Hamas

Executive Summary

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.

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.

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.”“Document of General Principles & Policies,” Hamas, May 1, 2017, http://hamas.ps/en/post/678/a-document-of-general-principles-and-policies. 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.”“Document of General Principles & Policies,” Hamas, May 1, 2017, http://hamas.ps/en/post/678/a-document-of-general-principles-and-policies.

1988 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.

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.”“A Document of General Principles & Policies,” Hamas Media Office, accessed May 2, 2017, http://hamas.ps/ar/uploads/documents/06c77206ce934064ab5a901fa8bfef44.pdf;
“New Hamas policy document ‘aims to soften image,’” BBC News, May 1, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39744551.
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.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. 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.“New Hamas policy document ‘aims to soften image,’” BBC News, May 1, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39744551.

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 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,“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 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.Associated Press, “Hamas Offers Truce in Return for 1967 Borders,” NBC News, 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.”Associated Press, “Hamas Offers Truce in Return for 1967 Borders,” NBC News, 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.

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.Adam Rasgon, “Hamas Leader to JPost: We’re Ready For Long-Term Ceasefire With Israel,” Jerusalem Post, September 6, 2017, http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Hamas-leader-to-JPost-Were-ready-for-long-term-cease-fire-with-Israel-504435.

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.

Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in October 2017 to 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.Hamza Hendaqi and Fares Akram, “Palestinian rivals reach preliminary deal on governing Gaza,” Associated Press, October 12, 2017, https://apnews.com/28b183dff81c41cc9e2bbd1e62361b26/Palestinian-rivals-reach-preliminary-deal-on-governing-Gaza;
Dov Lieber, “Translation of leaked Hamas-Fatah agreement,” Times of Israel, October 13, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/translation-of-leaked-hamas-fatah-agreement/;
Dov Lieber, “In deal with Fatah, Hamas said to agree to halt attacks from West Bank,” Times of Israel, October 15, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-deal-with-fatah-hamas-said-to-agree-to-halt-attacks-from-west-bank/.

Hamas maintains “all types of legitimate resistance” are acceptable against Israel, including “armed resistance” as a means to an end—the liberation of Palestine.“About Hamas,” Hamas website, accessed August 3, 2021, https://hamas.ps/en/page/5/About-Hamas.

Antisemitism
Hamas asserts its conflict is with the State of Israel, not because they are Jews but because they are occupiers. Hamas claims it “has no problem with anyone because of their religion, race, sect or idea; its key contradiction, however, is with the occupiers and aggressors.”“About Hamas,” Hamas website, accessed August 3, 2021, https://hamas.ps/en/page/5/About-Hamas. Nonetheless, Hamas has a history of embracing and promoting antisemitism. Its 1988 charter reiterates a Quranic call for Muslims to “fight the Jews (killing the Jews)” before the arrival of Judgment Day.“The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” Avalon Project, Yale Law School, accessed December 26, 2014, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp.

Hamas members have used “Jews” and “Israel” interchangeably. When Hamas unveiled a new dirt road near the Gaza-Israel border in August 2015, Qassam Brigades member Abu Almajd declared, “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. In July 2014, Hamas’s representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, recalled “how the Jews used to slaughter Christians, in order to mix their blood in their holy matzot. This is not a figment of imagination or something taken from a film. It is a fact, acknowledged by their own books and by historical evidence. It happened everywhere, here and there.”“Top Hamas Official Osama Hamdan: Jews Use Blood for Passover Matzos,” MEMRI, July 28, 2014, https://www.memri.org/tv/top-hamas-official-osama-hamdan-jews-use-blood-passover-matzos. Hamdan later defended his use of the antisemitic blood libel by declaring he had Jewish friends.Sarah Smith, “Hamas aide: ‘I have Jewish friends,’” Politico, August 4, 2014, https://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/hamas-spokesman-osama-hamdan-i-have-jewish-friends-109708. Also that month, a sermon in Gaza’s Deir al-Balah Mosque airing on Hamas’s al-Aqsa TV stated flatly Hamas’s “doctrine in fighting you [the Jews] is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive, because you are alien usurpers of the land and eternal mercenaries. Research the history, my brothers. Wherever the Jews lived, they spread corruption.”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.

When Hamas unveiled its new political document in 2017, it purposely removed all references to Jews from its charter to promote the message that it opposes Israel specifically, not Jews themselves. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the group’s message was it is “a pragmatic and civilized movement. We do not hate the Jews. We only fight who occupies our lands and kills our people.”“New Hamas policy document ‘aims to soften image,’” BBC News, May 1, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39744551. However, Hamas members continue to include blatant antisemitism in their propaganda. In February 2018, for example, former Hamas official Mustafa al-Lidawi accused Jews of using the blood of non-Jews to prepare pastries for Purim.Juliane Helmhold, “Former Hamas official: Jews use blood of non-Jews to prepare Purim pastry,” Jerusalem Post, March 2, 2018, https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/former-hamas-official-jews-use-blood-of-non-jews-to-prepare-purim-pastry-544048. In July 2019, senior Hamas official and former interior minister Fathi Hamad called on Palestinians around the world to “attack every Jew possible in all the world and kill them.”“Kill all the Jews, says senior Hamas figure,” Times (London), July 16, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/kill-all-the-jews-says-senior-hamas-figure-zvx9jshbb. Hamas later condemned the comments, saying its fight was with Israel and not with worldwide Jewry.“Kill all the Jews, says senior Hamas figure,” Times (London), July 16, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/kill-all-the-jews-says-senior-hamas-figure-zvx9jshbb. Hamad again called for violence against Jews in a speech aired on Al-Aqsa TV in May 2021, when he accused Jews of spreading corruption and urged Arabs in Jerusalem to “cut off the heads of the Jews.”“Senior Hamas Official Fathi Hammad To Palestinians In Jerusalem: Buy 5-Shekel Knives And Cut Off The Heads Of The Jews,” MEMRI, May 7, 2021, https://www.memri.org/tv/snr-hamas-official-fathi-hammad-urges-people-jerusalem-cut-off-heads-jews-knives-day-reckoning-moment-destruction.

