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THE

INCREDIBLE

STORY OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE



GAZA,

and HAMAS

_______________________________________









The 2014 war in Gaza created a humanitarian crisis and caused US$1.7 billion in losses to the economy, which continues to suffer to this day. Even though growth in the Gaza Strip reached 7.3% in 2016, due to increased construction, Gaza’s economy is not expected to rebound to its pre-2014 war level until 2018. Alongside its stunted recovery, Gaza suffers from severe shortages of electricity with rolling blackouts.

In 2016, the unemployment rate remained stubbornly high at 27%: 42 % in Gaza and
18% in the West Bank. Youth unemployment in Gaza is particularly worrying at 58%.
And, although nearly 80% of Gaza’s residents receive some form of aid,
poverty rates are very high.

(World Bank)












































GAZA TIMELINE

1922 -1948   Under British memorandum

1948-1967    Egyptian army trapped in Gaza at end of war with Israel.  Then came                   under Egyptian sovereignty though not made Egyptian citizens

1967 -          Under Israel sovereignty

2004            First Israeli Gaza war

2005            Israel withdraw’s its troops and 7,000 settlers

2007            Hamas takes over government of Gaza

2008            Second Israeli Gaza War

2014            Third Israeli Gaza war


GAZA: THE BASICS
Some history and background on the Gaza Strip.
Slate By Nina Rastogi  JAN. 25 2008






Egyptian riot policemen prevent Palestinian people from crossing the border



On Wednesday, tens of thousands of Palestinians streamed into Egypt for a shopping frenzy after gunmen in the Gaza Strip destroyed part of the barrier along the border. In the past two weeks, following a rise in rocket attacks, Israel had ramped up its blockades, refusing to allow anything besides humanitarian supplies to pass into the region. Below, the Explainer tackles a few basic questions about the region.

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE GAZA STRIP?

The Gaza Strip is a roughly rectangular territory surrounding the city of Gaza, wedged between the Mediterranean Sea and Israel. To the southwest, it shares a seven-mileborder with Egypt. The region has a long history of occupation—by the ancient Egyptians, the Philistines, the Arabs, the Christian Crusaders, and the Ottomans. AfterWorld War I, the Gaza area became part of the British Mandate of Palestine, and it was occupied by Egypt in 1948, in the aftermath of the first Arab-Israeli war. Israel took control of the region during the Six-Day War in 1967, along with the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula.

In 1994, Israel withdrew from parts of the Gaza Strip as part of its obligations under the Oslo Accords (which also affirmed the rights of the Palestinians to self-government). The Palestinian National Authority and Israel shared power in the Gaza Strip for the next 10 years, with the PNA administering civilian control and the Israelis overseeing military affairs as well as the borders, airspace, and remaining Israeli settlements.

In 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally ended military rule in the region and withdrew all Israeli settlements, thus bringing all areas of the Gaza Strip under Palestinian administration. * In 2007, Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, causing a division between the region and the other Palestinian territory, the West Bank, where the Fatah party is dominant.

HOW DID IT COME TO BE THAT SHAPE?

The rectangular Gaza Strip is about 25 miles long and three to seven miles wide. One long side lies along the Mediterranean. One short, straight end borders Egypt: This follows the border that existed between Egypt and the British Mandate of Palestine. The other sides of the rectangle—a long, ragged edge and a shorter, northeastern side—separate the Gaza Strip from Israel. This border was established after the first Arab-Israeli War, which also resulted in the creation of Israel. The Gaza region became Egypt's military headquarters during the 1948 conflict, and the narrow coastal strip saw heavy fighting. When the cease-fire was announced later that year—following a decisive Israeli victory—the final position of the military fronts became what's known as "the Green Line," or the border between the Palestinian territories (both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank) and Israel.

WHO LIVES ON THE GAZA STRIP?

