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Gaza/Hamastan, Platform for Iranian Destabilization of the Arab World

Just a year ago, this author considered Israel’s acceptance of the hudna or tahidyah (temporary cease fire) a strategic victory for Hamas and its allies: the organization would be regarded by the Palestinian population as the leading element in the national struggle; it would receive international legitimacy, establish its economic and political control through the generous assistance of the international community; and it would be able to develop a deterrent military capability vis-a-vis Israel through massive arms smuggling across the Egyptian border.

In a year or two, an extremist state, allied with Iran, Syria and Hizballah, could emerge on Israel’s southern border, with a good chance of taking over the West Bank and affecting the stability of Jordan, Egypt and possibly also the Islamic Movement in Israel.[1]

On the military strategic level at least, this evaluation was verified.

Historical relations

In the late 1980s, Iran-Hamas relations were only marginal, principally because Iran’s interests were in mobilizing Shiites in the Gulf. These actions annoyed Hamas – a radical Sunni movement. Hamas also viewed Iranian support for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), an off-shut of the Muslim Brotherhood, as a threat to its standing in the domestic Palestinian arena.[2]

In the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War, with the commencement of the Madrid peace process in the Middle East in October 1991, Tehran appointed itself head of the rejectionist camp. In October 1991, Iran convened a parallel conference in Tehran to unite radical organizations hostile to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) negotiations with Israel.[3]

The Tehran conference participants, including Hamas and the PIJ, all of which professed the destruction of Israel, decided to make every possible effort to sabotage the new-born peace process, which was seen as a direct threat to their strategic goals. The Tehran regime decided to support the “Palestinian resistance” and establish a high-level committee to unite radical organizations hostile to negotiations with Israel in an Islamic front under Iranian leadership.[4]

Iran-Hamas relations were put on a formal basis in October 1992, when a Hamas delegation, led by the then Secretary General Mousa Abu-Marzuq and spokesman Ibrahim Ghawshah, visited Tehran for talks. Iran permitted Hamas to open an office in Tehran and pledged $30 million a year to the organization, and they agreed to have the Revolutionary Guards train thousands of Hamas activists in Iran and in Hizballah camps in Lebanon.[5]

In December 1992, Israel’s expulsion of 415 members of Hamas and PIJ activists to Marj al-Zuhur in southern Lebanon permitted Hizballah and Iran to train some of them in the art of terrorism in Lebanon and in Iran. The repatriation of these terrorists to the West Bank and Gaza ushered in a new era of terrorism with the advent of the first Palestinian suicide bombings, immediately after the signing of the Oslo agreement.[6]

Sabotaging the peace process

The signing of the Declaration of Principles (DoP, known as Oslo I) by Israel and the PLO on September 13, 1993, presented the leadership of Hamas with its most difficult strategic challenge: the choice between faithfulness to ideology, and the need to take pragmatic measures aimed at preventing loss of its hold on Palestinian society. The dilemma was further aggravated by the establishment of the autonomous Palestinian National Authority (PA) and the elections for the Autonomy’s Legislative Council on January 20, 1996.[7]

Recognition of the formal status of the PA, in fact, implies recognition, however limited and temporary, of Israel, threatening to undermine the movement’s ideological raison d’être and popular appeal. Hamas contended that the PLO forfeited the right to represent the Palestinian people and rejected “the plot to recognize the occupying Zionist entity. Arafat’s signature and his recognition of the enemy constitute treason against the Palestinian people and the Islamic nation.” Terrorism or – in Hamas terminology – jihad has been the immediate response to the Oslo process.[8]

The attacks that were carried out by Hamas inside Israel in April 1994 coincided with the talks that preceded the signing by Israel and the PLO of the Cairo agreement. Attacks that were perpetrated in July and August of 1995 coincided with the discussions concerning the conduct of elections in the Territories. In February and March of 1996, three extremely lethal suicide attacks in Jerusalem (by Hamas) and in Tel Aviv (by the PIJ) were claimed to be in revenge of the January 25th killing of the Izz a-din al-Qassam major operative, the “engineer” Yihya Ayyash, who had been implicated in the planning and execution of spectacular terrorist attacks.[9]

Hamas militants engaged in suicide attacks first and foremost because of the heavy price in casualties they exacted from the Israeli people. And while terrorism by suicide has cost Hamas some public support, not a single Muslim cleric in the territories publicly denounced it.[10]

Violent attacks perpetrated by Islamist activists proved crucial in determining the pace and direction of the Israeli-Palestinian political process. The attacks cultivated doubts among Israelis concerning Palestinians’ genuine intentions as well as concerning the PA’s ability to control elements opposing the implementation of the agreement, and thus the very ability to advance a solution to the historical conflict.

