Iran-Hamas Relationship Tracker 2011
The Critical Threats Project’s Iran Tracker will be providing biweekly updates on Hamas’s relationship with Iran. Iran Tracker will document Hamas’s interactions with Iranian officials, information regarding the organization’s funding transfers of arms and materiel, militant operations, meetings and relations with groups and countries, Hamas’s official statements, and local developments in Gaza.
Please view the full report on the Iran-Hamas relationship for 2008. A complete tracker is available for 2010.
LAST UPDATE: 9:00 AM EST on 22 MARCH
highlights in bold represent recent updates
MAR 10: U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton expressed concern that Iran is using its relationship with Hamas to influence the uprisings in the Middle East. She stated, “We know from our intelligence reporting, from anecdotal reporting, our embassies, our political officers that everywhere Iran can take advantage, they're going to, either directly or indirectly through proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas… You've got Hamas right on the border of Egypt. You have absolutely every reason to believe that with Iran now supporting Hamas that they're going to be in there trying to figure out what they can do to influence the outcome.”
MAR 2: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified in a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing that Iran is using its relationship with Hamas to influence the uprisings in the Middle East. She stated, “[the Iranians] are using Hezbollah, which is a political party with an armed wing, to communicate with counterparts in Egypt, in Hamas, who then in turn communicate with counterparts in Egypt. We know that they are reaching out to the opposition in Bahrain.”
JAN 24: Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) reported that Iran’s acting foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi met with Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Meshaal, Head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command Ahmad Jibril and Deputy Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad Movement Ziyad Nahala. Salehi said, “Resistance is rooted in the region.”
JAN 4: Tehran Times reported that Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Ali Larijani stated, “It is Iran’s policy to fight against the global arrogance and support the oppressed, so we say openly that we back Hezbollah and Hamas.”
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JAN 31: A Grad rocket from the Hamas-ruled Gaza strip hit the southern Israel town Netivot, followed shortly by a second grad rocket that hit the city Ofakim. There were no injuries reported.
JAN 25: Two Qassam missiles were fired at a Negev kibbutz despite Gaza's Hamas leaders pledging support for the ‘national consensus’ truce and deployment of forces to the border. No injuries were reported.
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MAR 8: British Foreign Secretary William Hague criticized Hamas’s rejection of Palestinian elections at a press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, stating, “I welcomed the recent call for Palestinian elections and I condemn the rejection of these by Hamas…Hamas should not be able to stifle the democratic expression of Palestinian opinion.”
MAR 7: Palestinian Authority negotiator Nabil Shaath stated that the organization is “seeking to have Hamas removed from the list of terror organizations.” He added, “We want EU countries to recognize a Palestinian unity government that would include Hamas and other factions."
MAR 6: The Israel Defense Forces issued a press release confirming direct hits on a terror tunnel and two other suspected areas of terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire. AFP reported four raids, three of which targeted bases of Hamas’s armed wing, al Qassam Brigades. No casualties were reported.
FEB 26: The Israel Defense Forces issued a press release acknowledging that IAF aircraft bombed a number of militant targets on February 25 and February 26 in the central and southern Gaza Strip respectively, including a tunnel and two terrorist-related sites. Media reports indicate that the airstrikes on February 26 targeted two training camps of Hamas’s armed wing, al Qassam Brigades, in Rafah and a Palestinian Islamic Jihad facility in Khan Younis and caused several casualties. The February 25 strikes targeted other Palestinian Islamic Jihad training camps, and no casualties were reported.
FEB 24: The Israel Defense Forces issued a press release announcing that the IAF launched “an extensive operation” in the Gaza Strip that “targeted several hubs of terror” overnight on February 23. Media reports indicate that the bombings occurred in Khan Younis and Rafah, and no casualties were reported.
FEB 23: The Israel Defense Forces reported that soldiers returned fire on militants after an explosive device targeting IDF troops detonated and six mortar shells were fired into Beersheva from the Gaza Strip. A later press release announced an IAF airstrike on a “terrorist squad” in the northern Gaza Strip, confirming a direct hit. Several casualties were reported in media reports.
FEB 20: An Israeli court sentenced Hamas member Shaker Abu Mor to fifteen years in prison because “The defendant willingly joined terrorist activity in the purpose of gravely hurting IDF soldiers. He was a dominant protagonist.”
FEB 17: The Israel Defense Forces issued a press release acknowledging that its troops shot three suspected militants on February 16. The militants were reportedly attempting to plant explosives on the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. Media reports confirmed that the three suspects were killed.
