Finding itself increasingly at odds with the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, the terror group that controls Gaza, is aligning with Iran, according to an analysis published last week.
The rift came to the fore earlier this week as The Jerusalem Post reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a visiting Israeli politician that if the split between Hamas and the PA persisted, the PA would “reduce our [financial] support to Gaza by 100%.”
Against the backdrop of this growing rift, a delegation of top Hamas officials visited Iran earlier this month. The delegation was recieved by top Iranian officials. According to Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi’s analysis for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, this is a sign that for the Gaza-based terror group, “liberating Palestine takes precedence over the blood-drenched Middle Eastern battles between the Shiite and Sunni axis.”
In his analysis, Halevi assessed that Hamas sees that Iran “can help it fulfill its strategic objectives of taking control of the Palestinian national movement and ‘liberating Palestine.’” Iran is viewed by Hamas as “a rising regional power,” with growing influence over Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, its expanding arms industry, its purchases of Russian arms, and its ongoing nuclear weapons research.
A renewed alliance with Iran would also enhance Hamas’s standing in a situation where “Iran makes an effort to undermine [King] Abdullah’s regime” in Jordan.
— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) August 23, 2017
Iran has previously supported Hamas due to their common enemy in Israel. In March 2016, the commander of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force, General Qassem Soleimani, was reported by a Hamas member to have said that “Iran was a staunch supporter of the Palestinian resistance before the nuclear deal and it will remain so after the deal.”
It is unclear at this stage what the renewed support for Hamas will look like. Historically, the support involved not just cash and military training, but also the transfer of firearms to Hamas and even advanced missile technology in the form of the Fajr-5 missile, handed over in 2012. Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the IDF’s intelligence chief, said in June that Iran is currently giving Hamas $50 million per year.