A 1994 report indicated that Iran provided $3 million a year to both Hamas and the PIJ, and one thousand families of Palestinian suicide bombers or detainees from both organizations received regular monthly payments from Iran.[11]

Hamas was forced to reduce terrorism significantly in the latter half of the 1990s, culminating in its expulsion from Jordan in December 1999. During this period (1993 to 2000), Hamas also suffered from limited public support. For this reason, Hamas refrained from participating in the Palestinian elections of 1996.[12]

The second Palestinian intifada

Contrary to the first intifada of 1987 – 1992 which was a spontaneous popular uprising quickly bandwagoned and controlled by the PLO and the newly emerging Hamas, the so-called “al-Aqsa intifada” of September 2000 was a premeditated violent campaign against Israel tainted by strong religious connotations intended to rally around it not only the Palestinians but also the Muslim world at large.
The violence was initiated by Chairman Yasser Arafat when he realized that the Camp David summit could not deliver the kind of agreement he dreamt of – the establishment of a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and the West Bank with Jerusalem’s Old City as its capital without renouncing the “right to return” of the Palestinian refugees.

With the beginning of the violence in October 2000, the PA liberated all the Hamas and PIJ militants arrested during the previous years, but never put on trial for their terrorist activities against Israeli targets, and they began the long run of escalating the intifada with the suicide bombings.

Since the outbreak of the intifada, Iran holds a central position in granting political, propaganda and morale assistance and also material aid to the Hamas.

The Hamas external leadership, which lost its important Jordanian asset, found in Teheran a vital prop. They were received with respect and honor by all the Iranian leaders, from Khomeini to Rafsanjani, by the President and the Foreign Minister, and were allowed to use the Iranian media for their purposes. Iran is also important from the wider Islamic aspect, having tried to advance the Hamas’ aims at the Islamic Conference, as well as every other possible Islamic forum.

It is interesting to note that the Chairman of the Majlis, the Iranian parliament, told his Hamas guests that all the political sectors, conservatives as well as reformists, were united in their support of the Palestinians and the Hamas and viewed this matter as a top ideological and national priority.[13]

The disengagement from Gaza

Following Yasser Arafat’s death in November 2004 and the election of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as Chairman of the PA in January 2005, Israel embarked in the summer of 2005 on a process of disengagement from the Gaza Strip. After thirty-eight years of military occupation, the Sharon government ordered the settlers and soldiers to withdraw.
Hamas presented the Israeli disengagement as an affirmation that its strategies for resistance had paid off and had led the Palestinian people to victory and that this could be converted into political power through participation in the legislative elections.[14]

The January 2006 Palestinian elections were expected to stabilize highly negative domestic dynamics and bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Instead, Hamas won 44% of the national vote and 56% of the seats of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

Hamas’ electoral victory was immediately followed by a Quartet statement conditioning the recognition by the international community of a Hamas government and continued financial support by Hamas’ meeting three requirements: recognition of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements signed by the PA and the PLO, and renunciation of violence.[15] Hamas was quick to reject all three.

Following the growing conflict between the Hamas government and the Fatah controlled PA establishment, Saudi Arabia acted on two levels: to pacify the escalating fighting between them, which threatened to degenerate into a civil war and spill over to Egypt and Jordan. On February 8, 2007, Saudi leaders brought warring Fatah and Hamas leaders together in Mecca to hammer out an agreement on a unity government that would end the internecine violence and the chaos in the Palestinian territories. However, the Mecca Agreement focused only on establishing Palestinian unity and ignored the peace process because, for the Saudis, the most important issue was to prevent the PA from succumbing to Iranian influence.[16]

The Mecca agreement was a victory at points by Hamas leaders, who did not compromise on any of their ideological and strategic goals in exchange for a unity government that gave them the opportunity to obtain international legitimacy and financial support.

The Hamas – Iran strategic partnership

The 18-year struggle by Hizballah in Lebanon provided a model for what Tehran would like to recreate on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip: another Lebanon.