Organizational Structure:

Hamas is organizationally split across four sectors: the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Palestinian diaspora, and Israeli prisons. These subdivisions are overseen by Hamas’s political bureau, which is led by Ismail Haniyeh. Hamas holds internal elections every four years to elect new leaders to oversee these bureaus, as well as for its overall political leader, local leaders, and the Shura Council, which is responsible for vetting and selecting candidates. These elections take place every four years.“Mapping Palestinian Politics,” European Council on Foreign Relations, accessed August 4, 2021, https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/politburo/; Aaron Boxerman, “Khaled Mashaal tapped as Hamas’s diaspora director,” Times of Israel, April 12, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/khaled-mashaal-tapped-as-hamass-international-director/. 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 bureau.

Political bureau

The bureau is the Hamas’s principal authority. It is headed by Ismail Haniyeh, who took over from Khaled Meshaal in May 2017.Isabel Kershner and Majd Al Waheidi, “Hamas Picks Ismail Haniya as Leader as Power Balance Shifts to Gaza,” New York Times, May 6, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/06/world/middleeast/hamas-leader-ismail-haniya-gaza.html?_r=1. 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.“Hamas Political Chiefs Exit Syria,” BBC News, February 28, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17192278;
Fares Akram, “In Break, Hamas Supports Syrian Opposition,” New York Times, February 24, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/25/world/middleeast/hamas-leader-supports-syrian-opposition.html?_r=0.
In June 2016, Meshaal announced his intention to step down by the end of the year ahead of Hamas’s internal elections.Dov Lieber, “Khaled Mashaal to step down as Hamas leader – report,” Times of Israel, June 15, 2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/khaled-mashaal-to-step-down-as-hamas-leader-report/. 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.Fares Akram, “Hamas names shadowy militant as new leader in Gaza,” Associated Press, February 13, 2017, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/9854bb8c51b14fe29f52fb943c07c14a/hamas-names-top-militant-new-leader-gaza;
Rory Jones, “Hamas Puts Militant Yahya Sinwar in Charge of Gaza,” Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hamas-puts-militant-yahya-sinwar-in-charge-of-gaza-1487001168.

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. The Shura Council is responsible for vetting and selecting candidates to run in Hamas’s internal elections to run the political bureau. These elections take place every four years.“Mapping Palestinian Politics,” European Council on Foreign Relations, accessed August 4, 2021, https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/politburo/.

Gaza government

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.Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kershner, “Israel Warns Against Embracing Newly Reconciled Palestinian Government,” New York Times, June 1, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/02/world/middleeast/israel-warns-against-embracing-newly-reconciled-palestinian-government.html. 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.Becca Noy, “Ismail Haniyeh named prime minister in Gaza,” Jerusalem Online, http://www.jerusalemonline.com/news/middle-east/the-arab-world/ismail-haniyehs-comeback-24198;
Ahmad Abu Amer, “Hamas calls for return of Haniyeh government,” Al-Monitor, October 21, 2016, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/10/hamas-return-haniyeh-government-gaza.html.
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.Fares Akram, “Hamas names shadowy militant as new leader in Gaza,” Associated Press, February 13, 2017, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/9854bb8c51b14fe29f52fb943c07c14a/hamas-names-top-militant-new-leader-gaza;
Rory Jones, “Hamas Puts Militant Yahya Sinwar in Charge of Gaza,” Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hamas-puts-militant-yahya-sinwar-in-charge-of-gaza-1487001168.

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.Avi Issacharoff, “As Qatar solves Gaza’s wages crisis, could Hamas have Liberman to thank?,” Times of Israel, July 25, 2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/as-qatar-solves-gazas-wages-crisis-could-it-be-that-hamas-has-liberman-to-thank/. 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.Isra Namey, “Gaza pay cuts deepen rift between PA and Hamas,” Al Jazeera, April 11, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/04/gaza-pay-cuts-deepen-rift-pa-hamas-170410101939251.html. 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.Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Abbas turns screws on Hamas by cutting Gaza’s electricity,” Reuters, April 27, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-palestinians-gaza-abbas-idUSKBN17T1J0. The PA ended its electricity payments to Israel that June, citing Hamas’s failure to reimburse it for the electricity costs.Nidal al-Mughrabi and Jeffrey Heller, “Israel reduces power supply to Gaza, as Abbas pressures Hamas,” Reuters, June 12, 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-power/israel-reduces-power-supply-to-gaza-as-abbas-pressures-hamas-idUSKBN1931XK.

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.Fares Akram, “Hamas invites Abbas to resume control of Gaza,” Associated Press, September 20, 2017, https://apnews.com/e8438c54e9384220a423bcd33ed7fa5c/Hamas-invites-Abbas-to-resume-control-of-Gaza;
Mohamed Daraghmeh, “Hamas says it accepts reconciliation demands,” Associated Press, September 17, 2017, https://apnews.com/aec26df1cc2740c791033b3637e82d27/Hamas-says-it-accepts-reconciliation-demands;
Dov Lieber, “Abbas talks reconciliation with Hamas leader, but is mum on ending sanctions,” Times of Israel, September 18, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-talks-reconciliation-with-hamas-leader-but-is-mum-on-ending-sanctions/;
“Press Release issued by Hamas,” Hamas website, September 17, 2017, http://hamas.ps/en/post/965/press-release-issued-by-hamas.
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.Hamza Hendaqi and Fares Akram, “Palestinian rivals reach preliminary deal on governing Gaza,” Associated Press, October 12, 2017, https://apnews.com/28b183dff81c41cc9e2bbd1e62361b26/Palestinian-rivals-reach-preliminary-deal-on-governing-Gaza;
Dov Lieber, “Translation of leaked Hamas-Fatah agreement,” Times of Israel, October 13, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/translation-of-leaked-hamas-fatah-agreement/;
Dov Lieber, “In deal with Fatah, Hamas said to agree to halt attacks from West Bank,” Times of Israel, October 15, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-deal-with-fatah-hamas-said-to-agree-to-halt-attacks-from-west-bank/.

