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 is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that 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.Since 2017, Hamas claims to have severed its ties to the Brotherhood. The group also receives financial and military support from Iran. 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. Hamas as a whole or its armed faction have been labeled terrorist organizations by the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, the European Union, 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.
Governance did not moderate Hamas. The group 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. In May 2017, Hamas unveiled a new guiding political document that seemingly accepted a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem. In the same document, however, Hamas reaffirmed its refusal to recognize Israel, as well as its commitments to violence and the creation of a Palestinian state in the entirety of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. In October 2017, Hamas and Fatah agreed to allow the PA to reassert its authority in Gaza, but the two sides have stalled on discussions over Hamas’s weapons.
Hamas has thus far refused to disarm and its leaders have remained committed to the group’s strategy of so-called armed resistance. Despite the new political document and reconciliation agreement with Fatah, Hamas shows no signs of renouncing its dedication to violence or the creation of an Islamist state.
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."
On May 1, 2017, Hamas unveiled a new political program to supplement its 1988 charter. The so-called Document of General Principles & Policies excised all references to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas’s origins in the movement. Hamas accepted in principle the idea of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 boundaries if approved by a Palestinian national referendum. However, Hamas at the same time reaffirmed its refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and repeated its call for a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea.” The document also reaffirmed Hamas’s dedication to “armed resistance” as the “strategic choice for protecting the principles and the rights of the Palestinian people.”
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. Hamas is “one of the wings of the Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine.” 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.”
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.”
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.” 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.’”
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.” 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]….”
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?” 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. 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.” 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’s 2017 political document
On May 1, 2017, Hamas convened a press conference in Qatar to unveil a new policy document, the first since the release of its organizational charter in 1988. The document—a supplement to Hamas’s 1988 charter—omits the original charter’s references to Jews and frames the Palestinian struggle as a nationalistic rather than religious one. Though the document accepts the idea of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines, the charter continues to withhold recognition of the State of Israel. As the document outlines, Hamas continues to embrace “armed resistance” against Israel in its pursuit of the “liberation” of Palestine “from the river to the sea.” The document also makes no mention of Hamas’s origins within the Muslim Brotherhood, which the group’s leaders have claimed to disavow. In March 2016, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied any links between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Ahead of the document’s release, Hamas leaders said the new document does not replace the original 1988 charter, which remains in effect with its linkage to the Brotherhood.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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.” 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.
Hamas offered Israel a hudna twice after that: in 2006 then-Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh offered a 20-year truce for a temporary state in the territories, and in 2008 then-politburo leader Khaled Meshaal called for a 10-year hudna in exchange for Israel’s evacuation from the territories. Meshaal told former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, that the offer of a 10-year hudna was “proof” of Hamas’s tacit recognition of Israel, while still avoiding any formal recognition of the Jewish state. 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.”
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. Fatah condemned Blair’s rumored role and said Hamas should coordinate its ceasefire talks through the PLO.
In September 2017, Hamas co-founder Hassan Yousef told the Jerusalem Post that Hamas was “prepared to make a long-term cease-fire” with Israel in exchange for lifting the blockade of Gaza instituted in 2007.
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. He argued that Hamas would obtain its goals “only through fighting and armed resistance,” and that “no compromise should be made with the enemy.” 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.
Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in October 2017 that would allow the PA to reassert its control over Gaza. But the sides delayed negotiation on Hamas’s armed wing. Abbas had demanded that Hamas disarm, while Hamas has insisted it will maintain its weapons.
Hamas’s leadership has historically been split between its foreign-based political bureau and its Gaza-based government, which at times find themselves at odds. Various Hamas leaders have made contradictory claims on whether the group’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, operates independently or under the direction of the political wing.
The bureau is the Hamas’s principal authority. It is headed by Ismail Haniyeh, who took over from Khaled Meshaal in May 2017. The bureau was previously based in Syria until Hamas leaders fled in 2012, having endorsed the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Meshaal moved to Qatar, while other Hamas leaders relocated to Egypt. In June 2016, Meshaal announced his intention to step down by the end of the year ahead of Hamas’s internal elections. On February 13, 2017, Yahya Sinwar, a founding member of the group’s armed wing, won internal elections to replace Haniyeh as Hamas’s top political leader in Gaza. Hamas also elected lawmaker Khalil al-Hayya as Gaza’s deputy political leader.
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.
Ismail Haniyeh is the former prime minister of Gaza’s Hamas government, responsible for the daily rule of the Gaza Strip since Hamas forcibly expelled the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2007. In April 2014, Haniyeh stepped down and assumed the role of deputy leader of Hamas as part of a failed reconciliation agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization. As part of that deal, a new PA prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, assumed control of Gaza and the West Bank under a consensus government in June 2014, but the PA has since failed to extend its control over the coastal enclave. Hamas remains firmly in control of Gaza’s government institutions and security services. In October 2016, the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza announced that Hamdallah would no longer have authority over Gaza and that Haniyeh would replace him as prime minister. On February 13, 2017, Hamas elected Yahya Sinwar as its political chief in the Gaza Strip, replacing Haniyeh ahead of his then-expected ascendency to politburo chief.