The Hamas victory in the elections was seen as a golden opportunity to enhance Iran’s influence in the region. In mid-April 2006 Iran organized a three-day conference in Tehran which brought together some 600 Palestinian leaders and their supporters from Muslim countries. Hamas’ secretary general Khaled Mashaal declared at the conference that his government would never recognize Israel. On the last day of the conference Iran pledged $50 million in aid to the Hamas government after the US and the EU froze financing.[17]

The price of this support was the escalation campaign against Israel as requested by president Ahmadinejad during his visit to Damascus in late January 2006. He stressed that the jihad of the Hizballah and several Palestinian terrorist organizations, was an important component of a global jihad against the US-led West: “Palestine is the center of the final stages of the battle between Islam and Arrogance.”[18]

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told Iranians that Palestinians would never bow to pressure to recognize Israel and would keep fighting, thanks in part to support from Iran. “We have a strategic depth here in the Islamic Republic of Iran and throughout the Islamic-Arabic world,” he said.[19] Iran sent over $120 million in 2006 to the Palestinian Authority to offset the shortfall caused by the Western financial blockade on the Hamas-led government.[20]

In April 2006, Hojatoleslam Ali-Akbar Mohtashemipur, the Secretary General of the Iranian Conference in Support of Palestine’s Intifada, told participants that the creation of a Palestinian state would contribute to Iran’s security.

For his part, the secretary–general of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, promised in December 2005 that “if Israel attacks Iran, then Hamas will widen and increase its confrontation of Israelis inside Palestine.”[21]

Iran enhances Hamas’ military capabilities

Following the January 2006 PA elections, Iran promised to give assistance to the security forces of the Hamas-led Palestinian government during a visit to Teheran by Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siyam, who met with President Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Khamenei.
Since Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005 Hamas has sent hundreds of militants to train in seven ‘courses’ in both field tactics and weapons technology in Iran at a closed military base under the command of the elite Revolutionary Guard force, a commander in the Iz al-Din al-Qassam military wing of Hamas said in an interview with The Sunday Times of London. The most promising members of each group stay longer for an advanced course and return as trainers themselves.[22]

The report confirmed assessments previously made by the head of Israel’s internal security agency Yuval Diskin that Hamas had dispatched “tens” of fighters from the Gaza Strip to Iran for “months, maybe years” of instruction, and Iran had promised to train hundreds more, a move called by him a strategic danger to Israel.[23]

The year 2006 witnessed a significant increase in Israeli-Palestinian violence, despite the agreement in December on a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. Similarly, intra-Palestinian violence threatened to escalate into civil war in Gaza, despite the continued efforts of Fatah and Hamas to put together a national unity government.[24] Even after the agreement, Hamas forces continued to expand quickly and to get more sophisticated weapons, especially longer range rockets, and training from Iran.[25]

Hamas finally took over Gaza in June 2007 by a military coup. Fatah’s armed forces collapsed in the face of a long-planned, well-executed campaign targeting the headquarters and leadership of the PA’s security organizations. Fatah’s collapse was largely due to the weakness of their leadership, which failed to mobilize the faction’s superior numbers to thwart the assaults. The coup and the horrid violence that accompanied it reveal much about Hamas’ politics and long-term objectives.[26]

Hamas began building a military and security force on the example of Hizballah: a hierarchy, a clear division of roles, a training system, groups responsible for smuggling weapons, groups in charge of preparing explosive devices and planning sophisticated terror attacks in an effort to take advantage of the IDF’s weak points.[27]

Threats of Iranian intervention

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has issued a decree to act against Israel, which he calls “an infidel that should be warred against” (Kafer-e-Harbi) because of the “slaughter of the Palestinian Muslims” and the “plunder of Islamic lands”. He stated: “All Palestinian fighters and all believers in the Islamic world must help the defenseless [Palestinian] women, children, and people in Gaza. Anyone who dies in this legitimate and sacred defense is a shahid [martyr].” 
On December 30, 2008, a senior Student Basij movement official, Mohammad Hassan Alaghemand, announced the establishment in Iran of an organization of martyrdom-seekers, called the “Brigades of the Forces of God’s Prophet Muhammad – The Quds Esteshhad Units,” and invited students wishing to join to register at Student Basij offices across the country, or online at The Iranian news agency Fars reported that over 20,000 Iranian students had signed up on the website to be sent to Gaza if necessary. Senior Iranian regime officials, such as Expediency Council secretary Mohsin Rezai and Majlis member Ahmad Tavakkoli, also announced their willingness to join the Iranian fighters’ movement.[28]

The Iranian student organizations issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the director of the Egyptian interest office in Tehran, Amro Al-Zayyat, demanding that Egypt either condemn the Israeli offensive and open its borders to let supplies enter Gaza, or remove its representatives from Iranian soil by noon on January 1, 2009. The organizations said that they intended to take over the Egyptian representation, and threatened that the fate of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would be the same as that of the late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

An identical ultimatum was issued to Jordan’s representatives in Iran. On December 31, firebombs were thrown at the Jordanian representation.