West Bank

Hamas maintains a regional political bureau that oversees the affairs of Palestinians in the West Bank.“Mapping Palestinian Politics,” European Council on Foreign Relations, accessed August 4, 2021, https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/politburo/. Hamas elected Saleh al-Arouri to a four-year term to lead its West Bank bureau during its 2021 internal elections.Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff, “Haniyeh reelected to lead Hamas in internal elections – report,” Jerusalem Post, August 1, 2021, https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/haniyeh-reelected-to-lead-hamas-in-internal-elections-report-675521.

Palestinian Diaspora

Hamas maintains a regional political bureau that oversees the affairs of Palestinians in the diaspora.“Mapping Palestinian Politics,” European Council on Foreign Relations, accessed August 4, 2021, https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/politburo/. Hamas elected former political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal to a four-year term as leader of this branch in April 2021. Hamas also elevated Meshaal to position of deputy leader under Haniyeh.Nidal Al-mughrabi, “Hamas elects former chief Meshaal to head diaspora office,” Reuters, April 12, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/hamas-elects-former-chief-meshaal-head-diaspora-office-2021-04-12/; Aaron Boxerman, “Khaled Mashaal tapped as Hamas’s diaspora director,” Times of Israel, April 12, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/khaled-mashaal-tapped-as-hamass-international-director/.

Prisons

Hamas maintains a regional political bureau that oversees the affairs of Palestinians in Israeli prisons.“Mapping Palestinian Politics,” European Council on Foreign Relations, accessed August 4, 2021, https://ecfr.eu/special/mapping_palestinian_politics/politburo/. Hamas elected Salameh Katawi to a four-year term to lead its prisons bureau during its 2021 internal elections.Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff, “Haniyeh reelected to lead Hamas in internal elections – report,” Jerusalem Post, August 1, 2021, https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/haniyeh-reelected-to-lead-hamas-in-internal-elections-report-675521.

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.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; “Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades,” Australian National Security, accessed August 5, 2021, https://www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/Listedterroristorganisations/Pages/HamassIzzal-Dinal-QassamBrigades.aspx. The stated goal of the Qassam Brigades is: “To contribute in the effort of liberating Palestine and restoring the rights of the Palestinian people.”“About Us,” Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, accessed August 5, 2021, https://en.alqassam.ps/page/1. Qassam Brigades leader Mohammad Deif is widely suspected of having ordered suicide bombings and other attacks carried out 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. The Qassam Brigades claim to work as independent cells organized throughout the Gaza Strip and West Bank.“About Us,” Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, accessed August 5, 2021, https://en.alqassam.ps/page/1.

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.

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.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/.

Membership estimates of the Qassam Brigades range from several thousand to 27,000.“Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades,” Australian National Security, accessed August 5, 2021, https://www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/Listedterroristorganisations/Pages/HamassIzzal-Dinal-QassamBrigades.aspx. Hamas had 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.

Financing:

In the six years following Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Hamas’s budget reportedly grew from $40 million to $540 million.“Report: 13-fold increase in Hamas budget since 2005,” Ma’an News Agency, last updated April 24, 2011, http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=381277. 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. 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.Avi Issacharoff, “Hamas spends $100 million a year on military infrastructure,” Times of Israel, September 8, 2016, https://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-spends-100-million-a-year-on-military-infrastructure/.

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.Adnan Abu Amer, “Salary saga continues for PA employees in Gaza,” Al-Monitor, April 10, 2019, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/04/palestinian-authority-salaries-employees-hamas-government.html.

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. Hamas has also sought to use Palestinian businesses to collect and transfer money. In June 2021, for example, Israeli authorities raided two money-exchange companies in the West Bank—the Beit Al-Maqdes Company in Tulkarm and the Marish Company for Money Exchange in Hebron—accused of transferring money to Hamas. According to Israeli authorities, the two companies transferred approximately $410,000 to Hamas members in the West Bank. According to authorities, the businesses collected the funds from Palestinian businesses in the West Bank. Hamas has also allegedly used money-exchange companies in Gaza to transfer money from Iran.Ahmed Melhem, “Israel raids exchange companies for allegedly transferring funds to Hamas,” Al-Monitor, June 21, 2021, https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2021/06/israel-raids-exchange-companies-allegedly-transferring-funds-hamas.

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.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.

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.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 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.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 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.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 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.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.

Cryptocurrencies

Hamas seeks to bypass international financial sanctions through the use of cryptocurrencies, the movement of which is harder to trace than traditional currencies.Nathaniel Popper, “Terrorists Turn to Bitcoin for Funding, and They’re Learning Fast,” New York Times, August 18, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/18/technology/terrorists-bitcoin.html. 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.Ezzedeen AlQassam Brigades website, accessed August 20, 2019, https://fund.alqassam.net/. 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.Nathaniel Popper, “Terrorists Turn to Bitcoin for Funding, and They’re Learning Fast,” New York Times, August 18, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/18/technology/terrorists-bitcoin.html.

