Egypt

The Pronk Pops Show 1251 May 6, 2019, Story 1: United States Sends Aircraft Carrier Group and Bomber Task Force To Middle East to Counter Iranian Threats — Videos — Story 2: After Nearly 700 Rockets From Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza Strip Kills 4 Israelis and 22 Palestinians — Israeli Airstrikes Attack Hamas and Kill Commander in Gaza City — Ceasefire Reached But Most Likely Will Not Hold — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Threatens To Impose a 25% Tariff on $200 Billion of Chinese Exports into United States After Chinese Communist Renege on Trade Deal Commitments — Time To Pull The Trigger on 25% Tariff on Chinese Goods — Videos

Posted on May 7, 2019. Filed under: 2020 Democrat Candidates, 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, American History, Banking System, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Business, China, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Communications, Congress, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Deep State, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Egypt, Elections, Empires, Employment, Energy, European History, Federal Government, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Spending, Health, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Joe Biden, Labor Economics, Legal Immigration, Life, Lying, Media, Middle East, News, People, Politics, Polls, Progressives, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Rule of Law, Scandals, Senate, South America, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Trade Policy, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

Project_1

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1251 May 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1250 May 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1249 May 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1248 May 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1247 April 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1246 April 29, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1245 April 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1244 April 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1243 April 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1242 April 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1241 April 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1240 April 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1239 April 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1238 April 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1237 April 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1236 April 9, 201

Pronk Pops Show 1235 April 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1234 April 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1233 April 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1232 April 1, 2019 Part 2

Pronk Pops Show 1232 March 29, 2019 Part 1

Pronk Pops Show 1231 March 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1230 March 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1229 March 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1228 March 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1227 March 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1226 March 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1225 March 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1224 March 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1223 March 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1222 March 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1221 March 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1220 March 5, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1219 March 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1218 March 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1217 February 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1216 February 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1215 February 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1214 February 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1213 February 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1212 February 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1211 February 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1210 February 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1209 February 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1208 February 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1207 February 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1206 February 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1205 February 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1204 February 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1203 February 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1202 February 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1201 February 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1200 February 1, 2019

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Story 1: United States Sends Aircraft Carrier Group and Bomber Task Force To Middle East to Counter Iranian Threats — Videos —

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US vs Iran – Strait of Hormuz

HOW THE U.S. MILITARY WOULD STRIKE IRAN: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW || RHINO 2018

U.S. sends USS Lincoln to Mideast to warn Iran

U.S. sending aircraft carrier, bomber to Middle East to warn Iran

US sends aircraft carrier and bomber task force to Middle East

Top CIA analyst: Israel partisans push US to war

Iran threatens to block main oil rout

With China Defiant on Iranian Oil, Trump’s Sanctions Strategy is Tested

China accuses the US of having a “mobster” mentality

The Collapse of the American Empire?

Chris Hedges – American Empire In Decline

Billy Joel Goodnight Saigon Vietnam Tribute

American Pie Don McLean Full Length 1989 Video from Original 1971 72 Song

Don McLean – American Pie better quality

American Pie

A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while
But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step
I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died
So
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?
Well, I know that you’re in love with him
‘Cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues
I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died
I started singin’
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
But, that’s not how it used to be
When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me
Oh and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned
And while Lennon read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died
We were singin’
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast
It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast
Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance
‘Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?
We started singin’
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again
So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
‘Cause fire is the devil’s only friend
Oh and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan’s spell
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died
He was singin’
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play
And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
And they were singing
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die
They were singing
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
Songwriters: Don McLean

Scoop: Israel passed White House intelligence on possible Iran plot

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu with national security adviser John Bolton. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty Images

Israel passed information on an alleged Iranian plot to attack U.S. interests in the Gulf to the U.S. before national security adviser John Bolton threatened Iran with “unrelenting force” last night, senior Israeli officials told me.

Why it matters: Bolton’s unusual and aggressive statement included news that the U.S. would move an aircraft carrier to the region. The officials said intelligence gathered by Israel, primarily by the Mossad intelligence agency, is understood to be part of the reason for Bolton’s announcement.

Behind the scenes: Information about possible Iranian plots against the U.S. or its allies in the Gulf were raised two weeks ago in talks held at the White House between an Israeli delegation headed by national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat and a U.S. team led by Bolton, the Israeli officials told me.

  • The intelligence about a possible Iranian plot is not very specific at this stage, but the officials said it was clear the threat was against a U.S. target in the Gulf or U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia or the UAE.

The bottom line: An Israeli official told me Mossad drew several scenarios for what the Iranians might be planning:

“It is still unclear to us what the Iranians are trying to do and how they are planning to do it, but it is clear to us that the Iranian temperature is on the rise as a result of the growing U.S. pressure campaign against them, and they are considering retaliating against U.S. interests in the Gulf.”

— Israeli official

US sending aircraft carrier to Mideast, citing Iran threats

49 minutes ago
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks to the media on the sidelines of the Arctic Council ministers’ working dinner at the Arktikum museum in Rovaniemi, Finland, Monday, May 6, 2019. The U.S. is dispatching an aircraft carrier and other military resources to the Middle East following what it says are indications that Iran and its proxy forces are preparing to possibly attack U.S. forces in the region. (Mandel Ngan/Pool Photo via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is sending an aircraft carrier group to the Middle East ahead of schedule and warning that Iran and its proxy forces are showing “troubling and escalatory” indications of a possible attack on American forces in the region.

Exactly what prompted the action was unclear, but it marked a further step in sharply rising tensions between the Trump administration and the Islamic Republic.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said Sunday night the U.S. was deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Middle East, intending to send a message that “unrelenting force” will meet any attack on American forces or allies.

Neither Bolton nor other officials would provide any details about the supposed threat, which comes as the Trump administration wages a campaign of intensifying pressure against Iran and nearly a year after it withdrew from an Obama-era nuclear deal with Tehran.

In Iran, the semi-official ISNA news agency on Monday quoted an anonymous official as saying that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani planned a broadcast address Wednesday and might discuss “counteractions” Tehran will take over America’s withdrawal from the international nuclear deal.

The agreement limited Iran’s enrichment of uranium amid Western concerns that Tehran’s program could allow it to build nuclear weapons. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes.

With its pressure campaign, the U.S. administration is trying to get Iran to halt activities such as supporting militant activities that destabilize the Middle East and threaten U.S. allies, including Israel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“Our objective is to get the Islamic Republic of Iran to behave like a normal nation,” Pompeo told reporters during a visit to Finland. “When they do that, we will welcome them back.”

The order to the carrier group would get the Abraham Lincoln into the Middle East about two weeks earlier than initially planned following exercises in the Mediterranean region, according to a U.S. defense official who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, so spoke on the condition of anonymity. It forces the ships to cancel a planned stop in Croatia.

For years, the U.S. maintained a carrier presence in the Persian Gulf and Middle East region. During the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there were two carriers in the area, but that was reduced to one.

Last year the administration decided to end the continuous carrier presence, and send a strike group only intermittently into the region. The U.S. Navy currently has no aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

Bolton said the U.S. wants to send a message that “unrelenting force” will meet any attack on U.S. interests or those of America’s allies.

Jon Alterman, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, questioned whether the U.S. adequately understands Iranian motivations and actions, and whether the military move was warranted.

“I don’t think we should let the Iranians pull our chain at the time and place of their choosing,” he said. “You can communicate seriousness to the Iranians without moving a lot of assets around, because moving assets is expensive and keeps assets from being in other places.”

He added, however, that Iran has the capability to harm Americans, but it’s difficult to assess the situation without knowing more about the intelligence that prompted the move.

Along with the Lincoln, Bolton mentioned “a bomber task force,” which suggested the Pentagon is deploying land-based bomber aircraft somewhere in the region, perhaps on the Arabian Peninsula.

Pompeo said the actions undertaken by the U.S. have been in the works for a while. The request for the accelerated move came over the weekend from the military’s U.S. Central Command after reviewing various intelligence reports for some time, according to the U.S. official. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved the request on Sunday.

“It is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests,” Pompeo said. “If these actions take place, if they do by some third-party proxy, a militia group, Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranian leadership directly accountable for that.”

Asked if the Iranian action was related to the deadly events in Gaza and Israel — militants fired rockets into Israel on Sunday and Israel responded with airstrikes — Pompeo said, “It is separate from that.”

The Trump administration has been intensifying its pressure campaign against Iran.

Last month, President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, a decision that primarily affects the five remaining major importers: China and India and U.S. treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

The U.S. also recently designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group, the first ever for an entire division of another government.

Trump withdrew from the Obama administration’s landmark nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and, in the months that followed, reimposed punishing sanctions including those targeting Iran’s oil, shipping and banking sectors.

 

Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, other resources dispatched to Middle East over unspecified Iran threats

Story 2: After Nearly 700 Rockets From Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza Strip Kills 4 Israelis and 22 Palestinians — Israeli Airstrikes Attack Hamas and Kill Commander in Gaza City — Ceasefire Reached But Most Likely Will Not Hold — Videos

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Israel’s Netanyahu orders ‘massive strikes’ on Gaza militants | DW News

State of Palestine: Hamas official reportedly killed in Israeli air strike

Gaza Fires Rockets and Israel Strikes Targets in Latest Flare-Up

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Israeli military: Rockets fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv

Who are the Palestinians? An Arab Invention. CBN.

Israel and Palestine Explained

War – Edwin Starr

Billy Joel – Piano Man (Video)

Piano Man
It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in
There’s an old man sitting next to me
Makin’ love to his tonic and gin
He says, “Son, can you play me a memory
I’m not really sure how it goes
But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man’s clothes”
La la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum
Sing us a song, you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feelin’ alright
Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free
And he’s quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there’s someplace that he’d rather be
He says, “Bill, I believe this is killing me”
As the smile ran away from his face
“Well I’m sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this place”
Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum
Now Paul is a real estate novelist
Who never had time for a wife
And he’s talkin’ with Davy, who’s still in the Navy
And probably will be for life
And the waitress is practicing politics
As the businessmen slowly get stoned
Yes, they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it’s better than drinkin’ alone
Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright
It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
‘Cause he knows that it’s me they’ve been comin’ to see
To forget about life for a while
And the piano, it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, “Man, what are you doin’ here?”
Oh, la la la, di da da
La la, di da da da dum
Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you got us feeling alright
Songwriters: Billy Joel
Piano Man lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start the Fire (Official Video)

 

Israel kill Hamas commander in airstrike and ‘prepares Gaza ground invasion’ as it hits back after 600 militant rockets kill four and injure 66

  • An Israeli man, 58, became the first citizen to be killed in the Middle East hostilities since the 2014 war
  • Seven Palestinians, including a pregnant mother and her baby daughter, were also reportedly killed 
  • Israeli PM Netanyahu said Hamas is paying a ‘heavy price’ and has ordered ground troops up to Gaza’s border
  • Three Israelis, including an 80-year-old woman, were also wounded by rocket fire in the weekend of combat

Israel has reportedly killed a Hamas commander in a series of airstrikes amid reports it is planning to invade Gaza following a series of skirmishes with Palestinians.

A military statement said that commander Hamed Ahmed Abed Khudri had been killed in a targeted air strike on his car on Sunday.

Khudri was reportedly responsible for transferring funds from Iran to armed factions in Gaza. Palestinian witnesses said he was killed in an air strike on his car.

Four Israelis and 22 Palestinians, including two pregnant woman and an infant, have died so far in air strikes which began as Palestinians fired 600 rockets across the border on Friday.

It comes as Israel’s ground troops are reportedly preparing to siege the Gaza perimeter.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Hamas, the dissident group which rules Gaza, is paying a ‘heavy price’ for its attacks on his country.

And he has ordered a large military corps up to the besieged enclave as the month-long ceasefire is left in tatters.

A building in Gaza city is totally destroyed by an explosion on Sunday as Israel fired high-powered missiles across the border into Palestinian territory

A building in Gaza city is totally destroyed by an explosion on Sunday as Israel fired high-powered missiles across the border into Palestinian territory

A missile from Israel's 'Iron Dome' defence system is launched to defend the border from Palestinian rocket attacks. The Iron Dome works to intercept the rockets and explode them in midair

A missile from Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ defence system is launched to defend the border from Palestinian rocket attacks. The Iron Dome works to intercept the rockets and explode them in midair

Palestinians inspect a destroyed car of Hamas member Hamed Al-Khodari after it was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Sunday

Smoke rises after Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes in Gaza City as part of Benjamin Netanyahu's retaliation front

Smoke rises after Israeli warplanes carried out airstrikes in Gaza City as part of Benjamin Netanyahu’s retaliation front

Israel's troops are reportedly preparing to siege the Gaza border (airstrikes aftermath in the Strip) after Palestinian militants fired more than 450 rockets on to their territory which killed the first Israeli citizen since 2014

Israel’s troops are reportedly preparing to siege the Gaza border (airstrikes aftermath in the Strip) after Palestinian militants fired more than 450 rockets on to their territory which killed the first Israeli citizen since 2014

Seven Palestinians have also died, including a pregnant woman and a one-year-old-baby, in airstrikes which formed part of Israel's retaliation (pictured: building in the enclave destroyed)

Seven Palestinians have also died, including a pregnant woman and a one-year-old-baby, in airstrikes which formed part of Israel’s retaliation (pictured: building in the enclave destroyed)

Palestinians are seen in a damaged house near a totally collapsed building after Israeli army carried out airstrikes in Rafah, Gaza

Israelis take cover as a siren sounds warning of incoming rockets from Gaza during cross-border hostilities in the southern city of Ashkelon

Israelis take cover as a siren sounds warning of incoming rockets from Gaza during cross-border hostilities in the southern city of Ashkelon

Israeli airstrikes targeted the city of Rafah on the Gaza strip after Hamas militants launched a barrage of rockets across the border

I

In a statement to his cabinet this morning, Mr Netanyahu said: ‘I instructed the military this morning to continue its massive strikes on terror elements in the Gaza Strip and ordered it to reinforce the troops around the Gaza Strip with tanks, artillery and infantry force.’

Moshe Agadi, a 58-year-old father of four, was struck in the chest by shrapnel during a missile strike on the city of Ashkelon near the border and marked the fighting’s first Israeli fatality in five years.

Eight Palestinian militants have also died in airstrikes which formed part of Israel’s retaliation that Mr Netanyahu has vowed to continue.

A pregnant woman and a one-year-old baby were also killed, but Israel is claiming that their deaths were caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket.

And Israeli Defence Forces are standing by to invade the blockaded Gaza strip, according to the Independent.

The fighting came as leaders from Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, and the smaller armed faction Islamic Jihad, were in Cairo for talks with Egyptian mediators aimed at preventing a fraying ceasefire from collapsing altogether.

It also comes at a sensitive time for Israel, which is to mark its Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday this week, before hosting the Eurovision song contest in the middle of the month. Prolonged fighting could overshadow the Eurovision and potentially deter international travelers from coming in for the festive event.

On Saturday video footage of a family screaming in fear during rocket attacks was posted on social media.

Israel and Hamas, an Islamic group that opposes Israel’s existence, have fought three wars and dozens of smaller flare-ups of violence since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.

A picture taken in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 5, 2019 shows an explosion following an airstrike by Israel

The fighting came as leaders from Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, and the smaller armed faction Islamic Jihad, were in Cairo for talks with Egyptian mediators (pictured: A target explodes during airstrikes in Gaza City, May 4)

An explosion is pictured among buildings during an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City on May 4, 2019

Palestinians gather on the beach in Gaza City as smoke and fire billow following airstrikes by Israel in response to rockets fired by Palestinian militants

The Gaza health ministry reported a 22-year-old man as well as a 14-month-old baby and her pregnant mother killed, with 17 others wounded

The Gaza health ministry reported a 22-year-old man as well as a 14-month-old baby and her pregnant mother killed, with 17 others wounded

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the military did not have any information on the incident involving the baby. The army said earlier it was targeting only military sites (pictured: Gaza City)

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the military did not have any information on the incident involving the baby. The army said earlier it was targeting only military sites (pictured: Gaza City)

Missiles are fired from Israel's Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells,

Missiles are fired from Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells,

Gaza's militant strongholds came under fire (fireball pictured) from Israeli troops after they launched rockets into southern Israel

Gaza’s militant strongholds came under fire (fireball pictured) from Israeli troops after they launched rockets into southern Israel

One woman was seriously injured in a rocket strike on the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, some 13 miles from the Gaza border, police said (pictured: Gaza City)

One woman was seriously injured in a rocket strike on the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, some 13 miles from the Gaza border, police said (pictured: Gaza City)

They engaged in several days of heavy fighting in March before Egypt brokered a truce in which Israel agreed to ease a crippling blockade on Gaza in exchange for a halt in rocket fire.

In recent days, Hamas accused Israel of reneging on its pledges as militants began to fire rockets into Israel.

In a familiar scene, air raid sirens wailed across southern Israel throughout the day and into the evening as barrages of rockets were repeatedly fired.

Retaliatory airstrikes caused large explosions to thunder across Gaza, as plumes of smoke rose into the air. Outgoing Palestinian rockets left long trails of smoke behind them.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said a 14-month-old girl, Seba Abu Arar, was killed in an Israeli airstrike that hit their home in east Gaza City. Her pregnant mother, 37, was severely wounded and died later at the hospital, the ministry added. Another child was moderately injured.

Pictured: Smoke and flames rise following an Israeli airstrike on a building in Gaza city Israeli airstrike
Retaliatory airstrikes caused large explosions to thunder across Gaza, as plumes of smoke rose into the air. Outgoing Palestinian rockets left long trails of smoke behind them (pictured: An explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike)

Retaliatory airstrikes caused large explosions to thunder across Gaza, as plumes of smoke rose into the air. Outgoing Palestinian rockets left long trails of smoke behind them (pictured: An explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike)

The Israeli military accused the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad of instigating the latest round of violence by shooting and wounding two Israeli soldiers Friday (pictured: Fire rises in Gaza on May 4)

The Israeli military accused the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad of instigating the latest round of violence by shooting and wounding two Israeli soldiers Friday (pictured: Fire rises in Gaza on May 4)

In the morning, Gaza’s Health Ministry said a 22-year-old Palestinian man was killed by an Israeli airstrike, and 13 other Palestinians were wounded. Late on Saturday, health officials said a 25-year-old man was killed by an Israeli drone missile as he was traveling on a motorbike in northern Gaza.

In Israel, medical officials said an 80-year-old woman was severely wounded by rocket fire, a 50-year-old man was moderately wounded by shrapnel and a teenage boy was mildly hurt as he ran for cover. Israeli police said a house in the coastal city of Ashkelon was damaged.

The Israeli military accused the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad of instigating the latest round of violence by shooting and wounding two Israeli soldiers Friday. It said the shooting was not coordinated with Hamas, but said it holds Hamas, as the territory’s ruling power, responsible for all fire emanating from Gaza.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said ‘the United States strongly condemns the ongoing barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad from Gaza upon innocent civilians and their communities across Israel.’

‘We stand with Israel and fully support its right to self defense against these abhorrent attacks,’ she said in a statement.

Smoke rises after Israeli army carried out airstrike in Rafah, Gaza on May 4, 2019

Smoke rises after Israeli army carried out airstrike in Rafah, Gaza on May 4, 2019

Israeli bomb squad inspect the remains of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli Kibbutz of Yad Mordechai

Israeli bomb squad inspect the remains of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli Kibbutz of Yad Mordechai

A picture taken from the southern Israeli village of Netiv Haasara shows an explosion caused by an Israeli air strike across the border in the Gaza Strip+28

A picture taken from the southern Israeli village of Netiv Haasara shows an explosion caused by an Israeli air strike across the border in the Gaza Strip

By nightfall, the army said militants had fired well over 200 rockets into Israel. It said dozens of the rockets were intercepted by its Iron Dome rocket-defense system. But it closed roads near the Gaza border to civilian traffic and closed a popular beach as a security precaution.

The military said it struck some 120 targets in Gaza, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad military compounds, a Hamas rocket-manufacturing site and a ‘high-end Islamic Jihad tunnel’ that it said stretched into Israel for use in attacks.

Late on Saturday, Israel struck a building that it said housed Hamas military intelligence offices in Gaza City. Another airstrike hit a six-story commercial and residential building. Journalists said the building housed the office of Turkey’s news agency Anadolu. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

COGAT, the Israeli defense body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said it was closing the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast altogether and sealing Israel’s two land crossings with Gaza. The crossings are used by Palestinian medical patients to enter and exit the territory, and provide the main entry for cargo into the blockaded territory.

The U.N.’s Mideast envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, said the United Nations was working with Egypt to restore calm and called on all sides to ‘de-escalate’ and restore recent understandings.

A missile fired from Israel's Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells races towards Gaza

A missile fired from Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells races towards Gaza

Damage to a house is seen after a rocket fired from Gaza Strip hit in the southern Israeli city Kiryat Gat, May 4

Damage to a house is seen after a rocket fired from Gaza Strip hit in the southern Israeli city Kiryat Gat, May 4

A statement from Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, allied to Hamas, claimed responsibility for at least some of the rocket fire and said it was prepared for more if necessary (pictured, rocket fired from Gaza towards Israel)

‘Those who seek to destroy them will bear responsibility for a conflict that will have grave consequences for all,’ he said in a statement.

The European Union’s ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, sharply criticized the rocket attacks on Twitter, saying ‘firing indiscriminately against civilians (is) unacceptable.’

Islamic Jihad, which sometimes acts independently of Hamas, threatened to fire longer range rockets toward Israel’s heartland. In a video that also was seen an implicit claim of responsibility, it showed archived footage of militants attaching warheads to rockets.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007.

Under the recent understandings, Israel agreed to expand a fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, increased imports into Gaza and allow the Gulf state of Qatar to deliver aid to cash-strapped Gaza. But like previous Egyptian-mediated agreements, those understandings have shown signs of unraveling in recent days.

On Friday, two Palestinians were fatally shot by Israeli forces during the weekly protests along Israel-Gaza perimeter fence. Palestinian militants also shot and wounded two Israeli soldiers along the border fence. No group claimed responsibility for the shooting. In response, Israeli aircraft carried out retaliatory strikes, killing two Hamas militants.