Since the withdrawal of Israeli settlements, the Gazan population is almost entirely Palestinian Arab. More than 99 percent are Sunni Muslims, with a very small number of Christians. The region saw a huge influx of Palestinian refugees after the creation of Israel in 1948—within 20 years, the population of Gaza had grown to six times its previous size. The Gaza Strip now has one of the highest population densities in the world: Almost 1.5 million people live within its 146 square miles. Eighty percent of Gazans live below the poverty line.

WHO BUILT THE FENCE BETWEEN GAZA AND EGYPT? WHO CONTROLS THE BORDER?

In 1979, Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty that returned the Sinai Peninsula, which borders the Gaza Strip, to Egyptian control. As part of that treaty, a 100-meter-wide strip of land known as the Philadelphi corridor was established as a buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt. Israel built a barrier there during the Palestinian uprisings of the early 2000s. It's made mostly of corrugated sheet metal, with stretches of concrete topped with barbed wire.

In 2005, when Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip, Israel and Egypt reached a military agreement regarding the border, based on the principles of the 1979 peace treaty. The agreement specified that 750 Egyptian border guards would be deployed along the length of the border, and both Egypt and Israel pledged to work together to stem terrorism, arms smuggling, and other illegal cross-border activities.

From November 2005 until July 2007, the Rafah Crossing—the only entry-exit point along the Gaza-Egypt border—was jointly controlled by Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, with the European Union monitoring Palestinian compliance on the Gaza side. After the Hamas takeover in June 2007, the European Union pulled out of the region, and Egypt agreed with Israel to shut down the Rafah Crossing, effectively sealing off the Gaza Strip on all sides.

WHAT GAZA COULD BE
The Washington Times, Daniel Mandel, August 14 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

As a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is hammered out, much talk is heard about aid packages for Gaza, as though none previously existed. The refrain is heard that Gazans are living in a teeming, open-air prison. Repeated endlessly by those under obligation to know the facts, the myth has it that Gaza is, according to:

Robert Fisk, veteran Middle East correspondent: “the most overpopulated few square miles in the whole world.”

Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency: “one of the most densely populated parts of this planet.”

Amjad Attlah and Daniel Levy of the New American Foundation: “the world’s most densely populated territory.”

James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute: “one of the most densely populated places on earth.”

Untrue.

Yes, Gaza is heavily populated. But its urban density is neither extreme nor the source of its woes.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 Statistical Abstract, Gaza had in 2010 11,542 people per square mile. That is about as densely populated as Gibraltar (11,506).

Gaza is considerably less densely populated than Hong Kong (17,422) or Singapore (17,723). It is far less densely populated than Monaco (39,609). And Macau (52,163) is over four times more densely populated than Gaza.

No one has called Hong Kong, Singapore, Monaco or Macau teeming, open-air prisons –– with reason.

Hong Kong has the world’s third largest financial center. Singapore has the third highest per capita income in the world, the fourth biggest financial center and the fifth busiest port. Monaco has the world’s highest GDP per capita. Macau is one of the world’s richest cities –– testimony enough to what hard work, solid industries and responsible government can achieve in small, resource-poor territories.

The idea of Gaza being the most densely populated place in the world is a propaganda fabrication with a very clear underlying logic. Meshing that claim with scenes of poverty easily conjures up the idea that Palestinians lack land and resources.

Once you believe that, it is a small jump to the conclusion that Israel should be giving them both.

In fact, Gaza has been in Arab control since Israel evacuated it in 2005, withdrawing every living and dead Israeli from its soil. Israel left behind an expensive infrastructure of greenhouses and empty synagogues, all of which were swiftly destroyed in an orgy of hate. Hamas ejected Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah from Gaza in 2007 and has exponentially increased rocket assaults on Israel –– over 9,000 since that date.

