israel’s Siege,” Journal of Palestine Studies 41, no. 4 (Summer 2012), http://palestine-studies.org/jps/fulltext/42605http://palestine-studies.org/jps/fulltext/42605.

By October 2013, Egypt had destroyed 90 percent of the smuggling tunnels. According to Ala al-Rafati, the Hamas-appointed minister of the economy, the resulting losses to the Gaza economy between June and October 2013 amounted to $460 million.Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Isolated Hamas Faces Money Crisis in Gaza Strip,” Reuters, October 9, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/09/us-palestinian-hamas-crisis-idUSBRE99804P20131009. In November 2015, Egypt announced it had flooded dozens of Hamas’s tunnels beneath its border, reportedly at Israel’s request.Patrick Strickland, “Egypt army destroys dozens of Gaza tunnels,” Al Jazeera, November 9, 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/egypt-army-destroys-dozens-gaza-tunnels-151109125035215.html;
Associated Press, “Egypt destroys 20 tunnels along border with Gaza,” Times of Israel, December 7, 2015, http://www.timesofisrael.com/egypt-destroys-20-tunnels-along-border-with-gaza/;
“Egypt flooded Hamas tunnels at Israel’s request, minister says,” Times of Israel, February 6, 2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/minister-says-egypt-flooded-hamas-tunnels-at-israels-request/.
In April 2016, Israeli media reported that Hamas had employed over 1,000 people to rebuild the tunnel infrastructure destroyed during its 2014 war with Israel. Hamas was reportedly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per month to rebuild the tunnels.“Report: Hamas taps over 1,000 terror operatives to dig Gaza tunnels,” Jerusalem Post, April 7, 2016, http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Report-Hamas-taps-over-1000-terror-operatives-to-dig-Gaza-tunnels-450556.

Foreign investment

Iran
Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas. In the United States case Weinstein v. Iran, the court noted that 1995-1996 “was a peak period for Iranian economic support of Hamas because Iran typically paid for results, and Hamas was providing results by committing numerous bus bombings such as the one on February 25, 1996.”Matthew Levitt, “Hezbollah Finances: Funding the Party of God,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy February 2005, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/hezbollah-finances-funding-the-party-of-god.

Iranian aid to Hamas has shrunk since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. While Iran has sided with the embattled Assad regime, Hamas has supported Syrian rebels seeking to overthrow Assad. As a result, Iran has cut as much as £15 million a month to Hamas.Robert Tait, “Iran Cuts Hamas Funding over Syria,” Telegraph [U.K.], May 31, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10091629/Iran-cuts-Hamas-funding-over-Syria.html. Ghazi Hamad, Hamas's deputy foreign minister, remarked: “I cannot deny that since 2006 Iran supported Hamas with money and many [other] things. But the situation is not like the past. I cannot say that everything is normal.”Robert Tait, “Iran Cuts Hamas Funding over Syria,” Telegraph [U.K.], May 31, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10091629/Iran-cuts-Hamas-funding-over-Syria.html. After Hamas’s victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, Iran provided Hamas an estimated £13-15 million a month for governing expenses.Robert Tait, “Iran Cuts Hamas Funding over Syria,” Telegraph [U.K.], May 31, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10091629/Iran-cuts-Hamas-funding-over-Syria.html.

As a result of Hamas’s support of the Sunni rebels in Syria, Iran now sends only a “tiny amount” to maintain ties and its support of the Palestinian cause.Robert Tait, “Iran Cuts Hamas Funding over Syria,” Telegraph [U.K.], May 31, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10091629/Iran-cuts-Hamas-funding-over-Syria.html.

Qatar
Qatar has invested heavily in the Gazan economy. In October 2012, the country launched a $254 million plan to modernize Gaza.“Qatar Funds Major Project to Rebuild Gaza,” Reuters, October 16, 2012, http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/qatar-funds-major-project-to-rebuild-gaza-1.470405. The country later upped its investment to $400 million.“Qatar Ups Gaza Investment to $400 Million,” Agence France-Presse, October 23, 2012, http://tribune.com.pk/story/455921/hamas-qatar-ups-gaza-investment-to-400-million/. After Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in April 2014, the PA refused to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants in Gaza. In June, Qatar stepped in and attempted to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas through Arab Bank to pay the salaries of 44,000 civil servants, but the United States reportedly blocked the transfers.Elhanan Miller, “US Blocked Qatari Funds Intended for Hamas Employees,” Times of Israel, July 15, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-blocked-qatari-funds-intended-for-hamas-employees/.

“Qatar can’t continue to be an American ally on Monday that sends money to Hamas on Tuesday,” then-Senator John Kerry said in 2009.Jonathan Schanzer, “Opinion: Confronting Qatar’s Hamas Ties,” Politico, July 10, 2014, http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/congress-qatar-stop-funding-hamas-93965.html. In July 2014, Congressmen Peter Roskam (R-IL) and John Barrow (D-GA) collected signatures from their colleagues on a letter to Qatar’s ambassador to the United States, Mohammed Bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi.

Saudi Arabia
During the second intifada Saudi Arabia passed millions of dollars to Hamas terrorists under the guise of charity. The Saudi Committee in Support of the Intifada al Quds transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to the families of suicide bombers, prisoners, and those wounded in the intifada as a financial incentive for terrorism. In November 2001 alone, the Saudi Committee transferred $41 million.Josh Lipowsky, “‘A Way to Thwart Their Funding,’” Jewish Standard, August 1, 2014, http://jstandard.com/index.php/content/item/a_way_to_thwart_their_funding/.

Saudi Arabia has also invested in Gaza, pledging $1 billion to rebuild infrastructure after Hamas’s 2008 war with Israel.“Saudi Arabia to Donate $1B to Gaza,” Washingtion Times, January 19, 2009, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jan/19/saudi-arabia-donate-1-billion-rebuild-gaza/.

Turkey
Turkey reportedly planned to donate $300 million to Gaza’s Hamas government in 2011,Saed Bannoura, “Turkey to Grant Hamas $300 Million,” International Middle East Media Center, December 3, 2011, http://www.imemc.org/article/62607. while other reports cited that this would become an annual donation to Hamas.Zvi Bar’el, “Turkey May Provide Hamas with $300 Million in Annual Aid,” Haaretz, January 28, 2012, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/turkey-may-provide-hamas-with-300-million-in-annual-aid-1.409708.

