The Middle East has been an area contested with religious warfare for centuries dating back to biblical times. The Palestinian and Israeli feud has been an increasingly hostile situation for the past decade in the modern era. Israel is predominantly Jewish, and Palestine is Islamic. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides have both moderate and extremist organizations determined to push the other out of the southern Levant. The Palestinian side was split by the conflict between the two major factions: Fatah, the traditionally dominant political party, and its challenger, Hamas.
Who are the Hamas? Hamas is an acronym for ‘Islamic Resistance Movement. The Hamas is a nationalist-Islamist offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and began shortly after the First Intifada broke out in 1987. The First Intifada was a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The intifada began after an Israeli truck crashed into a vehicle carrying Palestinian workers in a refugee district of Gaza. The Palestinians viewed this incident as a deliberate act and began a violent protest in Gaza, which prompted Israel to escalate its response.
The Hamas Charter dated 18 August 1988, became the document that outlined the founding identity and goals of the Hamas. The original charter contained 36 articles. The charter called for Muslims to perform Jihad against Israel and the eventual establishment of an Islamic state in place of Israel. Hamas is a centralized organization. The political department often referred to as its politburo operates out of the country and sets general policy for the entire organization.
The local Gaza-based leadership manages local issues in Gaza and the West Bank and supports the military wing with combat support whether that is logistics, communications, or intelligence. Political Bureau. The current Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau is Ismail Haniyeh. He has been linked to attacks on Israeli and American citizens during protests in Gaza, is responsible for the deaths of 17 Americans.
Haniyeh believes that if Palestine cannot obtain the “right to freedom, independence, and honorable living” by peaceful means, “it is our right to resist occupation through all possible means, including armed resistance.” (Bachner, 2018) As of June 8th, 2018, Haniyeh was planning to organize an armed protest on the border. Gaza Leadership. Yahya Sinwar is a leader of Hamas in Gaza and a founder of its military wing. Sinwar spent 20 years in Israeli prison and was released in 2011 as a part of a prisoner exchange. He is a strong believer that Israel must be destroyed. He also doesn’t believe that will be accomplished through military means anytime soon (Kraft, 2018) (Global Security.org Staff, 2017). Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigade. Mohammed Deif commands Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. The al-Qassam Brigades have carried out over 90 suicide and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, launched approximately 12,000 rockets and mortars in indirect fire attacks, and has killed over 650 civilians since being established.
Hamas receive the majority of their finances from charities and donations. Charities associated with Hamas have been discovered in Western Europe and North America. Canada’s Public Safety department made this statement in 2014 “Between 2005 and 2009 the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy transferred approximately $14.6 million worth of resources to various organizations associated with Hamas, a listed terrorist entity,” (Ward, 2014). Hamas has received donations from several Middle Eastern countries to including Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Iran is Hamas’ largest financial and logistical donor. Iran has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to Hamas since the 1990s.
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades are estimated to have approximately 40-50 thousand total personnel. The Izz ad-Din receives religious classes in mosques and participates in six months of basic training. Their training includes rockets, mortars, and antitank missiles. Occasionally, there are members of the Izz ad-Din who receive training from other terrorist organizations and Iran. Currently, the Izz ad-Din does not have chemical, biological, or nuclear capabilities, but with close ties to Iran and Syria, its not impossible for them to acquire.
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades can conduct small-arms attacks, indirect fire attacks, suicide and IED attacks, abductions, and ambushes. Izz ad-Din preferred method of armed offense operations is indirect fire. Elements of the Izz ad-Din can launch a rocket into Israel and hide before any counteraction can occur. By chance the Israeli Defense Force does respond and cause any civilian casualties, Hamas can use that as an excuse to justify military operations. Additionally, to indirect fire, Hamas has developed an extensive tunnel network under Gaza that can be used offensively or defensively. Communication Methods. There is no specific source indicating what Hamas uses for communications, however, the CIA world factbook mentions Gaza has cellular and Internet infrastructure in place. It is assessed Hamas utilizes push-to-talk radios at the tactical level and some form of secure Internet and voice communications at the strategic level.
Intelligence Methods. Hamas has displayed the capability to infiltrate Israel and conduct suicide attacks as well as perform indirect fire to protect their tunnels. Based on Taliban tactics and procedures, intelligence collection is necessary to successfully conduct attacks like that. It is likely Hamas has a surveillance network in Israel providing early warning of any aircraft and or ground force movements. This network is likely cataloging civilian and military patterns to support Izz ad-Din unconventional operations. The recent relocation of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem has sparked major backlash from the Palestine community. “Public opinion polls have shown that the embassy move is unpopular on the Palestinian street, and has led to accusations that the Trump administration is biased toward Israel, and therefore cannot be trusted as an ‘honest broker’ in peace talks between the two sides.” (Landau, 2018) There lies the potential attack in the United States. Hamas could attack the United States and claim it was warranted by moving the embassy to Jerusalem, which means the United States, recognizes Jerusalem belongs to Israel.