Hamas has hoped that Egyptian mediators could further ease the blockade, which has ravaged Gaza’s economy. For over a year, the Islamic group has orchestrated mass demonstrations each week along the Israeli frontier to draw attention to Gaza’s plight. More than 200 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier have been killed in the border protests.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6994193/Israels-army-ready-launch-ground-invasion-Gaza-militants-fired-450-rockets.html

Hamas

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Hamas
حركة المقاومة الاسلامية
Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum
Chief of the Political Bureau Ismail Haniya
Deputy Chief of the Political Bureau Mousa Abu Marzouq and Khaled Mashal[1]
Founder Sheikh Ahmed YassinAbdel Aziz al-RantissiMahmoud Zahar and 4 others.
Founded 1987
Preceded by Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood
Headquarters GazaGaza Strip
Ideology
Religion Sunni Islam
International affiliation Muslim Brotherhood
Axis of Resistance
Colours Green
Legislative Council (2006)

74 / 132

Party flag
Flag of Hamas.svg
Website
hamas.ps/en

Hamas (Arabic: حماس Ḥamās, an acronym of حركة المقاومة الاسلامية Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah Islamic Resistance Movement) is a Palestinian SunniIslamist fundamentalist organization.[9][10] It has a social service wing, Dawah, and a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. It has been the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip since its takeover of that area in 2007.[11][12] During this period it fought several wars with Israel.[13] It is regarded, either in whole or in part, as a terrorist organization by several countries and international organizations, most notably by Israel, the United States and the European Union.[14][15][16] Russia, China, and Turkey are among countries who do not regard it so.[17][18][19][20]

Hamas was founded in 1987,[21][22] soon after the First Intifada broke out, as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood,[23][24] which in its Gaza branch had been non-confrontational towards Israel, refrained from resistance, and was hostile to the PLO.[25] Co-founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin stated in 1987, and the Hamas Charter affirmed in 1988, that Hamas was founded to liberate Palestine, including modern-day Israel, from Israeli occupation and to establish an Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[26][27] The group has stated that it may accept a 10-year truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders and allows Palestinian refugees from 1948, including their descendants, to return to what is now Israel,[28][29][30][31] although clarifying that this does not mean recognition of Israel or the end of the conflict.[32] Hamas’s military wing objected to the truce offer.[33] Analysts have said that it seems clear that Hamas knows that many of its conditions for the truce could never be met.[34]

The military wing of Hamas has launched attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers, often describing them as retaliatory, in particular for assassinations of the upper echelon of their leadership.[35] Tactics have included suicide bombings and, since 2001, rocket attacks.[36][37][38][39] Hamas’s rocket arsenal, though mainly consisting of short-range homemade Qassam rockets,[40] also includes long-range weapons that have reached major Israeli cities including Tel Aviv and Haifa.[41][42] The attacks on civilians have been condemned as war crimes and crimes against humanity by human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch.[43][44] A 2017 Palestinian Center for Public Opinion poll in the Palestinian territories revealed that Hamas violence and rhetoric against Israelis are unpopular and that a majority of Palestinians would rather Hamas “accept a permanent two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.”[45]

In the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, Hamas won a plurality in the Palestinian Parliament,[46] defeating the PLO-affiliated Fatah party. Following the elections, the Quartet (the United States, Russia, United Nations, and European Union) made future foreign assistance to the PA conditional upon the future government’s commitment to non-violence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements. Hamas rejected those changes, which led to the Quartet suspending its foreign assistance program and Israel imposing economic sanctions on the Hamas-led administration.[47][48] In March 2007, a national unity government headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas was briefly formed, but this failed to restart international financial assistance.[49] Tensions over control of Palestinian security forces soon erupted in the 2007 Battle of Gaza,[49] after which Hamas took control of Gaza, while its officials were ousted from government positions in the West Bank.[49] Israel and Egypt then imposed an economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, on the grounds that Fatah forces were no longer providing security there.[50] In 2011, Hamas and Fatah announced a reconciliation agreement that provides for creation of a joint caretaker Palestinian government.[51] Progress stalled, until an April 2014 agreementto form a compromise unity government, with elections to be held in late 2014.[52]

Contents

Etymology

Hamas is an acronym of the Arabic phrase حركة المقاومة الاسلامية or Harakat al-Muqāwama al-Islāmiyya, meaning “Islamic Resistance Movement”. The Arabic word ‘hamas’ (حماس) means “courage” or “zeal”.[53] The Hamas covenant interprets its name to mean “strength and bravery”.[54][55]

Aims

Hamas, as its name (Islamic Resistance Movement) implies, aims to liberate Palestine from the Israeli occupation by resisting it.[56] And according to Hamas armed branch Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades:

To contribute in the effort of liberating Palestine and restoring the rights of the Palestinian people under the sacred Islamic teachings of the Holy Quran, the Sunnah (traditions) of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and the traditions of Muslims rulers and scholars noted for their piety and dedication.[57]

Al-Qassam Brigades aims to liberate all of Palestine from what they describe as Zionist occupation, and to achieve the rights of the Palestinian people that were robbed by the occupation, and it consider itself part of the movement of a project of national liberation.[58]

Leadership and structure

Map of key Hamas leadership nodes. 2010

Longtime leader, Khaled Meshaal

Hamas inherited from its predecessor a tripartite structure that consisted in the provision of social services, of religious training and military operations under a Shura Council. Traditionally it had four distinct functions: (a) a charitable social welfare division (dawah); (b) a military division for procuring weapons and undertaking operations (al-Mujahideen al Filastinun); (c) a security service (Jehaz Aman); and (d) a media branch (A’alam).[59] Hamas has both an internal leadership within the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and an external leadership, split between a Gaza group directed by Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook from his exile first in Damascus and then in Egypt, and a Kuwaiti group (Kuwaidia) under Khaled Mashal.[60] The Kuwaiti group of Palestinian exiles began to receive extensive funding from the Gulf States after its leader Mashal broke with Yasser Arafat‘s decision to side with Saddam Hussein in the Invasion of Kuwait, with Mashal insisting that Iraq withdraw.[61] On 6 May 2017, Hamas’ Shura Council chose Ismail Haniya to become the new leader, to replace Mashal.[62]

The exact nature of the organization is unclear, secrecy being maintained for fear of Israeli assassinations and to conceal operational activities. Formally, Hamas maintains the wings are separate and independent. Matthew Levitt maintains this is a public myth. Davis argues that they are both separate and combined for reasons of internal and external political necessity. Communication between the political and military wings of Hamas is difficult, owing to the thoroughness of Israeli intelligence surveillance and the existence of an extensive base of informants. After the assassination of Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi the occasional political direction of the militant wing diminished, with field commanders given discretional autonomy on operations.[63]

Consultative councils

The governing body is the Majlis al-Shura. The principle behind the Council is based on the Qur’anic concept of consultation and popular assembly (shura), which Hamas leaders argue provides for democracy within an Islamic framework.[64] As the organization grew more complex and Israeli pressure increased it needed a broader base for decisions, the Shura Council was renamed the ‘General Consultative Council’, elected from members of local council groups and this in turn elected a 15-member Politburo (al-Maktab al-Siyasi)[65] that made decisions at the highest level. Representatives come from Gaza, the West Bank, leaders in exile and Israeli prisons.[66] This organ was located in Damascus until the Syrian Civil War led it to transfer to Qatar in January 2012, when Hamas sided with the civil opposition against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.[66][67]

Social services wing

Hamas developed its social welfare programme by replicating the model established by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.For them, charity and the development of one’s community are prescribed by religion, and, at the same time, are to be understood as forms of resistance.[68] In Islamic tradition dawah (lit.’the call to God’) obliges the faithful to reach out to others by both proselytising and by charitable works, and typically the latter centre on the mosques which make use of both waqf endowment resources and charitable donations (zakat) to fund grassroots services like nurseries, schools, orphanages, soup kitchens, women’s activities, library services and even sporting clubs within a larger context of preaching and political discussions.[69] In the 1990s, some 85% of its budget was allocated to the provision of social services.[70] It has been called perhaps the most significant social services actor in Palestine. By 2000 it or its affiliated charities ran roughly 40% of the social institutions in the West Bank and Gaza and, with other Islamic charities, by 2005 was supporting 120,000 individuals with monthly financial support in Gaza.[71] Part of the appeal of these institutions is that they fill a vacuum in the administration by the PLO of the Palestinian territories, which had failed to cater to the demand for jobs and broad social services, and is widely viewed as corrupt.[72] As late as 2005, the budget of Hamas, drawing on global charity contributions, was mostly tied up in covering running expenses for its social programmes, which extended from the supply of housing, food and water for the needy to more general functions like financial aid, medical assistance, educational development and religious instruction. A certain accounting flexibility allowed these funds to cover both charitable causes and military operations, permitting transfer from one to the other.[73]

The dawah infrastructure itself was understood, within the Palestinian context, as providing the soil from which a militant opposition to the occupation would flower.[74] In this regard it differs from the rival Palestinian Islamic Jihadwhich lacks any social welfare network, and relies on spectacular terrorist attacks to recruit adherents.[75] In 2007, through funding from Iran, Hamas managed to allocate at a cost of $60 million, monthly stipends of $100 for 100,000 workers, and a similar sum for 3,000 fishermen laid idle by Israel’s imposition of restrictions on fishing offshore, plus grants totalling $45 million to detainees and their families.[76] Matthew Levitt argues that Hamas grants to people are subject to a rigorous cost-benefit analysis of how beneficiaries will support Hamas, with those linked to terrorist activities receiving more than others.[77] Israel holds the families of suicide bombers accountable and bulldozes their homes, whereas the families of Hamas activists who have been killed or wounded during militant operations are given an initial, one-time grant varying between $500–$5,000, together with a $100 monthly allowance. Rent assistance is also given to families whose homes have been destroyed by Israeli bombing though families unaffiliated with Hamas are said to receive less.[78][79]

Until 2007, these activities extended to the West Bank, but, after a PLO crackdown, now continue exclusively in the Gaza Strip.[80] After the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état deposed the elected Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi in 2013, Hamas found itself in a financial straitjacket and has since endeavoured to throw the burden of responsibility for public works infrastructure in the Gaza Strip back onto the Palestinian National Authority, but without success.[81]

Military wing

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing was formed in either mid-1991[82][83] or 1992, under the direction of Yahya Ayyash, a Hamas field-commander and bomb-maker assassinated by Israel in 1996. It was constituted from units associated with the earlier al-Jihad wa Da’wa, an umbrella group that had gathered in militants from various Islamic resistance cells like the Al-Mujahidun al-Filastiniun (Palestinian fighters).[84][85] established by Salah Shehade in 1986.[86]

The wing takes its name from the prewar militant Palestinian nationalist Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, though Hamas cells sometimes refer to themselves as “Students of Ayyash”, “Students of the Engineer”, or “Yahya Ayyash Units”.[85] At the outset, weapons were hard to come by, and the organization began to resort to intermittent kidnappings of soldiers to secure arms and munitions. This approach had been justified two years earlier when, in the wake of the killing of some 20 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces dispersing protestors at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1990, Hamas had declared every Israeli soldier a legitimate target.[87]

Weapons found in a mosque during Operation Cast Lead, according to the IDF

Ayyash, with a degree in electrical engineering, quickly improved Hamas’s strike capacity by developing IEDs and promoting the tactic of suicide bombings.[88] By the time of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, Hamas’s laboratories had devised a primitive form of rocketry, the Qassam 1, which they first launched in October 2000, carrying a 500 gram warhead with a throw range of 4 kilometres. Both propellant and the explosive were manufactured from chemical fertilizers, though TNT was also tried.[89] Over the next five years of the conflict, a 3-kilogram-warhead-armed version with a strike range of 6–8 kilometres, the Qassam 2, was also produced[90] and in an incremental rise, these rocket types were fired towards Israeli settlements along the Gaza Strip: 4 in 2001, 35 in 2002, 155 in 2003, 281 in 2004, and 179 in 2005. By 2005, the Qassam 3 had been engineered with a 12–14 kilometre range and a 15 kilo warhead. By 2006, 942 such rockets were launched into southern Israel.[91] During the War with Israel in 2008–2009, Hamas deployed 122-mm Grad rocketry with a 20–40 kilometre range and a 30 kilogram warhead and a variety of guided Kornet antitank missiles.[92] By 2012 Hamas had engineered a version of the Fajr-5 rocket, which was capable of reaching as far as Tel Aviv, as was shown after the assassination of Ahmed Jabari in that year. In the 2014 war its advanced rocketry reached Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa.[93] Hamas deployed its increasingly sophisticated[dubious] rocketry to replace its martyrdom operations.[94]

While the number of members is known only to the Brigades leadership, Israel estimates the Brigades have a core of several hundred members who receive military style training, including training in Iran and in Syria (before the Syrian Civil War).[85] Additionally, the brigades have an estimated 10,000–17,000 operatives,[95][96] forming a backup force whenever circumstances call for reinforcements for the Brigade. Recruitment training lasts for two years.[85]

The group’s ideology outlines its aim as the liberation of Palestine and the restoration of Palestinian rights under the dispensations set forth in the Qur’an, and this translates into three policy priorities:

To evoke the spirit of Jihad (Resistance) among Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims; to defend Palestinians and their land against the Zionist occupation and its manifestations; to liberate Palestinians and their land that was usurped by the Zionist occupation forces and settlers.[97]

According to its official stipulations, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades’ military operations are to be restricted to operating only inside Palestine, engaging with Israeli soldiers, and in exercising the right of self-defense against armed settlers. They are to avoid civilian targets, to respect the enemy’s humanity by refraining from mutilation, defacement or excessive killing, and to avoid targeting Westerners either in the occupied zones or beyond.[98]

In practice, Hamas altered its approach restricting actions to ‘legitimate military targets’ by extended them to Israeli civilians after 7 years.[96] Though between 1996 and 2001 it generally refrained from targeting Israeli civilians,[99] it adopted sporadic suicide bombings in the wake of the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, when an Israeli settler in military fatigues, Baruch Goldstein, shot dead 29 Muslims at prayer in 1993.[100][101][102] After the Al Aqsa revolt, the Brigades were behind most of the suicide bombings in Israel, a measure it defended as a form of “reciprocity”.[99]

Down to 2007, the Brigades are estimated to have lost some 800 operatives in conflicts with Israeli forces. The leadership has been consistently undermined by targeted assassinations. Aside from Yahya Ayyash (5 January 1996), it has lost Emad Akel (24 November 1993) Salah Shehade, (23 July 2002), Ibrahim al-Makadmeh, (8 March 2003) Ismail Abu Shanab, (21 August 2003) Ahmed Yassin (March 22, 2004) and Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi,( April 17, 2004).,[54][94][103]

After Israel arrested hundreds of its members in May 1989, Hamas regionalized its command system to make its operative structure more diffuse,[72] and minimize the chances of being detected.[104] The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades groups its fighters in 4–5 man cells, which in turn are integrated into companies and battalions. Unlike the political section, which is split between an internal and external structure, the Brigades are under a local Palestinian leadership, and disobedience with the decisions taken by the political leadership have been relatively rare.[105]

Although the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades are an integral part of Hamas, the exact nature of the relationship is hotly debated. They appear to operate at times independently of Hamas, exercising a certain autonomy.[106][107][108][109][110] Some cells have independent links with the external leadership, enabling them to bypass the hierarchical command chain and political leadership in Gaza.[104] Ilana Kass and Bard O’Neill, likening Hamas’s relationship with the Brigades to the political party Sinn Féin‘s relationship to the military arm of the Irish Republican Army. quote a senior Hamas official as stating: “The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade is a separate armed military wing, which has its own leaders who do not take their orders from Hamas and do not tell us of their plans in advance.”[111] Matthew Levitton the other hand argues vocally for the idea that Hamas’s welfare institutions act as a mere façade or front for the financing of terrorism, and dismisses the idea of two wings as a ‘myth’.[107] He cites Sheikh Ahmad Yassin stating in 1998: “We can not separate the wing from the body. If we do so, the body will not be able to fly. Hamas is one body.”[112]

Finances and funding

At the 1993 Philadelphia conference, Hamas leaders’ statements indicated that they read George H. W. Bush‘s outline of a New World Order as embodying a tacit aim to destroy Islam, and that therefore funding should focus on enhancing the Islamic roots of Palestinian society and promoting jihad in the occupying territories.[113]

Hamas’s budget, calculated to be roughly US$70 million (2011), is derived in large part (85%)[114] from foreign, rather than internal Palestinian, sources. Only two Israeli-Palestinian sources figure in a list seized in 2004, while the other contributors were donor bodies located in Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Britain, Germany, the United States, United Arab Emirates, Italy and France. Much of the money raised comes from sources that direct their assistance to what Hamas describes as its charitable work for Palestinians, but investments in support of its ideological position are also relevant, with Persian Gulf States and Saudi Arabia prominent in the latter. Matthew Levitt states that Hamas also taps money from corporations, criminal organizations and financial networks that support terror,[115]and is believed to engage in cigarette and drug smuggling, multimedia copyright infringement and credit card fraud.[114] Vittori states that, more than other similar organizations, it is particularly careful about keeping resources for its militant, political and public works activities separate.[114] The United States, Israel and the EU have shut down many charities and organs that channel money to Hamas, such as the Holy Land Foundation for Relief.[116] Between 1992 and 2001 this group is said to have provided $6.8 million to Palestinian charities of the $57 million collected. By 2001 it was alleged to have given Hamas $13 million, and was shut down shortly afterwards.[117]

About half of Hamas’s funding came from states in the Persian Gulf down to the mid 2000s. Saudi Arabia supplied half of the Hamas budget of $50 million in the early 2000s,[118] but, under U.S. pressure, began cut its funding by cracking down on Islamic charities and private donor transfers to Hamas in 2004,[114] which by 2006 drastically reduced the flow of money from that area. Iran and Syria, in the aftermath of Hamas’s 2006 electoral victory, stepped in to fill the shortfall.[119][120] Saudi funding, negotiated with third parties like Egypt, remained supportive of Hamas as a Sunni group but chose to provide more assistance to the PNA, the electoral loser, when the EU responded to the outcome by suspending its monetary aid.[121] Iran in the 1980s began by providing 10% of Hamas’s funding, which it increased annually until by the 1990s it supplied $30 million.[118] It accounted for $22 million, over a quarter of Hamas’s budget, by the late 2000s.[114] According to Matthew Levitt, Iran preferred direct financing to operative groups rather than charities, requiring video proof of attacks.[114][122] Much of the Iran funding is said to be channeled through Hezbollah.[114] After 2006 Iran’s willingness to take over the burden of the shortfall created by the drying up of Saudi funding also reflected the geopolitical tensions between the two, since, though Shiite, Iran was supporting a Sunni group traditionally closely linked with the Saudi kingdom.[123] The US imposed sanctions on Iran’s Bank Saderat, alleging it had funneled hundreds of millions to Hamas.[124] The US has expressed concerns that Hamas obtains funds through Palestinian and Lebanese sympathizers of Arab descent in the Foz do Iguaçu area of the tri-border region of Latin America, an area long associated with arms trading, drug trafficking, contraband, the manufacture of counterfeit goods, money-laundering and currency fraud. The State Department adds that confirmatory information of a Hamas operational presence there is lacking.[125]

After 2009, sanctions on Iran made funding difficult, forcing Hamas to rely on religious donations by individuals in the West Bank, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Funds amounting to tens of millions of dollars raised in the Gulf states were transferred through the Rafah Border Crossing. These were not sufficient to cover the costs of governing the Strip and running the al Qassam Brigades, and when tensions arose with Iran over support of President Assad in Syria, Iran dropped its financial assistance to the government, restricting its funding to the military wing, which meant a drop from $150 million in 2012 to $60 million the following year. A further drop occurred in 2015 when Hamas expressed its criticisms of Iran’s role in the Yemeni Civil War.[126]

History

Gaza Islamic roots and establishment of Hamas

Hamas rose as an offshoot of the Gaza Mujama al-Islamiya branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood,[127][128] which had been actively encouraged by Israel to expand as a counterweight to the influence of the secular Palestine Liberation Organization[23][129][130][131][132] and had since 1973 been quiescent and non-confrontational towards Israel.[133] Aside from developing Islamic charities to provide humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, it emphasized social justice (adala) and the subordination of the world to the sovereignty of God (hakmiyya).[103][134] Hamas was founded in 1987,[103][135] soon after the outbreak of the First Intifada, the first popular uprising against the Israeli occupation. Creating Hamas to participate in the revolt was regarded as a survival measure to enable the Brotherhood itself, which refused to fight against Israel,[136] to hold its own against other competing Palestinian nationalist groups. By forming a military wing distinct from its social charity organizations, it was hoped that the latter would be insulated from being targeted by Israel.[137] Co-founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin was convinced that Israel was endeavouring to destroy Islam, and concluded that loyal Muslims had a religious obligation to destroy Israel.[134] The short term goal of Hamas was to liberate Palestine, including modern-day Israel, from Israeli occupation. The long-term aim sought to establish an Islamic state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.[138]

Hamas Charter (1988)

The foundational document, the Hamas Charter (mīthāq ḥarakat), is dated 18 August 1988, and contains both antisemitic passages, characterizations of Israeli society as Nazi-like in its cruelty,[139] and irredentist claims that have never been revoked despite what some observers say are later policy changes in the organization regarding Israel[140][141] and the Jews.[142][143] It declares all of Palestine waqf property endowed by God to Muslims,[144] with religious coexistence under Islam’s wing.[145] The charter rejects a two-state solution, envisaging no peaceful settlement of the conflict apart from jihad.[146][147] It states that the movement’s aim is to

raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist in security and safety where their lives, possessions and rights are concerned’ (Article 6)[148][149]

and adds that, ‘when our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, jihad becomes a duty binding on all Muslims’,[150] for which the whole of the land is non-negotiable, a position likened, without the racist sentiments present in the Hamas charter, to that in the Likud party platform and in movements like Gush Emunim. For Hamas, to concede territory is seen as equivalent to renouncing Islam itself.[151][152][153][154][155][156][157][158]

Decades down the line, Hamas’s official position changed with regard to a two-state solution. Khaled Mashaal, its leader, has publicly affirmed the movement’s readiness to accept such a division.[159][160] When Hamas won a majority in the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, Haniyeh, then president-elect, sent messages to both George Bush and Israel’s leaders asking to be recognized and offering a long-term truce (hudna), along the 1967 border lines. No response was forthcoming.[161]

Mousa Marzook said in 2007 that the charter could not be altered because it would look like a compromise not acceptable to the ‘street’ and risk fracturing the party’s unity. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has stated that the Charter is “a piece of history and no longer relevant, but cannot be changed for internal reasons”. Ahmed Yousef, senior adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, added in 2011 that it reflected the views of the Elders in the face of a ‘relentless occupation.’ The details of its religious and political language had not been examined within the framework of international law, and an internal committee review to amend it was shelved out of concern not to offer concessions to Israel, as had Fatah, on a silver platter.[162] While Hamas representatives recognize the problem, one official notes that Arafat got very little in return for changing the PLO Charter under the Oslo Accords, and that there is agreement that little is gained from a non-violent approach.[163] Richard Davis says the dismissal by contemporary leaders of its relevance and yet the suspension of a desire to rewrite it reflects the differing constituencies Hamas must address, the domestic audience and international relations.[164] The charter itself is considered an ‘historical relic.’[165]

In March 2006, Hamas released its official legislative program. The document clearly signaled that Hamas could refer the issue of recognizing Israel to a national referendum. Under the heading “Recognition of Israel,” it stated simply (AFP, 3/11/06): “The question of recognizing Israel is not the jurisdiction of one faction, nor the government, but a decision for the Palestinian people.” This was a major shift away from their 1988 charter.[166] A few months later, via University of Maryland‘s Jerome Segal, the group sent a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush stating they “don’t mind having a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders”, and asked for direct negotiations: “Segal emphasized that a state within the 1967 borders and a truce for many years could be considered Hamas’s de facto recognition of Israel.”[167]

In an April 2008 meeting between Hamas leader Khaled Mashal and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, an understanding was reached in which Hamas agreed it would respect the creation of a Palestinian state in the territory seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, provided this were ratified by the Palestinian people in a referendum. Hamas later publicly offered a long-term truce with Israel if Israel agreed to return to its 1967 borders and grant the “right of return” to all Palestinian refugees.[168] In November 2008, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh re-stated that Hamas was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, and offered Israel a long-term truce “if Israel recognized the Palestinians’ national rights”.[169] In 2009, in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Haniyeh repeated his group’s support for a two-state settlement based on 1967 borders: “We would never thwart efforts to create an independent Palestinian state with borders [from] June 4, 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital.”[170] On December 1, 2010, Ismail Haniyeh again repeated, “We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees,” and “Hamas will respect the results [of a referendum] regardless of whether it differs with its ideology and principles.”[171]

In February 2012, according to the Palestinian authority, Hamas forswore the use of violence. Evidence for this was provided by an eruption of violence from Islamic Jihad in March 2012 after an Israeli assassination of a Jihad leader, during which Hamas refrained from attacking Israel.[172] “Israel –– despite its mantra that because Hamas is sovereign in Gaza it is responsible for what goes on there – almost seems to understand,” wrote Israeli journalists Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, “and has not bombed Hamas offices or installations”.[173]

Israel has rejected some truce offers by Hamas because it contends the group uses them to prepare for more fighting rather than peace.[174] The Atlantic magazine columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, along with other analysts, believes Hamas may be incapable of permanent reconciliation with Israel.[175][176] Mkhaimer Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University, writes that Hamas talks “of hudna [temporary ceasefire], not of peace or reconciliation with Israel. They believe over time they will be strong enough to liberate all historic Palestine.”[177]

1990s

Hamas carried out its first attack against Israel in 1989, abducting and killing two soldiers. The Israel Defense Forces immediately arrested Yassin and sentenced him to life in prison, and deported 400 Hamas activists, including Zahar, to South Lebanon, which at the time was occupied by Israel. During this time Hamas built a relationship with Hezbollah. Hamas’s military branch, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was created in 1991.[178] During the 1990s the al-Qassam Brigades conducted numerous attacks on Israel, with both civilian and military victims. In April 1993, suicide bombings in the West Bank began.[179] After the February 1994 massacre by Baruch Goldstein of 30 Muslim civilians in a Hebron mosque, the al-Qassam Brigades began suicide attacks inside Israel.[180]

In December 1992 Israel responded to the killing of a border police officer by deporting 415 leading figures of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to Lebanon, which provoked international condemnation and a unanimous UN Security Council resolution condemning the action.[181][182] Although the suicide attacks by the al-Qassam Brigades and other groups violated the 1993 Oslo accords (which Hamas opposed[183]), Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat was reluctant to pursue the attackers and may have had inadequate means to do so.[184] Some analysts state that the Palestinian Authority could have stopped the suicide and other attacks on civilians but refused to do so.[185] According to the Congressional Research Service, Hamas admitted to having executed Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israeli authorities in the 1990s. A transcript of a training film by the al-Qassam Brigades tells how Hamas operatives kidnapped Palestinians accused of collaboration and then forced confessions before executing them.[24] In 1996, Yahya Ayash, the chief bombmaker of Hamas and the leader of the West Bank battalion of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was assassinated by the Israeli secret service.[184][186]

In September 1997, Israeli agents in Jordan attempted but failed to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, leading to chilled relations between the two countries and release of Sheikh Yassin, Hamas’s spiritual leader, from Israeli prison. Two years later Hamas was banned in Jordan, reportedly in part at the request of the United States, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority.[187] Jordan’s King Abdullah feared the activities of Hamas and its Jordanian allies would jeopardize peace negotiations with Israel, and accused Hamas of engaging in illegitimate activities within Jordan.[188][189] In mid-September 1999, authorities arrested Hamas leaders Khaled Mashal and Ibrahim Ghosheh on their return from a visit to Iran, and charged them with being members of an illegal organization, storing weapons, conducting military exercises, and using Jordan as a training base.[188][189][190] Hamas leaders denied the charges.[187] Mashal was exiled and eventually settled in Syria. He fled to Qatar in 2012 as a result of the Syrian civil war.[citation needed]

Second Intifada

The aftermath of a bus bombing in Haifa in 2003.