A newspaper close to former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been closed down for publishing an article in which “it sanitised the Zionist regime’s crimes in Gaza,” and suggested some supporters of the Palestinians were a “terrorist group” and that the Palestinians who sheltered in kindergartens and hospitals “caused the bombings and killing of children and civilians,” Mohammad Parvizi of the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry told IRNA.[29]

On the regional level, the Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili met in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on January 3 to discuss “means for the Islamic countries to move and take practical measures to compel Israel to immediately stop the massacres committed against the Palestinian people and ways to open the crossings and break the siege imposed on Gaza Strip.” Jalili emphasized his country’s keenness on the coordination and cooperation with Syria regarding what is going on in Gaza.[30]

Saeed Jalili also held talks in Damascus with Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal and Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Abdullah Shallah. Jalili and the accompanying delegation headed then to Lebanon.[31]

The Hizballah threat. Iran’s close cooperation with its Lebanese proxy organization, Hizballah, is the most efficient tool to intervene in the Gaza conflict, if it deems necessary.

Responding to the Israeli military campaign against Hamas in Gaza, Hizballah denounced the Jewish state and organized large rallies. Hizballah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah went so far as to call for a popular insurrection against the pro-West regime in Egypt, whose stance was not deemed sufficiently supportive of Hamas.[32]
Regional implications of Hamas control of Gaza

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit responded to Nasrallah’s threats: “They have actually declared war on Egypt….” And when he says “they” he means Iran, Syria, Hizballah, and Hamas.

It should be noted that even before the takeover of Gaza Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak expressed great concern over the increasing strength of Hamas, declaring that the organization will never sign a peace agreement with Israel. He said that the Egyptian government is at a loss regarding the future of the Gaza Strip. Mubarak also said that Egypt did not accept Hamas in power, especially in light of its growing ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, which leads the opposition in Egypt.[33]

A year and a half ago, Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf Bakheet accused Hamas of smuggling from Syria “weapons that included rockets, explosives, and automatic rifles,” one of several attempts foiled by Jordanian intelligence. As a result, Jordan arrested members of the organization who received instructions from a Hamas leader in Syria and were planning to carry out attacks in the country.[34]

Egypt and Jordan consider that Hamas’ success in gaining control of the PA could not only radicalize the Palestinians and the conflict with Israel but also constitute a dangerous precedent for their own Islamists. At the same time they worry that too much opposition to Hamas could produce instability in the West Bank and Gaza and do not want to be portrayed as adversaries of a democratically elected Palestinian government.

Arab countries appeared deeply divided over how to respond to the latest escalation in fighting between Israel and Hamas, with sharply differing comments from foreign ministers at the opening of an emergency Arab League meeting in Cairo on January 1, 2009. Moderate Arabs blamed Palestinian disunity for the crisis and more radical states, some of whom did not attend, urged collective action to defend the Palestinians against Israel. In the most striking comments, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, criticized the Palestinians for their inability to remain united behind President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah – an implicit condemnation of Hamas.[35]

Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, has made similar criticisms, and he has essentially told Arab nations – and Iran – that want Egypt to come to the defense of Hamas to mind their own business. The chairman of the Egyptian parliament’s foreign affairs committee openly declared that “Egypt won’t tolerate the existence of an Islamic state at its border.”

The state-controlled Egyptian media have blamed Hamas for refusing to renew the six-month cease-fire with Israel and being the main cause of the current violence, for which it also condemns Israel.