Gaza could be home to a large, prosperous population, providing that it was industrious, prudentially managed, well-governed and –– above all –– peaceful. It could be the Singapore of the Middle East. But it isn’t –– it’s governed by Hamas, whose Charter calling for war with the Jews until their obliteration is well-known to those who elected it. (Unsurprisingly, Gazans are more supportive of Hamas and of anti-Israel terror attacks than West Bankers).

Gaza, along with the West Bank, has been the recipient of the highest levels of per capita aid in the world. Investment not siphoned off by Hamas has produced results: Gaza boasts shopping malls, five theme parks and 12 tourist resorts.

Compare that to dismally poor Niger, with high infant mortality, life expectancy of a mere 52 years and only one doctor for every 33,000 people. But as Niger is not dispatching terrorists to murder its neighbors, few know and fewer care –– and Niger gets little aid.

In the last two years, Hamas has spent an estimated $1.5 billion, not on schools, hospitals or businesses, but on an underground infrastructure of terror tunnels deep into Israel for the purpose of mounting Mumbai-like mass-casualty terror assaults. Hamas’s leaders see jihadist terror as a paramount objective, while death and destruction in Gaza is not their concern.

“Their time had come, and they were martyred,” spoke a Hamas TV host of the Gaza dead during the current fighting, “They have gained [Paradise] … Don’t be disturbed by these images … He who is Martyred doesn’t feel … His soul has ascended to Allah.” More succinctly, Hamas ‘prime minister’ Ismail Haniyeh has said, “We love death like our enemies love life! We love Martyrdom.”

The woes of Gaza are not the creation of population density, but of hate and jihad density. The answer lies not in more territory, resources or aid, but in its population and leadership prioritizing life and peace over death and war. As yet, there is no sign of this on the horizon. Irrespective of the eventual ceasefire, we can expect further wars in Gaza.

UNWRA

The Gaza Strip is home to a population of approximately 1.9 million people, including 1.3 million Palestine refugees.

For the last decade, the socioeconomic situation in Gaza has been in steady decline. The blockade on land, air and sea imposed by Israel following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, entered its 10th year in June 2016 and continues to have a devastating effect as access to markets and people’s movement to and from the Gaza Strip remain severely restricted.

Years of conflict and blockade have left 80 per cent of the population dependent on international assistance. The economy and its capacity to create jobs have been devastated, resulting in the impoverishment and de-development of a highly skilled and well-educated society. The average unemployment rate is well over 41 per cent – one of the highest in the world, according to the World Bank. The number of Palestine refugees relying on UNRWA for food aid has increased from fewer than 80,000 in 2000 to almost one million today.

Over half a million Palestine refugees in Gaza live in the eight recognized Palestine refugee camps, which have one of the highest population densities in the world.

Operating through approximately 12,500 staff in over 300 installations across the Gaza Strip, UNRWA delivers education, health and mental health care, relief and social services, microcredit and emergency assistance to registered Palestine refugees.

On 7 July 2014, a humanitarian emergency was declared by UNRWA in the Gaza Strip, following a severe escalation in hostilities, involving intense Israeli aerial and navy bombardment and Palestinian rocket fire. Hostilities de-escalated following an open-ended ceasefire which entered into force on 26 August 2014. The scale of human loss, destruction, devastation and displacement caused by this third conflict within seven years was catastrophic, unprecedented and unparalleled in Gaza.

UNRWA mounted an extraordinary response during the 50 days of hostilities which highlighted its unique position as the largest UN organization in the Gaza Strip and the only UN Agency that undertakes direct implementation.

The human, social and economic costs of the last hostilities are sit against a backdrop of a society already torn by wide-spread poverty, frustration and anger, heightening vulnerability and political instability. The compounded effects of the blockade and repeated armed conflicts and violence have also had a less visible, but quite profound, psychological impact on the people of Gaza. Among Palestine refugee children, UNRWA estimates that a minimum of 30 per cent require some form of structured psychosocial intervention. Their most common symptoms are: nightmares, eating disorders, intense fear, bed wetting.