Key Leaders

  • Khaled Meshaal

    Chief of Political Bureau
  • Moussa Mohammed Abu Marzouk

    Deputy political bureau chief and fundraiser
  • Ismail Haniyeh

    Deputy Leader, formerly prime minister of Gaza
  • Mohammed Deif

    Chief of Hamas's military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
  • Marwan Issa

    High-ranking leader of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
  • Salah al-Arouri

    Salah al-Arouri

    Co-founder and high-ranking member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
  • Sheikh Ahmed Yassin

    Sheikh Ahmed Yassin

    Founder of Hamas - deceased
  • Abdel Azziz al-Rantisi

    Abdel Azziz al-Rantisi

    Co-founder of Hamas - deceased
  • Salah Shehadeh

    Salah Shehadeh

    Founder of the Qassam Brigades - deceased
  • Yehya Ayyash

    Yehya Ayyash

    Bomb maker who led the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades - deceased

History

 

Violent Activities

Violent activities:

Beneath the Gaza-Egypt border

Hamas has spent years building a network of tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border in order to smuggle weapons and other goods. According to a 2012 Journal of Palestine Studies report, at least 160 children died while digging the elaborate tunnel system.Nicolas Pelham, “Gaza’s Tunnel Phenomenon: The Unintended Dynamics of Israel’s Siege,” Journal of Palestine Studies 41, no. 4 (Summer 2012), http://palestine-studies.org/jps/fulltext/42605.

Hamas is suspected of colluding with the Muslim Brotherhood during Egypt’s 2011 revolution in order to bring down the government of Hosni Mubarak. Egypt’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammad Morsi, is under investigation for conspiring with Hamas during that period.Patrick Kingsley, “Morsi Being Investigated over Claims of ‘Colluding with Hamas’ in Uprising,” Guardian [U.K.], July 26, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/26/egypt-morsi-investigation-hamas-collusion.

The underground smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt provided Hamas with a flow of tax revenue on smuggled goods, providing roughly $500 million of Hamas’s annual budget for Gaza of just under $900 million.Karin Laub and Ibrahim Barzak, “Hamas in Worst Cash Crisis since Seizing Gaza,” Associated Press, March 13, 2014, http://news.yahoo.com/hamas-worst-cash-crisis-since-seizing-gaza-181239758.html. The Egyptian military closed the tunnels in late 2013 after it deposed the Muslim Brotherhood government, sending Gaza into economic crisis.Karin Laub and Ibrahim Barzak, “Hamas in Worst Cash Crisis since Seizing Gaza,” Associated Press, March 13, 2014, http://news.yahoo.com/hamas-worst-cash-crisis-since-seizing-gaza-181239758.html.

Constructing the tunnels was not a cheap endeavor, as each one cost between $80,000 and $200,000 to construct. Instead of implementing peaceful policies that would lead to Israel and Egypt lifting the blockade, Hamas has invested in the continuation of underground smuggling. To pay for the tunnels’ construction, Hamas turned to Gaza’s mosques and charities, which began offering pyramid schemes to invest in the tunnels with high rates of return.Nicolas Pelham, “Gaza’s Tunnel Phenomenon: The Unintended Dynamics of Israel’s Siege,” Journal of Palestine Studies 41, no. 4 (Summer 2012), http://palestine-studies.org/jps/fulltext/42605. The number of tunnels grew from a few dozen in 2005, with annual revenue of $30 million per year, to at least 500 by December 2008, with annual revenue of $36 million per month.Nicolas Pelham, “Gaza’s Tunnel Phenomenon: The Unintended Dynamics of Israel’s Siege,” Journal of Palestine Studies 41, no. 4 (Summer 2012), http://palestine-studies.org/jps/fulltext/42605.

By October 2013, Egypt had destroyed 90 percent of the smuggling tunnels. According to Ala al-Rafati, the Hamas-appointed economy minister, the resulting losses to the Gaza economy between June and October 2013 amounted to $460 million.Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Isolated Hamas Faces Money Crisis in Gaza Strip,” Reuters, October 9, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/09/us-palestinian-hamas-crisis-idUSBRE99804P20131009.

Hamas has built a network of tunnels beneath the Gaza-Israel border for use in cross-border attacks, such as the June 2006 raid that resulted in the deaths of two soldiers and the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.Tim Butcher, “Soldier Kidnapped and Two Killed in Gaza Tunnel Attack,” Telegraph [U.K.], June 26, 2006, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/1522370/Soldier-kidnapped-and-two-killed-in-Gaza-tunnel-attack.html. Israel claimed to have destroyed 32 of these tunnels during its 2014 war with Hamas. The tunnels reportedly cost Hamas $100 million to build.Yasmine Saleh and Lin Noueihed, “Israel, Hamas Militants Begin 72-Hour Truce,” Chicago Tribune, August 5, 2014, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-israel-hamas-gaza-truce-20140804-story.html;
Yardena Schwartz, “Israel Is Building a Secret Tunnel-Destroying Weapon,” Foreign Policy, March 10, 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/03/10/israel-is-building-a-secret-tunnel-destroying-weapon-hamas-us-gaza/.

In August 2015, Hamas released a propaganda video of its members digging underground tunnels beneath Gaza, fighting Israeli soldiers, and a simulated takeover of an IDF base.“Watch: Hamas reveals ‘commando tunnel unit’ in new propaganda clip,” Jerusalem Post, August 27, 2015, http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/WATCH-Hamas-reveals-commando-tunnel-unit-in-new-propaganda-clip-413421. In April 2016, Israeli media reported that Hamas had employed over 1,000 people to rebuild the tunnel infrastructure. Hamas was reportedly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars per month to rebuild the tunnels.“Report: Hamas taps over 1,000 terror operatives to dig Gaza tunnels,” Jerusalem Post, April 7, 2016, http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Report-Hamas-taps-over-1000-terror-operatives-to-dig-Gaza-tunnels-450556. According to Ismail Haniyeh in January 2016, Hamas fighters “are digging twice as much as the number of tunnels dug in Vietnam.”Yardena Schwartz, “Israel Is Building a Secret Tunnel-Destroying Weapon,” Foreign Policy, March 10, 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/03/10/israel-is-building-a-secret-tunnel-destroying-weapon-hamas-us-gaza/. A series of tunnel collapses in early 2016 killed several Hamas workers. Some Hamas operatives have blamed Israel for the collapses.Noam Rotenberg, “Exclusive: Hamas operatives fear entering tunnels, believe Israel behind collapses,” Jerusalem Post, March 3, 3016, http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Exclusive-Hamas-operatives-fear-entering-tunnels-believe-Israel-behind-collapses-446836. Israel is reportedly working with the United States to develop a system dubbed the “Underground Iron Dome” to detect and destroy the underground tunnels.Yardena Schwartz, “Israel Is Building a Secret Tunnel-Destroying Weapon,” Foreign Policy, March 10, 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/03/10/israel-is-building-a-secret-tunnel-destroying-weapon-hamas-us-gaza/.