Al-Qassam Brigades militants were among the armed groups that launched both military-style attacks and suicide bombings against Israeli civilian and military targets during the Second Intifada (also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada (Arabicانتفاضة الأقصى‎, Intifāat El AqaHebrewאינתיפאדת אל-אקצה‎, Intifādat El-Aqtzah), which began in late September 2000. This Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in the occupied territories was much more violent than the First Intifada. The military and civilian death toll is estimated at 5500 Palestinians and more than 1100 Israelis, as well as 64 foreigners.[191] A 2007 study of Palestinian suicide bombings during the second intifada (September 2000 through August 2005) found that about 40 percent were carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades.[192]

The immediate trigger for the uprising is disputed, but a more general cause, writes U.S. political science professor Jeremy Pressman, was “popular Palestinian discontent [that] grew during the Oslo peace process because the reality on the ground did not match the expectations created by the peace agreements”.[193] Hamas would be the beneficiary of this growing discontent in the 2006 Palestinian Authority legislative elections.

In January 2004, Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said that the group would end armed resistance against Israel in exchange for a Palestinian state in the West BankGaza Strip, and east Jerusalem, and that restoring Palestinians’ “historical rights” (relating to the 1948 Palestinian exodus) “would be left for future generations”.[194] On January 25, 2004, senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi offered a 10-year truce, or hudna, in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state and the complete withdrawal by Israel from the territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.[194] Al-Rantissi stated that Hamas had come to the conclusion that it was “difficult to liberate all our land at this stage, so we accept a phased liberation”.[194][195] Israel immediately dismissed al-Rantissi’s statements as insincere and a smokescreen for military preparations.[195] Yassin was assassinated on March 22, 2004, by a targeted Israeli air strike,[196] and al-Rantisi was assassinated by a similar air strike on April 18, 2004.[197]

2006 presidential and legislative elections

While Hamas boycotted the 2005 Palestinian presidential election, it did participate in the 2005 municipal elections organized by Yasser Arafat in the occupied territories. In those elections it won control of over one third of Palestinian municipal councils, besting Fatah, which had for long been the biggest force in Palestinian politics.[198] In its election manifesto for the 2006 Palestinian legislative election, Hamas omitted a call for an end to Israel, though it did still call for armed struggle against the occupation.[199][200] Hamas won the 2006 elections, winning 76 of the 132 seats to Fatah’s 43.[201] Seen by many as primarily a rejection of the Fatah government’s corruption and ineffectiveness, the Hamas victory seemingly had brought to an end 40 years of PLO domination of Palestinian politics.[201][202]

Following its electoral victory, Hamas assumed the administration of the Gaza strip and introduced radical changes. Writing in Foreign AffairsDaniel Byman stated that

After it took over the Gaza Strip Hamas revamped the police and security forces, cutting them 50,000 members (on paper, at least) under Fatah to smaller, efficient forces of just over 10,000, which then cracked down on crime and gangs. No longer did groups openly carry weapons or steal with impunity. People paid their taxes and electric bills, and in return authorities picked up garbage and put criminals in jail. Gaza-neglected under Egyptian and then Israeli control, and misgoverned by Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and his successors-finally has a real government.’ [203]

In early February 2006, Hamas offered Israel a 10-year truce “in return for a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories: the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem,”[46] and recognition of Palestinian rights including the “right of return”.[204]Mashal added that Hamas was not calling for a final end to armed operations against Israel, and it would not impede other Palestinian groups from carrying out such operations.[205] After the election, the Quartet on the Middle East (the United States, Russia, the European Union (EU), and the United Nations) stated that assistance to the Palestinian Authority would only continue if Hamas renounced violence, recognized Israel, and accepted previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements, which Hamas refused to do.[206] The Quartet then imposed a freeze on all international aid to the Palestinian territories.[207] In 2006 after the Gaza election, Hamas leader sent a letter addressed to George W. Bush where he among other things declared that Hamas would accept a state on the 1967 borders including a truce. However, the Bush administration did not reply.[208]

Legislative policy and reforming the judiciary

Stress the separation between the three powers, the legislative, executive and judicial; activate the role of the Constitutional Court; re-form the Judicial Supreme Council and choose its members by elections and on the basis of qualifications rather than partisan, personal, and social considerations … ; enact the necessary laws that guarantee the neutrality of general prosecutor … [and] laws that will stop any transgression by the executive power on the constitution.[209]

Public freedoms and citizen rights

“Achieve equality before the law among citizens in rights and duties; bring security to all citizens and protect their properties and assure their safety against arbitrary arrest, torture, or revenge; stress the culture of dialogue … ; support the press and media institutions and maintain the right of journalists to access and to publish information; maintain freedom and independence of professional syndicates and preserve the rights of their membership”.[209]

Hamas–Fatah conflict

Hamas rally in Bethlehem

After the formation of the Hamas-led cabinet on March 20, 2006, tensions between Fatah and Hamas militants progressively rose in the Gaza strip as Fatah commanders refused to take orders from the government while the Palestinian Authority initiated a campaign of demonstrations, assassinations and abductions against Hamas, which led to Hamas responding.[210] Israeli intelligence warned Mahmoud Abbas that Hamas had planned to kill him at his office in Gaza. According to a Palestinian source close to Abbas, Hamas considers president Abbas to be a barrier to its complete control over the Palestinian Authority and decided to kill him. In a statement to Al Jazeera, Hamas leader Mohammed Nazzal, accused Abbas of being party to besieging and isolating the Hamas-led government.[211]

On June 9, 2006, during an Israeli artillery operation, an explosion occurred on a busy Gaza beach, killing eight Palestinian civilians.[212][213] It was assumed that Israeli shellings were responsible for the killings, but Israeli government officials denied this.[214][215] Hamas formally withdrew from its 16-month ceasefire on June 10, taking responsibility for the subsequent Qassam rocket attacks launched from Gaza into Israel.[216]

On June 25, two Israeli soldiers were killed and another, Gilad Shalit, captured following an incursion by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam BrigadesPopular Resistance Committees and Army of Islam. In response, the Israeli military launched Operation Summer Rains three days later, to secure the release of the kidnapped soldier,[217][218][219] arresting 64 Hamas officials. Among them were 8 Palestinian Authority cabinet ministers and up to 20 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council,[219] The arrests, along with other events, effectively prevented the Hamas-dominated legislature from functioning during most of its term.[220][221] Shalit was held captive until 2011, when he was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.[222] Since then, Hamas has continued building a network of internal and cross-border tunnels,[223] which are used to store and deploy weapons, shield militants, and facilitate cross-border attacks. Destroying the tunnels was a primary objective of Israeli forces in the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict.[224][225]

In February 2007 Saudi-sponsored negotiations in Mecca produced agreement on a signed by Mahmoud Abbas on behalf of Fatah and Khaled Mashal on behalf of Hamas. The new government was called on to achieve Palestinian national goals as approved by the Palestine National Council, the clauses of the Basic Law and the National Reconciliation Document (the “Prisoners’ Document”) as well as the decisions of the Arab summit.[226]

In March 2007, the Palestinian Legislative Council established a national unity government, with 83 representatives voting in favor and three against. Government ministers were sworn in by Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, at a ceremony held simultaneously in Gaza and Ramallah. In June that year, renewed fighting broke out between Hamas and Fatah.[227] In the course of the June 2007 Battle of Gaza, Hamas exploited the near total collapse of Palestinian Authority forces in Gaza, to seize[228] control of Gaza, ousting Fatah officials. President Mahmoud Abbas then dismissed the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government.[229] and outlawed the Hamas militia.[230] At least 600 Palestinians died in fighting between Hamas and Fatah.[231] Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based group, accused both sides in the conflict of torture and war crimes.[232]

Human Rights Watch estimates several hundred Gazans were “maimed” and tortured in the aftermath of the Gaza War. 73 Gazan men accused of “collaborating” had their arms and legs broken by “unidentified perpetrators” and 18 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel, who had escaped from Gaza’s main prison compound after Israel bombed the facility, were executed by Hamas security officials in the first days of the conflict.[233][234] Hamas security forces attacked hundreds Fatah officials who supported Israel. Human Rights Watch interviewed one such person:

There were eight of us sitting there. We were all from Fatah. Then three masked militants broke in. They were dressed in brown camouflage military uniforms; they all had guns. They pointed their guns at us and cursed us, then they began beating us with iron rods, including a 10-year-old boy whom they hit in the face. They said we were “collaborators” and “unfaithful”.

They beat me with iron sticks and gun butts for 15 minutes. They were yelling: “You are happy that Israel is bombing us!” until people came out of their houses, and they withdrew.[233]

In March 2012 Mahmoud Abbas stated that there were no political differences between Hamas and Fatah as they had reached agreement on a joint political platform and on a truce with Israel. Commenting on relations with Hamas, Abbas revealed in an interview with Al Jazeera that “We agreed that the period of calm would be not only in the Gaza Strip, but also in the West Bank,” adding that “We also agreed on a peaceful popular resistance [against Israel], the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders and that the peace talks would continue if Israel halted settlement construction and accepted our conditions.”[235][236] Progress has stalled, until an April 2014 agreement to form a compromise unity government, with elections to be held in late 2014.[52]

2008–2009 Gaza War

On June 17, 2008, Egyptian mediators announced that an informal truce had been agreed to between Hamas and Israel.[237][238] Hamas agreed to cease rocket attacks on Israel, while Israel agreed to allow limited commercial shipping across its border with Gaza, barring any breakdown of the tentative peace deal; Hamas also hinted that it would discuss the release of Gilad Shalit.[239] Israeli sources state that Hamas also committed itself to enforce the ceasefire on the other Palestinian organizations.[240] Even before the truce was agreed to, some on the Israeli side were not optimistic about it, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin stating in May 2008 that a ground incursion into Gaza was unavoidable and would more effectively quell arms smuggling and pressure Hamas into relinquishing power.[241]

While Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire, the lull was sporadically violated by other groups, sometimes in defiance of Hamas.[240][242][243] For example, on June 24 Islamic Jihad launched rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot; Israel called the attack a grave violation of the informal truce, and closed its border crossings with Gaza.[244] On November 4, 2008, Israeli forces, in an attempt to stop construction of a tunnel, killed six Hamas gunmen in a raid inside the Gaza Strip.[245][246] Hamas responded by resuming rocket attacks, a total of 190 rockets in November according to Israel’s military.[247]

Destroyed building in Rafah, 12 January 2009

With the six-month truce officially expired on December 19, Hamas launched 50 to more than 70 rockets and mortars into Israel over the next three days, though no Israelis were injured.[248][249] On December 21, Hamas said it was ready to stop the attacks and renew the truce if Israel stopped its “aggression” in Gaza and opened up its border crossings.[249][250]

On December 27 and 28, Israel implemented Operation Cast Lead against Hamas. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said “We warned Hamas repeatedly that rejecting the truce would push Israel to aggression against Gaza.” According to Palestinian officials, over 280 people were killed and 600 were injured in the first two days of airstrikes.[251] Most were Hamas police and security officers, though many civilians also died.[251] According to Israel, militant training camps, rocket-manufacturing facilities and weapons warehouses that had been pre-identified were hit, and later they attacked rocket and mortar squads who fired around 180 rockets and mortars at Israeli communities.[252] Chief of Gaza police force Tawfiq Jabber, head of the General Security Service Salah Abu Shrakh,[253] senior religious authority and security officer Nizar Rayyan,[254] and Interior Minister Said Seyam[255] were among those killed during the fighting. Although Israel sent out thousands of cell-phone messages urging residents of Gaza to leave houses where weapons may be stored, in an attempt to minimise civilian casualties,[252] some residents complained there was nowhere to go because many neighborhoods had received the same message.[252][256][257] Israeli bombs landed close to civilian structures such as schools,[258][259] and some alleged that Israel was deliberately targeting Palestinian civilians.[260]

Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire on January 17, 2009.[261] Hamas responded the following day by announcing a one-week ceasefire to give Israel time to withdraw its forces from the Gaza Strip.[262] Israeli, Palestinian, and third-party sources disagreed on the total casualty figures from the Gaza war, and the number of Palestinian casualties who were civilians.[263][264] In November 2010, a senior Hamas official acknowledged that up to 300 fighters were killed and “In addition to them, between 200 and 300 fighters from the Al-Qassam Brigades and another 150 security forces were martyred.” These new numbers reconcile the total with those of the Israeli military, which originally said were 709 “terror operatives” killed.[265][266]

After the Gaza War

On August 16, 2009, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal stated that the organization is ready to open dialogue with the Obama administration because its policies are much better than those of former U.S. president George W. Bush: “As long as there’s a new language, we welcome it, but we want to see not only a change of language, but also a change of policies on the ground. We have said that we are prepared to cooperate with the US or any other international party that would enable the Palestinians to get rid of occupation.”[267]Despite this, an August 30, 2009 speech during a visit to Jordan[268] in which Mashal expressed support for the Palestinian right of return was interpreted by David Pollock of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy as a sign that “Hamas has now clearly opted out of diplomacy.”[269] In an interview in May 2010, Mashal said that if a Palestinian state with real sovereignty was established under the conditions he set out, on the borders of 1967 with its capital Jerusalem and with the right of return, that will be the end of the Palestinian resistance, and then the nature of any subsequent ties with Israel would be decided democratically by the Palestinians.[270][271] In July 2009, Khaled Mashal, Hamas’s political bureau chief, stated Hamas’s willingness to cooperate with a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, which included a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, provided that Palestinian refugees be given the right to return to Israel and that East Jerusalem be recognized as the new state’s capital.[272]

In 2011, after the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, Hamas distanced itself from the Syrian regime and its members began leaving Syria. Where once there were “hundreds of exiled Palestinian officials and their relatives”, that number shrunk to “a few dozen”.[273] In 2012, Hamas publicly announced its support for the Syrian opposition.[274] This prompted Syrian state TV to issue a “withering attack” on the Hamas leadership.[275] Khaled Mashal said that Hamas had been “forced out” of Damascus because of its disagreements with the Syrian regime.[276] In late October, Syrian Army soldiers shot dead two Hamas leaders in Daraa refugee camp.[277] On November 5, 2012, the Syrian state security forces shut down all Hamas offices in the country.[278] In January 2013, another two Hamas members were found dead in Syria’s Husseinieh camp. Activists said the two had been arrested and executed by state security forces.[279] In 2013, it was reported that the military wing of Hamas had begun training units of the Free Syrian Army.[280] In 2013, after “several intense weeks of indirect three-way diplomacy between representatives of Hamas, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority”, no agreement was reached.[281] Also, intra-Palestinian reconciliation talks stalled and, as a result, during Obama’s visit to Israel, Hamas launched five rocket strikes on Israel.[281] In November, Isra Almodallal was appointed the first spokeswoman of the group.[282]

2014 Israel–Gaza conflict

On 8 July 2014 Israel launched Operation Protective Edge to counter increased Hamas rocket fire from Gaza. The conflict ended with a permanent cease-fire after 7 weeks, and more than 2,200 dead. 64 of the dead were Israeli soldiers, 7 were civilians in Israel (from rocket attacks), and 2,101 were killed in Gaza, of which according to UN OCHA at least 1,460 were civilians. Israel says 1,000 of the dead were militants. Following the conflict, Mahmoud Abbas president of the Palestinian Authority, accused Hamas of needlessly extending the fighting in the Gaza Strip, contributing to the high death toll, of running a “shadow government” in Gaza, and of illegally executing scores of Palestinians.[283][284][285] Hamas has complained about the slow delivery of reconstruction materials after the conflict and announced that they were diverting these materials from civilian uses to build more infiltration tunnels.[286]

Reconciliation attempts

In 2016, Hamas began security co-ordination with Egypt to crack down on Islamic terrorist organizations in Sinai, in return for economic aid.[287]

In May 2017, Hamas unveiled its new charter, in an attempt to moderate its image. The charter no longer calls for Israel’s destruction, but still calls for liberation of Palestine and to ‘confront the Zionist project’. It also confirms acceptance of the 1967 borders as the basis for establishing a Palestinian state as well as not being an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.[288][289]

In October 2017, Fatah and Hamas signed yet another reconciliation agreement. The partial agreement addresses civil and administrative matters involving Gaza and the West Bank. Other contentious issues such as national elections, reform of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and possible demilitarization of Hamas were to be discussed in the next meeting in November 2017, due to a new step-by-step approach.[290]

Media

In 2005, Hamas announced its intention to launch an experimental TV channel, Al-Aqsa TV. The station was launched on January 7, 2006, less than three weeks before the Palestinian legislative elections. It has shown television programs, including some children’s television, which deliver anti-semitic messages.[291] Hamas has stated that the television station is “an independent media institution that often does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed by Ismail Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement,” and that Hamas does not hold anti-semitic views.[292] Hamas produced several propaganda songs aimed to scare Israeli citizen including Shock Israel’s Security and “Go, call a Gazan to rip Giv’ati“.[293]

Children’s magazine

Al-Fateh (“the conqueror”) is the Hamas children’s magazine, published biweekly in London, and also posted in an online website. It began publication in September 2002, and its 108th issue was released in mid-September 2007. The magazine features stories, poems, riddles, and puzzles, and states it is for “the young builders of the future”.[294]

According to MEMRI (three of whose seven founding staff had formerly served in the IDF), the magazine includes incitement to jihad and martyrdom and glorification of terrorist operations and of their planners and perpetrators. as well as characterizations of Jews as “murderers of the prophets” and laudatory descriptions of parents who encourage their sons to kill Jews. In each issue, a regular feature titled “The Story of a Martyr” presents the “heroic deeds” of a mujahid from one of the organizations who died in a suicide operation, including operations against civilians, or who was killed by the IDF. MEMRI also noted that the magazine includes illustrations of figures, including child warriors, who embody the ethos of jihad and martyrdom, presenting them as role models. These include the magazine’s titular character, Al-Fateh (“The Conqueror”) – a small boy on a horse brandishing a drawn scimitar – as well as children carrying guns, and photos of Hamas fighters launching Qassam rockets.[295][296]

Al-Aqsa TV

Al-Aqsa TV is a television channel founded by Hamas.[297] The station began broadcasting in the Gaza Strip on January 9, 2006.[298][299] Its programming includes ideologically tinged children’s shows, news talk, and religiously inspired entertainment.[300] According to the Anti-Defamation League, the station promotes terrorist activity and incites hatred of Jews and Israelis.[299] Hamas has stated that the television station is “an independent media institution that often does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed by Ismail Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement,” and that Hamas does not hold anti-semitic views.[292] Al-Aqsa TV is headed by Fathi Ahmad Hammad, chairman of al-Ribat Communications and Artistic Productions – a Hamas-run company that also produces Hamas’s radio station, Voice of al-Aqsa, and its biweekly newspaper, The Message.[301]

Islamization efforts

In the Gaza Strip

The gender ideology outlined in the Hamas charter, the importance of women in the religious-nationalist project of liberation is asserted, while defining that role as one of manufacturing males and caring for their upbringing and rearing. This is not so different from Fatah’s view of women in the First Intifada and it also resembles the outlook of Jewish settlers, and over time it has been subjected to change.[302][303]

In 1989, during the First Intifada, a small number of Hamas followers[304] campaigned for the wearing of the hijab, which is not a part of traditional women’s attire in Palestine,[305] for polygamy, and also insisted women stay at home and be segregated from men. In the course of this campaign, women who chose not to wear the hijab were verbally and physically harassed, with the result that the hijab was being worn ‘just to avoid problems on the streets’.[306] The harassment dropped drastically when, after 18 months UNLU condemned it,[307] though similar campaigns reoccurred.

Since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, some of its members have attempted to impose Islamic dress or the hijab head covering on women.[177][308] Also, the government’s “Islamic Endowment Ministry” has deployed Virtue Committee members to warn citizens of the dangers of immodest dress, card playing, and dating.[309] However, there are no government laws imposing dress and other moral standards, and the Hamas education ministry reversed one effort to impose Islamic dress on students.[177] There has also been successful resistance to attempts by local Hamas officials to impose Islamic dress on women.[310]

Hamas officials deny having any plans to impose Islamic law, one legislator stating that “What you are seeing are incidents, not policy,” and that Islamic law is the desired standard “but we believe in persuasion”.[309] The Hamas education ministry reversed one effort to impose Islamic dress on students.[177] When the BBC in 2010 interviewed five “middle-class” women in Gaza City, the subjects generally indicated Hamas attempts to enforce conservative religious standards of dress had been largely rejected by the local population, with some expressing concern that the closure of Gaza would allow the proliferation of extremist enforcement attempts by low-level Hamas officials, and others indicating they were happy to see Hamas enforcing such requirements. They also cited examples of leniency by Hamas authorities, such as allowing widowed women to keep custody of their children so long as they did not remarry, and other relaxations in the enforcement of Shariah law. One woman noted that the environment was “not as bad” as during the First Intifada, when women were subject to public criticism and stonings for failure to obey conservative Islamic standards of dress. One woman complained that women were not free to speak their minds or travel alone, and added: “Hamas want to force themselves onto the people. They want the people to submit to them, this is their cover. They destroyed the reputation of Islam, by saying we’re doing this because it is religion. This is how they won the elections.”[311]

In 2013, UNRWA canceled its annual marathon in Gaza after Hamas rulers prohibited women from participating in the race.[312]

In the West Bank

In 2005, the human rights organization Freemuse released a report titled “Palestine: Taliban-like attempts to censor music”, which said that Palestinian musicians feared that harsh religious laws against music and concerts will be imposed since Hamas group scored political gains in the Palestinian Authority local elections of 2005.[313]

The attempt by Hamas to dictate a cultural code of conduct in the 1980s and early 1990s led to a violent fighting between different Palestinian sectors. Hamas members reportedly burned down stores that stocked videos they deemed indecent and destroyed books they described as “heretical”.[314]

In 2005, an outdoor music and dance performance in Qalqiliya were suddenly banned by the Hamas led municipality, for the reason that such an event would be forbidden by Islam, or “Haram“.[315] The municipality also ordered that music no longer be played in the Qalqiliya zoo, and mufti Akrameh Sabri issued a religious edict affirming the municipality decision.[314] In response, the Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish warned that “There are Taliban-type elements in our society, and this is a very dangerous sign.”[313][314][316][317]

The Palestinian columnist Mohammed Abd Al-Hamid, a resident of Ramallah, wrote that this religious coercion could cause the migration of artists, and said “The religious fanatics in Algeria destroyed every cultural symbol, shattered statues and rare works of art and liquidated intellectuals and artists, reporters and authors, ballet dancers and singers – are we going to imitate the Algerian and Afghani examples?”[314]

Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey as a role model

Some Hamas members stated that the model of Islamic government that Hamas seeks to emulate is that of Turkey under the rule of Tayyip Erdoğan. The foremost members to distance Hamas from the practices of Taliban and to publicly support the Erdoğan model were Ahmad Yousef and Ghazi Hamad, advisers to Prime Minister Hanieh.[318][319] Yusuf, the Hamas deputy foreign minister, reflected this goal in an interview to a Turkish newspaper, stating that while foreign public opinion equates Hamas with the Taliban or al-Qaeda, the analogy is inaccurate. Yusuf described the Taliban as “opposed to everything,” including education and women’s rights, while Hamas wants to establish good relations between the religious and secular elements of society and strives for human rights, democracy and an open society.[320] According to professor Yezid Sayigh of the King’s College in London, how influential this view is within Hamas is uncertain, since both Ahmad Yousef and Ghazi Hamad were dismissed from their posts as advisers to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniehin October 2007.[318] Both have since been appointed to other prominent positions within the Hamas government. Khaled al-Hroub of the West Bank-based and anti-Hamas[321] Palestinian daily Al Ayyam added that despite claims by Hamas leaders that it wants to repeat the Turkish model of Islam, “what is happening on the ground in reality is a replica of the Taliban model of Islam.”[322]