In recent years, UNRWA has made significant improvements to its services in Gaza, such as its schools of excellence and excellent health services initiatives. It also better targets its assistance to the poorest of the poor through the implementation of a proxy-means tested poverty survey. UNRWA continues to:

Facts & Figures

1.3 million registered refugees out of 1.9 million total population (approximately 70 per cent)

8 refugee camps

Almost 12,500 staff

267 schools for over 262,000 students

21 health centres

16 relief and social services offices

3 micro-finance offices

        12 food distribution centres for almost one million beneficiaries

Figures as of 31 October 2016

REFUGEE CAMPS IN THE GAZA STRIP

We provide services in 8 Palestine refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. UNRWA does not administer or police the camps, as this is the responsibility of the host authorities.

HAMAS - EUROPEAN COURT KEEPS HAMAS ON TERROR LIST
Poliico by Sam Safed 7/26/17

Europe’s top court ruled Wednesday that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, should remain on a European list of terror organizations.

A lower court had removed Hamas and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a Sri Lankan militant group, from the terror list in 2014, arguing that the media and the internet were not sufficient sources upon which to base a decision. The EU appealed against that decision.

On Wednesday, the European Court of Justice overturned that ruling, arguing that media reports were a valid source upon which to make a decision. The lower court “should not have annulled Hamas’ retention on the European list of terrorist organizations,” the ECJ said.

_____________________________________________________________________________


COUNTER EXTREMISM PROJECT   (go to website for more detail)

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. Hamas has maintained its ties to the Brotherhood, but also receives financial and military support from Iran, which supports Hamas’s intention to destroy Israel. In recent years, Qatar has also provided significant funding for the group.

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

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

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

DOCTRINE

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

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE

Hamas’s leadership has historically been split between its foreign-based political bureau (2017 based in Qatar)  and its Gaza-based government, which at times find themselves at odds. Various Hamas leaders have made contradictory claims on whether the group’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, operates independently or under the direction of the political wing.

On May 1, 2017, Hamas unveiled a new political program to supplement its 1988 charter. The so-called Document of General Principles & Policies excised all references to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas’s origins in the movement. Hamas accepted in principle the idea of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 boundaries if approved by a Palestinian national referendum. However, Hamas at the same time reaffirmed its refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and repeated its call for a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea.”* The document also reaffirmed Hamas’s dedication to “armed resistance” as the “strategic choice for protecting the principles and the rights of the Palestinian people.”*

Hamas’s 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

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades comprise Hamas’s military wing.

Hamas has an estimated 20,000 fighters, with another 20,000 in its police and security forces.* Following the 2014 reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the PLO, it was revealed that some 25,000 Hamas employees in Gaza work in the security services, and that a majority of them belong to the Qassam Brigades.* According to one Qassam official, these employees would take orders from the Brigades—and not the Ministry of Interior—after the formation of a unity government with the PLO.

FINANCING:

(Editor’s Note:  68% of the population, 1.3 million out of the 1.9 million population are Palestinian refugees.  Many national costs are paid by non-governmental organisations. Examples are education, health and accommodation costs are paid by UNWRA and electricity is paid by the PLO)


(FROM GAZA'S ECONOMY: HOW HAMAS STAYS IN POWER,
The Washington Institute Ehud Yaari and Eyal Ofer, January 6, 2011

Since Israel's August 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Hamas has evolved from a relatively small movement into a well-funded conglomerate. Instead of being crippled by sanctions and siege, the organization has found ways to surmount early difficulties -- such as frequent payroll delays -- and establish an effective system of governance, ever tightening its grip over its fiefdom. As a result, Hamas has been able to empower loyalists while leaving the main burden of responsibility for Gaza's 1.6 million residents to others. Unfortunately, both the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) and international donors have tolerated this situation, effectively contributing, if indirectly, to Hamas coffers.