Abdel Moneim Said, director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo recognizes that given the deep divisions among Palestinians and a Gaza controlled by Hamas, the Egyptian government “must make difficult choices” and is trying to work realistically with the situation in Gaza, where a radical group took over the territories next to Sinai, a sensitive subject for Egypt. So Egypt is trying to support Palestinian humanitarian needs, but not allow a radical group to control the situation, dominate the Palestinian issue or affect Egyptian internal politics.”[36] According to Rania Al Malky, chief editor of Daily News Egypt, the Egyptian government is making it clear it wants Hamas to fail. because it is “afraid of the internal situation,” and doesn’t “want a successful Islamic or Muslim Brotherhood experiment on [its] own border.”

The Saudis and Gulf Arabs publicly and loudly look at Gaza, and criticize Israel. But in private they look at Gaza and see the Iranian axis. The real conflict is Iran-Syria against Egypt-Saudi Arabia. Islamists are seeking to conquer the region from Arab nationalists.[37]

Hamas is criticized even in his past Gulf strongholds. In October 2008, Moussa Abu Marzouq, deputy head of the Damascus-based political wing of Hamas, gave an interview to the Qatari daily Al-Raya(1) in which he expressed surprise at the UAE’s demand for sovereignty over the three islands Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Moussa, which have been in Iranian possession since the Shah’s era. Abu Marzouq’s statements sparked anger against Hamas; in one reaction, a columnist for the UAE daily, Al-Ittihad Muhammad Khalfan Al-Sawafi, extrapolated from Abu Marzouq’s statements that Hamas’ claim to Palestinian territory could likewise be questioned, and that the agendas of Hamas and Iran were political rather than religious.[38]


The present conflict in Gaza must therefore be understood in its broad regional context.

Israel is fighting not only Hamas, a radical Islamist religious/political movement whose ideological and strategic goal is to destroy the Jewish state in order to build on it a Taliban-style one, but is facing a coalition of radical actors – Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas – which is responsible for the destabilization of the entire Middle East for the last two decades.[39]

This is an axis of destabilization led by the radical Khomeinist regime in Tehran, whose president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad threatens to wipe out Israel from the map of the world but in reality is striving to achieve a hegemonic position in the Middle East and the Gulf as a basis to become “an invincible global power… as soon as it achieves advanced technologies,” as he proudly declared in October 2006.

Unfortunately, as a result of the inconclusive results of Israel’s Second Lebanon War of July-August 2006 and the impotence of the international community to effectively implement the Security Council resolution 1701, Hizballah has rearmed to the teeth with Iranian and Syrian support and has now an evaluated arsenal of 30,000 to 40,000 missiles, twice the number it possessed in 2006, many of which can hit Israel’s main population centers.

The campaign against Hamas is raging only months from the spring 2009 elections in Lebanon and the very real possibility that Hizballah would take control of its government, and in the year during which Iran could attain the nuclear capability.

Hamas is a crucial element for Iran because it is the only Sunni member of the coalition, a faction of the broader Muslim Brotherhood movement (the Sunni Syria is actually led by an Alawi/Shia dictatorship), and represents the Palestinian cause, so dear to the Arabs and Muslims worldwide.

Hamas entrenched and victorious in the Gaza Strip represents a deadly threat to the moderate leadership in the West Bank and affects the stability and possibly the survival of the moderate regimes in Jordan and Egypt, thus playing in the hands of the hegemonic aspirations of Tehran.

It is imperative therefore for Israel to win decisively the present war against Hamas, the first step in order to back off the until now successful Iranian coalition.


[1] Ely Karmon, “Hudna is no solution,” Haaretz, January 2, 2008.

[2] Frisch, Hillel, “The Iran-Hamas Alliance: Threat and Folly,” Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies Perspectives Paper No. 28, May 2, 2007, p. 1.

[3] Rekhess, Elie, “The Terrorist Connection—Iran, the Islamic Jihad and Hamas,” Justice (Tel Aviv), May 1995, p. 4.

[4] Karmon, Ely, “Counterterrorism Policy: Why Tehran Starts and Stops Terrorism?” Middle East Quarterly, Vol., V, No. 4, December 1998.

[5] Kurz, Anat & Tal, Nahman, “Hamas: Radical Islam in a National Struggle,” 76. Jaffee Center for Strategic Center Memorandum, No. 48, July 1997.

[6] Frisch, “The Iran-Hamas Alliance: Threat and Folly.”

[7] Kurz & Tal, “Hamas: Radical Islam in a National Struggle.”