FEB 9: The Israel Defense Forces reported that the IAF struck three suspected terrorist locations in the Gaza Strip on February 8, including a tunnel, in response to rocket attacks on southern Israel. Several casualties were reported.
FEB 2: The Israel Defense Forces reported an airstrike on a tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip in response to recent rocket attacks launched from the Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported.
JAN 18: The Israel Defense Forces reported that Israeli forces fired on “a group of terrorist operatives” in the northern Gaza Strip who were “attempt[ing] to plant an explosive device in the area and execute an attack against IDF soldiers,” injuring at least one operative. The media reported several casualties; some outlets said that seven Israeli tanks entered the Gaza Strip, while others reported armored vehicles and bulldozers.
JAN 12: The Israel Defense Forces issued a statement confirming direct hits on three “terror sites” in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire on southern Israel. Ynetnews reported that the attacks specifically targeted a Hamas security compound and police station and a Palestinian Islamic Jihad training camp.
JAN 11: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the recent rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, saying of Hamas, “I think they'll make a terrible mistake; to test our will, to test our people. I think they'll make a terrible, terrible mistake.”
JAN 11: The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that an Israeli airstrike targeting Mohammed al Najar, a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s al Quds Brigade, who was allegedly “involved in planning a massive terror attack in the heart of Israel,” was a direct hit. The Jerusalem Post reported that the al Quds Brigade released a statement threatening retaliation: “All options in response to the crime are available to us. Our martyr's blood will not be spilled in vain. We will respond at the right time and place.”
JAN 10: Israeli soldiers arrested Hamas official Omar Abd al Razaq in the West Bank.
JAN 10: The Israel Defense Forces released a statement confirming airstrikes on two terror-related sites in northern and southern Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire on southern Israel.
JAN 7: The Israel Defense Forces released a statement confirming airstrikes on “a terror activity center” and “a Hamas tunnel,” which “was intended for infiltrating into Israel and executing terror attacks,” in the northern and southern Gaza Strip, respectively. Palestinian witnesses reported that the airstrikes hit sites in Rafah to the south, Jabaliya in the north, and Zeitoun in the east.
JAN 7: The Israel Defense Forces announced the arrest of Wael Mahmoud Said Bitar, “a senior [member] of the Hamas armed infrastructure in the Hebron Region,” and four other Hamas operatives. One Palestinian civilian was killed during the operation.
JAN 5: The Israel Defense Forces confirmed direct hits on a “terror activity center” and “smuggling tunnel” in the central and northern Gaza Strip respectively on January 4.
JAN 2: An Israel Defense Forces report confirmed two air strikes on a “Hamas terror organizations terrorist activity center in the northern Gaza Strip as well as a weapons manufacturing facility in the central Gaza Strip.” ABC News reported at least two casualties resulting from strikes on two refugee camps.
JAN 2: The Israel Defense Forces reported that two suspected Hamas militants arrested in November 2010, Musa Hamada and Bassem Omeri, were indicted for their “membership and support of a terrorist organization, illegal use of weapons and their connection to” a terrorist attack on a Jerusalem soccer stadium. AFP added that three other Arab men who were arrested were changed with weapons trafficking.
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MAR 10: Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced the appointment of a new government in the Gaza Strip, stating that the “The reshuffle is an administrative step and is not against reconciliation.” The new cabinet includes the first female minister, Jamila Shanti, who will head the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
MAR 7: Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported that senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar stated at a conference in Sudan that Hamas would “not quit until the banner of one God is raised over the occupied Islamic lands and injustice is lifted.” He added that “The liberation of Jerusalem is closer than we can imagine,” noting that Palestinians would soon be able to “turn the Knesset into another Tahrir square.”
MAR 6: Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal hailed the political uprisings in the Middle East, stating, “Today we are witnessing Cairo returning to its natural state, after it disappeared from that state for a long time.” He added that “The people in Egypt and Tunisia have given us back our lives.”
FEB 20: Damascus-based Hamas leader Izzat al Rishq told Xinhua News Agency that “Hamas condemns the immoral U.S. stance of using veto against the draft resolution denouncing the Israeli settlement; we have never been counting on U.S.”
FEB 20: Hamas’s website reported that Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal commented on developments in Egypt, saying: “Change happened in Egypt and I wish it reaches its full objectives to be enjoyed by the people of Egypt, Gaza and Palestine, so Egypt will become on the side of its sister states in the region.” He added, “In upcoming days we have a word we will say, an act we will do, and initiatives we will launch.”
FEB 19: Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denounced the U.S. veto of the UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, calling it “an arbitrary and outrageous decision against the Palestinian people,” which should encourage the Palestinian Authority to end Israeli-Palestinian talks.