Hamas’s Gaza government has been largely shunned by a large segment of the international community, while it has struggled to pay the salaries of 40,000 municipal workers in the strip. In 2017, the PA made several moves to pressure Hamas to reconcile. That April, the PA drastically reduced salaries of thousands of civil employees in Gaza. PA President Mahmoud Abbas also announced that the PA would no longer pay Israel for the electricity powering the Gaza Strip. As Israel does not engage directly with Hamas, the PA had continued to pay for Israeli electricity to the coastal enclave following Hamas’s violent takeover in 2007. The PA’s announcement threatened to cut power to more than 2 million in Gaza. Hamas accused the PA of collaborating with Israel, while Hamdallah called for Hamas to turn Gaza back over to PA control. The PA ended its electricity payments to Israel that June, citing Hamas’s failure to reimburse it for the electricity costs.
In September 2017, Hamas announced its intention to dissolve its government in Gaza and called on the PA to immediately resume responsibility for the Gaza Strip. Hamas agreed to the PA’s demand to hold new parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza for the first time since 2006. The move followed talks in Cairo between Hamas and the Egyptian government. That October, Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo to allow the PA to resume control of Gaza by December 1 and later take control of Gaza’s border crossings. The sides delayed negotiation on Hamas’s armed wing.
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades comprise Hamas’s military wing. Created in 1991 with the reported aim to block negotiations between Israel and the PLO, the wing is named after a Muslim preacher who, in 1930, formed the “Black Hand,” an anti-Zionist and anti-British organization. Qassam Brigades leader Mohammad Deif is widely suspected of having ordered suicide bombings and other attacks carried out by the Brigades.
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.” 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.” 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.”
Deif has 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. Deif has since gone into hiding, and his deputy, Ahmad Jabari, took over the Brigades’ leadership, with Deif remaining as the group’s figurehead. Jabari was himself killed by an Israeli strike in November 2012, marking the beginning of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense. Israeli authorities suspect that Deif resumed command of the Brigades after Jabari’s death and that he was responsible for ordering the terrorist rocket fire attacks launched during Israel’s summer 2014 conflict with Hamas.
Hamas has an estimated 20,000 fighters, with another 20,000 in its police and security forces. 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. 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.
In the six years following Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Hamas’s budget reportedly grew from $40 million to $540 million. Hamas’s budget in 2013 was more than $700 million, with $260 million earmarked to the administrative costs of running Gaza. In 2014, the Hamas government in Gaza signed a reconciliation agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) that called for the Hamas government to dissolve and for the PA to reassert control. The Hamas government’s budget prior to its dissolution was reportedly $530 million. As of 2016, Hamas reportedly had an approximate military budget of $100 million, with $40 million specifically earmarked for construction of tunnels beneath the Gaza-Israel border.
Hamas has since become more financially isolated as the Palestinian Authority began imposing financial sanctions on Gaza in 2017 in a bid to convince Hamas to turn over total control of the coastal enclave. As a result, Hamas has struggled to pay its municipal and military employees.
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; and fundraising activities in Western Europe and North America.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
Taxes and the tunnel economy
Hamas has spent years building a network of tunnels beneath the Gazan-Egyptian border in order to smuggle weapons and other goods. According to a 2012 Journal of Palestine Studies report, at least 160 children have died while digging the elaborate tunnel system. The underground smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt has provided Hamas with a flow of tax revenue on smuggled goods, comprising roughly $500 million of Hamas’s annual budget for Gaza of just under $900 million. The Egyptian military closed the tunnels in late 2013 after it deposed the Muslim Brotherhood government, sending Gaza into an economic crisis.
Constructing the tunnels was not a cheap endeavor, as each tunnel is believed to have cost between $80,000 and $200,000. To pay for the tunnels’ construction, Hamas turned to Gazan-based mosques and charities, which reportedly began offering pyramid schemes to invest in the tunnels with high rates of return. The number of tunnels reportedly 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.
By October 2013, Egypt claimed to have destroyed 90 percent of Gaza’s 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.
Hamas seeks to bypass international financial sanctions through the use of cryptocurrencies, the movement of which is harder to trace than traditional currencies. The Qassam Brigades website provides an animated instructional video on how to create a Bitcoin wallet—the decentralized digital method of storing Bitcoins—and make an anonymous donation to Hamas that cannot be traced by authorities. The site is available in multiple languages, including English, Arabic, French, and Russian. To further avoid detection, Hamas’s website generates links to individual Bitcoin wallets—making each transaction unique—on its site instead of using a cryptocurrency exchange, which can be more easily tracked by authorities.