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.Ezzedeen AlQassam Brigades website, accessed August 20, 2019, https://www.qassam.ps/. 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.“Somerset County Man Charged With Attempts To Provide Material Support To Hamas, Making False Statements, And Making Threat Against Pro-Israel Supporters,” U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey, May 22, 2019, https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/somerset-county-man-charged-attempts-provide-material-support-hamas-making-false. According to terrorism experts and the U.S. Treasury, Bitcoin is a small but growing medium for terror financing.Nathaniel Popper, “Terrorists Turn to Bitcoin for Funding, and They’re Learning Fast,” New York Times, August 18, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/18/technology/terrorists-bitcoin.html. In August 2020, U.S. authorities seized more than $1 million in cryptocurrency assets linked to Hamas’s armed wing. Hamas allegedly saw a surge in bitcoin donations during and after its 11-day conflict with Israel in May 2021. Between May 10 and May 20 that year, the Qassam Brigades’ website, alqassam.ps, saw an increase in traffic and engagement. During the same period, the Qassam Brigades’ Telegram channel increased by 261,000 followers. Following the May 2021 conflict, one Hamas senior official claimed a continuous rise in the proportion of cryptocurrency in Hamas’s finances.Benoit Faucon, Ian Talley, and Summer Said, “Israel-Gaza Conflict Spurs Bitcoin Donations to Hamas,” Wallstreet Journal, June 2, 2021, https://www.wsj.com/articles/israel-gaza-conflict-spurs-bitcoin-donations-to-hamas-11622633400; Dylan Tokar, “U.S. Seizes Fake Website, Cryptocurrency Assets From Terrorist Groups,” Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-seizes-fake-website-cryptocurrency-assets-from-terrorist-groups-11597343549. Israel began seizing digital cryptocurrency wallets belonging to Hamas in July 2021.“Israel says it’s targeting Hamas’ cryptocurrency accounts,” Associated Press, July 8, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/hamas-middle-east-israel-cryptocurrency-business-5fe4e70d357545ffd22a152eb4358980.

Foreign investors

Iran
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.”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.

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. 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.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. 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.”Elhanan Miller, “Hamas and Iran Admit Increased Cooperation,” Times of Israel, March 12, 2014, http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-and-iran-admit-increased-cooperation/.

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.”Jack Moore, “Iran Ceases Financial Aid to Hamas in Gaza, Officials Claim,” Newsweek, July 28, 2015, http://europe.newsweek.com/iran-ceases-financial-aid-hamas-gaza-official-claims-330889?rx=us. 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.“Iran has stopped giving money to Hamas, top official says,” Times of Israel, July 28, 2015, http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-has-stopped-giving-us-money-top-hamas-official-says/. According to Marzouk, Hamas had not received any Iranian money since 2009.“Hamas slams Iranian ‘lies’ of financial, military support,” i24News, January 31, 2016, http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/middle-east/101236-160131-hamas-slams-iranian-lies-about-financial-military-support.

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.”Fares Akram and Josef Federman, “New Hamas leader says it is getting aid again from Iran,” Associated Press, August 28, 2017, https://apnews.com/0427f88fe857479caa633fad5683aa96/New-Hamas-leader-says-it-is-getting-aid-again-from-Iran. Sinwar also called Iran the “largest backer financially and militarily” of Hamas.“Hamas leader in Gaza: Ties with Iran now ‘fantastic’; we’re preparing battle for Palestine,” Times of Israel, August 28, 2017, http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-leader-in-gaza-ties-with-iran-now-fantastic-were-preparing-battle-for-palestine/.

As of August 2018, Iran reportedly transferred $70 million annually to Hamas.Elior Levy, “Iran's $100 million aid to Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” Ynet News, August 3, 2018, https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5321985,00.html. 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.Michael Bachner and staff, “Iran said increasing Hamas funding to $30m per month, wants intel on Israel,” Times of Israel, August 5, 2019, https://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-agrees-to-increase-hamas-funding-to-30-million-per-month-report/. 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.Herb Keinon, “U.S. Envoy: Iran Sanctions Help Cut Streams to Hamas and Hezbollah,” Jerusalem Post, November 15, 2018, https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/US-envoy-Iran-sanctions-help-to-cut-fund-streams-to-Hamas-and-Hezbollah-571980.

Iran’s support of Hamas has since continued. Ahead of Hamas’s 11-day conflict with Israel in May 2021, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh wrote to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei asking the Muslim world to support Hamas.Tzvi Joffre, “Jerusalem Day festivities shaken by rockets, violent riots,” Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2021, https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/jerusalem-day-riots-break-out-on-temple-mount-667735; “Palestinians say nine killed in Israeli strikes in the Gaza Strip,” Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2021, https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/israel-striking-gaza-in-response-to-rocket-barrage-directed-at-jerusalem-667776; “Hamas chief writes to Leader, asks Muslim world to support al-Quds,” Tehran Times, May 9, 2021, https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/460758/Hamas-chief-writes-to-Leader-asks-Muslim-world-to-support-al-Quds. During a July 2021 speech to Christians United For Israel, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley declared that during that conflict Israel not only fought against Hamas, but “against Iranian weapons, Iranian money and Iranian trained terrorists.”Jacob Kornbluh, “Nikki Haley: ‘Iran is the sugar daddy of Hamas,’” Forward, July 18, 2021, https://forward.com/fast-forward/473134/nikki-haley-iran-is-the-sugar-daddy-of-hamas/. As such, Haley referred to Iran as “the sugar daddy of Hamas.”Jacob Kornbluh, “Nikki Haley: ‘Iran is the sugar daddy of Hamas,’” Forward, July 18, 2021, https://forward.com/fast-forward/473134/nikki-haley-iran-is-the-sugar-daddy-of-hamas/.

On July 12, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found Iran, Syria, the IRGC, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and three Iranian banks—Markazi, Melli, and Saderat—liable for an October 1, 2015, Hamas terror attack that killed Israeli-American Eitam Henkin and his wife, Naama, in the West Bank. The orphaned Henkin children and the Henkins’ estate filed the lawsuit in 2019 under the terrorism exception to the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The ruling was the first time a U.S. court found Markazi, Melli, or Saderat liable for a terror attack by a foreign terrorist organization against a U.S. national.Globe Newswire, “In Historic Ruling, Court Finds Iran, Syria and Iranian Banks Responsible for Murder of American Citizen in Israel,” Yahoo News, July 13, 2021, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/historic-ruling-court-finds-iran-182600941.html; “US court: Iran, Syria liable for deaths of Israeli couple in 2015 terror attack,” Times of Israel, July 15, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-court-rules-iran-syria-liable-for-deaths-of-israeli-couple-in-2015-attack/.