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism

According to academic Esther Webman, antisemitism is not the main tenet of Hamas ideology, although antisemitic rhetoric is frequent and intense in Hamas leaflets. The leaflets generally do not differentiate between Jews and Zionists. In other Hamas publications and interviews with its leaders, attempts at this differentiation have been made.[323] In 2009 representatives of the small Jewish sect Neturei Karta met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, who stated that he held nothing against Jews but only against the state of Israel.[324] Some commentators have pointed out parallels between Hamas’s youth organization and Hitler Youth.[325] According to writer Tom Doran, Hamas is not recognized as a neo-Nazi group because its members are not “white Christians”.[326]

Hamas has made conflicting statements about its readiness to recognize Israel. In 2006 a spokesman signaled readiness to recognize Israel within the 1967 borders. Speaking of requests for Hamas to recognize agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, senior Hamas member Khaled Suleiman said that “these agreements are a reality which we view as such, and therefore I see no problem.”[327] Also in 2006, a Hamas official ruled out recognition of Israel with reference to West and East Germany, which never recognized each other.[328]

Hamas Charter (1988)

  • Article 7 of the Hamas Covenant provides the following quotation, attributed to Muhammad:

The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree (evidently a certain kind of tree), would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.[148]

You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.[329]

Today it is Palestine, tomorrow it will be one country or another. The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.[148]

Statements by Hamas members and clerics to an Arab audience

In 2008, Imam Yousif al-Zahar of Hamas said in his sermon at the Katib Wilayat mosque in Gaza that “Jews are a people who cannot be trusted. They have been traitors to all agreements. Go back to history. Their fate is their vanishing.”[175][330]

Another Hamas legislator and imam, Sheik Yunus al-Astal, discussed a Koranic verse suggesting that “suffering by fire is the Jews’ destiny in this world and the next.” He concluded “Therefore we are sure that the Holocaust is still to come upon the Jews.”[175][330]

Following the rededication of the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem in March 2010, senior Hamas figure al-Zahar called on Palestinians everywhere to observe five minutes of silence “for Israel’s disappearance and to identify with Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa mosque”. He further stated that “Wherever you have been you’ve been sent to your destruction. You’ve killed and murdered your prophets and you have always dealt in loan-sharking and destruction. You’ve made a deal with the devil and with destruction itself – just like your synagogue.”[331][332]

On August 10, 2012, Ahmad Bahr, Deputy Speaker of the Hamas Parliament, stated in a sermon that aired on Al-Aqsa TV:

If the enemy sets foot on a single square inch of Islamic land, Jihad becomes an individual duty, incumbent on every Muslim, male or female. A woman may set out [on Jihad] without her husband’s permission, and a servant without his master’s permission. Why? In order to annihilate those Jews. … O Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters. O Allah, destroy the Americans and their supporters. O Allah, count them one by one, and kill them all, without leaving a single one.[333][334][335][336]

In an interview with Al-Aqsa TV on September 12, 2012, Marwan Abu Ras, a Hamas MP, who is also a member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, stated (as translated by MEMRI):

The Jews are behind each and every catastrophe on the face of the Earth. This is not open to debate. This is not a temporal thing, but goes back to days of yore. They concocted so many conspiracies and betrayed rulers and nations so many times that the people harbor hatred towards them. … Throughout history – from Nebuchadnezzar until modern times. … They slayed the prophets, and so on. … Any catastrophe on the face of this Earth – the Jews must be behind it.[337]

On December 26, 2012, Senior Hamas official and Jerusalem bureau chief Ahmed Abu Haliba, called on “all Palestinian factions to resume suicide attacks … deep inside the Zionist enemy” and said that “we must renew the resistance to occupation in any possible way, above all through armed resistance.” Abu Haliba suggested the use of suicide bombings as a response to Israel’s plans to build housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.[338]

In an interview on Lebanese television on July 28, 2014, Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan repeated the blood libel myth:

We all remember how the Jews used to slaughter Christians, in order to mix their blood in their holy matzos… It happened everywhere.[339]

Statements by Hamas members and clerics to an international audience

In an interview with CBS This Morning on July 27, 2014, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal stated:

We are not fanatics. We are not fundamentalists. We are not actually fighting the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers.[340]

On January 8, 2012, during a visit to Tunis, Gazan Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh told The Associated Press on that he disagrees with the anti-Semitic slogans. “We are not against the Jews because they are Jews. Our problem is with those occupying the land of Palestine,” he said. “There are Jews all over the world, but Hamas does not target them.”[341] In response to a statement by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas that Hamas preferred non-violent means and had agreed to adopt “peaceful resistance,” Hamas contradicted Abbas. According to Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri, “We had agreed to give popular resistance precedence in the West Bank, but this does not come at the expense of armed resistance.”[342]

In May 2009, senior Hamas MP Sayed Abu Musameh said, “in our culture, we respect every foreigner, especially Jews and Christians, but we are against Zionists, not as nationalists but as fascists and racists.”[343] In the same interview, he also said, “I hate all kinds of weapons. I dream of seeing every weapon from the atomic bomb to small guns banned everywhere.” In January 2009, Gazan Hamas Health Minister Basim Naim published a letter in The Guardian, stating that Hamas has no quarrel with Jewish people, only with the actions of Israel.[344] In October 1994, in a response to Isreael’s crackdown on Hamas militants following a suicide bombing on a Tel Aviv bus, Hamas promised retaliation: “Rabin must know that Hamas loves death more than Rabin and his soldiers love life.”[345]

Statements on the Holocaust

Hamas has been explicit in its Holocaust denial. In reaction to the Stockholm conference on the Jewish Holocaust, held in late January 2000, Hamas issued a press release that it published on its official website, containing the following statements from a senior leader:

This conference bears a clear Zionist goal, aimed at forging history by hiding the truth about the so-called Holocaust, which is an alleged and invented story with no basis. (…) The invention of these grand illusions of an alleged crime that never occurred, ignoring the millions of dead European victims of Nazism during the war, clearly reveals the racist Zionist face, which believes in the superiority of the Jewish race over the rest of the nations. (…) By these methods, the Jews in the world flout scientific methods of research whenever that research contradicts their racist interests.[346]

In August 2003, senior Hamas official Dr Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi wrote in the Hamas newspaper Al-Risala that the Zionists encouraged murder of Jews by the Nazis with the aim of forcing them to immigrate to Palestine.[347]

In 2005, Khaled Mashal called Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s December 14, 2005 statements on the Holocaust that Europeans had “created a myth in the name of Holocaust”[348]) as “courageous”.[349] Later in 2008, Basim Naim, the minister of health in the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government in Gaza countered holocaust denial, and said “it should be made clear that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian government in Gaza denies the Nazi Holocaust. The Holocaust was not only a crime against humanity but one of the most abhorrent crimes in modern history. We condemn it as we condemn every abuse of humanity and all forms of discrimination on the basis of religion, race, gender or nationality.”[350]

In an open letter to Gaza Strip UNRWA chief John Ging published August 20, 2009, the movement’s Popular Committees for Refugees called the Holocaust “a lie invented by the Zionists,” adding that the group refused to let Gazan children study it.[351] Hamas leader Younis al-Astal continued by saying that having the Holocaust included in the UNRWA curriculum for Gaza students amounted to “marketing a lie and spreading it”. Al-Astal continued “I do not exaggerate when I say this issue is a war crime, because of how it serves the Zionist colonizers and deals with their hypocrisy and lies.”[352][353]

In February 2011, Hamas voiced opposition to UNRWA’s teaching of the Holocaust in Gaza. According to Hamas, “Holocaust studies in refugee camps is a contemptible plot and serves the Zionist entity with a goal of creating a reality and telling stories in order to justify acts of slaughter against the Palestinian people.”[354][355] In July 2012, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, denounced a visit by Ziad al-Bandak, an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, to the Auschwitz death camp, saying it was “unjustified” and “unhelpful” and only served the “Zionist occupation” while coming “at the expense of a real Palestinian tragedy”. He also called the Holocaust an “alleged tragedy” and “exaggerated”.[356][357][358][359] In October 2012, Hamas said that they were opposed to teaching about the Holocaust in Gaza Strip schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency. The Refugee Affairs Department of Hamas said that teaching the Holocaust was a “crime against the issue of the refugees that is aimed at canceling their right of return”.[360]

Violence and terrorism

Hamas has used both political activities and violence in pursuit of its goals. For example, while politically engaged in the 2006 Palestinian Territories parliamentary election campaign, Hamas stated in its election manifesto that it was prepared to use “armed resistance to end the occupation”.[361]

From 2000 to 2004, Hamas was responsible for killing nearly 400 Israelis and wounding more than 2,000 in 425 attacks, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 2001 through May 2008, Hamas launched more than 3,000 Qassam rockets and 2,500 mortar attacks into Israel.[362]

Attacks on civilians

In the first years of the First Intifada (1987–1993), Hamas violence was directed first at collaborators with Israel and at individuals it considered moral deviants, and then later at the Israeli military.[363] A new direction began with the formation of the al-Qassam Brigades militia in 1992, and in 1993 suicide attacks began against Israeli targets on the West Bank.[364]

Aftermath of 1996 Jaffa Road bus bombings in which 26 people were killed

The first such attack occurred on April 16, 1993, when an al-Qassam Brigades operative detonated explosives in a car he parked next to two buses, one military and one civilian, in the West Bank town of Mehola, killing a Palestinian civilian and wounding 8 Israeli soldiers.[365] After the February 1994 massacre by Baruch Goldstein of 30 Muslim civilians in a Hebron mosque, the al-Qassam Brigades expanded suicide attacks to target primarily civilians.[180] The first of the suicide bombings that targeted civilians was at Afula on April 16, 1994, when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden car next to a bus, killing nine (including the bomber) and wounding 50. The most deadly suicide bombing was an attack on a Netanya hotel on March 27, 2002, in which 30 people were killed and 140 were wounded. The attack has also been referred to as the Passover massacre since it took place on the first night of the Jewish festival of Passover at a Seder.

Hamas has defended suicide attacks as a legitimate aspect of its asymmetric warfare against Israel. In 2003, according to Stephen Atkins, Hamas resumed suicide bombings in Israel as a retaliatory measure after the failure of peace talks and an Israeli campaign targeting members of the upper echelon of the Hamas leadership.[35] but they are considered as crimes against humanity under international law.[366][367] In a 2002 report, Human Rights Watchstated that Hamas leaders “should be held accountable” for “war crimes and crimes against humanity” committed by the al-Qassam Brigades.[368][369][370]

In May 2006 Israel arrested a top Hamas official, Ibrahim Hamed, who Israeli security officials alleged was responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and other attacks on Israelis.[371] Hamed’s trial on those charges has not yet concluded.[372] In 2008, Hamas explosives engineer Shihab al-Natsheh organized a deadly suicide bombing in Dimona.[373][374]

Since 2002, paramilitary soldiers of al-Qassam Brigades and other groups have used homemade Qassam rockets to hit Israeli towns in the Negev, such as Sderot. Al-Qassam Brigades was estimated in 2007 to have launched 22% of the rocket and mortar attacks,[375] which killed fifteen people between the years 2000 and 2009 (see Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel).[376] The introduction of the Qassam-2 rocket in 2008 enabled Palestinian paramilitary groups to reach, from Gaza, such Israeli cities such as Ashkelon.[377]

In 2008, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, offered that Hamas would attack only military targets if the IDF would stop causing the deaths of Palestinian civilians.[378] Following a June 19, 2008 ceasefire, the al-Qassam Brigades ended its rocket attacks and arrested Fatah militants in Gaza who had continued sporadic rocket and mortar attacks against Israel. The al-Qassam Brigades resumed the attacks after the November 4 Israeli incursion into Gaza.[240][379]

On 15 June 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hamas of involvement in the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers (including one who held American citizenship), saying “This has severe repercussions.”[380]On 20 July 2014, nearly two weeks into Operation Protective Edge, Netanyahu in an interview with CNN described Hamas as “genocidal terrorists.”[381]

On 5 August 2014 Israel announced that Israeli security forces arrested Hussam Kawasme, in Shuafat, in connection with the murders.[382] During interrogation, Kawasme admitted to being the mastermind behind the attack, in addition to securing the funding from Hamas.[383] Officials have stated that additional people arrested in connection with the murders are still being held, but no names have been released.[384]

On 20 August, Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas leader in exile in Turkey, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens. He delivered an address on behalf of Khaled Mashal at the conference of the International Union of Muslim Scholars in Istanbul, a move that might reflect a desire by Hamas to gain leverage.[385] In it he said: “Our goal was to ignite an intifada in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as within the 1948 borders. … Your brothers in the Al-Qassam Brigades carried out this operation to support their imprisoned brothers, who were on a hunger strike. … The mujahideen captured these settlers in order to have a swap deal.”[386] Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal accepted that members of Hamas were responsible, stating that he knew nothing of it in advance and that what the leadership knew of the details came from reading Israeli reports.[387] Meshaal, who has headed Hamas’s exiled political wing since 2004, has denied being involved in the “details” of Hamas “military issues”, but “justified the killings as a legitimate action against Israelis on “occupied” lands.”[388]

Hamas suicide attacks on Israeli civilians have largely disappeared since 2005; this has coincided with an increase in rocket attacks. One analysis suggests that the decline in suicide attacks is not motivated by any lack of supplies or volunteers to carry out such operations, by enhanced Israeli security measures such as the West Bank barrier (if Israeli actions were the reason, one would expect to see an equal decline in suicide attacks by all Palestinian factions, which is not observed), or by a newfound desire for reconciliation with Israel on the part of Hamas. Rather, suicide bombings provoked targeted killings that decimated the leadership of Hamas, whereas rocket attacks have elicited weaker Israeli reprisals that have tended to harm the Palestinian population as a whole more than Hamas (such as the blockade of the Gaza Strip) – thereby paradoxically increasing Hamas’s popular support.[389]

Rocket attacks on Israel

Rocket attacks by Hamas have been condemned by Human rights organizations as war crimes, both because they usually take aim at civilians and because the weapons’ inaccuracy would disproportionately endanger civilians even if military targets were chosen. After Operation Pillar of Defense, Human Rights Watch stated that armed Palestinian groups fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli cities, violating international humanitarian law, and that statements by Palestinian groups that they deliberately targeted Israeli civilians demonstrated an “intent to commit war crimes”. HRW’s Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson said that Palestinian groups made clear that “harming civilians was their aim” and said that launching rockets at populated areas had no legal justification. International humanitarian law prohibits deliberate attacks on civilians and intentional violations can be war crimes.[390]

According to Human Rights Watch, Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups have launched thousands of rockets into Israel since 2001, killing 15 civilians, wounding many more, and posing an ongoing threat to the nearly 800,000 Israeli civilians who live and work in the weapons’ range. Hamas officials have said that the rockets were aimed only at military targets, saying that civilian casualties were the “accidental result” of the weapons’ poor quality. According to Human Rights Watch, statements by Hamas leaders suggest that the purpose of the rocket attacks was indeed to strike civilians and civilian objects. From January 2009, following Operation Cast Lead, Hamas largely stopped launching rocket attacks on Israel and has on at least two occasions arrested members of other groups who have launched rockets, “showing that it has the ability to impose the law when it wants”.[391] In February 2010, Hamas issued a statement regretting any harm that may have befallen Israeli civilians as a result of Palestinian rocket attacks during the Gaza war. It maintained that its rocket attacks had been aimed at Israeli military targets but lacked accuracy and hence sometimes hit civilian areas. Israel responded that Hamas had boasted repeatedly of targeting and murdering civilians in the media.[392]

According to one report, commenting on the 2014 conflict, “nearly all the 2,500–3,000 rockets and mortars Hamas has fired at Israel since the start of the war seem to have been aimed at towns”, including an attack on “a kibbutz collective farm close to the Gaza border”, in which an Israeli child was killed.[393] Former Israeli Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi stated that “Hamas has expressed pride in aiming long-range rockets at strategic targets in Israel including the nuclear reactor in Dimona, the chemical plants in Haifa, and Ben-Gurion Airport”, which “could have caused thousands” of Israeli casualties “if successful”.[394]

In July 2008 Barack Obama, then the Democratic presidential candidate, said: “If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”[395] On December 28, 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement: “the United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”[396] On March 2, 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attacks.[397]

Attempts to derail 2010 peace talks

In 2010, Hamas, who have been actively sidelined from the peace talks by Israel, spearheaded a coordinated effort by 13 Palestinian militant groups, in attempt to derail the stalled peace talks between Israel and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority. According to the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Major Gen. Eitan Dangot, Israel seeks to work with Salam Fayyad, to help revive the Palestinian economy, and hopes to ease restrictions on the Gaza Strip further, “while somehow preventing the Islamic militants who rule it from getting credit for any progress”. According to Dangot, Hamas must not be seen as ruling successfully or be allowed to “get credit for a policy that would improve the lives of people”.[398] The campaign consists of attacks against Israelis in which, according to a Hamas declaration in early September, “all options are open”.[399][400][401][402] The participating groups also include Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and an unnamed splinter group of Fatah.[403]

As part of the campaign, on August 31, 2010, 4 Israeli settlers, including a pregnant woman, were killed by Hamas militants while driving on Route 60 near the settlement Kiryat Arba, in the West bank. According to witnesses, militants opened fire on the moving vehicle, but then “approached the car” and shot the occupants in their seats at “close range”. The attack was described by Israeli sources as one of the “worst” terrorist acts in years.[404][405][406] A senior Hamas official said that Israeli settlers in the West Bank are legitimate targets since “they are an army in every sense of the word”.[407][408]

Themes of martyrdom

According to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch, in 2008, Fathi Hamad, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, stated on Al-Aqsa TV, “For the Palestinian people death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly (Palestinians) created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: ‘We desire death as you desire life.'”[409]

In 2010, Hamas speaker Ahmad Bahr praised the virtues of martyrdom and Jihad, and said that 2.5 million black-eyed virgins were waiting in the Garden of Eden, which could be entered only by prophets, by the righteous, and by martyrs. He continued by saying that nobody on Earth “will be able to confront the resistance, or to confront the mujahideen, those who worship Allah and seek martyrdom”.[410]

Guerrilla warfare

Hamas anti-tank rockets, captured by Israel Defense Forces during Operation Protective Edge

Hamas has made great use of guerrilla tactics in the Gaza Strip and to a lesser degree the West Bank.[411] It has successfully adapted these techniques over the years since its inception. According to a 2006 report by rival Fatah party, Hamas had smuggled between several hundred and 1,300 tons of advanced rockets, along with other weaponry, into Gaza.[411]

Hamas has used IEDs and anti-tank rockets against the IDF in Gaza. The latter include standard RPG-7 warheads and home-made rockets such as the Al-Bana, Al-Batar and Al-Yasin. The IDF has a difficult, if not impossible time trying to find hidden weapons caches in Palestinian areas – this is due to the high local support base Hamas enjoys.[412]

Extrajudicial killings of rivals

In addition to killing Israeli civilians and armed forces, Hamas has also murdered suspected Palestinian Israel collaborators and Fatah rivals.[413] Hundreds of Palestinians were executed by both Hamas and Fatah during the First Intifada.[414] In the wake of the 2006 Israeli conflict with Gaza, Hamas was accused of systematically rounding up, torturing and summarily executing Fatah supporters suspected of supplying information to Israel. Human Rights Watch estimates several hundred Gazans were “maimed” and tortured in the aftermath of the conflict. Seventy-three Gazan men accused of “collaborating” had their arms and legs broken by “unidentified perpetrators” and 18 Palestinians accused of helping Israel were executed by Hamas security officials in the first days of the conflict.[233][234][415] In November 2012, Hamas’s Izzedine al-Qassam brigade publicly executed six Gaza residents accused of collaborating with Israel. According to the witnesses, six alleged informers were shot dead one by one in Gaza City, while the corpse of the sixth victim was tied by a cable to the back of a motorcycle and dragged through the streets.[416] In 2013, Human Rights Watch issued a statement condemning Hamas for not investigating and giving a proper trial to the 6 men. Their statement was released the day before Hamas issued a deadline for “collaborators” to turn themselves in, or they will be pursued “without mercy”.[417] In August 2014, during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, at least 22 accused collaborators were executed by Hamas shortly after three of its commanders were assassinated by Israeli forces.[418] An Israeli source denied that any of the commanders had been targeted on the basis of human intelligence.[419]

Frequent killings of unarmed people have also occurred during Hamas-Fatah clashes.[420][421] NGOs have cited a number of summary executions as particular examples of violations of the rules of warfare, including the case of Muhammad Swairki, 28, a cook for Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s presidential guard, who was thrown to his death, with his hands and legs tied, from a 15-story apartment building in Gaza City.[422] Hamas security forces reportedly shoot and torture Palestinians who opposed Hamas rule in Gaza.[233] In one case, a Palestinian had criticized Hamas in a conversation on the street with some friends. Later that day, more than a dozen armed men with black masks and red kaffiyeh took the man from his home, and brought him to a solitary area where they shot him three times in the lower legs and ankles. The man told Human Rights Watch that he was not politically active.[233]

On August 14, 2009, Hamas fighters stormed the Mosque of cleric Abdel-Latif Moussa.[423] The cleric was protected by at least 100 fighters from Jund Ansar Allah (“Army of the Helpers of God”), an Islamist group with links to Al-Qaeda. The resulting battle left at least 13 people dead, including Moussa and 6 Hamas fighters, and 120 people injured.[424] According to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, during 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, Hamas killed more than 120 Palestinian youths for defying house arrest imposed on them by Hamas, in addition to 30–40 Palestinians killed by Hamas in extrajudicial executions after accusing them of being collaborators with Israel.[425] Referring to the killing of suspected collaborators, a Shin Bet official stated that “not even one” of those executed by Hamas provided any intelligence to Israel, while the Shin Bet officially “confirmed that those executed during Operation Protective Edge had all been held in prison in Gaza in the course of the hostilities”.[419]

2011–2013 Sinai insurgency

Hamas has been accused of providing weapons, training and fighters for Sinai-based insurgent attacks,[426][427] although Hamas strongly denies the allegations, calling them a smear campaign aiming to harm relations with Egypt.[426] According to the Egyptian Army, since the ouster of Egypt’s Muslim-Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi, over 600 Hamas members have entered the Sinai Peninsula through smuggling tunnels.[428] In addition, several weapons used in Sinai’s insurgent attacks are being traced back to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to the army.[428] The four leading insurgent groups in the Sinai have all reportedly maintained close ties with the Gaza Strip.[429] Hamas is also accused of helping Morsi and other high-ranking Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members break out of the Wadi Natroun prison in Cairo during the 2011 revolution.[430] Hamas called the accusation a “dangerous development”.[431] Egyptian authorities stated that the 2011 Alexandria bombing was carried out by the Gaza-based Army of Islam, which has received sanctuary from Hamas and earlier collaborated in the capture of Gilad Shalit.[429][432][433][434] Army of Islam members linked to the August 2012 Sinai attack have reportedly sought refuge in the Gaza Strip.[429] Egypt stated that Hamas directly provided logistical support to the Muslim Brotherhood militants who carried out the December 2013 Mansoura bombing.[435]

International designations as a terrorist organization

Hamas, together with several charities it runs,[436] has been designated by several governments and some academics as a terrorist organization. Others regard Hamas as a complex organization with terrorism as only one component.[437][438] Israel outlawed Hamas in September 1989[439] The United States followed suit in 1995, as did Canada in November 2002.[440] The European Union outlawed Hamas’s military wing in 2001 and included Hamas in its list of terrorist organizations in 2003,[441] which Hamas successfully challenged in the courts,[442] and continued to do so under American and Israeli pressure.[443] The basis of Hamas’s challenge to the EU classification in 2007 was that it was drawn up on the basis of media reports, rather than grounded in any analysis of Hamas’s history. In July 2017, the European Court of Justice overruled this challenge, citing that the evidence of media reports was only used for keeping Hamas on the list, rather than to add it to the list in the first place.[444]

The European General Court found in favour of Hamas in 2014, though the verdict was appealed by the EU countries. In September 2016 a legal advisor to the European Court of Justice, Eleanor Sharpston, provided an advisory opinion, in favour of cancelling the listing of Hamas as a terrorist organization. She argued that the determination originally adopted was flawed, and that the EU cannot “rely on facts and evidence found in press articles and information from the internet” in order to list organizations as terrorists.[445] Egypt,[446]Saudi Arabia,[447] Japan,[448] New Zealand,[449] Australia and the United Kingdom[450] have designated the military wing of Hamas as a terrorist organization.[451] The organization is banned in Jordan.[452] It is not regarded as a terrorist organization by Iran,[453]Russia,[454] Norway,[455] Switzerland,[456] Turkey, China,[457] and Brazil.[458]

Criticism

Human shields

A Hamas rocket launch site and its civilian surroundings.