In early April 2016, Israel blocked private cement transfers to Gaza after claiming that Hamas had been diverting shipments for its own use, likely the reconstruction of its underground tunnel network. Hamas threatened the situation will “explode” if Israel doesn’t lift the ban. The United Nations’ Middle East envoy condemned “those who seek to gain through the deviation of materials” as “stealing from their own people and adding to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza.”Michael Kaplan, “Hamas Threatens Gaza Could ‘Explode’ Under Israel’s Cement Ban,” International Business Times, April 5, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.com/hamas-threatens-gaza-could-explode-under-israels-cement-ban-2348691;
“Israel halts cement deliveries into Gaza following allegations of diversion; UN envoy urges rapid resolution,” UN News Centre, April 4, 2016, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=53603#.Vw_3efkrKM8.

Military capabilities & arsenal:

Defense experts can only speculate about Hamas’s military capabilities. Security analysts agree that Hamas’s military capability markedly improved under Ahmed Jaabari, the chief of Hamas's armed wing. Reuters sources have reported that before Jaabari took charge, Hamas only had a few AK-47 rifles and a single rocket-propelled grenade.Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Analysis-Hamas homemade rocket industry bypasses crumbling supply lines,” Reuters, July 15, 2014, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/07/15/uk-palestinians-israel-hamas-analysis-idUKKBN0FK23220140715.

The Israel Defense Forces estimated that Hamas had approximately 10,000 rockets in its arsenal at the beginning of July 2014.Jim Michaels, “Israel: Hamas Still Has 5,000 Rockets in Its Arsenal,” USA Today, July 29, 2014, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/07/29/israel-hamas-rockets-gaza-tunnels/13316973/. By the end of July 2014, Hamas had fired over 2,600 rockets at Israel, while the Israeli military estimated it destroyed an additional 3,000 rockets.Jim Michaels, “Israel: Hamas Still Has 5,000 Rockets in Its Arsenal,” USA Today, July 29, 2014, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/07/29/israel-hamas-rockets-gaza-tunnels/13316973/. The IDF estimated Hamas still had approximately 5,000 rockets left.Jim Michaels, “Israel: Hamas Still Has 5,000 Rockets in Its Arsenal,” USA Today, July 29, 2014, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/07/29/israel-hamas-rockets-gaza-tunnels/13316973/. By the end of the 2014 war, Hamas had fired approximately 4,600 rockets into Israel. Israeli intelligence estimated in March 2016 that Hamas had restored its rocket arsenal to its pre-2014 war levels of approximately 12,000.Avi Issacharoff, “Hamas has replenished its rocket arsenals, Israeli officials say,” Times of Israel, March 4, 2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-has-replenished-its-rocket-arsenals-israeli-officials-say/.

Hamas relies on underground tunnels beneath Gaza’s borders with Egypt and Israel. During Hamas’s 50-day war with Israel during the summer of 2014, Hamas used these tunnels to stage raids inside Israel. Many of the tunnels into Israel were destroyed during the war, but Hamas has since sought to rebuild them. The Israeli military revealed in February 2016 that Hamas was “investing considerable resources” into rebuilding the tunnels.Shira Rubin, “Hamas tunnels: 'We can hear them digging beneath our feet,' say Israelis on Gaza border,” International Business Times, February 11, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/hamas-tunnels-we-can-hear-them-digging-beneath-our-feet-say-israelis-gaza-border-1543205. By March 2016, Israeli authorities estimated that Hamas had rebuilt at least 10 tunnels into Israel. Almost a dozen of these tunnels collapsed on the Hamas fighters digging them in early 2016, killing at least 10 Hamas members.Mahmud Hams,  “Hamas is Tunneling its Way Into Israel Again,” Newsweek, March 8, 2016, http://www.newsweek.com/hamas-tunnels-israel-palestine-gaza-434428.

Hamas also has as many as 1,200 tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border. The tunnels are used to smuggle commodities as well as weapons into Gaza.Shira Rubin, “Hamas tunnels: 'We can hear them digging beneath our feet,' say Israelis on Gaza border,” International Business Times, February 11, 2016, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/hamas-tunnels-we-can-hear-them-digging-beneath-our-feet-say-israelis-gaza-border-1543205. In September 2015, Egypt began flooding many of these tunnels to cut off Hamas smuggling.“Egypt floods Gaza tunnels used for smuggling,” Al Jazeera, September 18, 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/09/egypt-floods-gaza-tunnels-150918193805896.html. Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz confirmed in February 2016 that Israel had requested Egypt act against the tunnels.“Steinitz: 'Egypt floods Hamas tunnels, in part due to Israel's request,’” Jerusalem Post, February 6, 2016, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Steinitz-Egypt-floods-Hamas-tunnels-in-part-due-to-Israels-request-444040. Hamas has also reportedly used the Egyptian tunnels to transport aid to ISIS’s Sinai Province group.Avi Issacharoff, “Under Egypt’s nose, Hamas boosts cooperation with IS in Sinai,” Times of Israel, March 6, 2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/under-egypts-nose-hamas-boosts-cooperation-with-is-in-sinai/.

Violent Activities:

Designations

Designations by the U.S. Government:

August 29, 1995: The Department of the Treasury lists Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzouk as a Specially Designated Terrorist (SDT) under Executive Order 12947, prohibiting financial transactions between US persons or charities and the designated SDT.“Resource Center: Sanctions,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, August 29, 1995, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/Documents/sdnew95.txt. January 24, 1995: The US Department of the Treasury designates Hamas a Specially Designated Terrorist Organization (SDTO) under, prohibiting financial transactions between US persons or charities and the designated SDTO.“Executive Order 12947,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, January 23, 1995, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Documents/12947.pdf. On this same date, the Department of the Treasury also lists Shaykh Ahmad Yasin (a.k.a. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin) as a Specially Designated Terrorist (SDT) under Executive Order 12947, prohibiting financial transactions between US persons or charities and the designated SDT.“Resource Center: Sanctions,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, August 29, 1995, http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/Documents/sdnew95.txt.
October 8, 1997: The Department of State lists Hamas as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This freezes any of the designated FTO’s assets in U.S. financial institutions, bans admission of members to U.S., and bans providing “material support or resources” to the designated entity.“Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” U.S. Department of State, May 8, 2009, http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm. August 22, 2004: The Department of the Treasury lists Khalid Mishaal (a.k.a. Khaled Meshaal) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224, which blocks all property in the US or under possession of control of US persons, bans any property-related transactions by US persons or within US, including giving or receiving contributions to the entity.“U.S. Designates Five Charities Funding Hamas and Six Senior Hamas Leaders as Terrorist Entities,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, August 22, 2003, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/js672.aspx.