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/. 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.Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Qatar pays Gaza salaries to ease tensions; Israel says money's not for Hamas,” Reuters, November 9, 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-gaza/qatar-pays-gaza-salaries-to-ease-tensions-israel-says-moneys-not-for-hamas-idUSKCN1NE1ET. 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.”Ray Hanania, “Lawsuit names Qatar’s royal family in killings of 10 Americans in Israel,” Arab News, June 11, 2020, https://www.arabnews.com/node/1688051/middle-east; Adam Kredo, “Lawsuit Alleges Qatar Secretly Financed Terror Attacks that Killed Americans,” Washington Free Beacon, June 10, 2020, https://freebeacon.com/national-security/lawsuit-alleges-qatar-secretly-financed-terror-attacks-that-killed-americans/. 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.Agence France-Presse, “Gaza families receive Qatari financial aid,” Yahoo! News, June 27, 2020, https://news.yahoo.com/gaza-families-receive-qatari-financial-aid-104017621.html.

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.”Peter Kovessy, “Qatar FM: Hamas leader to remain in Dohas as ‘dear guest,’” Doha News, January 13, 2015, https://dohanews.co/qatar-fm-hamas-leader-remain-doha-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.Patrick Wintour, “Hamas presents new charter presenting a Palestine based on 1967 borders,” Guardian, May 1, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/01/hamas-new-charter-palestine-israel-1967-borders.

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.”Khaled Abu Amer, “ Qatar’s lifeline to Gaza,” Al-Monitor, April 3, 2017, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/03/palestine-qatar-reconstruction-committee-gaza-consensus.html.

“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 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.“Roskam, Barrow Lead Effort Urging Qatar to Abandon Support for Hamas,” Office of U.S. Representative Peter Roskam, August 2, 2013, https://roskam.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/roskam-barrow-lead-effort-urging-qatar-to-abandon-support-for-hamas; “End Hamas support, 24 U.S. Reps tell Qatar,” Jewish News Service, August 7, 2013, https://www.jns.org/news-briefs/2013/8/7/us-house-letter-calling-on-qatar-to-sever-hamas-ties-gets-24-signatures#.WfDzgFtSy70=. Qatar has continued to provide financial support to the Gaza Strip and provide shelter for Hamas’s leaders in the country.

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. 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.”Yonah Jeremy Bob and Frank G. Runyeon, “Arab Bank found liable over Hamas attacks, US jury says,” Jerusalem Post, September 22, 2014, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Arab-Bank-found-liable-over-Hamas-attacks-US-jury-says-376094.

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. Turkey has reportedly limited its financial investments in Gaza to non-governmental bodies to avoid directly providing aid to Hamas. After Israel and Turkey reestablished normalized ties in 2016, Turkey announced an investment of about $3.5 billion for Gaza.  In October 2018, the Palestinian Authority (PA) reached an agreement with Turkey for the country to boost is investments in both the PA-administered West Bank and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.Adnan Abu Amer, “Turkey steps up ties with Palestinian Authority,” Al-Monitor, October 3, 2018, https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2018/10/turkey-balancing-ties-hamas-palestinian-authority-agreements.html.

Foreign Investment

Despite international sanctions, Hamas has invested in multiple foreign businesses and front companies. In September 2019, the United States sanctioned Turkey-based Zaher Jabarin, a Hamas official overseeing Hamas’s financial office. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Jabarin developed a financial network in Turkey to allow Hamas to raise, invest, and launder money prior to transferring it to Gaza and the West Bank. The United States also sanctioned Turkey-based Redin Exchange, which was involved in transferring $10 million to the Qassam Brigades earlier that March and had aided in the transfer of tens of millions of dollars to Hamas through Iran’s IRGC and Hezbollah since 2017. “Treasury Targets Wide Range of Terrorists and Their Supporters Using Enhanced Counterterrorism Sanctions Authorities,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, September 10, 2019, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm772. Redin’s leadership dissolved the company shortly after the designation.Abdullah Bozkurt, “Hamas shell company in Turkey had funneled Quds Force funds to Qassam Brigades for years,” Nordic Monitor, March 16, 2021, https://nordicmonitor.com/2021/03/hamas-shell-company-in-turkey-had-funneled-quds-force-funds-to-qassam-brigades-for-years/.

In May 2021, an unnamed Iranian diplomat told Reuters Hamas has investment portfolios worth hundreds of millions of dollars in companies across the Middle East. According to this source, Hamas “controls about 40 companies in Turkey, UAE, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Algeria which deal mainly in real estate and infrastructure.”Arshad Mohammed, Jonathan Saul, John Irish, and Parisa Hafezi, “Israel’s Gaza challenge: stopping metal tubes turning into rockets,” Reuters, May 23, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israels-gaza-challenge-stopping-metal-tubes-turning-into-rockets-2021-05-23/. Hamas conceals approximately $500 million in assets through these companies.Arshad Mohammed, Jonathan Saul, John Irish, and Parisa Hafezi, “Israel’s Gaza challenge: stopping metal tubes turning into rockets,” Reuters, May 23, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/israels-gaza-challenge-stopping-metal-tubes-turning-into-rockets-2021-05-23/. Based off this Reuters report, the Double Cheque website determined most of Hamas’s investments are managed from within Turkey.“The Double Cheque investigation: Hamas manages a covert investment portfolio using 40 global companies and assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” Double Cheque, accessed November 19, 2021, https://www.doublecheque.online/financial-institutions/hamas-money-laundry-systtem/hamas-manages-a-covert-investment-portfolio-using-40-global-companies. Double Cheque identified Turkish investment company Trend Gyo, which has five Turkish subsidiaries run by members of Hamas.“Hamas Secret Investment Portfolio: Trend Gyo subsidiaries in Turkey,” Double Cheque, accessed November 19, 2021, https://www.doublecheque.online/financial-institutions/hamas-money-laundry-systtem/trend-gyo-subsidiaries-in-turkey.