After Operation Pillar of Defense, Human Rights Watch stated that Palestinian groups had endangered civilians by “repeatedly fired rockets from densely populated areas, near homes, businesses, and a hotel” and noted that under international law, parties to a conflict may not to place military targets in or near densely populated areas. One rocket was launched close to the Shawa and Housari Building, where various Palestinian and international media have offices; another was fired from the yard of a house near the Deira Hotel.[390][459] The New York Times journalist Steven Erlanger reported that “Hamas rocket and weapons caches, including rocket launchers, have been discovered in and under mosques, schools and civilian homes.”[460] Another report published by Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center revealed that Hamas used close to 100 mosques to store weapons and as launch-pads to shoot rockets. The report contains testimony from variety Palestinian sources, including a Hamas militant Sabhi Majad Atar, who said he was taught how to shoot rockets from inside a mosque.[461] Hamas has also been criticized by Israeli officials for blending into or hiding among the Palestinian civilian population During the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict.[462] The Israeli government published what it said was video evidence of human shield tactics by Hamas.[463] Israel said that Hamas frequently used mosques and school yards[464] as hideouts and places to store weapons,[465][466] and that Hamas militants stored weapons in their homes, making it difficult to ensure that civilians close to legitimate military targets are not hurt during Israeli military operations.[467] Israeli officials also accused the Hamas leadership of hiding under Shifa Hospital during the conflict, using the patients inside to deter an Israeli attack.[460][468]

The Israeli government filed a report entitled “Gaza Operations Investigation: Second Update” to the United Nations accusing Hamas of exploiting its rules of engagement by shooting rockets and launching attacks within protected civilian areas.[469][470][471] Israel says 12,000 rockets and mortars were fired at it between 2000 and 2008 – nearly 3,000 in 2008 alone.[472] In one case, an errant Israeli mortar strike killed dozens of people near a UN school. Hamas said that the mortar killed 42 people and left dozens wounded. Israel said that Hamas militants had launched a rocket from a yard adjacent to the school and one mortar of three rounds hit the school, due to a GPS error. According to the Israeli military probe, the remaining two rounds hit the yard used to launch rockets into Israel, killing two members of Hamas’s military wing who fired the rockets.[473] Human Right Watch called Hamas to “publicly renounce” the rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and hold those responsible to account. Human Right Watch program director Iain Levine said the attacks by Hamas were “unlawful and unjustifiable, and amount to war crimes”, and accused Hamas of putting Palestinians at risk by launching attacks from built-up areas.[472] Hamas spokesman relied that the report was “biased” and he denied that Hamas uses human shields.[472]

Human Rights Watch investigated 19 incidents involving 53 civilian deaths in Gaza that Israel said were the result of Hamas fighting in densely populated areas and did not find evidence for existence of Palestinian fighters in the areas at the time of the Israeli attack. In other cases where no civilians had died, the report concluded that Hamas may have deliberately fired rockets from areas close to civilians.[474] HRW also investigated 11 deaths that Israel said were civilians being used as human shields by Hamas. HRW found no evidence that the civilians were used as human shields, nor had they been shot in crossfire.[475] The Israeli ‘human shields’ charge against Hamas was called “full of holes” by The National (UAE), which stated that only Israel accused Hamas of using human shields during the conflict, though Hamas “may be guilty” of “locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas” and for “deliberately firing indiscriminate weapons into civilian populated areas”.[476]

On July 8, 2014, Hamas’s spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri encouraged the “policy of people confronting the Israeli warplanes with their bare chests in order to protect their homes”, saying it has proven itself.[477] Israeli soldiers recounted “Suddenly, a small boy appeared, and the terrorist grabbed him and escaped with him”;[478] “I saw with my own eyes someone using another person, a woman, as a shield. … And I can see very clearly that the woman doesn’t want to be there and he’s pulling her with him”;[479] and “We even found explosives in nurseries. The whole neighborhood was practically a terrorist base.”[480]

Israel has accused Hamas of using children as human shields. The Israeli government released video footage in which it claims two militants are shown grabbing a young boy’s arm from behind holding him to walk in front of them toward a group of people waiting near a wall. The IDF argues the militants were placing the boy between themselves and an Israeli sniper. The second scene shows an individual, described as a terrorist, grabbing a school boy off of a floor, where he is hiding behind a column from IDF fire, and using him as a human shield to walk to a different location.[481] After 15 alleged militants sought refuge in a mosque from Israeli forces, the BBC reported that Hamas radio instructed local women to go the mosque to protect the militants. Israeli forces later opened fire and killed two women.[482]

In November 2006, the Israeli Air Force warned Muhammad Weil Baroud, commander of the Popular Resistance Committees who are accused of launching rockets into Israeli territory, to evacuate his home in a Jabalya refugee camp apartment block in advance of a planned Israeli air strike. Baroud responded by calling for volunteers to protect the apartment block and nearby buildings and, according to The Jerusalem Post, hundreds of local residents, mostly women and children, responded. Israel suspended the air strike. Israel termed the action an example of Hamas using human shields.[483] In response to the incident, Hamas proclaimed: ‘We won. From now on we will form human chains around every house threatened with demolition.'”[484] In a November 22 press release, Human Rights Watch condemned Hamas, stating: “There is no excuse for calling civilians to the scene of a planned attack. Whether or not the home is a legitimate military target, knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm’s way is unlawful.”[485] Following criticism, Human rights Watch issued a statement saying that their initial assessment of the situation was in error. They stated that, on the basis of available evidence, the home demolition was in fact an administrative act, viewed in the context of Israel’s longstanding policy of punitive home demolitions, not a military act and thus would not fall within the purview of the law regulating hostilities during armed conflict, which had been the basis for their initial criticism of Hamas.[482]

When the UN-sponsored Goldstone Commission Report on the Gaza War was commissioned in 2009, it stated that it “found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack” though they deemed credible reports that Palestinian militants were “not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians”.[486] Hamas MP Fathi Hamed stated that “For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel…the elderly excel at this…and so do the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children.”[487] Following the release of the Goldstone Report, the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan Col. Richard Kemp was invited to testify at the UN Human Rights Council 12th Special Session that during Operation Cast Lead Israel encountered an “enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population”.[488][489][490]

Children as combatants

The Israeli government released a video compiled mostly from Arab news sources showing Palestinian children under the age of 15 going through military training and carrying and firing arms. The video’s narration explains that Hamas indoctrinates these child combatants and that Hamas operators send the children “on missions from which they would not risk their own lives”. According to the Israeli government, the children are used as spotters, to transport explosives and weapons, sent to play in areas to deter Israeli attacks and are sent unknowingly with explosive devices in their schoolbags to be blown up in the vicinity of Israelis.[491] The United Nations defines the use of children for military purposes as a war crime and a form of slavery. See Military use of children.

Although Hamas admits to sponsoring summer schools to train teenagers in handling weapons they condemn attacks by children. Following the deaths of three teenagers during a 2002 attack on Netzarim in central Gaza, Hamas banned attacks by children and “called on the teachers and religious leaders to spread the message of restraint among young boys”.[492][493] Hamas’s use of child labor to build tunnels with which to attack Israel has also been criticized, with at least 160 children killed in the tunnels as of 2012.[494]

Political freedoms

Hamas mural in the West Bank

Human rights groups and Gazans have accused the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip of restricting freedom of the press and forcefully suppressing dissent. Both foreign and Palestinian journalists report harassment and other measures taken against them.[495][496] In September 2007 the Gaza Interior Ministry disbanded the Gaza Strip branch of the pro-Fatah Union of Palestinian Journalists, a move criticized by Reporters without borders.[497] In November of that year the Hamas government arrested a British journalist and for a time canceled all press cards in Gaza.[498][499] On February 8, 2008, Hamas banned distribution of the pro-Fatah Al-Ayyam newspaper, and closed its offices in the Gaza Strip because it ran a caricature that mocked legislators loyal to Hamas.[500][501] The Gaza Strip Interior Ministry later issued an arrest warrant for the editor.[502]

More widely, in late August 2007 the group was accused in The Telegraph, a conservative British newspaper, of torturing, detaining, and firing on unarmed protesters who had objected to policies of the Hamas government.[503] Also in late August, Palestinian health officials reported that the Hamas government had been shutting down Gaza clinics in retaliation for doctor strikes – The Hamas government confirmed the “punitive measure against doctors” because, in its view, they had incited other doctors to suspend services and go out on strike.[504] In September 2007 the Hamas government banned public prayers, after Fatah supporters began holding worship sessions that quickly escalated into raucous protests against Hamas rule. Government security forces beat several gathering supporters and journalists.[505] In October 2008, the Hamas government announced it would release all political prisoners in custody in Gaza. Several hours after the announcement, 17 Fatah members were released.[506]

On August 2, 2012, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) accused Hamas of harassing elected officials belong to the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) in Gaza. The IFJ said that journalists’ leaders in Gaza have faced a campaign of intimidation, as well as threats designed to force them to stop their union work. Some of these journalists are now facing charges of illegal activities and a travel ban, due to their refusal “to give in to pressure”. The IFJ said that these accusations are “malicious” and “should be dropped immediately”. The IFJ explained that the campaign against PJS members began in March 2012, after their election, and included a raid organized by Hamas supporters who took over the PJS offices in Gaza with the help of the security forces, and subsequently evicted the staff and elected officials. Other harassment includes the targeting of individuals who were bullied into stopping union work. The IFJ backed the PJS and called on Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to intervene to stop “his officials’ unwarranted interference in journalists’ affairs”.[507] In November 2012, two Gazan journalists were prevented from leaving Gaza by Hamas. There were scheduled to participate in a conference in Cairo, Egypt. After being questioned by security forces, their passports were confiscated.[508] In 2016 Reporters Without Borders condemned Hamas for censorship and for torturing journalists. Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said “As living conditions in the Gaza Strip are disastrous, Hamas wants to silence critics and does not hesitate to torture a journalist in order to control media coverage in its territory.”[509]

Human rights abuses

In June 2011, the Independent Commission for Human Rights based in Ramallah published a report whose findings included that the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were subjected in 2010 to an “almost systematic campaign” of human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as well as by Israeli authorities, with the security forces belonging to the PA and Hamas being responsible for torture, arrests and arbitrary detentions.[510]

In 2012, the Human Rights Watch presented a 43 page long list of human rights violation committed by Hamas. Among actions attributed to Hamas the HRW report mentions beatings with metal clubs and rubber hoses, hanging of alleged collaborationists with Israel, and torture of 102 individuals. According to the report, Hamas also tortured civil society activists and peaceful protesters. Reflecting on the captivity of Gilad Shalit, the HRW report described it as “cruel and inhuman”. The report also slams Hamas for harassment of people based on so called morality offenses and for media censorship.[511][512] In a public statement Joe Stork, the deputy Middle East director of HRW claimed, “after five years of Hamas rule in Gaza, its criminal justice system reeks of injustice, routinely violates detainees’ rights and grants impunity to abusive security services.” Hamas responded by denying charges and describing them as “politically motivated”[513]

On May 26, 2015 Amnesty International released a report saying that Hamas carried out extrajudicial killings, abductions and arrests of Palestinians and used the Al-Shifa Hospital to detain, interrogate and torture suspects during the Israel–Gaza conflict in 2014. It details the executions of at least 23 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel and torture of dozens of others, many victims of torture were members of the rival Palestinian movement, Fatah.[514][515]

In 2019, Osama Qawassmeh, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, accused Hamas of “kidnapping and brutally torturing Fatah members in a way that no Palestinian can imagine.” Qawassmeh accused Hamas of kidnapping and torturing 100 Fatah members in Gaza. The torture allegedly included the practice called “shabah” – the painful binding of the hands and feet to a chair. Also in 2019, Fatah activist from Gaza Raed Abu al-Hassin was beaten and had his two legs broken by Hamas security officers. Al-Hassin was taken into custody by Hamas after he participated in a pro-Abbas demonstration in the Gaza Strip.[516]

International support

Hamas has always maintained leadership abroad. The movement is deliberately fragmented to ensure that Israel cannot kill its top political and military leaders.[517] Hamas used to be strongly allied with both Iran and Syria. Iran gave Hamas an estimated $13–15 million in 2011 as well as access to long-range missiles. Hamas’s political bureau was once located in the Syrian capital of Damascus before the start of the Syrian civil war. Relations between Hamas, Iran, and Syria began to turn cold when Hamas refused to back the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Instead, Hamas backed the Sunni rebels fighting against Assad. As a result, Iran cut funding to Hamas, and their terror proxy Hezbollah ordered Hamas members out of Lebanon.[518] Hamas was then forced out of Syria. Since then, Iran and Hezbollah have tried to mend fences with Hamas.[518] Hamas contacted Jordan and Sudan to see if either would open up its borders to its political bureau. But both countries refused – though they welcomed many Hamas members leaving Syria.[519] In 2012 Hamas headquarters subsequently moved to Doha, Qatar.[520]

From 2012 to 2013, under the leadership of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, Hamas had the support of Egypt. However, when Morsi was removed from Office, his replacement Abdul Fattah al-Sisi outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood and destroyed the tunnels Hamas built into Egypt. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are likewise hostile to Hamas. Like Egypt, they designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and Hamas was viewed as its Palestinian equivalent.[518]

Qatar and Turkey

According to Middle East experts, now Hamas has two firm allies: Qatar and Turkey. Both give Hamas public and financial assistance estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Shashank Joshi, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, says that “Qatar also hosts Hamas’s political bureau which includes Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.” Meshaal also visits Turkey frequently to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.[518] Erdogan has dedicated himself to breaking Hamas out of its political and economic seclusion. Last year on U.S. television Erdogan said, “I don’t see Hamas as a terror organization. Hamas is a political party.”[517]

In 2007, Qatar was, with Turkey, the only country to back Hamas after the group ousted the Palestinian Authority from the Gaza Strip.[518] The relationship between Hamas and Qatar strengthened in 2008 and 2009 when Khaled Meshaal was invited to attend the Doha Summit where he was seated next to the then Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who pledged $250 million to repair the damage caused by the Israel in the Israeli war on Gaza.[519] These events caused Qatar to become the main player in the “Palestinian issue”. Qatar called Gaza’s blockade unjust and immoral, which prompted the Hamas government in Gaza, including former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, to thank Qatar for their “unconditional” support. Qatar then began regularly handing out political, material, humanitarian and charitable support for Hamas.[519]

In 2012, Qatar’s former Emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, became the first head of state to visit Gaza under Hamas rule. He pledged to raise $400 million for reconstruction. Some have argued that the money Qatar gives to reconstruct Palestine is an excuse to pour even more money into Hamas.[520] Qatar’s reason for funding Hamas, which is shared by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is allegedly that Islamist groups are growing and will eventually play a role in the region; thus it is important for Qatar (and Turkey) to maintain ties. During the Arab Spring, for example, Qatar backed the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Islamist group whose offshoot is Hamas.[521] Other sources say that advocating for Hamas is politically beneficial to Turkey and Qatar because the Palestinian cause draws popular support amongst their citizens at home.[522]

Some began to label Qatar a terrorist haven in part because it is harboring Hamas leader Meshaal.[521] They also harbor Husam Badran, former leader of Hamas’s military wing in the northern West Bank.[523] Husam Badran, current media spokesman for Hamas, was the instigator of several of the deadliest suicide bombings of the second intifada, including the Dolphinarium discotheque bombing in Tel Aviv, which killed 21 people.[524] Turkey has also been criticized for housing terrorists including Saleh al-Arouri, the senior Hamas officer, known for his ability to mastermind attacks from abroad. Al-Arouri is alleged to have orchestrated the June 2014 abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers and to have started the 50-day war between Israel and Palestine, and now lives in Turkey.[525]

Speaking in reference to Qatar’s support for Hamas, during a 2015 visit to Palestine, Qatari official Mohammad al-Emadi, said Qatar is using the money not to help Hamas but rather the Palestinian people as a whole. He acknowledges however that giving to the Palestinian people means using Hamas as the local contact. Emadi said, “You have to support them. You don’t like them, don’t like them. But they control the country, you know.”[526] Some argue that Hamas’s relations with Qatar are putting Hamas in an awkward position because Qatar has become part of the regional Arab problem.

But Hamas claims that having contacts with various Arab countries establishes positive relations which will encourage Arab countries to do their duty toward the Palestinians and support their cause by influencing public opinion in the Arab world.[519] In March 2015, Hamas has announced its support of the Saudi Arabian-led military intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis and forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.[527]

In May 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tweeted to the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu that Hamas is not a terrorist organization but a resistance movement that defends the Palestinian homeland against an occupying power. During that period there were conflicts between Israeli troops and Palestinian protestors in the Gaza Strip, due to the decision of the United States to move their embassy to Jerusalem.[528]

China

After the Hamas victory in 2006, China did not label it a “terrorist organization” and welcomed Hamas’ foreign minister, Mahmoud al-Zahar, to Beijing for the China-Arab Cooperation Forum ignoring protests by both the United States and Israel but receiving praise from Mahmoud Abbas.[529][530] China has harshly criticised Israel for its economic blockade of Gaza since 2007 when Hamas assumed control of the territory.[531][529] Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao stated, “We believe that the Palestinian government is legally elected by the people there and it should be respected”.[532] In April 2011, a spokesman from China’s foreign ministry embraced the Hamas-Fatah agreement to form an interim government.[533]

In 2014 Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on Israel to lift its blockade and advised both Israel and Hamas to cease fighting. He reaffirmed support from China to the Palestinian people’s right to establish an independent state. He told a joint press conference, “China will grant $1.5 million in emergency humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.”[534]

In June 2018, China voted in support of a United Nations Security Council resolution vetoed by the US that criticized Israel of excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force by the Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in Gaza during the 2018 Gaza border protests. Later the same day, China abstained from voting on a US drafted resolution that blamed Hamas for the escalated violence.[535][536]

U.S.-based support

Several U.S. organizations were either shut down or held liable for financing Hamas in early 2001, groups that have origins from the mid-1990s: the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), and Kind Hearts. The U.S. Treasury Department specially designated the HLF in 2001 for terror ties: “from 1995 to 2001 the HLF transferred “approximately $12.4 million outside of the United States with the intent to contribute funds, goods, and services to Hamas.” According to the Treasury Department, Khaled Meshal identified one of HLF’s officers, Mohammed El-Mezain as “the Hamas leader for the U.S.” In 2003, IAP was found liable for financially supporting Hamas, and in 2006, Kind Hearts had their assets frozen for supporting Hamas.[537] According to congressional testimony by Jonathan Schanzer in 2016, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel includes a web of Hamas supporters from the Illinois-based organization American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).[538]

See also

References …

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas

Story 3: President Trump Threatens To Impose a 25% Tariff on $200 Billion of Chinese Exports into United States After Chinese Communist Renege on Trade Deal Commitments — Time To Pull The Trigger on 25% Tariff on Chinese Goods — Walk Away Renee — Videos

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The Four Tops – Walk Away Renee (with lyrics on screen)

Walk Away Renee – The left Banke

THE LEFT BANKE- WALK AWAY RENEE- PERFORMED @ DROM.mov

Walk Away Renee

And when I see the sign that points one way
The lot we used to pass by every day
Just walk away Renee
You won’t see me follow you back home
The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same
You’re not to blame
From deep inside the tears that I’m forced to cry
From deep inside the pain that I chose to hide
Just walk away Renee
You won’t see me follow you back home
Now as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes
For me it cries
Just walk away Renee
You won’t see me follow you back home
Now as the rain beats down upon my weary eyes
For me it cries
Your name and mine inside a heart upon a wall
Still finds a way to haunt me, though they’re so small
Just walk away Renee
You won’t see me follow you back home
The empty sidewalks on my block are not the same
You’re not to blame
Songwriters: Bob Calilli / Mike Brown / Tony Sansone

Trump administration accuses China of “reneging” on trade deal commitments

Trump and Liu He
Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said in a briefing with reporters Monday he will put out a Federal Register notice tomorrow saying that the Trump administration will raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%, and that importers will begin paying the new tariffs “the first minute of Friday.”

Why it matters: The business community and markets had been cautiously hopeful that Trump’s Sunday tweets were an empty threat to create leverage over China and that he’d ultimately back down. That’s still possible, of course, but Lighthizer made clear he didn’t think that was going to happen.

Driving the news: Lighthizer said he still expects the top Chinese negotiator, Liu He, to come to Washington on Thursday, though he said he hadn’t spoken to the vice premier since he and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin left Beijing last week. Mnuchin, who was also in the briefing, said he hadn’t spoken to Liu He either since he left China.

  • Mnuchin said he thought until recent days that the Trump administration was on the precipice of a “historic” deal with China — one that was hyper-detailed, running to almost 150 pages.
  • He said the past week had brought a “big change in direction for the negotiations” with the Chinese backtracking on specific commitments that they had made in writing.

Mnuchin and Lighthizer wouldn’t say what, specifically, the Chinese were trying to re-trade. But they both stressed that China’s team wasn’t squabbling over small stuff. Lighthizer and Mnuchin used words like “substantive” and “substantial” to characterize the attempted Chinese backflip.

Between the lines: Mnuchin left slightly more room for another twist this week. He made a point of saying that Liu He had been “very helpful to work with” and he’d built a strong relationship with the vice premier. He said President Trump had been willing to extend the deadline on tariff hikes previously because of the “substantial progress” they’d made.

  • Lighthizer said his interpretation of what happened was that some on the Chinese side found the commitments the negotiating team had already agreed on to be unacceptable. (Translation: The Chinese side has hardliners, too.) “I would use the word reneging on prior commitments,” Lighthizer said.
  • Mnuchin, who is less hawkish on China, left slightly more room for a last minute plot twist. He said if the Chinese come to Washington and are willing to go back to their original commitments and negotiate in good faith, then of course he and Lighthizer would take that to President Trump. But as of now, the tariffs are going ahead, he said.

What’s next? A reporter asked Lighthizer what he would say to American businesses who already have goods on the water headed to U.S. ports, which will face significantly higher costs if the tariffs go into effect. Lighthizer said, “There’ll be ways to work out” the situation but he gave no specifics. He said it’s been clear for some time that something like this — a dramatic tariff increase — could happen. U.S. businesses, in other words, should have been prepared for this.

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1115, Story 1: War of Words: Islamic Republic of Iran Major General Qassem Soleimani Warns United States and Trump — Waiting For President Trump Tweet Response — Videos — Story 2: Vice President Pence Talks Turkey: Free Pastor or Face U.S. Sanctions — Release Now — Videos — Story 2: House Republicans Trying To Impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosestein — Trump Will Fire Rosestein After Midterm Elections and Attorney General Sessions Will Either Appoint Second Counsel or Trump Will Accept Resignation — Videos — Story 4: Special Counsel Mueller Goes After President Trump’s Tweets — Desperation Move — Complete Investigation or Face Firing — Videos

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You may start the war but we will end it: Soleimani warns Trump

Who is Qasem Soleimani?

Iran’s revolutionary guard explained

Is this Iranian the most powerful man in Iraq? – Newsnight

President Trump: U.S. Won’t Stand For Iranian President’s ‘Demented Words’ | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC

Sebastian Gorka: Trump understands how fragile Iran is

Iranian President Warns Trump Not To ‘Play With The Lion’s Tail’

The Middle East’s cold war, explained

US vs Iran – Strait of Hormuz

The differences and similarities between Sunni and Shia Isalm

10 Differences Between Shia and Sunni Muslims

 

Story 1: Islamic Republic of Iran Threatens United States Again — Waiting For President Trump Tweet Response — Videos

Trump Tower in ruins? Iranian special forces leader warns Trump that war ‘will destroy everything you own’ and boasted that ‘nation of martyrdom’ can strike U.S. military

  • Major General Qassem Soleimani warned Trump in a speech that a war with Iran would ‘destroy everything you own’
  • The boast may be a suggestion that terrorists aided by Iran’s military are prepared to strike the president’s real estate properties
  • Soleimani said U.S. military in the Red Sea area are not secure: ‘Trump should know that we are nation of martyrdom and that we await him’
  • Trump softened his tone toward Iran this week and said he might be ready for a new nuclear deal
  • That came after he warned Iran’s president that he would ‘SUFFER CONSEQUENCES’ for threatening the U.S.