Designations by Foreign Governments and Organizations:

European Union— 15 member states froze Hamas' assets on September 11, 2003.“EU Blacklists Hamas Political Wing,” BBC News, September 11, 2003, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3100518.stm. European Union— Office Journal of the European Union froze Hamas’s European assets under Article 2(3) of Regulation (EC) No. 2580/2001 on December 21, 2005.“Council Decision,” Office Journal of the European Union, December 23, 2005, https://web.archive.org/web/20060107142924/http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/lex/LexUriServ/site/en/oj/2005/l_340/l_34020051223en00640066.pdf.
New Zealand— listed the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades as a Terrorist Entity on October 11, 2011 under the Terrorism Suppression Act of 2002, which freezes the assets of terrorist entities and makes it a criminal offense to participate in or support the activities of the designated terrorist entity.“Designated Individuals and Organization,” New Zealand Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, last updated October 9, 2014, http://www.police.govt.nz/advice/personal-community/counterterrorism/designated-entities/lists-associated-with-resolutions-1267-1989-1988. United Kingdom—listed the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades as a Terror Group under the Terrorism Act 2000 in March 2001.James Brokenshire MP, “Proscribed Terror Groups or Organizations,” The Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office, last updated September 15, 2014, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/proscribed-terror-groups-or-organisations--2.
Canada—listed Hamas as a terrorist entity on November 27, 2002.“Currently Listed Entities,” Public Safety Canada, November 27, 2002, http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#2023 Australia—listed the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades as a terrorist organization on November 9, 2003.“Listed terrorist organisations,” Australian National Security, accessed February 23, 2015, http://www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/Listedterroristorganisations/Pages/default.aspx.
Israel—listed Hamas as a terrorist organization.“Israel At ‘War to the Bitter End,’ Strikes Key Hamas Sites,” Fox News, December 29, 2008, http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/12/29/israel-at-war-to-bitter-end-strikes-key-hamas-sites; “Profile: Hamas Palestinian Movement,” BBC News, last updated July 11, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-13331522. Japan—listed Hamas as a terrorist organization.“Israel At ‘War to the Bitter End,’ Strikes Key Hamas Sites,” Fox News, December 29, 2008, http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/12/29/israel-at-war-to-bitter-end-strikes-key-hamas-sites; “Profile: Hamas Palestinian Movement,” BBC News, last updated July 11, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-13331522.
Jordan—banned Hamas.“Israel At ‘War to the Bitter End,’ Strikes Key Hamas Sites,” Fox News, December 29, 2008, http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/12/29/israel-at-war-to-bitter-end-strikes-key-hamas-sites; “Profile: Hamas Palestinian Movement,” BBC News, last updated July 11, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-13331522. Egypt—banned Hamas on March 4, 2014. Yasmine Saleh, “Court Bans Activities of Islamist Hamas in Egypt,” Reuters, March 4, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/04/us-egypt-hamas-idUSBREA230F520140304. Egypt’s Urgent Matters Court designated Hamas’s armed wing a terrorist organization in January 2015 and Hamas as a terrorist group that February.Joshua Berlinger and Ian Lee, “Egyptian court designates Hamas as a terror organization, state media says,” CNN, February 28, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/28/middleeast/egypt-hamas-terror-designation/. An appeals court canceled the designation in June 2015.“Egyptian court cancels Hamas listing as terrorist organization: sources,” Reuters, June 6, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-hamas-idUSKBN0OM0BZ20150606.


Terror Groups

Hezbollah
Hamas is accused of working with Hezbollah to stage a 2011 prison break of Muslim Brotherhood members during the Egyptian revolution.“Morsi Faces Court over Egypt Prison Break,” Al Jazeera, January 28, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/01/morsi-arrives-trial-over-egypt-jailbreak-20141287589134944.html. Disagreements have emerged between the groups because of the Syrian civil war as Hezbollah has fought on behalf of the regime, while Hamas has sided with the rebels and left its base in the country. However, relations between the two groups are still good, a Hezbollah source told Al-Monitor in 2013.Haytham Mouzahem, “Hezbollah-Hamas Relations ‘Good’ Despite Beirut Bombing Accusations,” Al-Monitor, August 27, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulseen/originals/2013/08/hezbollah-hamas-relations-beirut-bombing-accusations.html. During the July 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, the terror group invited Hezbollah to join in its rocket campaign against Israel.Ariel Ben Solomon, “Hamas Invites Hezbollah to Join in Fighting against Israel,” Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2014, http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Hamas-invites-Hezbollah-to-join-in-fighting-against-Israel-369379.
Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade
Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade carried out several joint terrorist operations during the second intifada, including a March 2004 attack at the port of Ashdod that killed 10 Israelis,“Timeline: The Evolution of Hamas,” CNN, December 30, 2008, http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/12/30/hamas.profile/. and a suicide bombing the following month at Gaza’s Erez Crossing that killed a border guard and wounded three others.Conal Urquhart, “Israeli Missile Attack Kills New Hamas Chief,” Guardian [U.K.], April 18, 2004, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/apr/18/israel. The Brigade has also joined Hamas in launching rockets at Israel over the years, most recently during the July 2014 conflict.Elhanan Miller, “Fatah Joins Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Missile Launches,” Times of Israel, July 10, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/moderate-fatah-joins-hamas-and-islamic-jihad-in-missile-launches/.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
On June 25, 2006, a group of Palestinian terrorists from multiple groups, including Hamas, crossed the Gaza border into Israel using an underground tunnel and attacked an IDF military outpost, killing two soldiers and taking 19-year-old Corporal Gilad Shalit hostage.Tim Butcher, “Soldier Kidnapped and Two Killed in Gaza Tunnel Attack,” Telegraph [U.K.], June 26, 2006, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/1522370/Soldier-kidnapped-and-two-killed-in-Gaza-tunnel-attack.html. Hamas denied any participation, but it was later revealed that the group—as well as members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad—were involved in the operation.Steven Erlanger, “Tensions Rise After Israeli Is Kidnapped,” New York Times, June 26, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/26/world/middleeast/26cnd-mideast.html; “Q&A: Gilad Shalit Capture,” BBC News, June 24, 2010, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6238858.stm. Hamas and PIJ announced a formal agreement in 2012 to combine forces in their fight against Israel.Elhanan Miller, “Gaza’s Hamas and Islamic Jihad Formally Join Forces to Fight Israel,” Times of Israel, October 10, 2012, http://www.timesofisrael.com/gazas-hamas-and-islamic-jihad-formally-join-forces-to-fight-israel/. The following year, the two groups announced plans to create a joint command and a new political vision for Gaza.Elhanan Miller, “Hamas and Islamic Jihad to Form Joint Command,” Times of Israel, September 17, 2013, http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-and-islamic-jihad-to-form-joint-command/.
 

