(New York, N.Y.) – On Monday, militants in Gaza sharply increased the intensity and volume of terrorist attacks against civilians in central and southern Israel. Anti-tank missiles, balloon bombs, and more than 1,000 rockets have been fired indiscriminately from populated areas in Gaza by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militants. These groups have caused dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries to Israeli and Palestinian civilians, prompting fear of another outbreak of war.
Since Hamas seized control of Gaza in a 2007 coup, Egypt and Israel have blockaded the coastal enclave to help stop the flow of weapons to Hamas. Nonetheless, with the financial support of Iran, 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. Hamas has an estimated 20,000 fighters, with another 20,000 in its police and security forces. PIJ is the second-largest terrorist group in Gaza today, though estimates on the size of PIJ’s forces in Gaza widely vary. The group has, however, boasted of opening its ranks to children as young as six years old.
Former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority Ismail Haniyeh, currently serving as chief of Hamas’s political bureau, wrote this week to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei asking the Muslim world to support Hamas’s attacks on Israel. As of August 2018, Iran reportedly transferred $70 million annually to Hamas. Israeli authorities reported in August 2019 that Iran was significantly increasing its funding to Hamas to $30 million per month. Iran has also provided PIJ with millions of dollars in direct funding, as well as training and weapons. In May 2019, Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, thanked Iran for supplying long-range rockets to Hamas.
The United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, the European Union, New Zealand, and Australia have labeled both Hamas in whole or in part, and PIJ, as terrorist organizations.
To read CEP’s Hamas resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Ismail Haniyeh resource, please click here.
To read CEP’s Palestinian Islamic Jihad resource, please click here.