The general in charge of Iran‘s elite paramilitary Quds Forces warned Donald Trumpon Thursday that war with the Islamist country would eliminate his entire net worth, suggesting terrorists aided by Iran’s military are prepared to strike his real estate properties.

‘You know that this war will destroy everything you own,’ Major General Qassem Soleimani said during a speech in the central Iranian city of Hamedan.

He also said the Red Sea is not secure while U.S. troops are deployed in the area: ‘Trump should know that we are nation of martyrdom and that we await him.’

‘We are near you, where you can’t even imagine … Come. We are ready. If you begin the war, we will end the war,’ he boasted.

Iranian Quds Forces commander Major General Qassem Soleimani warned Trump in a speech that a war with Iran would 'destroy everything you own'

Trump had already softened his tone toward Iran this week and said he might be ready for a new nuclear deal

The latest Iranian boast may be a suggestion that terrorists aided by Tehran's military are prepared to strike the president's real estate properties

‘You have to be careful about insulting the Iranian people and the president of our Republic.’

Iran this week dismissed a warning from Trump that Tehran risked dire consequences if it made threats against the United States.

Trump softened his threatening tone on Tuesday, just two days after he blasted an allcaps warning about ‘consequences’ for Tehran’s anti-U.S. rhetoric.

Addressing the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Trump took credit for pulling the U.S. out of the Obama-era Iran nuclear accord, but said his administration stands ready for Iran to come back to the negotiating table.

Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate would be an appetizing target for America's enemies

The president warned Iran's president Sunday night not to provoke him

The president warned Iran’s president Sunday night not to provoke him

‘We’re ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster,’ he said.

Late Sunday night he tweeted to Rouhani: ‘NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.’

Rouhani had claimed that ‘Iran is the mother of all peace’ before warning Trump that ‘war with Iran is the mother of all wars.’

‘Don’t play with fire, or you will regret [it],’ the Iranian leader continued. ‘Iranian people are the master and they will never bow to anyone.’

Iran President warns Trump not to take military action

Soleimani, who as Quds Force commander is in charge of the Revolutionary Guards’ overseas operations, put his disdain for Trump in more personal terms.

‘Trump’s language is still the ethics of nightclubs and gambling halls,’ he said Thursday.

His threat directed at U.S. troops in the Red Sea area came as Saudi Arabia said it was temporarily halting all oil shipments through the strategic shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb, following an attack on two oil tankers by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

Yemen, where a U.S-backed, Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for three years, lies beside the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the most important trade routes in the world for oil tankers.

 

ww.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5995587/Iranian-special-forces-leader-warns-Trump-war-destroy-own.html

 

Qasem Soleimani

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Sardar
Qasem Soleimani
Sardar Qasem Soleimani-01.jpg
Native name قاسم سلیمانی
Nickname(s) Haj Qasem” (among supporters)[1]

“The Shadow Commander” (in the West)[2][3][4][5][6]

Born 11 March 1957 (age 61)
Qanat-e MalekKermanImperial State of Iran
Allegiance Iran
Service/branch Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
Years of service 1979–present
Rank Major general
Unit Quds Force
Commands held 41st Tharallah Division of Kerman
Quds Force
Battles/wars

show

See battles
Awards Fath Medal.jpg Fath Medal of Honor (3)[14]

Qasem Soleimani (Persianقاسم سلیمانی‎, born 11 March 1957) is an Iranian Major General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and since 1998 commander of its Quds Force—a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations.[15]

A veteran military officer of the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s with a humble background, he has been active in many conflicts in the rest of the Middle East, especially in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, while maintaining a very low profile. His methods have been a blend of military and financial assistance to Shiite allies and hard-nosed strategic diplomacy. It has long provided military assistance to anti-Saddam Shia and Kurdish groups in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. In 2012, Soleimani helped bolster the Syrian government, a key Iranian ally, during the Syrian Civil War. Soleimani also assisted in the command of combined Iraqi government and Shia militia forces that advanced against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014–2015.[16]

 

Background

Soleimani was born in Qanat-e Malek village, Rabor CountyKerman Province, to an impoverished peasant family. In his youth, he moved to the city of Kerman and worked as a construction worker to help repay a debt his father owed. In 1975, he began working as a contractor for the Kerman Water Organization.[17] When not at work, he spent his time lifting weights in local gyms and attending the sermons of a traveling preacher by the name of Hojjat Kamyab – a protege of Ayatollah Khomeini.[18]

Military Career

Soleimani joined the Revolutionary war Guard (IRGC) in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution, which saw the Shah fall and Ayatollah Khomeini take power. Reportedly, his training was minimal, but he advanced rapidly. Early in his career as a guardsman, he was stationed in northwestern Iran, and participated in the suppression of a Kurdish separatist uprising in West Azerbaijan Province.[18]

On 22 September 1980, when Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of Iran, setting off the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988), Suleimani joined the battlefield serving as the leader of a military company, consisting of men from Kerman whom he personally assembled and trained.[19] He quickly earned a reputation for bravery,[20] and rose through the ranks because of his role in the successful operations in retaking the lands Iraq had occupied, eventually becoming the commander of the 41st Sarallah Division while still in his 20s, participating in most major operations. He was mostly stationed at the southern front[19][21] He was heavily injured in Operation Tariq-ol-Qods. In a 1990 interview, he mentions Operation Fath-ol-Mobin as “the best” operation he participated in and “very memorable”, due to its difficulties yet positive outcome.[22] He was also engaged in leading and organizing irregular warfare missions deep inside Iraq carried out by the Ramadan Headquarters. It was at this point that Suleimani established relations with Kurdish Iraqi leaders and the Shia Badr Organization, both of which opposed to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.[19]

On July 17, 1985, Soleimani opposed the IRGC leadership’s plan to deploy forces to two islands in western Arvandroud (Shatt al-Arab).[23]

After the war, during the 1990s, he was an IRGC commander in Kerman Province.[21] In this region, which is relatively close to Afghanistan, Afghan-grown opium travels to Turkey and onto Europe. Soleimani’s military experience helped him earn a reputation as a successful fighter against drug trafficking.[18]

During the 1999 student revolt in Tehran, Soleiman was one of the IRGC officers who signed a letter to President Mohammad Khatami. The letter stated that if Khatami did not crush the student rebellion the military would, and might also launch a coup against Khatami.[18][24]

Command of Quds Force

The exact date of his appointment as commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force is not clear, but Ali Alfoneh cites it as between 10 September 1997 and 21 March 1998.[17] He was considered one of the possible successors to the post of commander of the IRGC, when General Yahya Rahim Safavi left this post in 2007. In 2008, he led a group of Iranian investigators looking into the death of Imad Mughniyah. Soleimani helped arrange a ceasefire between the Iraqi Army and Mahdi Army in March 2008.[25]

Following the September 11 attacks of 2001, Ryan Crocker, a senior State Department official in the United States, flew to Geneva to meet with Iranian diplomats who were under the direction of Soleimani with the purpose of collaborating to destroy the Taliban, which had targeted Shia Afghanis.[18] This collaboration was instrumental in defining the targets of bombing operations in Afghanistan and in capturing key Al Qaeda operatives, but abruptly ended in January 2002, when George W Bush named Iran as part of the “Axis of evil” in his State of the Union address.[18]

In 2009, a leaked report stated that General Soleimani met Christopher R. Hill and General Raymond T. Odierno (America’s two most senior officials in Baghdad at the time) in the office of Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani (who has known General Soleimani for decades). Hill and General Odierno denied the occurrence of the meeting.[26]

On 24 January 2011, Soleimani was promoted to Major General by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.[21][27] Khamenei is described as having a close relationship with him, helping him financially and has called Soleimani a “living martyr”.[18]

Soleimani has been described as “the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today” and the principal military strategist and tactician in Iran’s effort to combat Western influence and promote the expansion of Shiite and Iranian influence throughout the Middle East.[18] In Iraq, as the commander of the Quds force, he is believed to have strongly influenced the organization of the Iraqi government, notably supporting the election of previous Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.[18][28] Soleimani has even been described as being “Iran’s very own Erwin Rommel“.[29]

According to some sources, Soleimani is the principal leader and architect of the military wing of the Lebanese Shia party Hezbollah since his appointment as Quds commander in 1998.[18]

Syrian Civil War

A map of Al-Qusayr and its environs. The Al-Qusayr offensive was allegedly masterminded by Soleimani[30]

According to several sources, including Riad Hijab, a former Syrian premier who defected in August 2012, he is also one of the staunchest supporters of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War.[18][28] In the later half of 2012, Soleimani assumed personal control of the Iranian intervention in the Syrian civil war, when Iranians became deeply concerned about the Assad government’s lack of ability to fight the opposition, and the fallout to the Islamic Republic if the Syrian government fell. He is reported to have coordinated the war from a base in Damascus at which a Lebanese Hezbollah commander and an Iraqi Shiite militia coordinator have been mobilized, in addition to Syrian and Iranian officers. Brigadier General Hossein Hamadani, the Basij’s former deputy commander helps to run irregular militias that Soleimani hopes to continue the fight if Assad falls.[18] Under Soleimani the command has “coordinated attacks, trained militias, and set up an elaborate system to monitor rebel communications”. According to a Middle Eastern security official Dexter Filkins talked to, thousands of Quds Force and Iraqi Shiite militiamen in Syria are “spread out across the entire country.”[18] The retaking of Qusayr in May 2013 from Syrian rebels was, according to John Maguire, a former CIA officer in Iraq, “orchestrated” by Soleimani.[18]

He is widely credited with delivering the strategy that has helped President Bashar al-Assad turn the tide against rebel forces and recapture key cities and towns.[31] The details of his involvement however are little known but many events from the training of government allied militias and coordination of decisive military offensives[18] to the sighting of Iranian UAVs & spy-drones in Syria, strongly suggest that his command (the Quds force) is heavily involved in many aspects of the civil war.[18] In a visit to the Lebanese capital Beirut on Thursday 29 Jan 2015, Soleimani laid wreaths at the graves of the slain Hezbollah members, including Emad Mughniyah, the son of late Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah which strengthens some possibilities about his role in Hezbollah military reaction on Israel.[32]

Soleimani helped in formation of the National Defence Forces (NDF) in Syria.

In October 2015, it was reported that he had been instrumental in devising during his visit to Moscow in July 2015 the Russian-Iranian-Syrian offensive in October 2015.[33]

War on ISIS in Iraq

The east of Saladin Province in Iraq where Qasem Soleimani was involved in breaking the Siege of Amirli by ISIS[34]

Qasem Soleimani was in the Iraqi city of Amerli, to work with the Iraqi forces to push back militants from ISIS.[35][36] According to the Los Angeles Times, which reported that Amerli was the first town to successfully withstand an ISIS invasion, it was secured thanks to “an unusual partnership of Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers, Iranian-backed Shiite militias and U.S. warplanes”. The US acted as a force multiplier for a number of Iranian-backed arm groups—at the same time that was present on the battlefield.[37][38]

A senior Iraqi official told the BBC that when the city of Mosul fell, the rapid reaction of Iran, rather than American bombing, was what prevented a more widespread collapse.[9] Qasem Soleimani also seems to have been instrumental in planning the operation to relieve Amirli in Saladin province where ISIS had laid siege to an important city.[34] In fact the Quds force operatives under Soleimani’s command seem to have been deeply involved with not only the Iraqi army and Shi’ite militias but also the Kurdish in the battle of Amirli,[39] not only providing liaisons for intelligence sharing but also the supply of arms and munitions in addition to “providing expertise”.[40]

In the operation to liberate Jurf Al Sakhar, he was reportedly “present on the battlefield”. Some Shia militia commanders described Soleimani as “fearless”—one pointing out that the Iranian general never wears a flak jacket, even on the front lines.[41]

Soleimani was also intimately involved in the planning & execution of the operation to liberate Tikrit[42][43]

Hadi al-Amiri, the former Iraqi minister of transportation and the head of the Badr Organization [an official Iraqi political party whose military wing is one of the largest armed forces in the country] highlighted the pivotal role of General Qasem Soleimani in defending Iraq’s Kurdistan Region against the ISIL terrorist group, maintaining that if it were not for Iran, Heidar al-Ebadi’s government would have been a government-in-exile right now.[44] and he added there would be no Iraq if Gen. Soleimani hadn’t helped us.[45]

There were reports by some Western sources that Soleimani has been seriously wounded in action against ISIL in Samarra. The claim was rejected by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.[46]

Soleimani played an integral role in the organisation and planning of the crucial operation to retake the city of Tikrit in Iraq from ISIS. The city of Tikrit rests on the left bank of the Tigris river and is the largest and most important city between Baghdad and Mosul, gifting it a high strategic value. The city fell to ISIS during 2014 when ISIS made immense gains in northern and central Iraq. After its capture, ISIL performed its most infamous massacre at Camp Speicher. After months of careful preparation and intelligence gathering an offensive to encircle and capture Tikrit was launched in early March 2015.[43] Soleimani is directing the operations on the eastern flank from a village about 35 miles from Tikrit called Albu Rayash, captured over the weekend. The offensive is the biggest military operation in the Salahuddin region since last summer, when ISIS fighters killed hundreds of Iraq army soldiers who had abandoned their military base at Camp Speicher outside Tikrit.

Orchestration of military escalation in 2015

In 2015 Soleimani started to gather support from various sources in order to combat the newly resurgent ISIL and rebel groups which were both successful in taking large swathes of territory away from Assad’s forces. He was reportedly the main architect of the joint intervention involving Russia as a new partner with Assad and Hezbollah.[47][48][49]

According to Reuters, at a meeting in Moscow in July, Soleimani unfurled a map of Syria to explain to his Russian hosts how a series of defeats for President Bashar al-Assad could be turned into victory—with Russia’s help. Qasem Soleimani’s visit to Moscow was the first step in planning for a Russian military intervention that has reshaped the Syrian war and forged a new Iranian–Russian alliance in support of the Syrian (and Iraqi) governments. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei also sent a senior envoy to Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin. “Putin reportedly told the envoy ‘Okay we will intervene. Send Qassem Soleimani’. Gen. Soleimani went to explain the map of the theatre and coordinate the strategic escalation of military forces in Syria.[48]

Operations in Aleppo

Map of the offensive.[50][51][52][53][54][55]

Soleimani, who assumed overall command in the Aleppo offensives of 2015,[citation needed] had a decisive impact on the theatre of operations and led to a strong advance in southern Aleppo with the government and allied forces re-capturing two military bases and dozens of towns and villages in a matter of weeks. There was also a series of major advances towards Kuweiris air-base to the north-east.[56] By mid-November, the Syrian army and its allies had gained ground in southern areas of Aleppo Governorate, capturing numerous rebel strongholds. Soleimani was reported to have personally led the drive deep into the southern Aleppo countryside where many towns and villages fell into government hands. Soleimani reportedly commanded the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division, Hezbollah, Harakat Al-Nujaba (Iraqi), Kata’ib Hezbollah (Iraqi), Liwaa Abu Fadl Al-Abbas (Iraqi), and Firqa Fatayyemoun (Afghan/Iranian volunteers).[57]

It is unclear whether or not the General sustained possibly grave injuries, but in response to reports about his injury[58] during the southwest Aleppo operation, he is quoted as saying, “Martyrdom is what I seek in mountains and valleys, but it isn’t granted yet”.[59]

In early February 2016, backed by Russian and Syrian air force airstrikes, the 4th Mechanized Division – in close coordination with Hezbollah, the National Defense Forces (NDF), Kata’eb Hezbollah, and Harakat Al-Nujaba – launched an offensive in Aleppo Governorate’s northern countryside,[60] which eventually broke the three-year siege of Nubl and Al-Zahraa and cut off rebel’s main supply route from Turkey. According to a senior, non-Syrian security source close to Damascus, Iranian fighters played a crucial role in the conflict. “Qassem Soleimani is there in the same area”, he said.[61] In December 2016, new photos emerged of Soleimani at the Citadel of Aleppo, though the exact date of the photos is unknown.[62][63]

Operations in 2017

In late March 2017, Soleimani was seen in the northern Hama Governorate countryside, reportedly aiding Maj. Gen. Suheil al-Hassan in repelling a major rebel offensive.[13]

CIA’s chief, Mike Pompeo, said that he sent Soleimani and other Iranian leaders a letter holding them responsible for any attacks on US interests by forces under their control. According to Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, a senior aide for the country’s supreme leader, Soleimani ignored the letter when it was handed over to him while he was in the Abu Kamal offensive against ISIL, saying “I will not take your letter nor read it and I have nothing to say to these people.”[64][65]

In popular culture

General Soleimani in civil dress during a public ceremony in 2013

He is said to have a calm presence about him,[66] carry himself “inconspicuously and rarely raises his voice”, exhibiting “understated charisma“.[20] In Western sources, Qassem Suleimani’s personality has been compared to the fictional characters KarlaKeyser Söze,[20] and Scarlet Pimpernel.[67]

The 2016 award-winning movie Bodyguard, directed by Ebrahim Hatamikia, was inspired by Soleimani’s activities.[68]

The 2016 Persian book Noble Comrades 17: Hajj Qassem, written by Ali Akbari Mozdabadi, contains memoirs of Qassem Soleimani.[69]

Hadi Al-Ameri the head of the Badr Organization in Iraq says about him: “If Qasem Soleimani was not present in Iraq, Haidar al-Ibadi should form his cabinet out of Iraqi borders”.[70]

In politics

In 1999, Soleimani, along with other senior IRGC commanders, signed a letter to then-President Mohammad Khatami regarding the student protests in July. They wrote “Dear Mr. Khatami, how long do we have to shed tears, sorrow over the events, practice democracy by chaos and insults, and have revolutionary patience at the expense of sabotaging the system? Dear president, if you don’t make a revolutionary decision and act according to your Islamic and national missions, tomorrow will be so late and irrecoverable that cannot be even imagined.”[71]

Iranian media reported in 2012 that he might be replaced as the commander of Quds Force in order to allow him to run in the 2013 presidential election.[72] He reportedly refused to be nominated for the election.[71] According to BBC, in 2015 a campaign started among conservative bloggers for Soleimani to stand for 2017 presidential election.[73] In 2016, he was speculated as a possible candidate,[71][74] however in a statement published on 15 September 2016, he called speculations about his candidacy as “divisive reports by the enemies” and said he will “always remain a simple soldier serving Iran and the Islamic Revolution”.[75]

Personal life

Qasem Soleimani is from Kerman. His father was a farmer who died in 2017. His mother, Fatemeh died in 2013.[76] He comes from a family of nine and has five sisters and one brother, Sohrab, who lived and worked with Soleimani in his youth.[77] Sohrab Soleimani is a warden and former director general of the Tehran Prisons Organization. U.S. put sanctions on him in April 2017 “for his role in abuses in Iranian prisons”.[78]

Soleimani has Dan in karate and was a fitness trainer in his youth. He has four children: two sons and two daughters.[79]

Sanctions

In March 2007, Soleimani was included on a list of Iranian individuals targeted with sanctions in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747.[80] On 18 May 2011, he was sanctioned again by the United States along with Syrian president Bashar Assad and other senior Syrian officials due to his alleged involvement in providing material support to the Syrian government.[81]

On 24 June 2011, the Official Journal of the European Union said the three Iranian Revolutionary Guard members now subject to sanctions had been “providing equipment and support to help the Syrian government suppress protests in Syria”.[82] The Iranians added to the EU sanctions list were two Revolutionary Guard commanders, Soleimani, Mohammad Ali Jafari, and the Guard’s deputy commander for intelligence, Hossein Taeb.[83] Soleimani was also sanctioned by the Swiss government in September 2011 due to the same grounds cited by the European Union.[84]

He is listed by the United States as a known terrorist, which forbids U.S. citizens from doing business with him.[25][85] The list, published in the EU’s Official Journal on 24 June 2011, also includes a Syrian property firm, an investment fund and two other enterprises accused of funding Assad’s government. The list also includes Mohammad Ali Jafari and Hossein Taeb.[86]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qasem_Soleimani

Quds Force

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Quds Force
سپاه قدس
Seal of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution.svg
Active 1980–present
Country Iran
Branch Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
Type Special operations force
Role Special operations
Size Classified (estimate: 15,000)
Engagements Iran–Iraq War
1982 Lebanon War
Bosnian War
South Lebanon conflict (1985–2000)
Battle for Herat
Balochistan conflict
Iran–PJAK conflict
Syrian Civil War
2014 Northern Iraq offensive
Military intervention against ISIL

Commanders
Commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani

The Quds Force[1] (Persianسپاه قدس‎ sepāh-e qods) is a special forces unit of Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards responsible for their extraterritorial operations.[2] The Quds Force reports directly to the Supreme Leader of IranAli Khamenei.[3][4] Its commander is Major General Qasem Soleimani[5] and his deputy was Hossein Hamadani.[6] While “little is reliably known” about the force,[7] as of 2007, its size was estimated at 15,000 troops.[8]The United States has designated the Quds Force a supporter of terrorism since 2007.[9]

 

History and mission

The Quds Force was created during the Iran–Iraq War as a special unit from the broader IRGC forces. Both during and after the war, it provided support to the Kurds fighting Saddam Hussein. In 1982, a Quds unit was deployed to Lebanon, where it assisted in the genesis of Hezbollah.[10] The Force also expanded its operations into neighboring Afghanistan, most notably aiding Abdul Ali Mazari‘s Shi’a Hezbe Wahdat in the 1980s against the government of Mohammad Najibullah. It then began funding and supporting Ahmad Shah Massoud‘s Northern Alliance against the Taliban.[11] However, in recent years, the Quds Force is alleged to have been helping and guiding the Taliban insurgents against the NATO-backed Karzai administration.[12][13][14][15][16][17][18] There were also reports of the unit lending support to Bosnian Muslims fighting the Bosnian Serbs during the Yugoslav wars.[19][20][21]

According to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad helped fund the Quds Force while he was stationed at the Ramazan garrison near Iraq, during the late 1980s.[22]

In January 2010, according to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the mission of the Quds Force was expanded and the Force along with Hezbollah started a new campaign of attacks targeting not only the US and Israel but also other Western bodies.[23]

Organization

8 directorates of Quds Force Operations

The force is described as “active in dozens of countries”.[7] According to former U.S. Army intelligence officer David Dionisi, the Quds force is organized into eight different directorates based on geographic location:[24]

According to journalist Dexter Filkins, the force’s members are “divided between combatants and those who train and oversee foreign assets”, and the force is divided into branches focusing on “intelligence, finance, politics, sabotage, and special operations. Members are chosen both for their skill and “allegiance to the doctrine of the Islamic Revolution”.[25]

In addition, Dionisi asserts in his book American Hiroshima that the Iranian Quds Force headquarters for operations in Iraq was moved in 2004 to the Iran-Iraq border in order to better supervise activities in Iraq.[24] The Quds Force also has a headquarters in the former compound of the U.S. Embassy, which was overrun in 1979.[26]

According to Filkins and American General Stanley A. McChrystal, it was the Quds Force that “flooded” Iraq with “explosively formed projectiles” which fire a molten copper slug able to penetrate armor, and which accounted for “nearly 20%” of American combat deaths in Iraq (i.e. hundreds of soldiers).[25] In September 2007, a few years after the publication of American Hiroshima: The Reasons Why and a Call to Strengthen America’s Democracy in July 2006, General David Petraeus reported to Congress that the Quds Force had left Iraq. Petraeus said, “The Quds Force itself, we believe, by and large, those individuals have been pulled out of the country, as have the Lebanese Hezbollah trainers that were being used to augment that activity.”[27]

On July 7, 2008, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Seymour Hersh wrote an article in The New Yorker revealing that President Bush had signed a Presidential Finding authorizing the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command to conduct cross-border paramilitary operations from Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran. These operations would be against the Quds Force and “high-value targets”.[28] “The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change”, a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups”.[28]

Size

The size of the Quds Force is unknown, with some experts believing that Quds Force numbers no more than 2,000 people, with 800 core operatives, and others saying that it could number anywhere from 3,000 to 50,000.[29][30][31]

Outside analysis

While it reports directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran, there are debates over how independently Quds Force operates.[29]

Mahan Abedin, director of research at the London-based Center for the Study of Terrorism (and editor of Islamism Digest), believes the unit is not independent: “Quds Force, although it’s a highly specialized department, it is subject to strict, iron-clad military discipline. It’s completely controlled by the military hierarchy of the IRGC, and the IRGC is very tightly controlled by the highest levels of the administration in Iran.”[32]

According to a Los Angeles Times report,[29] in Abedin’s view, “[I]t’s a very capable force—their people are extremely talented, [and] they tend to be the best people in the IRGC”.[32]

Activities

The Quds Force trains and equips foreign Islamic revolutionary groups around the Middle East. The paramilitary instruction provided by the Quds Force typically occurs in Iran or Sudan. Foreign recruits are transported from their home countries to Iran to receive training. The Quds Force sometimes plays a more direct role in the military operations of the forces it trains, including pre-attack planning and other operation-specific military advice.[24]

Afghanistan

Since 1979, Iran had supported the Shi’a Hezbe Wahdat forces against the Afghan government of Mohammad Najibullah. When Najibullah stepped down as President in 1992, Iran continued supporting Hezbe Wahdat against other Afghan militia groups. When the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 1996, Hezbe Wahdat had lost its founder and main leader, Abdul Ali Mazari, so the group joined Ahmad Shah Massoud‘s Northern Alliance. Iran began supporting the Northern Alliance against the Taliban, who were backed by Pakistan and the Arab world.[33] In 1999, after several Iranian diplomats were killed by the Taliban in Mazar-e Sharif, Iran nearly got into a war with the Taliban.[34][35] The Quds Force reportedly fought alongside the United States and the Northern Alliance in the Battle for Herat. However, in recent years Iran is accused of helping and training the Taliban insurgents against the NATO-backed Karzai administration.[12][13] Iranian-made weapons, including powerful explosive devices are often found inside Afghanistan.[14][16][17][18]

We did interdict a shipment, without question the Revolutionary Guard‘s core Quds Force, through a known Taliban facilitator. Three of the individuals were killed… Iranians certainly view as making life more difficult for us if Afghanistan is unstable. We don’t have that kind of relationship with the Iranians. That’s why I am particularly troubled by the interception of weapons coming from Iran. But we know that it’s more than weapons; it’s money; it’s also according to some reports, training at Iranian camps as well.[15]

In March 2012, Najibullah Kabuli, leader of the National Participation Front (NPF) of Afghanistan, accused three senior leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards of plotting to assassinate him.[36] Some members of the Afghan Parliament accuses Iran of setting up Taliban bases in several Iranian cities, and that “Iran is directly involved in fanning ethniclinguistic and sectarian tensions in Afghanistan.”[37] There are reports about Iran’s Revolutionary Guards training Afghans inside Iran to carry out terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.[38]

Currently, the Revolutionary Guards recruit young people for terrorist activities in Afghanistan and try to revive the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan led by Gulbadin Hekmatyar and Taliban groups[38]

— Syed Kamal, a self-confessed agent for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and member of Sipah-i-Mohmmad

India

Following an attack on an Israeli diplomat in India in February 2012, Delhi Police at the time contended that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps had some involvement.[39] This was subsequently confirmed in July 2012, after a report by the Delhi Police found evidence that members of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps had been involved in the February 13 bomb attack in the capital.[39]

United States

On 11 October 2011, the Obama Administration revealed the United States Government’s allegations that the Quds Force was involved with the plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir, which also entailed plans to bomb the Israeli and Saudi embassies located in Washington, D.C.[40][41][42]

South America

It’s been reported that Iran has been increasing its presence in Latin America through Venezuela. Little is known publicly what their objectives are in the region, but in 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates denounced Iran for meddling in “subversive activities” using Quds Forces. However, Iran claims it is merely “ensuring the survival of the regime” by propagating regional influence.