GAZA'S ECONOMY

Reliable data regarding Gaza's finances is very difficult to obtain. Hamas has tight lips, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) release little information, and international agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank generally aggregate Gaza and the West Bank when presenting statistics. Much of the information in this article is derived from Palestinian news reports and interviews with informed sources in Gaza; accordingly, most of the figures below - see link above - should be treated as rough approximations.)

Hamas’s budget in 2013 was more than $700 million, with $260 million earmarked to the administrative costs of running Gaza.*

To fill its coffers and fund its administrative and terrorist activities, Hamas turns to several sources: funding, weapons, and training from Iran; donations from the Palestinian global diaspora;* and fundraising activities in Western Europe and North America.*

TAXES AND THE TUNNEL ECONOMY

Hamas has spent years building a network of tunnels beneath the Gazan-Egyptian border in order to smuggle weapons and other goods. According to a 2012 Journal of Palestine Studies report, at least 160 children have died while digging the elaborate tunnel system.* The underground smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt has provided Hamas with a flow of tax revenue on smuggled goods, comprising roughly $500 million of Hamas’s annual budget for Gaza of just under $900 million. The Egyptian military closed the tunnels in late 2013 after it deposed the Muslim Brotherhood government, sending Gaza into an economic crisis.*

Constructing the tunnels was not a cheap endeavor, as each tunnel is believed to have cost between $80,000 and $200,000. To pay for the tunnels’ construction, Hamas turned to Gazan-based mosques and charities, which reportedly began offering pyramid schemes to invest in the tunnels with high rates of return. The number of tunnels reportedly grew from a few dozen in 2005, with annual revenue of $30 million per year, to at least 500 by December 2008, with annual revenue of $36 million per month.*

By October 2013, Egypt claimed to have destroyed 90 percent of Gaza’s smuggling tunnels. According to Ala al-Rafati, the Hamas-appointed economy minister, the resulting losses to the Gaza economy between June and October 2013 amounted to $460 million.*

FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Iran

Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas. In the U.S. case Weinstein v. Iran, the court noted that 1995-1996 “was a peak period for Iranian economic support of Hamas because Iran typically paid for results, and Hamas was providing results by committing numerous bus bombings such as the one on February 25, 1996.”*

Iranian aid to Hamas has shrunk since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. While Iran has sided with the embattled Assad regime, Hamas has supported Syrian rebels seeking to overthrow Assad. As a result, Iran has cut as much as £15 million a month to Hamas. Ghazi Hamad, Hamas's deputy foreign minister, remarked: “I cannot deny that since 2006 Iran supported Hamas with money and many [other] things. But the situation is not like the past. I cannot say that everything is normal.” After Hamas’s victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, Iran provided Hamas an estimated £13-15 million a month for governing expenses.*

Qatar

Qatar has invested heavily in the Gazan economy. In October 2012, the country launched a $254 million plan to modernize Gaza.* The country later upped its investment to $400 million.* After Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in April 2014, the PA refused to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants in Gaza. In June, Qatar stepped in and attempted to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas through Arab Bank to pay the salaries of 44,000 civil servants, but the United States reportedly blocked the transfers.*

Further, Qatar has provided a safe haven for Hamas’s political leadership since 2012. In January 2015, then-Qatari Foreign Minister referred to then-Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal as the country’s “dear guest.”* Hamas has utilized Qatari hotels and business centers for meetings and press conferences, such its May 1, 2017, press conference at Doha’s Sheraton hotel to announce the group’s new political document.*     

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.”*

Saudi Arabia has also invested in Gaza, pledging $1 billion to rebuild infrastructure after Hamas’s 2008 war with Israel.*

Turkey

Turkey reportedly planned to donate $300 million to Gaza’s Hamas government in 2011,* while other reports cited that this would become an annual donation to Hamas.*

VIOLENT ACTIVITIES:

