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Hamas building base in Lebanon?

The head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, Nadav Argaman, has warned that Hamas — the Sunni terror organization that runs the Gaza Strip — is strengthening its ties with Iran and is working to set up a base in Lebanon on Israel’s northern border.

Iran already funds the Shi’a Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah, which operates in southern Lebanon.

Last month Yahya al Sinwar, military leader of Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, told international reporters that Iran was once again the biggest financial supporter of the terrorist governing authority in Gaza. In recent years a rift had developed between Iran and Hamas regarding the war in Syria as Hamas would not support Syrian president Basher al Assad.

“Relations with Iran are excellent and Iran is the largest supporter of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades with money and arms,” Sinwar said.

At a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Argaman said that Hamas “continued to invest considerable resources in preparation for a future conflict, even at the cost of its citizens’ welfare.”

Indeed, the Gaza Strip is in dire trouble since Hamas took over in 2006. Unemployment stands at around 40 percent and the infrastructure there is extremely poor.

Israel and advocacy groups such as the Jerusalem Institute of Justice have accused Hamas of siphoning off huge sums of foreign aid for their own purposes, to the detriment of its citizens. Gaza residents were on a drastically reduced electricity supply this summer while Hamas leader Khaled Mashal is, according to JIJ, worth some $2.6 billion.

Hamas’ restored relationship with Iran is something for Israel to keep a close eye on, as the organization’s expressed aim is the destruction of the Jewish state.

“The relationship [between Iran and Hamas] today is developing and returning to what it was in the old days,” Sinwar said according to Reuters news agency. “This will be reflected in the resistance (against Israel) and in (Hamas‘) agenda to achieve the liberation.”

Karen Faulkner
Karen Faulkner is a British Israeli citizen. She has a Master's degree in Human Rights & Transitional Justice from Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

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