Also Known As:

  • Type of Organization:
    Political, religious, social service provider, terrorist, violent
  • Ideologies and Affiliations:
    Islamist, jihadist, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated group, pan-Islamist, Qutbist, Sunni
  • Place of Origin:
    Gaza Strip
  • Year of Origin:
    1987
  • Founder(s):

    Ahmed Yassin, Mahmoud Zahar, Hassan Yousef, Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, Mohammed Hassan Shama’a, Abdul Fattah Hassan Dukhan, Ibrahim Fares Al-Yazouri, Salah Shahada (Founder of the Qassam Brigades), Issa Al-Nashar

  • Places of Operation:

    Gaza Strip, West Bank, Israel, Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran

Ismail Haniyeh

Chief of Political Bureau, former deputy leader of Hamas, Hamas’s former prime minister of Gaza, former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority

Khaled Meshaal

Head of Hamas’s Diaspora Office; Deputy Leader; Former Chief of Hamas’s Political Bureau

Yahya Sinwar

Leader of the Gaza Strip Political Bureau for Hamas

Salameh Katawi

Leader of Hamas's Prisons bureau

Mohammed Deif

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

Marwan Issa

Deputy commander of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades

Ahmed Yassin

Co-founder of Hamas - deceased

Abdel Azziz al-Rantisi

Co-founder of Hamas - deceased

Salah Shehadeh

Founder of the Qassam Brigades - deceased

Yehya Ayyash

Bombmaker and former leader of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades - deceased

Violent activities:

Hamas maintains that “all types of legitimate resistance are practiced to end the oppressions and injustices imposed by Israel” and that it is Hamas’s right to “resist with all means, including armed resistance, guaranteed by divine and international laws,” according to its English-language website.“About Hamas,” Hamas website, accessed November 7, 2016, http://hamas.ps/en/page/2/. Hamas has employed various violent tactics against Israeli military and civilian targets.

In May 2017, Hamas unveiled a new political platform that continued to call for “armed resistance” as Hamas’s primary strategy to liberate all of Palestine from the river to the sea.“Document of General Principles & Policies,” Hamas, May 1, 2017, http://hamas.ps/en/post/678/a-document-of-general-principles-and-policies; Patrick Wintour, “Hamas presents new charter accepting a Palestine based on 1967 borders,” Guardian (London), May 1, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/01/hamas-new-charter-palestine-israel-1967-borders.

Suicide Bombings

Hamas began using suicide bombings as a tactic against Israeli citizens on April 6, 1994, when a suicide bomber operating on behalf of Hamas drove alongside a bus in Afula, Israel, and blew up his car, killing eight people.Clyde Haberman, “Arab Car Bomber Kills 8 in Israel, 44 Are Wounded,” New York Times, April 7, 1994, http://www.nytimes.com/1994/04/07/world/arab-car-bomber-kills-8-in-israel-44-are-wounded.html. Hamas claimed at the time that the new tactic was in response to the February 25 massacre of 29 Palestinians at Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque by radical Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein.Clyde Haberman, “Arab Car Bomber Kills 8 in Israel, 44 Are Wounded,” New York Times, April 7, 1994, http://www.nytimes.com/1994/04/07/world/arab-car-bomber-kills-8-in-israel-44-are-wounded.html.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Hamas has continued to dispatch suicide bombers to kill Israeli civilian and military targets, collectively killing hundreds of people. A 2007 study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives found that Hamas was responsible for roughly 40 percent of suicide attacks during the Second Intifada, which collectively killed more than 1,000 people.Efraim Benmelech and Claude Berrebbi, “Human Capital and the Productivity of Suicide Bombers,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 21, no. 3 (Summer 2007): 223–38, http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/faculty/benmelech/html/BenmelechPapers/Human_Capital_Suicide_Bombers.pdf;
“Victims of Palestinian Violence and Terrorism since September 2000,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accessed June 14, 2017, http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/terrorism/palestinian/pages/victims%20of%20palestinian%20violence%20and%20terrorism%20sinc.aspx.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal reportedly banned the tactic in 2005, but a music video imploring the return of suicide bombings reportedly aired on Hamas television in February 2016.Patrick Martin, “Hamas’s new leadership may return to suicide bombings, Globe and Mail (London), February 12, 2016, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/hamass-new-leadership-may-return-to-suicide-bombings/article28751340/.

Second Intifada

Between September 2000 and March 2004, Hamas carried out 425 terrorist attacks in Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. This included 52 suicide bombings, which killed 377 people and wounded 2,076 civilians and soldiers.“Hamas terrorist attacks,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 22, 2004, http://embassies.gov.il/MFA/FOREIGNPOLICY/Terrorism/Palestinian/Pages/Hamas%20terror%20attacks%2022-Mar-2004.aspx. Other attacks included shootings, stabbings, mortars, and bombings.“Victims of Palestinian Violence and Terrorism since September 2000,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accessed November 7, 2016, http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/ForeignPolicy/Terrorism/Palestinian/Pages/Victims%20of%20Palestinian%20Violence%20and%20Terrorism%20sinc.aspx.

Beneath the Gaza-Egypt border

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:

Prior to 1996, Hamas’s arsenal included only a few AK-47 rifles and a single rocket-propelled grenade. That year, Ahmed Jaabari began to overhaul Hamas’s artillery, according to Reuters. Jaabari took command of Hamas’s armed wing in 2002. Israel assassinated Jaabari in 2012.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. In September 2013, the Qassam Brigades held a military parade displaying machine guns, sniper rifles, anti-tank RPGs, and revealing for the first time Hamas’s possession of SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles.Adnan Abu Amer, “Hamas Tests Anti-Aircraft Missiles,” Al-Monitor, February 19, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulseen/originals/2014/02/gaza-hamas-qassam-aircraft-missiles-israel-strela.html. In July 2015, the group created a military training camp for 25,000 new recruits, some as young as 15.Agence France-Presse, “Hamas opens military camp for 25,000 Gazans aged 15 and up,” Times of Israel, July 25, 2015, https://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-gives-25000-gazans-combat-training/.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) 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 that month, Hamas had fired more than 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 has relied 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/.