Hamas has spent years building a network of tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border in order to smuggle weapons and other goods. According to a 2012 Journal of Palestine Studies report, at least 160 children died while digging the elaborate tunnel system.*

Hamas is suspected of colluding with the Muslim Brotherhood during Egypt’s 2011 revolution in order to bring down the government of Hosni Mubarak. Egypt’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammad Morsi, is under investigation for conspiring with Hamas during that period.*

The underground smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt provided Hamas with a flow of tax revenue on smuggled goods, providing roughly $500 million of Hamas’s annual budget for Gaza of just under $900 million.* The Egyptian military closed the tunnels in late 2013 after it deposed the Muslim Brotherhood government, sending Gaza into economic crisis.*

Constructing the tunnels was not a cheap endeavor, as each one cost between $80,000 and $200,000 to construct. Instead of implementing peaceful policies that would lead to Israel and Egypt lifting the blockade, Hamas has invested in the continuation of underground smuggling. To pay for the tunnels’ construction, Hamas turned to Gaza’s mosques and charities, which began offering pyramid schemes to invest in the tunnels with high rates of return.* The number of tunnels grew from a few dozen in 2005, with annual revenue of $30 million per year, to at least 500 by December 2008, with annual revenue of $36 million per month.*

Military Capabilities & Arsenal:

Defense experts can only speculate about Hamas’s military capabilities. Security analysts agree that Hamas’s military capability markedly improved under Ahmed Jaabari, the chief of Hamas's armed wing. Reuters sources have reported that before Jaabari took charge, Hamas only had a few AK-47 rifles and a single rocket-propelled grenade.*

The Israel Defense Forces estimated that Hamas had approximately 10,000 rockets in its arsenal at the beginning of July 2014.* By the end of July 2014, Hamas had fired over 2,600 rockets at Israel, while the Israeli military estimated it destroyed an additional 3,000 rockets.* The IDF estimated Hamas still had approximately 5,000 rockets left.* 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.*

Hamas relies on underground tunnels beneath Gaza’s borders with Egypt and Israel. During Hamas’s 50-day war with Israel during the summer of 2014, Hamas used these tunnels to stage raids inside Israel. Many of the tunnels into Israel were destroyed during the war, but Hamas has since sought to rebuild them. The Israeli military revealed in February 2016 that Hamas was “investing considerable resources” into rebuilding the tunnels.* 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.*

(site lists events between 1993  and 2015)

Late June 2015: Israeli intelligence reports Hamas amassing armed troops along the Gaza-Israel border.*

July 9, 2015: The Israeli government reveals Hamas is holding captive two Israeli citizens in Gaza. Avraham Mengistu, an Ethiopian-Israeli in his 20s, crossed into Gaza on September 7, 2014. The government did not reveal the identity of the other man except that he is an Arab-Israeli. An unidentified Hamas member says Hamas released Mengistu when they realized he was not a soldier and he left through a tunnel to Egypt. Mengistu remains in captivity.*

July 28, 2015: Jordan state security court sentences 12 to prison for a Hamas plot to carry out violent attacks in the West Bank. Four of the defendants were sentenced in absentia to 15-year sentences. The other eight received sentences of one to five years. The defendants reportedly received training in Jordan and Gaza on bomb-making.*

August 26, 2015: Hamas posts a video online of its members digging underground tunnels beneath Gaza, fighting Israeli soldiers, and a simulated takeover of an IDF base.

ASSOCIATIONS

Qatar

The emir of Qatar became the first head of state to visit Gaza after Hamas’s 2007 coup.* Since then, Qatar has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Gaza, pledging $400 million to Gaza in 2012.* After Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in April 2014, the PA refused to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants in Gaza, and in response Qatar attempted to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas to pay the salaries of 44,000 civil servants. The United States reportedly blocked the transfers.*   (SEE ALSO  Hamas and Qatar )

PLO/Fatah/Palestinian Authority

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

In the power-vacuum that followed PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s death in 2004, Hamas ran in the January 2006 PA legislative elections and won a majority in the PA Legislative Council. After a year of clashes between Hamas and Fatah gunmen, Hamas expelled the PA’s forces from Gaza and took control of the coastal strip. In April 2014, the PLO and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement and pledged to form a unity government.* The move helped derail U.S.-led peace talks between Israel and the PLO.