FEB 18: The Los Angeles Times reported that senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar stated that “Israel is the big loser in recent events,” referencing regime change in Egypt. He continued, “This is a new era. They should fear.”
FEB 18: Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported that Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmed Yousef stated that, “There's no doubt that the Egyptian lesson will be positively reflected in the Hamas movement as the vision to the future is political partnership through authority.”
FEB 12: Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak “a victory for the Palestinian people.” Zuhri added that Hamas “calls on the new Egyptian leadership to lift the siege of Gaza and to open the Rafah crossing and assure the free movement between Egypt and Palestine and to start the development construction process of Gaza.”
FEB 11: Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh commented on the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, stating, "Egypt wrote today a new chapter in the history of the Arab nations and I can see the blockade on Gaza shaking right now.”
FEB 11: Hamas leader Osama Hamdan commented on the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, stating, “Any positive developments on the regional level will serve the Palestinian cause, and the opposite is true.”
FEB 5: Hamas leader Salah al Bardawil said Egyptian reports blaming Hamas for the explosion of a gas pipeline in el Arish were attempts "to export the crisis to Gaza."
JAN 26: Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported that “Hamas strongly denounced the results of the Turkel probe” that investigated the Israeli raid of the Gaza-bound flotilla in May 2010. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “it is an attempt to display [Israel's] image as civilized and democratic and save the occupation government from its predicament stemming from its involvement in terrorist acts.”
JAN 22: The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ihab al Ghusain commented on Hamas’s recent crackdown on militant activity, saying that “we have established a system of checkpoints, search and seizure operations, and other measures to try and prevent the rocket attacks because we have no interest in another war with Israel.”
JAN 22: ABNA reported that Hamas issued a statement denying responsibility for the Alexandria church bombing and reiterating that the group “leads resistance against Israeli occupation inside Palestine and had not and would not allow any struggle with any other party outside Palestine.”
JAN 19: Hamas spokesman Salah al Bardawil rejected Israeli claims of an al Qaeda presence in the Gaza Strip. Bardawil responded, “The aim of these Israeli statements is to create animosity between Hamas, the Palestinians in Gaza and the Western world,” adding that “The occupation sees a political crisis on the horizon, and whenever this happens, it tries to draw the world's attention away.”
JAN 16: Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced the launch of a project to rebuild the Gaza Strip, stating, “We have got the money to complete the first phase of the project and we will lay the cornerstone within 48 hours,” according to Hamas’s website.
JAN 13: Hamas spokesman Taher al Nunu said that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh ordered the group to “preserve internal security in the Gaza Strip with the rest of the resistance groups in light of Israeli threats.”
JAN 12: Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha commented on Hamas’s urgent meeting with other Palestinian factions, saying that the leaders prioritized the security “of our people and protecting them from any aggression.”
JAN 11: Hamas released a statement in which spokesman Taher al Nunu announced that the group will “repeat its call to the Palestinian factions to respect the national consensus” and “will make everyone commit to it.”
JAN 9: Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha stated, “We began contacts with factions over the situation in the field. Hamas seeks to control the situation on the ground and urge factions to recommit to the national agreement.” Xinhua quoted Taha as adding that while Israel is “trying to look for any excuse to launch a new war” on the Gaza Strip, Hamas “is doing its utmost to avoid any new Israeli aggression that would harm the Gaza Strip’s population.” Reuters noted that this decision was made in a meeting with other Palestinian factions on January 8.
JAN 8: According to Hamas’s website, senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar stated, “We are only a few steps away from achieving a historic triumph which might cost us a large number of our children. However, in the coming confrontation with the Zionist entity, we will realize our ancestors' dream and return history to the right track.”
JAN 7: Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported that Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmed Yousef argued that the accidental killing of a Palestinian civilian by Israeli troops in Hebron demonstrates that “Israel does not respect international laws or any agreement with the Palestinian Authority.”
JAN 1: Hamas released a statement praising its armed wing, al Qassam Brigades, for killing seven Israeli soldiers and wounding seven Israeli civilians in clashes throughout 2010.
JAN 1: Hamas issued a statement condemning the arrest, referred to as an “abduction” and “national crime,” of senior al Qassam leader Ayub Qawasmeh.
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JAN 31: Human Rights Watch reports that Hamas authorities stopped activists in the Gaza Strip who gathered to support for the protesters in Egypt. Reportedly, Hamas authorities arrested over twenty people, including six women.
JAN 30: Gaza’s Hamas government closed the Rafah border crossing due to the continuing unrest in Egypt. Egyptian guards had left their posts. Hamas deployed hundreds of troops to the border.
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