Associations

Ties to other entities:

Qatar and Turkey

The emir of Qatar became the first head of state to visit Gaza after Hamas’s 2007 coup.“Emir of Qatar Become First Head of State to Visit Gaza since Hamas Took Control,” Huffington Post UK, October 23, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/23/emir-of-qatar-historic-visit-to-hamas-gaza_n_2004960.html. Since then, Qatar has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Gaza, pledging $400 million to Gaza in 2012.“Qatar Ups Gaza Investment to $400 Million,” Agence France-Presse, October 23, 2012, http://tribune.com.pk/story/455921/hamas-qatar-ups-gaza-investment-to-400-million/. After Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in April 2014, the PA refused to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants in Gaza, and in response Qatar attempted to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas to pay the salaries of 44,000 civil servants. The United States reportedly blocked the transfers.Elhanan Miller, “US Blocked Qatari Funds Intended for Hamas Employees,” Times of Israel, July 15, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-blocked-qatari-funds-intended-for-hamas-employees/.

Qatar has also hosted Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal since he left Syria in 2012.

Turkey reportedly planned to donate $300 million to Gaza’s Hamas government in 2011,Saed Bannoura, “Turkey to Grant Hamas $300 Million,” International Middle East Media Center, December 3, 2011, http://www.imemc.org/article/62607. while other reports cited that this would become an annual donation to Hamas.Zvi Bar’el, “Turkey May Provide Hamas with $300 Million in Annual Aid,” Haaretz, January 28, 2012, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/turkey-may-provide-hamas-with-300-million-in-annual-aid-1.409708.

During the July 2014 conflict between Hamas and Israel, Qatar and Turkey were considered Hamas’s closest international allies.Mirren Gidda, “Hamas Still Has Some Friends Left,” Time, July 25, 2014, http://time.com/3033681/hamas-gaza-palestine-israel-egypt/; Jonathan Schanzer, “Hamas’s BFFs,” Foreign Policy, August 4, 2014, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/04/hamas_s_bffs_turkey_qatar_israel_gaza?wp_login_redirect=0. Qatar drafted a ceasefire proposal in July 2014 that adopted most of Hamas’s demands, and without consideration of Israel’s.Avi Issacharoff, “Qatar’s Ceasefire Offer Adopts Most Hamas Demands,” Times of Israel, July 19, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/qatars-ceasefire-offer-adopts-most-hamas-demands/. Because of its close ties to Hamas, the United States invited Turkey and Qatar to a Paris meeting in mid July 2014 to discuss a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. The move drew accusations from the Palestinian Authority and Egypt, suggesting that the United States was attempting to sideline them.Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinian Authority Blasts Kerry for ‘Appeasing’ Qatar, Turkey at Ramallah’s Expense,” Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2014, http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Palestinian-Authority-blasts-Kerry-for-appeasing-Qatar-Turkey-at-Ramallahs-expense-369091.

Muslim Brotherhood

Hamas was created in 1987 as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza.“The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” Avalon Project, Yale Law School, accessed August 13, 2014, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp. More than two decades later, Hamas continues to enjoy close ties to the Brotherhood. Hamas is suspected of aiding in a jailbreak of Brotherhood activists, including former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, in 2011.“Morsi Faces Court over Egypt Prison Break,” Al Jazeera, January 28, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/01/morsi-arrives-trial-over-egypt-jailbreak-20141287589134944.html. Further, the Brotherhood-controlled Egyptian government provided Hamas with support and turned a blind eye to illegal smuggling beneath the Egypt-Gaza border. After the downfall of the Brotherhood-controlled government in 2013, the Egyptian army closed off most of the tunnels, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue for the Hamas government and an economic crisis in Gaza.Karin Laub and Ibrahim Barzak, “Hamas in Worst Cash Crisis since Seizing Gaza,” Associated Press, March 13, 2014, http://news.yahoo.com/hamas-worst-cash-crisis-since-seizing-gaza-181239758.html.


In January 2014, Cairo publicly hosted the first conference of Tamarud (“Rebellion”,) a new anti-Hamas youth group.Yasmine Saleh, “Court Bans Activities of Islamist Hamas in Egypt,” Reuters, March 4, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/04/us-egypt-hamas-idUSBREA230F520140304. In March 2014, Egypt banned all activities by Hamas following a lawsuit against the group due to its connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.“Court in Egypt bans Palestinian group Hamas,” BBC News, March 4, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26432122.

In March 2016, Egypt’s Interior Ministry accused Hamas of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood and coordinating the June 2015 assassination of Hisham Barakat, Egypt’s chief prosecutor, in a Cairo car bombing. Later that month, Hamas removed all pictures of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and any other signs of Muslim Brotherhood links from its Gaza offices. The move reportedly came after a meeting between Hamas leaders and Egypt officials who demanded Hamas renounce its links with the Brotherhood before Egypt would restore relations with Hamas.“Hamas removes picture of Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza,” Middle East Monitor, March 22, 2016, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/24610-hamas-removes-picture-of-morsi-muslim-brotherhood-in-gaza. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri later denied any links between his group and the Muslim Brotherhood.Jack Khoury, “Hamas Denies Links With Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Elsewhere,” Haaretz, March 23, 2016, http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-1.710423.

PLO/Fatah/Palestinian Authority

Hamas has remained separate from the PLO, emerging in the late 1980s when the PLO began to moderate its positions in order to launch a peace process with Israel. In 1996, Hamas contemplated joining the Palestinian Authority government but ultimately decided to remain apart.

In the power-vacuum that followed PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s death in 2004, Hamas ran in the January 2006 PA legislative elections and won a majority in the PA Legislative Council. After a year of clashes between Hamas and Fatah gunmen, Hamas expelled the PA’s forces from Gaza and took control of the coastal strip. In April 2014, the PLO and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement and pledged to form a unity government.Jodi Rudoren and Michael R. Gordon, “Palestinian Rivals Announce Unity Pact, Drawing U.S. and Israeli Rebuke,” New York Times, April 23, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/world/middleeast/palestinian-factions-announce-deal-on-unity-government.html. The move helped derail U.S.-led peace talks between Israel and the PLO.