Screenshot of the Qassam Brigades website. August 20, 2019.
In 2019, the Qassam Brigades created a portal on its website to collect donations through the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. In May 2019, U.S. authorities arrested a New Jersey man who had sent a donation of $20 in Bitcoin through the Qassam Brigades’ website in April 2019, two months after explaining how the site worked to an undercover FBI agent. The suspect had previously sent $100 to a Hamas member in Gaza via the wire transfer service Moneygram. According to terrorism experts and the U.S. Treasury, Bitcoin is a small but growing medium for terror financing.
Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas since the 1990s. 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.”
After Hamas’s victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, Iran provided Hamas an estimated £13-15 million a month for governing expenses. However, Iranian aid to Hamas has decreased 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 cut as much as £15 million a month to Hamas. In May 2013, Hamas’s deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad acknowledged that Iran had financially supported Hamas since 2006, but was sending the group only a “tiny amount” of money to maintain ties to the Palestinian cause. By March 2014, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani said that relations between Hamas and Iran had returned to normal and that Iran continued to support Hamas as a “resistance organization.”
Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said in July 2015, however, that all Iranian aid to Hamas “has stopped—both civilian aid to the Gaza Strip and military assistance to Hamas.” Marzouk said that relations between Hamas and Iran had not advanced in a direction that “interested” Hamas and accused Iranian officials later that month of lying about their support. According to Marzouk, Hamas had not received any Iranian money since 2009.
Hamas and Iran reportedly renewed their financial ties in 2017. That August, Hamas’s political leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, deemed the restored relationship as “excellent, or very excellent.” Sinwar also called Iran the “largest backer financially and militarily” of Hamas.
As of August 2018, Iran reportedly transferred $70 million annually to Hamas. Israeli authorities reported in August 2019 that Iran was increasing its funding to Hamas to $30 million per month in order to obtain more intelligence on Israel’s missile stockpiles. In November 2018, U.S. Special Envoy on Iran Brian Hook announced U.S. intentions to target Iran’s funding of Hamas and Hezbollah as part of a series of renewed sanctions on Iran.
Qatar has invested heavily in the Gazan economy. In October 2012, the country launched a $254 million plan to modernize Gaza. The country later upped its 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. In November 2018, Qatar transferred $15 million to the Hamas government to pay civil servants. Israel reportedly approved the payment on condition it did not go directly to Hamas. Qatari monitors oversaw the direct distribution of the funds to civil servants. Qatar promised to pay $90 million over a six-month period. A U.S. lawsuit filed in June 2020 alleged Qatar provided funding to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) through three Qatari financial institutions, the Qatar Charity, Masraf Al Rayan, and Qatar National Bank. The Qatar Charity is a member of the U.S.-sanctioned Union of Good charity network. All three institutions have links to members of the Qatari royal family. The plaintiffs are friends and family members of 10 U.S. citizens who died in terror attacks in Israel carried out by Hamas and PIJ. The lawsuit accuses Qatar of coopting “several institutions that it dominates and controls to funnel coveted U.S. dollars (the chosen currency of Middle East terrorist networks) to Hamas and PIJ under the false guise of charitable donations.” On June 26, 2020, Qatar transferred $30 million to Hamas. The terror group claimed one-third of the amount would be distributed to 100,000 needy families.
Further, Qatar has provided a safe haven for Hamas’s political leadership since 2012. In January 2015, then-Qatari Foreign Minister referred to then-Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal as the country’s “dear guest.” Hamas has utilized Qatari hotels and business centers for meetings and press conferences, such its May 1, 2017, press conference at Doha’s Sheraton hotel to announce the group’s new political document.
In April 2017, Yousef al-Ghariz, adviser to Qatar's ambassador to the Palestinian territories and head of the Qatari Committee for Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip told Al-Monitor that Qatar works with both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. He also said that Qatar “doesn’t get involved in any internal Palestinian political disputes.”
“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. In July 2014, Congressmen Peter Roskam (R-IL) and John Barrow (D-GA) collected signatures from 22 of their colleagues on a letter to Qatar’s ambassador to the United States, Mohammed Bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi, demanding Qatar end its support of Hamas.
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. According to a de-classified U.S. State Department memoranda, “the United States provided evidence to Saudi authorities in 2003 that Saudi Arabia’s al Quds Intifadah Committee was “forwarding millions of dollars in funds to the families of Palestinians engaged in terrorist activities, including those of suicide bombers.”
Saudi Arabia has also invested in Gaza, pledging $1 billion to rebuild infrastructure after Hamas’s 2008 war with Israel.
Turkey reportedly planned to donate $300 million to Gaza’s Hamas government in 2011, while other reports cited that this would become an annual donation to Hamas.