The Hamas terror organization marks “Nakba (catastrophe)” Day every year on May 15, the day after the creation of the State of Israel by the U.N. in 1948. This year, Hamas released a video calling on all Israelis to leave the country by midnight, threatening them if they fail to do so.
Hamas is hoping 100,000 rioters will storm the border fence with Israel and make that “dream” a reality.
What is Hamas? Where did it come from, what is its ideology and who funds the organization? Check out our 7-point guide to Hamas below for a quick understanding of the group recognized internationally as a terror organization.
Muslim Brotherhood Origins
Hamas was formed in the 1980’s in the Gaza Strip as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Its raison d’etre is the destruction of the state of Israel and the establishment of a sharia-based state in its place. Its 1988 charter adopted the Brotherhood’s slogan: “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.”
In 2017, under political pressure, Hamas claimed it was no longer connected to the Brotherhood, yet the Egyptian Brotherhood (the seat of the international Brotherhood) insisted that they are still linked. That same year, at a press conference in Qatar, Hamas revealed a “new” policy document, the first update of its 1988 charter.
The new document ostensibly recognized the idea of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines that delineate Gaza and the West Bank from the rest of Israel, but did not recognize the State of Israel. Rather, the document still upholds the “armed resistance” against Israel and its commitment to the “liberation” of Palestine “from the river to the sea” (in other words the complete destruction of all of Israel).
Before the document was released, Hamas leaders said their new policies do not negate the group’s 1988 charter (making Hamas still a Muslim Brotherhood organization).
Recognized Internationally as a Terrorist Organization
Hamas in its entirety or its armed faction is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, the European Union, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
Commitment to Violence
Hamas views “armed resistance” as the only method to achieve its goal. As per Article 13 of its charter, compromise or peace negotiations are not an option as they are a “contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against [Islam]…”
Hamas instituted the use of suicide bombings in April 1994. Since then, the group killed thousands of civilians using this tactic as well as using other forms of violence. Hamas built (and continues) to build a system of underground tunnels into Israel (to be used for attacks) and into Egypt (used for smuggling). Egypt expelled the group in 2013 in its own effort to combat violent extremists.
Funds donated to help the Palestinian people are continually diverted by Hamas operatives to assist in their violent activities, “adding to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza,” according to the U.N. Middle East envoy.
Palestinian support through social services
Hamas mimics the modus operandi of the Muslim Brotherhood to gain support from the population by building a network of social services, from education to healthcare. To gain further legitimacy, the organization formed a unity government with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2006 only to violently expel the PA from Gaza the next year.
Funding through “charities”
Global Islamic charities have historically and notoriously collected money for Hamas. For example, in 2008 five leaders of the Holy Land Foundation – the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. – were convicted of funneling $12 million to Hamas in the largest terror financing case in U.S. history.
Canada ended up designating the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy as a terror organization after it was revealed that $14.6 million was sent to various groups linked to Hamas between 2005 and 2009.
Funding through Iran: Payment for “results”
Iran began providing Hamas with hundreds of millions of dollars beginning in the 1990’s. As a U.S. court noted, Iran paid Hamas based on “results,” namely the amount of suicide bombings the group carried out in the mid-1990’s.
After Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, it is estimated Iran paid Hamas close to $20 million a month. In 2017, Hamas political leader Yahya Sinwar declared Iran Hamas’ “largest backer financially and militarily.”
Funding through Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey
Besides investing $400 million into an effort to modernize Gaza, Qatar tried to pick up the tab for Hamas civil servants in 2014 when the PA refused to pay them. The U.S. reportedly stopped the money transfers. Qatar has also provided a safe haven for Hamas’ political leadership since 2012. After the 2014 war that Hamas started with Israel, Qatar pledged $1 billion to rebuild Gaza.
Saudi Arabia funneled millions of dollars to Hamas terrorists under the guise of charity during the Second intifada in the 2000s, according to U.S. documents. Saudi Arabia also pledged $1 billion to rebuild Gaza after the 2008 war Hamas started with Israel.
By 2017, Saudi Arabia was calling for Qatar to stop funding Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood or face regional isolation. With the resurgence of Iran as a Middle-Eastern power due to the influx of cash from sanction relief (because of the 2015 nuclear agreement), Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States have been exploring alliances with Israel and the U.S. to combat threats in the region from Iran.
Turkey is reportedly one of the largest global sponsors of Hamas as well, responsible for funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to the terror group annually.