The sides failed to implement the reconciliation agreement, however, resulting in a continued split between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. At least five reconciliation agreements to date have failed. Hamas and the PA argue over who would retain control of Gaza’s border crossings and assume responsibility for paying the salaries of civil servants.Adnan Abu Amer, “Another Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement bites the dust,” Al-Monitor, March 1, 2016, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/03/palestinian-reconciliation-hamas-fatah-qatar-meeting.html.

Syria

Syria has long acted as a conduit between Hamas and its Iranian benefactor, allowing weapons and money to cross its borders. Hamas’s political leadership was based in Damascus until 2012, when it relocated due to the ongoing Syrian civil war.“Hamas Political Chiefs Exit Syria,” BBC News, February 28, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17192278.

Ties to entities designated by the U.S. or foreign governments:

Countries

Iran
Iran has long been a benefactor of Hamas, providing weapons, training, and money. During the 1990s, Iran was a key financier of Hamas terrorism, providing financial rewards for bombings and higher rewards for higher death tolls.

After Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, Iran continued to sponsor Hamas terrorism and the Hamas government.

Hamas and Iran had a falling out during the Syrian civil war, when Hamas abandoned its headquarters in Syria and supported the rebel cause against Syrian President Assad.Harriet Sherwood, “Hamas and Iran Rebuild Ties Three Years after Falling out over Syria,” Guardian [U.K.], January 9, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/09/hamas-iran-rebuild-ties-falling-out-syria.
North Korea
In July 2014, Western security officials revealed a secret arms deal between North Korea and Hamas worth hundreds of thousands of dollars that would have provided the terror group with missiles and communications equipment to use in its conflict with Israel that month.Con Coughlin, “Hamas and North Korea in Secret Arms Deal,” Telegraph [U.K.], July 26, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10992921/Hamas-and-North-Korea-in-secret-arms-deal.html.

Political connections to U.S. or global leaders:

United States

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, which has refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Hamas government in Gaza. Since Hamas and the PLO signed a unity deal in April 2014, however, the U.S. State Department announced its willingness to work with a unity government, as the cabinet is made up of technocrats unaffiliated with Hamas.Lesley Wroughton and Patricia Zengerle, “U.S. Says to Work With, Fund Palestinian Unity Government,” Reuters, June 2, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/02/us-palestinian-unity-usa-idUSKBN0ED1VQ20140602. Members of the U.S. Congress have since called for cutting U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority because of the unity deal.Lesley Wroughton and Patricia Zengerle, “U.S. Says to Work With, Fund Palestinian Unity Government,” Reuters, June 2, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/02/us-palestinian-unity-usa-idUSKBN0ED1VQ20140602.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter met with Hamas’s political chief Khaled Meshaal in 2008 in an attempt to broker peace. During a press conference, Meshaal said Hamas accepts a Palestinian state with the June 4, 1967, borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.“Hamas: No Plan to Recognize Israel,” CNN, April 21, 2008, http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/04/21/carter.hamas/index.html. Meshaal also offered Israel a 10-year hudna, which he told Carter was proof of Hamas’s tacit recognition of Israel.“Hamas Offers Truce in Return for 1967 Borders,” Associated Press, April 21, 2008, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/24235665/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/hamas-offers-truce-return-borders/#.U-0eFYBdV5w. Meshaal and other Hamas leaders have since denied agreeing to the 1967 lines.

Israel

The Israeli government has no formal contacts with Hamas. Ceasefire talks in July 2014 and in recent years have consisted of indirect talks through foreign mediators, such as Egypt.

Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin maintains quiet contacts with members of the Hamas government, primarily to discuss issues related to the ceasefires between Israel and Gaza.Josh Lipowsky, “Israel’s Bridge to Hamas,” Jewish Standard, March 7, 2014, http://jstandard.com/content/item/israels_bridge_to_hamas/30131. Baskin passes these messages to the Israeli government, which on occasion responds. It was Baskin’s backchannel diplomacy that led to the 2011 prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Baskin does not hold a formal position in the Israeli government, though, and his contacts with Hamas are not on behalf of the Israeli government, although the Israeli government has not demanded that Baskin cease his efforts.Josh Lipowsky, “Israel’s Bridge to Hamas,” Jewish Standard, March 7, 2014, http://jstandard.com/content/item/israels_bridge_to_hamas/30131.

Iran

Iran has long maintained regular political and financial contacts with Hamas. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has visited Tehran several times, while the Iranian government provides Hamas with funding and weapons.

Iran has passed millions of dollars to Hamas. In the U.S. case Weinstein v. Iran, the court noted that 1995-1996 “was a peak period for Iranian economic support of Hamas because Iran typically paid for results, and Hamas was providing results by committing numerous bus bombings such as the one on February 25, 1996.”Matthew Levitt, “Hezbollah Finances: Funding the Party of God,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, February 2005, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/hezbollah-finances-funding-the-party-of-god.

Iranian funding to Hamas has shrunk since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. While Iran has sided with the embattled Assad regime, Hamas has supported Syrian rebels seeking to overthrow Assad. As a result, Iran has cut as much as £15 million a month to Hamas.Robert Tait, “Iran Cuts Hamas Funding over Syria,” Telegraph [U.K.], May 31, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10091629/Iran-cuts-Hamas-funding-over-Syria.html. Ghazi Hamad, Hamas's deputy foreign minister, said: “I cannot deny that since 2006 Iran supported Hamas with money and many [other] things. But the situation is not like the past. I cannot say that everything is normal.”Robert Tait, “Iran Cuts Hamas Funding over Syria,” Telegraph [U.K.], May 31, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10091629/Iran-cuts-Hamas-funding-over-Syria.html. After Hamas’s victory in 2006’s Palestinian legislative elections, Iran provided Hamas an estimated £13-15 million a month for governing expenses.Robert Tait, “Iran Cuts Hamas Funding over Syria,” Telegraph [U.K.], May 31, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10091629/Iran-cuts-Hamas-funding-over-Syria.html.

The Syrian civil war drove a wedge between Hamas – which supported Syrian rebels – and Iran – which supports the Assad regime. As a result, Iran cut Hamas’s funding to a “tiny amount” to maintain ties and its support of the Palestinian cause.Robert Tait, “Iran Cuts Hamas Funding over Syria,” Telegraph [U.K.], May 31, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10091629/Iran-cuts-Hamas-funding-over-Syria.html.