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] The first suicide attack prior to the signing of the Oslo Agreement occurred on April 16, 1993, when a Hamas car bomb blew up outside a roadside near Mehola, a farming settlement in the Jordan Valley. Two people were killed, one of them the suicide bomber. Between 13 September 1993 (the signing of the Oslo Agreement) and 31 December 1996, 202 Israeli citizens were killed in terrorist attacks—132 of them civilians and 70 from the security forces. A total of 979 Israelis were wounded, 614 of them civilians and 365 from the security forces. Of the fatalities, 128 were victims of suicide attacks. Overall, 80 of the fatalities and 395 of the injured resulted from Hamas operations, while 48 fatalities and 243 were the result of Islamic Jihad operations. See Kurz & Tal, “Hamas: Radical Islam in a National Struggle.”

[11] An intelligence report dated December 10, 2000, by Amin al-Hindi, head of the PA’s General Intelligence, noted the transfer of funds by Iran to Hamas and other organizations opposed to the Palestinian Authority. The sum of $400,000 was transferred by Iran to the `Iz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades and another $700,000 to other Islamist organizations opposed to the PA. The money was meant to encourage suicide bombings. Barsky, Yehudit, “The New Leadership of Hamas. A Profile of Khalid Al-Mish`al,” AJC Series on Terrorism, The American Jewish Committee, June 2004, p. 6.

[12] Frisch, “The Iran-Hamas Alliance: Threat and Folly,” p. 2.

[13] Ely Karmon, Hamas and the al-Aqsa Intifada, (from a presentation at a conference in August 2001).

[14] Milton-Edwards, Beverley, “Prepared for Power: Hamas, Governance and Conflict,” Civil Wars, Vol.7, No.4 (Winter 2005), pp.311–329.

[15] The Quartet on the Middle East (or simply The Quartet) is a foursome of nations and international entities involved in mediating the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Quartet includes the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations. The group was established by the Spanish Prime Minister Aznar in Madrid (Spain) in 2002, as a result of the escalating conflict in the Middle East.

[16] Kostiner, Joseph, “Saudi Regional Strategy. The Power of Mediation,” Tel Aviv Notes, The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University, March 25, 2007, at

[17] Karmon, Ely, “Palestine, Playground for Islamist Actors,” Palestinian-Israeli crossfire,, May 1, 2006, Ed. 17, at bl010506ed17.html#isr2.

[18] IRNA, January 20, 2006.

[19] “Hamas says aid from Iran is forthcoming,” The Jerusalem Post, October 12, 2006.

[20] “Palestinian PM in Tehran nods to Iranian support,” Reuters, December 8, 2006.

[21] “Hamas threatens to step up attacks if Israel strikes Iran,” Haaretz, December 15, 2005.

[22] Ruth Margalit, “Report: Hamas leader says hundreds of militants trained in Iran, Syria,” Haaretz, March 9, 2008.

[23] Richard Boudreaux, “Israeli intelligence chief: Iran training Hamas,” Los Angeles Times, March 6, 2007.

[24] Ibid.

[25] “U.S.: With Iranian help, Hamas forces growing faster than Fatah,” Reuters, March 21, 2007.

[26] Yaghi, Mohammad and Fishman ,Ben, “Hamas’s Coup and the Challenges Ahead for Fatah,” PolicyWatch, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, No. 1248 , June 19, 2007.

[27] Ronny Sofer, “’Hamas army’ established in Gaza, intelligence source says,” YnetNews, July 10, 2007.

[28] Khamenei Decrees: Israel is Kafer-e-Harbi; Iranian Martyrdom Seekers Await Khameini’s Orders; Iranian Student Organizations Threaten to Take Over Egyptian, Jordanian Diplomatic Representations, MEMRI Special Dispatch, No. 2169, December 31, 2009.

[29] Iranian newspaper reportedly closed for Gaza article, Reuters, December 31, 2008.

[30] Xinhua, January 4, 2009.

[31] Tehran Times, January 4, 2009.

[32] David Schenker, “Hizballah Will Defend Iran — Not Palestinians,” PolicyWatch, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, No. 1444, December 30, 2008.

[33] Barak Ravid, “Mubarak: Hamas will never sign a peace agreement with Israel,” Haaretz, May 17, 2007.

[34] Ma’an News,April 21, 2006.

[35] Steven Erlanger, “Divisions Deep at Arab League Meeting,” `NYT), January 1 2009.

[36] Steven Erlanger, “Egypt, Feeling Pressure From the Arab World on Gaza, Also Feels It From Within