Iraq

The Quds Force has been described as the Iranian “unit deployed to challenge the United States presence” in Iraq following the U.S. invasion of that country, which put “165,000 American troops along [Iran’s] western border,” adding to the American troops already in Iran’s eastern neighbor Afghanistan.[43]

The force “operated throughout Iraq, arming, aiding, and abetting Shiite militias”—i.e., the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in IraqDawa, and the Mahdi Army—”all” of which “had close ties to Iran, some dating back decades” as part of their struggle against Saddam Hussein‘s oppressive Arab nationalist regime.[43]

In November 2006, with sectarian violence in Iraq increasing, U.S. General John Abizaid accused the Quds Force of supporting “Shi’a death squads” even while the government of Iran pledges support in stabilization.[44] Similarly, in July 2007, Major General Kevin Bergner of the U.S. Army alleged that members of the Quds Force aided in the planning of a raid on U.S. forces in the Iraqi city of Karbala in January 2007.[45]

Former CIA officer Robert Baer asserts the Quds Force uses couriers for all sensitive communications.[46]

2006 detainment in Iraq

On 24 December 2006, the New York Times reported that at least four Iranians were captured by American troops in Iraq in the previous few days. According to the article, the U.S. government suspected that two of them were members of Quds Force, which would be some of the first physical proof of Quds Force activity in Iraq.[47] According to The Pentagon, the alleged the Quds Force members were “involved in the transfer of IED technologies from Iran to Iraq”.[48] The two men had entered Iraq legally, although they were not accredited diplomats. Iraqi officials believed that the evidence against the men was only circumstantial, but on 29 December, and under U.S. pressure, the Iraqi government ordered the men to leave Iraq. They were driven back to Iran that day.[49] In mid-January 2007 it was said that the two alleged Quds force officers seized by American forces were Brig. Gen. Mohsen Chizari and Col. Abu Amad Davari. According to the Washington Post. Chizari is the third highest officer of Quds Force, making him the highest-ranked Iranian to ever allegedly be held by the United States.[50]

American newspaper The New York Sun reported that the documents described the Quds Force as not only cooperating with Shi’a death squads, but also with fighters related to al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Sunna. It said that the Quds Force had studied the Iraq situation in a similar manner to the U.S. Iraq Study Group, and had concluded that they must increase efforts with Sunni and Shiite groups in order to counter the influence of Sunni states.[51]

U.S. raid on Iranian liaison office

On 11 January 2007, U.S. forces raided and detained five employees of the Iranian liaison office in Irbil, Iraq. The U.S. military says the five detainees are connected to the Quds Force.[52][53] The operation has drawn protests from the regional Kurdish government while the Russian government called the detainments unacceptable.[54]

Alireza Nourizadeh, a political analyst at Voice of America, states that their arrests are causing concern in Iranian intelligence because the five alleged officials are knowledgeable of a wide range of Quds Force and Iranian activities in Iraq.[55] According to American ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, one of the men in custody is Quds Force’s director of operations.[56]

Iranian and Iraqi officials have maintained the detained men were part of a diplomatic mission in the city of ErbilIraq.[57] The five Iranian detainees were still being held at a U.S. prison in Iraq as of 8 July 2007.[58] The U.S. says they are “still being interrogated” and that it has “no plans to free them while they are seen as a security risk in Iraq”.[59] Iran says the detainees “are kidnapped diplomats” and that “they are held as hostages”.[60]

On 9 July 2009, the five detained diplomats in question were released from U.S. custody to Iraqi officials.[61]

Allegations of involvement in Karbala attack

On 20 January 2007, a group of gunmen attacked the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, captured four American soldiers, and subsequently killed them. The attackers passed through an Iraqi checkpoint at around 5 pm, a total of five black GMC Suburbans, similar to those driven by U.S. security and diplomatic officials. They were also wearing American military uniforms and spoke fluent English. Because of the sophistication of the attack, some analysts have suggested that only a group like the Quds Force would be able to plan and carry out such an action.[62] Former CIA officer Robert Baer also suggested that the five Americans were killed by the Quds Force in revenge for the Americans holding five Iranians since the January 11 raid in Irbil.[63] It was reported that the U.S. military is investigating whether or not the attackers were trained by Iranian officials; however, no evidence besides the sophistication of the attack has yet been presented.[64]

On 2 July 2007, the U.S. military said that information from captured Hezbollah fighter Ali Moussa Dakdouk established a link between the Quds Force and the Karbala raid. The U.S. military claims Dakdouk worked as a liaison between Quds force operatives and the Shia group that carried out the raid. According to the United States, Dakdouk said that the Shia group “could not have conducted this complex operation without the support and direction of the Quds force”.[65]

Allegations of support for Iraqi militants

In June 2007, U.S. General Ray Odierno asserted that Iranian support for these Shia militia increased as the United States itself implemented the 2007 “troop surge“.[66] Two different studies have maintained that approximately half of all foreign insurgents entering Iraq come from Saudi Arabia.[67]

In December 2009 evidence uncovered during an investigation by The Guardian newspaper and Guardian Films linked the Quds Force to the kidnappings of five Britons from a government ministry building in Baghdad in 2007. Four of the hostages, Jason Creswell, Jason Swindlehurst, Alec Maclachlan, and Alan McMenemy, were killed. Peter Moore was released on 30 December 2009. The investigation uncovered evidence that Moore, 37, a computer expert from Lincoln was targeted because he was installing a system for the Iraqi Government that would show how a vast amount of international aid was diverted to Iran’s militia groups in Iraq. One of the alleged groups funded by the Quds force directly is the Righteous League, which emerged in 2006 and has stayed largely in the shadows as a proxy of the Quds Force. Shia cleric and leading figure of the Righteous League, Qais al-Khazali, was handed over by the U.S. military for release by the Iraqi government on 29 December 2009 as part of the deal that led to the release of Moore.[68]

Allegations by U.S. President Bush

In a 14 February 2007 news conference U.S. President George W. Bush reiterated his claim that the Quds Force was causing unrest in Iraq, stating:

I can say with certainty that the Quds force, a part of the Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated IEDs that have harmed our troops. And I’d like to repeat, I do not know whether or not the Quds Force was ordered from the top echelons of government. But my point is what’s worse – them ordering it and it happening, or them not ordering it and it happening? And so we will continue to protect our troops. … to say it [this claim] is provoking Iran is just a wrong way to characterize the Commander-in-Chief’s decision to do what is necessary to protect our soldiers in harm’s way. And I will continue to do so. … Whether Ahmadinejad ordered the Quds force to do this, I don’t think we know. But we do know that they’re there, and I intend to do something about it. And I’ve asked our commanders to do something about it. And we’re going to protect our troops. … I don’t think we know who picked up the phone and said to the Quds Force, go do this, but we know it’s a vital part of the Iranian government. …What matters is, is that we’re responding. The idea that somehow we’re manufacturing the idea that the Iranians are providing IEDs is preposterous. … My job is to protect our troops. And when we find devices that are in that country that are hurting our troops, we’re going to do something about it, pure and simple. … does this mean you’re trying to have a pretext for war? No. It means I’m trying to protect our troops.[69]

Mohsen Sazegara, who was a high-ranking Tehran official before turning against the government, has argued that Ahmadinejad does not control the Guards outside of Iran. “Not only the foreign ministry of Iran; even the president does not know what the Revolutionary Guards does outside of Iran. They directly report to the leader”, he said, referring to Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.[70] Although Ali Khamenei is the ultimate person in charge of the Quds Force, George Bush did not mention him.[71] According to Richard Clarke, “Quds force reports directly to the Supreme Ayatollah, through the commander-in-chief of the revolutionary guards.”[71]

Detainment of alleged bomb smuggler

On 20 September 2007, the U.S. military arrested an Iranian during a raid on a hotel in Sulaimaniyah, a city in the Kurdish-controlled north. The military accused the Iranian of being a member of the elite Quds Force and smuggling powerful roadside bombs, including armor-piercing explosively formed penetrators, into Iraq. The military said intelligence reports asserted the suspect was involved in the infiltration and training of foreign fighters into Iraq as well.[72]

On 22 September 2007, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani criticized the United States for arresting the Iranian and called for his immediate release. Talabani argued he is a civil servant who was on an official trade mission in the Kurdish Region and stated Iraqi and Kurdish regional government representatives were aware of the man’s presence in the country. “I express to you our outrage for these American forces arresting this Iranian civil official visitor without informing or cooperating with the government of the Kurdistan region, which means insult and disregard for its rights”, Talabani wrote in a “letter of resentment” to Ryan CrockerU.S. ambassador to Iraq, and Gen. David Petraeus.[73]

Allegations of 2007 market attack

On 24 November 2007, US military officials accused an Iranian special group of placing a bomb in a bird box that blew up at a popular animal market in central Baghdad. “The group’s purpose was to make it appear Al Qaeda in Iraq was responsible for the attack”, Admiral Smith said. He further emphasized there was “no evidence Iran ordered the attack”.[74] In May 2008, Iraq said it had no evidence that Iran was supporting militants on Iraqi soil.[75] Al-Sadr spokesman Al-Ubaydi said the presence of Iranian weapons in Iraq is “quite normal,” since “they are bought and sold and any party can buy them.”[76]

Allegations of ties to Al-Qaeda

According to reports produced by Agence France-Presse (AFP), The Jerusalem Post, and Al Arabiya, at the request of a member of the United States’ House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in 2011 Congressional counter-terrorism advisor Michael S. Smith II of Kronos Advisory, LLC produced a report on Iran’s alleged ties to Al-Qaeda that was distributed to members of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus.[77][78][79] Titled “The al-Qa’ida-Qods Force Nexus: Scratching the Surface of a Known Unknown”, a redacted version of Smith’s report is available online via the blog site owned by American military geostrategist and The Pentagon’s New Map author Thomas P.M. Barnett.[80] The report’s Issue Summary section explains: “This report focuses on the history of Iran’s relationship with al-Qa’ida, and briefly addresses potential implications of these ties. Additionally, its author provides a list of recommended action items for Members of the United States Congress, as well as a list of questions that may help Members develop a better understanding of this issue through interactions with defense and intelligence officials”. A member of the Quds Force was alleged arrested with 21 other suspects in the attack on the Israeli and United States embassies on 14 March 2012 in Azerbaijan.

Combat against Islamic State

The Quds force’s leader, Gen Qasem Soleimani was involved with both the planning as well as the execution of the operation to expell ISIL from Tikrit

In 2014, Quds Force was deployed into Iraq to lead Iranian action against ISIL. Iran sent three Quds Force battalions to help the Iraqi government repel ISIL’s 2014 Northern Iraq offensive.[81] Over 40 officers participated in the Second Battle of Tikrit (March 2015), including the leader of the force, Gen. Qasem Soleimani who took a leading role in the operation.

Syria

IRGC Commander Jafari announced on 16 September 2012 that Quds Force “were present” in Syria.[82]

Coinciding with the Geneva II Conference on Syria in 2014, Iran boosted its presence in Syria with several “hundred” military specialists, including senior commanders from the Quds Force, according to Iranian sources and security experts. While recently retired senior IRGC commander told that there were at least 60 to 70 Quds force commanders on the ground in Syria at any given time.[83] The primary role of these forces is to gather intelligence and manage the logistics of the battle for the Syrian Government.[83][84]

In November 2015 the Quds Force conducted a successful rescue mission of a Russian bomber pilot who was shot down by a Turkish fighter. Commander of Quds Force of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution Major General Qasem Soleimani got in touch with his Russian counterparts and said that a special unit had been formed and was ready for the rescue operation. He also explained that the squad was made up of men from the Lebanese “Hezbollah” and soldiers from the Syrian Special Forces, who had undergone special training under the guidance of Iranian instructors. Apart from this fact, the Syrian soldiers were familiar with the terrain. The general assumed command of the ground operation and Russian aircraft had to carry out air cover and enable satellite surveillance. Once the location of the Russian pilot was determined via satellite through the built-in GPS device, it became clear that the pilot was located six kilometers behind the front line between the Syrian army forces and the opposition forces. The Special squad that entered the territory controlled by militants was not only able to save the Russian pilot, but also destroy all of the remaining terrorists there who had the most modern weapons in their possession. All of the 24 fighters not only survived, but also returned to their base without injuries.[85]

In May 2018, Quds forces on the Syrian-held side of the Golan Heights allegedly fired around 20 projectiles towards Israeli army positions without causing damage or casualties.[86] Israel responded with airstrikes against Iranian bases in Syria.[87] At least twenty-three fighters, among them 18 foreigners, were reportedly killed in the strikes.[88]

Germany

In January 2018, German authorities conducted raids in Baden-WürttembergNorth Rhine-WestphaliaBavaria and Berlin, searching homes and businesses belonging to ten alleged Iranian Quds Force members, suspected of spying on Israeli and Jewish targets.[89]

Designation as a terrorist organization

The United States Department of the Treasury designated the Quds Force under Executive Order 13224 for providing material support to US-designated terrorist organizations on 25 October 2007, prohibiting transactions between the group and U.S. citizens, and freezing any assets under U.S. jurisdiction.[9] The Government of Canada designated the Quds Force as a terrorist organization on 17 December 2012.[90] Egypt’s nominations included the organization.[91]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quds_Force

Story 2: Vice President Pence Talks Turkey: Free Pastor or Face U.S. Sanctions — Release Now — Videos

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“The United States must reconsider its approach and adopt a constructive position before inflicting further damage to its own interests and its alliance with Turkey,” Ibrahim Kalin said in a written statement.

Trump demands Turkey ‘immediately’ release US pastor

US President Donald Trump said American pastor Andrew Brunson, pictured, "is suffering greatly" during detention in TurkeyUS President Donald Trump said American pastor Andrew Brunson, pictured, “is suffering greatly” during detention in Turkey

President Donald Trump on Thursday demanded Turkey free a detained American pastor, warning the United States was ready to impose “large sanctions” against its NATO ally.

“He is suffering greatly,” Trump said of 50-year-old pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been in detention for almost two years. “This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!”

Brunson ran a protestant church in the Aegean city of Izmir when he was detained in October 2016 on terrorism-related charges.

Brunson was moved from jail to house arrest on Wednesday, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move was “not enough.”

The Trump administration — which is broadly supported by powerful US evangelicals — has made defending Christians abroad a tenet of its foreign policy.

“The United States will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, a great Christian, family man and wonderful human being,” Trump said.

The escalating war of words between Washington and Ankara risks worsening already poor ties, which hold enormous military and economic importance for both countries.

The United States has long used bases in Turkey for operations across the Middle East, but relations have been strained by Washington’s support for Kurdish fighters in Syria.

Brunson still faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted of carrying out activities on behalf of two groups Turkey deems terrorist organizations. One is led by the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen who Ankara says was behind a 2016 failed coup, while the other is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

His next hearing is set for October 12.

The pastor denies the charges and his defense team argues the case is built on questionable witness statements that should never have been brought to court.

Earlier Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence said “there is no credible evidence” against Brunson.

Last week a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would require the United States to reject international loans to Turkey until Brunson and other Americans are freed or the harassment against them ends.

“I find it difficult to see how this relationship moves forward… if the Turkish government continues to detain Pastor Brunson as well as locally employed staff, journalists, and civil servants,” Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said at the time.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-5996073/Trump-demands-Turkey-immediately-release-US-pastor.html

Story 3: House Republicans Trying To Impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosestein — Trump Will Fire Rosestein After Midterm Elections and Attorney General Sessions Will Either Appoint Second Counsel or Trump Will Accept Resignation — Videos —

Jordan, Meadows explain filing for Rosenstein impeachment

GOP lawmakers introduce articles of impeachment against Rod Rosenstein

Trump allies move to impeach Rosenstein

Dershowitz on the case against impeaching Rosenstein

BREAKING: Republicans Introduce Articles Of Impeachment Against Rosenstein

Gowdy: Voters deserve justice system without politics

Paul Ryan: I do not support impeaching Rosenstein

House Republicans introduce articles of impeachment against Rod Rosenstein

Full exchange between Rep. Jim Jordan and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (C-SPAN)

Jordan on calls to impeach Rosenstein, wrestling probe

Rosenstein responds to GOP impeachment threats

Ex-DOJ attorney: Rosenstein should have already been fired

Will Trump fire Rosenstein?

Sources: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Is Prepared To Be Fired | MSNBC

Rep. Ron DeSantis on the push to impeach Rosenstein

Articles of impeachment filed against Rod Rosenstein

Story 4: Special Counsel Mueller Goes After President Trump’s Tweets — Desperation Move — Complete Investigation or Face Firing — Videos

Mueller Examining Trump’s Tweets in Wide-Ranging Obstruction Inquiry

Fox News’s Napolitano: Trump tweets are a ‘treasure trove’ for Mueller

Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller knows President Trump‘s tweets are a “treasure trove” for his probe into whether the president obstructed justice.

“Mueller knows that those tweets are a treasure trove and a window into Trump’s thinking,” Napolitano said on Fox News’s “Outnumbered.”

“Did the president send messages to people of threats, or rewards, via his tweets? People who he knew or expected would be interviewed by Bob Mueller?” Napolitano said. “And if he did, was he engaging in witness tampering?”

Napolitano’s comments came shortly after a new New York Times reportthat said Mueller is reviewing Trump’s tweets as part of his investigation into whether he obstructed justice.

The Times reported that Mueller is focusing on Trump’s tweets about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, each of whom the president has repeatedly criticized on Twitter. 

Among other things, Trump has tweeted and said in interviews that he would not have nominated Sessions as attorney general if he knew Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

“If you’re going to obstruct justice, you do it quietly and secretly, not in public,” Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer in Mueller’s Russia probe, said in a statement in response to the report.

The report from the Times comes only a few days after Giulani told Bloomberg News that he suggested to Mueller that Trump would sit for an interview only if Mueller agreed to rule out questions about obstruction of justice. 

http://thehill.com/homenews/media/399056-fox-news-napolitano-trumps-tweets-are-a-treasure-trove-for-mueller

Like the Rest of Us, Mueller Is Obsessing Over Trump’s Tweets

By 

That smile won’t last once he starts reading Trump’s tweets. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

Somewhere on the long list of reasons that Donald Trump is president is his early embrace of Twitter. First, Trump used it to promote himself as a brilliant businessman (which he’s not); then, as a medium to attack political opponents (which he’s good at); and now, as a way to communicate with the world as president (which is making most people crazy).

Ironically, now, according to the New York Times, there’s at least a small chance that Twitter could also lead to his demise. On Thursday, the paper reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is probing Trump’s tweets as he investigates the president for obstruction of justice.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is scrutinizing tweets and negative statements from the president about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to three people briefed on the matter.

Several of the remarks came as Mr. Trump was also privately pressuring the men — both key witnesses in the inquiry — about the investigation, and Mr. Mueller is examining whether the actions add up to attempts to obstruct the investigation by both intimidating witnesses and pressuring senior law enforcement officials to tamp down the inquiry.

The report goes on to cite Mueller’s desire to “question the president about the tweets.” Among the missives in question are those targeting Sessions in July of 2017. These were sent at the same time, Mueller has learned, that Trump was privately pressuring Sessions to resign so he could be replaced with someone who would not recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

Mueller is also interested in Trump’s attacks on Comey, which include a veiled threat about taped conversations between the two men. Such “tapes” do not exist, Trump later admitted.

While none of these tweets alone are believed to amount to obstruction of justice, they’re thought to be a part of Mueller’s plan to build a case that Trump was on a broad mission to interfere with the investigation.

Trump’s lawyers continue to insist that he’s done nothing outside of the scope of his power, though. And anyway, Rudy Giuliani told the Times, “If you’re going to obstruct justice, you do it quietly and secretly, not in public.”

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/07/special-counsel-mueller-is-examining-trumps-tweets.html

 

 

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1112, July 23, 2018, Story 1: President Trump All Caps Tweet Directed At Iranian Leadership — Don’t Mess With Trump — Vidoes — Story 2: Trump Explores Revoking Security Clearances of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper , former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe — Trump Should Order Attorney General Session to Appoint Second Special Counsel To Investigate and Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Waiting For Mueller Final Report and November 2018 Elections — Videos — Story 3: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Failed When Warrant Application Was Approved Allowing Department of Justice, FBI, and Intelligence Community To Spy on American People and Republican Party Based on Clinton Campaign and Democratic National Committee Bought and Paid For Opposition Research Not Disclosed Nor Verified To FISA Court — Videos

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Story 1: President Trump All Caps Tweet Directed At Iranian Leadership — Don’t Mess With Trump — Vidoes

Sanders: Trump won’t stand for empty threats against America

Trump no nonsense approach on Iran is the right strategy: Gen. Jack Keane

Secretary Pompeo remarks on “Supporting Iranian Voices” – Speech only

Iran feeling the strain from Obama’s deal?