The overthrow of Egypt’s pro-Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood–controlled government in 2013 left Hamas without a major ally, leading it to restore its relationship with Iran out of necessity. In 2014, Hamas and Iranian officials began to repair ties. In January 2014, senior Hamas official Bassem Naim claimed that ties between the two “had never been conclusively severed” and that several recent meetings had led to “a marked improvement and progression in the relationship.”Harriet Sherwood, “Hamas and Iran Rebuild Ties Three Years after Falling out over Syria,” Guardian [U.K.], January 9, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/09/hamas-iran-rebuild-ties-falling-out-syria. Taher al-Nounou, an aide to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said relations were “almost back to how they were before.”Harriet Sherwood, “Hamas and Iran Rebuild Ties Three Years after Falling out over Syria,” Guardian [U.K.], January 9, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/09/hamas-iran-rebuild-ties-falling-out-syria.

In March, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said relations between Hamas and Iran had returned to normal and that Iran continues to support Hamas as a “resistance organization.”Elhanan Miller, “Hamas and Iran Admit Increased Cooperation,” Times of Israel, March 12, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-and-iran-admit-increased-cooperation/.

During the July 2014 Hamas-Israel conflict, Iranian officials admitted that Iran had transferred the technology to Hamas for the terror group to build its own rockets. “Once upon a time, they [Hamas] needed the arms manufacture know-how and we gave it to them” and Hamas can now “meet their own needs for weapons,” Larijani said.“Iran gave Hamas its rocket know-how, official boasts”, Agence France-Presse, July 24, 2014, http://news.yahoo.com/iran-gave-hamas-rocket-know-official-boasts-190726914.html.

North Korea

Hamas has also allegedly received arms from North Korea. The link first became public after a cargo of North Korean weapons was seized in Bangkok airport in 2009.Con Coughlin, “Hamas and North Korea in Secret Arms Deal,” Telegraph [U.K.], July 26, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10992921/Hamas-and-North-Korea-in-secret-arms-deal.html. Investigators later confirmed that the cargo was destined for Iran, from where it was to be smuggled to Lebanon and Gaza. Western security sources also suspect that North Korea has offered Hamas advice on the building of tunnels, which has enabled Hamas to smuggle weapons and fighters in and out of Gaza.

In July 2014, reports indicated that Hamas was attempting to buy arms and communication equipment from North Korea in order to continue attacks on Israel.Con Coughlin, “Hamas and North Korea in Secret Arms Deal,” Telegraph [U.K.], July 26, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10992921/Hamas-and-North-Korea-in-secret-arms-deal.html. The deal was reportedly worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.Con Coughlin, “Hamas and North Korea in Secret Arms Deal,” Telegraph [U.K.], July 26, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/10992921/Hamas-and-North-Korea-in-secret-arms-deal.html.

Russia

Russia is a member of the Quartet and has signed on to the Quartet’s demands that Hamas recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, and accept past agreements before it receives international recognition. Russia has attempted to push Hamas toward these goals by inviting Hamas government representatives to Moscow for official meetings.

In March 2006, Hamas delegation visited Moscow for three days of meetings with Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.Steven Lee Myers and Greg Myre, “Hamas Delegation Visits Moscow for a Crash Course in Diplomacy,” New York Times, March 4, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/04/international/middleeast/04hamas.html. It was the first Hamas state visit outside of the Islamic world since Hamas joined the Palestinian Authority. Hamas viewed the invitation as a way to foil American and Israeli attempts to isolate it, while Russian officials used the visit to try to convince Hamas to accept the Quartet’s demands of recognizing Israel, renouncing violence, and accepting past agreements.Steven Lee Myers and Greg Myre, “Hamas Delegation Visits Moscow for a Crash Course in Diplomacy,” New York Times, March 4, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/04/international/middleeast/04hamas.html.

In May 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met with Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal in Damascus. Israel condemned the meeting, during which Medvedev called for the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and for Hamas to reconcile with Fatah.“Israeli ‘Disappointment’ over Russia-Hamas Meeting,” CNN, May 13, 2010, http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/05/13/israel.russia.hamas/.

In response to Israeli criticism, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said his country has “regular” contacts with Hamas, and “all other members of the Quartet on the Middle East maintain contacts with Hamas leaders in one way or another, although they are reluctant to admit this publicly, for some reason.” During a November 2015 press conference, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov called Hezbollah and Hamas “legitimate societal-political forces.”“Russia Says Hezbollah, Hamas Aren't Terrorist Groups,” Moscow Times, November 16, 2015, http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/russia-says-hezbollah-hamas-arent-terrorist-groups/549136.html.

Qatar and Turkey

In 2012, the emir of Qatar became the first head of state to visit Gaza after Hamas’s 2007 coup.“Emir of Qatar Become First Head of State to Visit Gaza since Hamas Took Control,” Huffington Post UK, October 23, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/23/emir-of-qatar-historic-visit-to-hamas-gaza_n_2004960.html. Since then, Qatar has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into Gaza, pledging $400 million to Gaza in 2012.“Qatar Ups Gaza Investment to $400 Million,” Agence France-Presse, October 23, 2012, http://http://tribune.com.pk/story/455921/hamas-qatar-ups-gaza-investment-to-400-million/. After Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in April 2014, the PA refused to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants in Gaza, and in response Qatar attempted to

transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas to pay the salaries of 44,000 civil servants, but the United States reportedly blocked the transfers.Elhanan Miller, “US Blocked Qatari Funds Intended for Hamas Employees,” Times of Israel, July 15, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-blocked-qatari-funds-intended-for-hamas-employees/.

Qatar has also hosted Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal since he left Syria in 2012.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party supports what analysts call “other neo-Islamist allies.”Mirren Gidda, “Hamas Still Has Some Friends Left,” Time, July 25, 2014, http://time.com/3033681/hamas-gaza-palestine-israel-egypt/. This has resulted in Turkey investing millions of dollars into Gaza’s Hamas government, (detailed in the financial support section.) Turkey reportedly planned to donate $300 million to Gaza’s Hamas government in 2011,Saed Bannoura, “Turkey to Grant Hamas $300 Million,” International Middle East Media Center, December 3, 2011, http://www.imemc.org/article/62607. while other reports cited that this would become an annual donation to Hamas.Zvi Bar’el, “Turkey May Provide Hamas with $300 Million in Annual Aid,” Haaretz, January 28, 2012, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/turkey-may-provide-hamas-with-300-million-in-annual-aid-1.409708.