As of October 2017, Hamas reportedly maintained an armed force of 25,000.Nidal al-Mughrabi and Omar Fahmy, “Palestinian rivals Fatah, Hamas sign reconciliation accord,” Reuters, October 12, 2017, https://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCAKBN1CH0F5-OCATP. Hamas’s armed faction remained a point of contention in reconciliation negotiations with Fatah, which has demanded that Hamas disarm. Hamas agreed to halt all violence against Israel as part of the October agreement, but Hamas and Fatah delayed further discussion of Hamas’s armed faction.Dov Lieber, “Veneer of positivity fades in Palestinian unity talks as tough issues surface,” Times of Israel, October 16, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/veneer-of-positivity-fades-in-palestinian-unity-talks-as-tough-issues-surface/; Dov Lieber, “In deal with Fatah, Hamas said to agree to halt attacks from West Bank,” Times of Israel, October 15, 2017, https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-deal-with-fatah-hamas-said-to-agree-to-halt-attacks-from-west-bank/.

In 2020, Gaza militants began utilizing a new tactic called balloon bombs, sending clusters of balloons floating over the Gaza-Israel border with rudimentary explosives attached. Some of the balloons carry signs such as “Happy birthday” or “I Love You” to draw onlookers. Approximately one-third of the balloons crossing the border carry explosives while the rest act as decoys, according to Israeli officials. Balloons have included homemade explosives, grenades, and RPG warheads. Gaza militants have praised the balloons because they are inexpensive and regional winds will carry them farther into Israel.Steve Hendrix, Hazem Balousha, and Ruth Eglash, “Gaza militants target Israel with party balloons bearing bombs,” Washington Post, March 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/gaza-palestinian-balloon-bombs-israel/2020/03/08/d2069346-54d5-11ea-80ce-37a8d4266c09_story.html. The balloons reportedly have the support of all Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas. As of September 2020, the balloons had not caused any casualties but had resulted in multiple fires in Israeli communities near the Gaza border.Mohammad Habosh, “Gaza’s balloon bombs spark new cycle of violence,” Al-Monitor, August 14, 2020, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/08/hamas-gaza-balloons-israel-truce-understandings.html. In addition to the balloons, Hamas has continued to expand its rocket arsenal. In September 2020, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh announced Hamas had rockets capable of striking Tel Aviv and beyond from the Gaza Strip.“Hamas and Hezbollah leaders meet in Lebanon,” Middle East Eye, September 6, 2020, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/lebanon-palestine-hezbollah-hamas-nasrallah-haniyeh-meeting.

Violent Activities:

  • Designations
  • Associations
  • Media Coverage
  • Rhetoric

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.
    • March 18, 2010: The Department of the Treasury designates Al-Aqsa TV as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to Executive Order 13224 as the station is controlled and financed by Hamas. According to Treasury, Al-Aqsa TV is “a primary Hamas media outlet and airs programs and music videos designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood.”“Treasury Designates Gaza-Based Business, Television Station for Hamas Ties,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, March 18, 2010, https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg594.aspx.
    • January 31, 2018: The Department of State and Department of the Treasury designate Ismail Haniyeh as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224.“Counter Terrorism Designations,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, January 31, 2018, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20180131.aspx; “State Department Terrorist Designations of Ismail Haniyeh, Harakat al-Sabireen, Liwa al-Thawra, and Harakat Sawa'd Misr (HASM),” U.S. Department of State, January 31, 2018, https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/01/277792.htm.

Designations by Foreign Governments and Organizations:

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

Terror Groups
Countries

Ties to other entities:

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.

  • Iran

    In March 2014, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani announced the restoration of ties between Hamas and Iran 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 technology to Hamas to allow 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.Agence France-Presse, “Iran gave Hamas its rocket know-how, official boasts”, Yahoo News, July 24, 2014, http://news.yahoo.com/iran-gave-hamas-rocket-know-official-boasts-190726914.html.

    On August 5, 2021, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh attended the inauguration of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran.Aaron Boxerman, “Hamas, Islamic Jihad leaders arrive in Tehran for Iran president’s inauguration,” Times of Israel, August 5, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/hamas-islamic-jihad-leaders-arrive-in-tehran-for-iran-presidents-inauguration/.

  • Russia

    Russia is a member of the Quartet of Middle East Peacemakers 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, a 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

    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/.

  • Saudi Arabia

    During the summer of 2015, Hamas officials held meetings with King Salman and other Saudi leaders.Elhanan Miller, “In Hamas’s embrace of Sunni Saudi Arabia, a slap to Iran,” Times of Israel, July 21, 2015, https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-hamass-embrace-of-sunni-saudi-arabia-a-slap-to-iran/. Observers viewed Salman’s meetings with Hamas an attempt to sway the terror group away from Iran’s influence.David D. Kirkpatrick and Ben Hubbard, “King Salman of Saudi Arabia Meets with Hamas Leaders,” New York Times, July 17, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/18/world/middleeast/king-salman-of-saudi-arabia-meets-with-hamas-leaders.html.

  • Turkey

    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.

  • 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 traveled to Norway where he met with Kaare Eltervaag, the head of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry's Middle Eastern affairs. Afterward, he traveled 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.

Arab media

English-language Arab media may focus more on the plight of the Gazans than in Western media, but Hamas is typically... Read More

Media intimidation

During the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in July 2014, numerous reports alleged that Hamas restricted... Read More

Western media

Though the United States labels Hamas a terrorist organization, media coverage of the group largely replaces the... Read More

Israeli media

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

Hamas statement, November 19, 2021

Statement in response to a British government announcement that it will soon proscribe Hamas as a terrorist organization:

“We believe that resisting the Israeli occupation with all means possible, including armed resistance, is a guaranteed right for peoples under occupation as per international law.