Muslim Brotherhood

Hamas was created in 1987 as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza.* More than two decades later, Hamas continues to enjoy close ties to the Brotherhood. Hamas is suspected of aiding in a jailbreak of Brotherhood activists, including former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, in 2011.* Further, the Brotherhood-controlled Egyptian government provided Hamas with support and turned a blind eye to illegal smuggling beneath the Egypt-Gaza border. After the downfall of the Brotherhood-controlled government in 2013, the Egyptian army closed off most of the tunnels, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue for the Hamas government and an economic crisis in Gaza.*

Syria

Syria has long acted as a conduit between Hamas and its Iranian benefactor, allowing weapons and money to cross its borders. Hamas’s political leadership was based in Damascus until 2012, when it relocated due to the ongoing Syrian civil war.*

Iran

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

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

North Korea

In July 2014, Western security officials revealed a secret arms deal between North Korea and Hamas worth hundreds of thousands of dollars that would have provided the terror group with missiles and communications equipment to use in its conflict with Israel that month.*

Hamas has also allegedly received arms from North Korea. The link first became public after a cargo of North Korean weapons was seized in Bangkok airport in 2009.* Investigators later confirmed that the cargo was destined for Iran, from where it was to be smuggled to Lebanon and Gaza. Western security sources also suspect that North Korea has offered Hamas advice on the building of tunnels, which has enabled Hamas to smuggle weapons and fighters in and out of Gaza.

In July 2014, reports indicated that Hamas was attempting to buy arms and communication equipment from North Korea in order to continue attacks on Israel.* The deal was reportedly worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.*

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.* Members of the U.S. Congress have since called for cutting U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority because of the unity deal.*

Israel

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

Russia

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

Europe

In May 2006, after Hamas won Palestinian Authority legislative elections, Sweden granted a visa to PA Refugee Minister Atef Adawan, a Hamas member, to attend a conference in Sweden. After the conference, Adawan allegedly travelled to Norway where he met with Kaare Eltervaag, the head of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry's Middle Eastern affairs. Afterwards, he travelled to Germany where he met with Bundestag representative Detlef Dzembritzki, a member of the Social Democratic Party.*

International community at large

The so-called Quartet of Middle East Peacemakers, (the United States, European Union, Russia, and United Nations) issued a list of three demands in 2006 for Hamas to meet before it would receive international recognition: recognize Israel, renounce violence, and adhere to past agreements.* The global community has largely adhered to these conditions, although Russia has reached out to the Hamas government.

LINKS

Life in the Gaza Strip    BBC, 14 July 2014

Q&A: What is Hamas?      CNN  November 24, 2012  By Bryony Jones

Hamas:  A Social Welfare or a Government Machine? The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv, November 2015

Timeline

Gaza
The Basics

What Gaza Could Be

Hamas European Court Keeps Hamas on Terror List

Counter Extremism Project

How Hamas
Stays in Power

Links



THE NEWSMAKERS:
GAZA: LIFE ON THE STRIP
TRT World 2016 (2014)

GAZA IN 2016 -
HAMAS PROPAGANDA
Binyamin

- HAMAS IS A GREATER
OBSTACLE TO PEACE
THAN ISRAEL  
Shmuley Boteach  
OxfordUnion 2015 (12.01)


TOP EU COURT KEEPS HAMAS
ON EU TERRORISM LIST
CGTN  26 July 2017 (0.33)

The European Union's top court ruled on Wednesday that Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas should remain on the
EU terrorism blacklist,
referring the case back to a lower court.