During the July 2014 conflict between Hamas and Israel, Qatar and Turkey were considered Hamas’s closest international allies. Mirren Gidda, “Hamas Still Has Some Friends Left,” Time, July 25, 2014, http://time.com/3033681/hamas-gaza-palestine-israel-egypt/; Jonathan Schanzer, “Hamas’s BFFs,” Foreign Policy, August 4, 2014, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/04/hamas_s_bffs_turkey_qatar_israel_gaza?wp_login_redirect=0. Qatar drafted a ceasefire proposal in July 2014 that adopted most of Hamas’s demands without consideration to any of Israel’s.Avi Issacharoff, “Qatar’s Ceasefire Offer Adopts Most Hamas Demands,” Times of Israel, July 19, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/qatars-ceasefire-offer-adopts-most-hamas-demands/. Because of their close ties to Hamas, the United States invited Turkey and Qatar to a Paris meeting in mid-July 2014 to discuss a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. The move drew criticism from the Palestinian Authority and Egypt, who claimed that the United States was attempting to sideline them.Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinian Authority Blasts Kerry for ‘Appeasing’ Qatar, Turkey at Ramallah’s Expense,” Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2014, http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Palestinian-Authority-blasts-Kerry-for-appeasing-Qatar-Turkey-at-Ramallahs-expense-369091.

Europe

In May 2006, after Hamas won Palestinian Authority legislative elections, Sweden granted a visa to PA Refugee Minister Atef Adawan, a Hamas member, to attend a conference in Sweden. After the conference, Adawan allegedly travelled to Norway where he met with Kaare Eltervaag, the head of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry's Middle Eastern affairs. Afterwards, he travelled to Germany where he met with Bundestag representative Detlef Dzembritzki, a member of the Social Democratic Party.“Hamas Minister meets German MEP thanks to Swedish visa,” European Jewish Congress, May 18, 2006, http://www.eurojewcong.org/20/480-hamas-minister-meets-german-mep-thanks-to-swedish-visa.html.

International community at large

The so-called Quartet of Middle East Peacemakers, (the United States, European Union, Russia, and United Nations) issued a list of three demands in 2006 for Hamas to meet before it would receive international recognition: recognize Israel, renounce violence, and adhere to past agreements.“Quartet: Hamas Must Change Policy,” CNN, January 31, 2006, http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/01/30/hamas.funding/. The global community has largely adhered to these conditions, although Russia has reached out to the Hamas government.

Media Coverage

  • Arab media

    English-language Arab media may focus more on the plight of the Gazans than in Western media, but Hamas is typically recognized as a militant...
  • Media intimidation

    During the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in July 2014, numerous reports alleged that Hamas restricted media coverage of its...
  • Western media

    Though the United States labels Hamas a terrorist organization, media coverage of the group largely replaces the “terrorist” label with...
  • Israeli media

    Israeli media tend to report on Hamas in line with the Israeli government’s designation of the group, namely, referring to Hamas as a terrorist...

Rhetoric

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Sami Abu Zuhri, Spokesman, March 8, 2016

“Hamas congratulates the three heroic operations this evening, in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Jaffa, and considers this proof of the failure for all these theories to abort the Intifada (uprising), which will continue until the realization of its goals…Hamas celebrates the martyrs that have ascended through these operations, and confirms that their pure blood will, God willing, be the fuel for escalating the Intifada.”Jack Moore, “Hamas Hails Surge of Israel Attacks That Left U.S. Tourist Dead as ‘Heroic,’” Newsweek, March 9, 2016, http://www.newsweek.com/hamas-lauds-surge-israel-attacks-killed-us-tourist-heroic-435009.

Husam Badran, Spokesman, March 3, 2016

“The next phase of the ‘Jerusalem intifada’ will cause great fear among settlers, who will no longer enjoy security… In the next days, the West Bank's settlers will witness additional surprises from Hamas.”Maayan Groisman, “Hamas: Infiltrations into Israeli settlements to manifest the next phase of the 'intifada,’” Jerusalem Post, March 4, 2016, http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Hamas-Infiltrations-into-Israeli-settlements-to-manifest-the-next-phase-of-the-intifada-446905.

Ismail Haniyeh, Deputy Leader, March 2016

“We will continue along the path of resistance in all its aspects, including the armed struggle.”Jack Khoury, “Hamas Denies Links With Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Elsewhere,” Haaretz, March 23, 2016, http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-1.710423.

Hossam Badran, spokesman, August 2015

“The resistance efforts are carried out by individual actors in the West Bank, and the shooting and stabbing of soldiers and settlers represent a significant change that will have implications for the future. Hamas supports these operations and encourages their perpetrators. It believes that their continuation is an important step for ensuring that dealings with the Israeli occupation return to their natural status, as a prelude to an overall direct confrontation.”Adnan Abu Amer, “Hamas: Israel security measures won’t stop attacks on settlers,” Al-Monitor, August 25, 2015, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/08/west-bank-hamas-armed-attacks-israel-security-measures.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=32314a85b0-August_26_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-32314a85b0-102352589.

Anonymous Hamas official, August 2015

“We’ve never taken sides, but we have our say on what’s happening. Iran is a friend. It was once a very close friend, and we don’t forget that. But today there are efforts to normalize ties once again. This is facing some hurdles from both sides.”“Ali Hashem, “Hamas caught between Tehran and Riyadh,” Al-Monitor, August 23, 2015, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/08/iran-hamas-ties-saudi-arabia.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=fa9f4c6af6-August_24_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-fa9f4c6af6-102352589.

Abu Almajd, Qassam Brigades member, August 2015

On the unveiling of a Hamas-designed dirt road near the Gaza-Israel border:

“We built this road in spite of the Jews. Now we are closer to the Jews, only meters between. The Jews’ road is straight, and the Jakar road is straight. We can watch each other during cease-fires and during wars.”Jodi Rudoren, “A Dirt Road in Gaza, Devised by Hamas as a Message to Israel,” New York Times, August 4, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/05/world/middleeast/a-dirt-road-in-gaza-intended-to-send-a-message.html.

Sami Abu Zuhri, March 2015

“All the Israeli parties are alike to us. They may disagree on many things but what unite them is their constant denial of the rights of the Palestinians and their will to continue the aggression against our people.” “Exit polls show Israel rivals in dead heat,” Al Jazeera, March 18, 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/03/israel-likud-zionist-union-neck-neck-150317200757434.html.

Bassem Naim, political bureau deputy chief, March 2015

“Iran reconfirmed its support for the resistance during the meeting, thus restoring warmth to the relationship between Hamas and Iran, which had cooled due to regional events.”Adnan Abu Amer, “Hamas hopes to expand regional relations,” Al-Monitor, March 26, 2015, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/03/hamas-region-relations-saudi-arabia-egypt.html.

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