“The UK should stop being biased towards the Israeli narrative and rush to expiate their awful sin against the Palestinian people committed in the Balfour Declaration by supporting the Palestinians' struggle for liberation, independence, and return. ““Statement on UK home secretary's designation of Hamas as ‘terrorist organization,’” Hamas, November 19, 2021, https://hamas.ps/en/post/3734/Statement-on-UK-home-secretary-s-designation-of-Hamas-as-terrorist-organisation.

Yahya Sinwar, Gaza political leader, May 26, 2021

“We have sufficient financial resources… a large part of which are from Iran, and another part comes from Arab and Muslim donors and free people of the world who stand in solidarity with our people and their rights.”“Hamas Chief Says His Group Has ‘Sufficient’ Money Provided By Iran,” Iran International, May 27, 2021, https://iranintl.com/en/iran-in-brief/hamas-chief-says-his-group-has-sufficient-money-provided-iran.

Ismail Haniyeh, chief of political bureau, May 21, 2021

“We have destroyed the project of ‘coexistence’ with Israel, of ‘normalization’ with Israel. What is coming after this battle is not what came before it…you will yet see many [diplomatic] contacts and successes. We have seen how our nation awoke…to stand behind Jerusalem, Palestine and resistance.”Aaron Boxerman and staff, “Hamas chief says war foils Israel’s attempts at Arab coexistence, normalization,” Times of Israel, May 21, 2021, https://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-chief-says-war-foils-israels-attempts-at-arab-coexistence-normalization/.

Abu Ubaida, spokesman of the Qassam Brigades, May 13, 2021

“Mass up as you wish, from the sea, land and sky. We have prepared for your kinds of deaths that would make you curse yourselves.”Nidal Al-mughrabi and Rami Ayyub, “Gaza conflict intensifies with rocket barrages and air strikes,” Reuters, May 13, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/biden-expects-spiralling-israel-gaza-conflict-end-soon-2021-05-12/.

Abu Ubaida, spokesman of the Qassam Brigades, May 13, 2021

“The decision to bomb Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Dimona, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba and closer and further than it, is easier for us than drinking water.”Anna Ahronheim and Tzvi Joffre, “IDF strikes four anti-tank missile cells in Gaza as rockets pound Tel Aviv,” Jerusalem Post, May 13, 2021, https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/israel-striking-gaza-in-response-to-rocket-barrage-directed-at-jerusalem-667776.

Fathi Hamad, senior Hamas official, May 7, 2021

“People of Jerusalem, we want you to cut off the heads of the Jews with knives. With your hand, cut their artery from here. A knife costs five shekels.  Buy a knife, sharpen it, put it there, and just cut off [their heads]. It costs just five shekels. With those five shekels, you will humiliate the Jewish state.

“The Jews have spread corruption and acted with arrogance, and their moment of reckoning has come. The moment of destruction at your hands has arrived.”“Senior Hamas Official Fathi Hammad To Palestinians In Jerusalem: Buy 5-Shekel Knives And Cut Off The Heads Of The Jews,” MEMRI, May 7, 2021, https://www.memri.org/tv/snr-hamas-official-fathi-hammad-urges-people-jerusalem-cut-off-heads-jews-knives-day-reckoning-moment-destruction.

Ismail Haniyeh, September 6, 2020

Addressing a crowd in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon:

“Not long ago, our rockets only reached metres from Gaza’s borders. Today, the resistance in Gaza possesses rockets that can reach Tel Aviv and beyond Tel Aviv.”“Hamas and Hezbollah leaders meet in Lebanon,” Middle East Eye, September 6, 2020, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/lebanon-palestine-hezbollah-hamas-nasrallah-haniyeh-meeting.

Hamas statement, June 6, 2020

“The anniversary of the Arab setback comes this year amidst a new setback as Arab and Islamic states are running to normalise relations with the Israeli enemy.

Reinforcing resistance “is the only way to wipe out the consequences of the setback.”

The Israeli annexation plan “will be defeated by the Palestinian freedom fighters.”“Hamas: Normalising ties with Israel is the ‘new Palestinian setback,’” Middle East Monitor, June 6, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200606-hamas-normalising-ties-with-israel-is-the-new-palestinian-setback/.

Fathi Hamad, senior Hamas official, July 12, 2018

“On this day, as we are witnessing all that is happening with the grace of Allah, we are looking forward to two important things, which are within sight: The first is the cleansing of Palestine of the filth of the Jews, and their uprooting from it, Allah willing. This is within sight. Four years, my brothers... By 2022, we will be rid of them.

“It is unacceptable that the Jews control some of the Arab states – their regimes, their armies, and their security agencies – while the peoples remain oppressed. Oh peoples of the Arab and Islamic nation, oh Palestinian people, you possess a concealed power that you can detonate in the faces of the Jews and the hypocrites. We expect another Arab Spring from you, with new characteristics – a second Arab Spring, which will focus on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Allah willing. We are your embers and your fuel, Allah willing.

“We say, facing this challenge with courage and bravery: We are coming for you, oh Netanyahu! We are coming for you, oh Lieberman! We are coming to chop your head off your necks! We are coming to chop off that entity and to destroy that army, which our Prophet informed us that we would defeat.”“Senior Hamas Official Fathi Hammad: We Will Cleanse Palestine of the Filth of the Jews, Heal the Nation of the Jewish Cancer; Netanyahu, Lieberman, We Are Coming to Chop Off Your Heads!,” MEMRI, July 12, 2018, https://www.memri.org/tv/hamas-political-bureau-member-fathi-hammad-at-gaza-rallies-cleanse-palestine-of-filth-cancer-of-the-jews.

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On November 28, 2020, Boko Haram militants attacked farmers as they worked in the rice fields of Koshebe near the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri. Abubakar Shekau confirmed his faction was responsible for the massacre of 110 civilians.   

View Archive

CEP on Twitter