Trump weighs in after Iran threatens the ‘mother of all wars’ | In The News

US not afraid to sanction top Iran leaders: Pompeo

U.S. Pushes Confrontation with Iran: Trump Warns of “Consequences,” Pompeo Likens Leaders to “Mafia”

Scott Adams – President Trump’s All-Caps Tweet to Iran

 

Just tough Trump tweeting? US ratchets up Iran pressure

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s explosive twitter threat to Iran’s leader comes as his administration is ratcheting up a pressure campaign on the Islamic republic that many suspect is aimed at regime change.

No one is predicting imminent war. But Trump’s bellicose, all-caps challenge addressed to President Hassan Rouhani followed a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he accused Iran’s leadership of massive corruption and widespread rights abuses and urged Iranians to rise up in protest.

Trump’s tweet doesn’t appear to have been prompted by any notable shift in rhetoric from Iran.

It could have been an impulsive reaction to reports from Tehran quoting Rouhani as giving the U.S. an oft-repeated reminder that conflict with Iran would be “the mother of all wars.” Yet animosity directed at the Iranian leadership is an established part of the administration’s broader foreign policy.

The White House says President Donald Trump’s threatening tweet shows he’s not going to tolerate critical rhetoric from Iran, but claims the U.S. leader isn’t escalating tensions between the two countries. (July 23)

Iran publicly shrugged off Trump’s late Sunday message — “NEVER EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”

Tweeted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday: COLOR US UNIMPRESSED: The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. And Iranians have heard them —albeit more civilized ones_for 40 yrs. We’ve been around for millennia & seen fall of empires, incl our own, which lasted more than the life of some countries. BE CAUTIOUS!”

Asked at the White House if he had concerns about provoking Iran, Trump said simply, “None at all.”

Tehran is already aware of what is coming from the administration as consequences of Trump’s May withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord take shape.

As Pompeo noted in his speech to Iranian-Americans and others in California on Sunday, the centerpiece will be the re-imposition of U.S. economic sanctions; the first batch will go back into force on Aug. 4 targeting the Iranian automotive sector and trade in gold and other metals. A more significant set of sanctions that will hit Iran’s oil industry and central bank by punishing countries and companies that do business with them will resume on Nov. 4.

Pompeo also slammed Iran’s political, judicial and military officials, accusing several by name of participating in rampant corruption, and called its religious leaders “hypocritical holy men” who amassed wealth while allowing their people to suffer. He said the government has “heartlessly repressed its own people’s human rights, dignity and fundamental freedoms,” and he hailed the “proud Iranian people (for) not staying silent about their government’s many abuses.”

“The United States under President Trump will not stay silent either,” he said.

He was right. True to form, Trump did not stay silent. But the White House blamed Rouhani for inciting the war of words with his comment that “America must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

“WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!,” Trump wrote.

Reaction from Congress, particularly Democrats, was swift and critical.

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, acknowledged that Iran’s terrorist activities in the Middle East pose a threat but suggested it wouldn’t be solved through a tweet from Trump.

“Sadly, after pulling us out of the nuclear deal with Europe and Iran, there doesn’t seem to be strategy for how to move forward to fight Iran’s activities,” she said.

And Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the former Democratic vice presidential candidate, called the Twitter blast from the White House “another warning sign that Trump is blundering toward war with Iran.”

Trump’s National Security Council pushed back:

“Our differences are with the Iranian regime’s actions and, in particular, with the actions of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, not the Iranian people. The Trump administration’s Iran policy seeks to address the totality of these threats and malign activities and to bring about a change in the Iranian regime’s behavior.”

“If anybody’s inciting anything, look no further than to Iran,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. She added that Trump has been “very clear about what he’s not going to allow to take place.”

Trump has a history of firing off heated tweets that seem to quickly escalate long-standing disputes with leaders of nations at odds with the U.S.

In the case of North Korea, the verbal war cooled quickly and gradually led to the high-profile summit and denuclearization talks. Still there has been little tangible progress in a global push to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons program since the historic Trump-Kim Jong Un summit on June 12.

___

Associated Press writers Nasser Karimi and Amir Vahdat in Tehran, David Rising in Dubai, Aron Heller in Jerusalem, Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Michael Casey in Concord, New Hampshire contributed.

___

This story has been corrected to correct Trump tweet: ‘Likes’ of which, not ‘like.’

https://apnews.com/33bbdee2506645859222e0f5252b288f/White-House-blames-Iran-for-war-of-words-with-Trump

 

Story 2: President Trump Explores Revoking Security Clearances of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper , former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe — Trump Should Order Attorney General Session to Appoint Second Special Counsel To Investigate and Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy — Waiting For Mueller Final Report and November 2018 Elections — Videos —

Trump may revoke security clearances for Obama-era officials

Rand Paul urges Trump to pull security clearances

Ex-CIA chief Brennan: Trump’s comments nothing short of treasonous

Rand Paul SHUTS DOWN Trump’s Critics & DESTROYS Obama’s Former CIA John Brennan

Scott Adams – The Newest Reason to Love Rand Paul

Clapper On President Donald Trump Revoking Security Clearance: Very Petty | Hardball | MSNBC

What’s Needed Desperately: Operation Wrath of Trump

Trump looking into revoking security clearances for Brennan, other top Obama officials

President Trump is looking into revoking the security clearances of several top Obama-era intelligence and law enforcement officials, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Monday, accusing them of having “politicized” or “monetized” their public service.

She made the announcement at Monday’s press briefing, after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., called on the president to specifically revoke Trump critic and former CIA Director John Brennan’s clearance.

Sanders said Trump is considering it — and also looking into the clearances for other former officials and Trump critics: former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and former CIA Director Michael Hayden (who also worked under President George W. Bush).

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy on the political fallout from the IG report and the Mueller investigation.

Sanders said Trump is “exploring mechanisms” to remove the security clearances “because [the former officials] politicized and in some cases actually monetized their public service and their security clearances in making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia.”

Sanders added that their clearances effectively give “inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence.”

“When you have the highest level of security clearance … when you have the nation’s secrets at hand, and go out and make false [statements], the president feels that’s something to be very concerned with,” Sanders said.

According McCabe’s spokesperson Melissa Schwartz, however, his security clearance had already been deactivated when he was fired.

“Andrew McCabe’s security clearance was deactivated when he was terminated, according to what we were told was FBI policy. You would think the White House would check with the FBI before trying to throw shiny objects to the press corps…,” Schwartz tweeted Monday.

Benjamin Wittes, a friend of Comey’s, tweeted Monday afternoon that he texted the former FBI director, who told him he doesn’t have a security clearance to revoke.

When asked whether former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden might have their security clearances revoked, Sanders said she did not have any further information.

FILE - In this June 7, 2017, file photo, FBI acting director Andrew McCabe listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCabe drafted a memo on the firing of his onetime boss, ex-director James Comey. That’s according to a person familiar with the memo, who insisted on anonymity to discuss a secret document that has been provided to special counsel Robert Mueller. The person said the memo concerned a conversation McCabe had with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about Rosenstein’s preparations for Comey’s firing. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

President Trump is looking into revoking former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s security clearance, but McCabe’s spokesman said that clearance had already been deactivated.  (AP)

The topic came into the spotlight Monday morning, with Paul’s tweets against the former CIA director.

“Is John Brennan monetizing his security clearance? Is John Brennan making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on @realDonaldTrump?” Paul tweeted early Monday.

Brennan joined NBC News and MSNBC in February as a contributor and senior national security and intelligence analyst. A spokesperson for the networks did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Paul’s tweet, which did not list any specific allegations.

The Kentucky Republican, who last week jumped to Trump’s defense as the president faced bipartisan criticism over his summit and press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, followed up the original tweet by saying:

“Today I will meet with the President and I will ask him to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance!”

Paul’s tweets come as fellow congressional Republicans push for Brennan to testify on Capitol Hill regarding the investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates in the 2016 presidential election.

The former CIA director has been a consistent and harsh critic of the president, blasting his performance with Putin in Helsinki as “nothing short of treasonous.”

But Brennan is not the only former intelligence official to take to the media world. In April, Comey began a media blitz promoting his new memoir, “A Higher Loyalty,” while Hayden and Rice also frequently make media appearances.

On Twitter, just minutes after the announcement from the White House brieifing, Hayden responded in a tweet to several journalists that a loss of security clearance would not have an “effect” on him.

“I don’t go back for classified briefings. Won’t have any effect on what I say or write,” Hayden tweeted.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/23/trump-looking-into-revoking-security-clearances-for-brennan-other-top-obama-officials.html

 

 

Story 3: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Failed When Warrant Application Was Approved Allowing Department of Justice, FBI, and Intelligence Community To Spy on American People and Republican Party Based on Clinton Campaign and Democratic National Committee Bought and Paid For Opposition Research Not Disclosed Nor Verified To FISA Court — Videos

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FISA Applications Confirm: The FBI Relied on the Unverified Steele Dossier

One-time advisor of Donald Trump Carter Page addresses the audience during a presentation in Moscow, Russia, December 12, 2016. (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

A salacious Clinton-campaign product was the driving force behind the Trump–Russia investigation.On a sleepy summer Saturday, after months of stonewalling, the FBI dumped 412 pages of documents related to the Carter Page FISA surveillance warrants — the applications, the certifications, and the warrants themselves. Now that we can see it all in black and white — mostly black, as they are heavily redacted — it is crystal clear that the Steele dossier, an unverified Clinton-campaign product, was the driving force behind the Trump–Russia investigation.

Based on the dossier, the FBI told the FISA court it believed that Carter Page, who had been identified by the Trump campaign as an adviser, was coordinating with the Russian government in an espionage conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.

This sensational allegation came from Christopher Steele, the former British spy. The FISA court was not told that the Clinton campaign was behind Steele’s work. Nor did the FBI and Justice Department inform the court that Steele’s allegations had never been verified. To the contrary, each FISA application — the original one in October 2016, and the three renewals at 90-day intervals — is labeled “VERIFIED APPLICATION” (bold caps in original). And each one makes this breathtaking representation:

The FBI has reviewed this verified application for accuracy in accordance with its April 5, 2001 procedures, which include sending a copy of the draft to the appropriate field office(s).

In reality, the applications were never verified for accuracy.

What ‘Verify’ Means
Consider this: The representation that the FBI’s verification procedures include sending the application to “appropriate field offices” is standard in FISA warrant applications. It is done because the FBI’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) mandates that the bureau “ensure that information appearing in a FISA application that is presented to the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] has been thoroughly vetted and confirmed.” (See House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes March 1, 2018, letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, embedded here.) The point is to assure the court that the FBI has corroborated the allegations in the warrant application in the usual way.

A hypothetical shows how this works. Let’s say that X, an informant, tells the FBI in Washington that Y, a person in St. Louis, told him that Z, the suspect, is plotting to rob the bank.

X’s story is unverified; he doesn’t know anything firsthand about Z — he only knows what Y has told him. Obviously, then, the FBI does not instantly run to court and seek a warrant against Z. Instead, the bureau sends an investigative “lead” from headquarters in Washington to the FBI field office in St. Louis. FBI agents in St. Louis then go find and interview Y. Based on that interview, the FBI gathers supporting information (perhaps physical surveillance of Z, scrutiny of available documents and records about Z, etc.). Only then, after debriefing the witness with competent knowledge, do the Justice Department and FBI seek a warrant against Z from the court. In the application, they explain to the judge that they have verified X’s information by interviewing Y and then corroborating Y’s version of events. In fact, if they get solid enough information about Z from Y, there may be no reason even to mention X, whose tip to the FBI was sheer hearsay.

But that is not what happened with the Carter Page FISA warrants.

Were the allegations thoroughly vetted and confirmed by proof independent of Steele before being presented to the FISA court? No, they were not.

The FBI presented the court with allegations posited by Steele. He is in the position of X in our hypothetical. He is not the source of any of the relevant information on which the court was asked to rely for its probable-cause finding that Page was a clandestine agent of Russia. In this context, source means a reliable witness who saw or heard some occurrence on which the court is being asked to base its ruling.

Steele has not been in Russia for about 20 years. In connection with the dossier allegations, he was merely the purveyor of information from the actual sources — unidentified Russians who themselves relied on hearsay information from other sources (sometimes double and triple hearsay, very attenuated from the supposed original source).

In each Carter Page FISA warrant application, the FBI represented that it had “reviewed this verified application for accuracy.” But did the bureau truly ensure that the information had been “thoroughly vetted and confirmed”? Remember, we are talking here about serious, traitorous allegations against an American citizen and, derivatively, an American presidential campaign.

When the FBI averred that it had verified for accuracy the application that posited these allegations, it was, at best, being hyper-technical, and thus misleading. What the bureau meant was that its application correctly stated the allegations as Steele had related them. But that is not what “verification” means. The issue is not whether Steele’s allegations were accurately described; it is whether they were accurate, period. Were the allegations thoroughly vetted and confirmed by proof independent of Steele before being presented to the FISA court — which is what common sense and the FBI’s own manual mean by “verified”?

No, they were not.

There Is No Reason to Believe the Redactions Corroborate Steele
I have been making this point for months. When I made it again in a Fox and Friends interview on Sunday morning, critics asked how I could say such a thing when the warrants are pervasively redacted — how could I be so sure, given all we concededly don’t know, that the redactions do not corroborate Steele?

The critics’ tunnel vision on the redactions ignores the months of hearings and reporting on this core question, which I’ve continuously detailed. Here, for example, is what two senior Judiciary Committee senators, Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham, wrote in a classified memo early this year after reviewing FISA applications (the memo was finally declassified and publicized over the objections of the FBI):

The bulk of the [first Carter Page FISA] application consists of allegations against Page that were disclosed to the FBI by Mr. Steele and are also outlined in the Steele dossier. The application appears to contain no additional information corroborating the dossier allegations against Mr. Page.

The senators went on to recount the concession by former FBI director James Comey that the bureau had relied on the credibility of Steele (who had previously assisted the bureau in another investigation), not the verification of Steele’s sources. In June 2017 testimony, Comey described information in the Steele dossier as “salacious and unverified.”

Moreover, the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, told Congress that the bureau tried very hard to verify Steele’s information but could provide no points of verification beyond the fact that Page did travel to Russia in July 2016 — a fact that required no effort to corroborate since the trip was unconcealed and widely known. (Page delivered a public commencement address at the New Economic School.) Furthermore, in British legal proceedings, Steele himself has described the information he provided to the FBI as “raw intelligence” that was “unverified.”

I freely acknowledge that we do not know what the redactions say. But we have been very well informed about what they do not say. They do not verify the allegations in the Steele dossier. I have no doubt that they have a great deal to say about Russia and its nefarious anti-American operations. But the FBI has been taking incoming fire for months about failing to corroborate Steele. No institution in America guards its reputation more zealously than does the FBI. If Steele had been corroborated, rest assured that the bureau would not be suffering in silence.

When the government seeks a warrant, it is supposed to show the court that the actual sources of information are reliable.

Plus, do you really think the FBI and Justice Department wanted to use the Steele dossier? Of course they didn’t. They undoubtedly believed Steele’s allegations (the applications say as much). That is no surprise given how much their top echelons loathed Donald Trump. But they were also well aware of the dossier’s significant legal problems — the suspect sourcing, the multiple hearsay. If they had solid evidence that verified Steele’s allegations, they would have used that evidence as their probable cause showing against Page. Instead, they used the dossier because, as McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee, without it they would have had no chance of persuading a judge that Page was a clandestine agent.

Whatever is in the redactions cannot change that.

There Is No Vicarious Credibility
To repeat what we’ve long said here, there is no vicarious credibility in investigations. When the government seeks a warrant, it is supposed to show the court that the actual sources of information are reliable — i.e., they were in a position to see or hear the relevant facts, and they are worthy of belief. It is not sufficient to show that the agent who assembles the source information is credible.

The vast majority of our investigators are honorable people who would never lie to a judge. But that is irrelevant because, in assessing probable cause, the judge is not being asked to rely on the honesty of the agent. The agent, after all, is under oath and supervised by a chain of command at the FBI and the Justice Department; the judge will generally assume that the agent is honestly and accurately describing the information he has gotten from various sources.

The judge’s main task is not to determine if the agent is credible. It is to weigh the reliability of the agent’s sources. Are the sources’ claims supported by enough evidence that the court should approve a highly intrusive warrant against an American citizen?

Here, Steele was in the position of an investigative agent relaying information. He was not a source (or informant) who saw or heard relevant facts. Even if we assume for argument’s sake that Steele is honest and reliable, that would tell us nothing about who his sources are, whether they were really in a position to see or hear the things they report, and whether they have a history of providing accurate information. Those are the questions the FBI must answer in order to vet and confirm factual allegations before presenting them to the FISA court. That was not done; the FBI relied on Steele’s reputation to vouch for his source’s claims.

The FISA Judges
In my public comments Sunday morning, I observed that the newly disclosed FISA applications are so shoddy that the judges who approved them ought to be asked some hard questions. I’ve gotten flak for that, no doubt because President Trump tweeted part of what I said. I stand by it. Still, some elaboration, which a short TV segment does not allow for, is in order.

I prefaced my remark about the judges with an acknowledgment of my own personal embarrassment. When people started theorizing that the FBI had presented the Steele dossier to the FISA court as evidence, I told them they were crazy: The FBI, which I can’t help thinking of as myFBI after 20 years of working closely with the bureau as a federal prosecutor, would never take an unverified screed and present it to a court as evidence. I explained that if the bureau believed the information in a document like the dossier, it would pick out the seven or eight most critical facts and scrub them as only the FBI can — interview the relevant witnesses, grab the documents, scrutinize the records, connect the dots. Whatever application eventually got filed in the FISA court would not even allude en passant to Christopher Steele or his dossier. The FBI would go to the FISA court only with independent evidence corroborated through standard FBI rigor.

Should I have assumed I could be wrong about that? Sure, even great institutions go rogue now and again. But even with that in mind, I would still have told the conspiracy theorists they were crazy — because in the unlikely event the FBI ever went off the reservation, the Justice Department would not permit the submission to the FISA court of uncorroborated allegations; and even if that fail-safe broke down, a court would not approve such a warrant.

It turns out, however, that the crazies were right and I was wrong. The FBI (and, I’m even more sad to say, my Justice Department) brought the FISA court the Steele-dossier allegations, relying on Steele’s credibility without verifying his information.

It turns out, however, that the crazies were right and I was wrong.

I am embarrassed by this not just because I assured people it could not have happened, and not just because it is so beneath the bureau — especially in a politically fraught case in which the brass green-lighted the investigation of a presidential campaign. I am embarrassed because what happened here flouts rudimentary investigative standards. Any trained FBI agent would know that even the best FBI agent in the country could not get a warrant based on his own stellar reputation. A fortiori, you would never seek a warrant based solely on the reputation of Christopher Steele — a non-American former intelligence agent who had political and financial incentives to undermine Donald Trump. It is always, always necessary to persuade the court that the actual sources of information allegedly amounting to probable cause are believable.

Well, guess what? No one knows that better than experienced federal judges, who deal with a steady diet of warrant applications. It is basic. Much of my bewilderment, in fact, stems from the certainty that if I had been so daft as to try to get a warrant based on the good reputation of one of my FBI case agents, with no corroboration of his or her sources, just about any federal judge in the Southern District of New York would have knocked my block off — and rightly so.

That’s why I said it.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/07/carter-page-fisa-applications-fbi-steele-dossier/

 

 

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Story 1: President Trump Withdraws United States From Obama/Kerry Iran Nuclear Deal — Obama’s Legacy — Going, Going, Gone — The End — Videos —

 

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Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
Iran Talks Vienna 14 July 2015 (19067069963).jpg

Officials announcing the agreement
Created 14 July 2015
Ratified N/A (ratification not required)
Date effective
  • 18 October 2015 (Adoption)[1]
  • 16 January 2016 (Implementation)[2]
Location ViennaAustria
Signatories IranRussiaChinaEuropean UnionUnited States(withdrawing)[3]
Purpose Nuclear non-proliferation

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOAPersianبرنامه جامع اقدام مشترک‎, translit. barnāme jāme‘ eqdām moshtarakacronymبرجامBARJAM[4][5]), known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal, is an international agreement on the nuclear program of Iran reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security CouncilChinaFranceRussiaUnited KingdomUnited States—plus Germany),[a] and the European Union.

Formal negotiations toward the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program began with the adoption of the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in November 2013. For the next twenty months, Iran and the P5+1 countries engaged in negotiations, and in April 2015 agreed on an Iran nuclear deal framework for the final agreement. In July 2015, Iran and the P5+1 confirmed agreement on the plan along with the “Roadmap Agreement” made between Iran and the IAEA.[8]

Under the agreement, Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years. For the next 15 years, Iran will only enrich uranium up to 3.67%. Iran also agreed not to build any new heavy-water facilities for the same period of time. Uranium-enrichment activities will be limited to a single facility using first-generation centrifuges for 10 years. Other facilities will be converted to avoid proliferation risks. To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will have regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities. The agreement provides that in return for verifiably abiding by its commitments, Iran will receive relief from U.S., European Union, and United Nations Security Council nuclear-related economic sanctions.

On 13 October 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States would not make the certification provided for under U.S. domestic law, but stopped short of terminating the deal.[9] On 30 April 2018, the United States and Israel stated that Iran did not disclose a past covert nuclear weapons program to the IAEA, which was required in the 2015 deal.[10][11]

IAEA inspectors spend 3,000 calendar days per year in Iran, installing tamper-proof sealings and collecting surveillance camera photos, measurement data and documents for further analysis. IAEA Director Yukiya Amano stated (in March 2018) that the organization has verified that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments.[12]

On 8 May 2018, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the agreement.[13][14]

Background

nuclear weapon uses a fissile material to cause a nuclear chain reaction. The most commonly used materials have been uranium 235 (U-235) and plutonium 239 (Pu-239). Both uranium 233 (U-233) and reactor-grade plutonium have also been used.[15][16][17] The amount of uranium or plutonium needed depends on the sophistication of the design, with a simple design requiring approximately 15 kg of uranium or 6 kg of plutonium and a sophisticated design requiring as little as 9 kg of uranium or 2 kg of plutonium.[18] Plutonium is almost nonexistent in nature, and natural uranium is about 99.3% uranium 238 (U-238) and 0.7% U-235. Therefore, to make a weapon, either uranium must be enriched, or plutonium must be produced. Uranium enrichment is also frequently necessary for nuclear power. For this reason, uranium enrichment is a dual-use technology, a technology which “can be used both for civilian and for military purposes”.[19] Key strategies to prevent proliferation of nuclear arms include limiting the number of operating uranium enrichment plants and controlling the export of nuclear technology and fissile material.[17][19]

Iranian development of nuclear technology began in the 1970s, when the U.S. Atoms for Peace program began providing assistance to Iran, which was then led by the Shah.[20] Iran signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1968 as a non-nuclear weapons state and ratified the NPT in 1970.[20]

In 1979 the Iranian Revolution took place, and Iran’s nuclear program, which had developed some baseline capacity, fell to disarray as “much of Iran’s nuclear talent fled the country in the wake of the Revolution.”[20] Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was initially opposed to nuclear technology; and Iran engaged in a costly war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988.[20]

Starting in the later 1980s, Iran restarted its nuclear program, with assistance from Pakistan (which entered into a bilateral agreement with Iran in 1992), China (which did the same in 1990), and Russia (which did the same in 1992 and 1995), and from the A.Q. Khannetwork.[20] Iran “began pursuing an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle capability by developing a uranium mining infrastructure and experimenting with uranium conversion and enrichment”.[20] According to the nonpartisan Nuclear Threat Initiative, “U.S. intelligence agencieshave long suspected Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover for clandestine weapons development.”[20] Iran, in contrast, “has always insisted that its nuclear work is peaceful”.[21]

In August 2002, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian dissident group, publicly revealed the existence of two undeclared nuclear facilities, the Arak heavy-water production facility and the Natanz enrichment facility.[20][22] In February 2003, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami acknowledged the existence of the facilities and asserted that Iran had undertaken “small-scale enrichment experiments” to produce low-enriched uranium for nuclear power plants.[20] In late February, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors visited Natanz.[22] In May 2003, Iran allowed IAEA inspectors to visit the Kalaye Electric Company, but refused to allow them to take samples, and an IAEA report the following month concluded that Iran had failed to meet its obligations under the previous agreement.[22]

In June 2003, Iran—faced with the prospect of being referred to the UN Security Council—entered into diplomatic negotiations with France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (the EU 3).[20][22] The United States refused to be involved in these negotiations.[22] In October 2003, the Tehran Declaration was reached between Iran and the EU 3; under this declaration Iran agreed to cooperate fully with the IAEA, sign the Additional Protocol, and temporarily suspend all uranium enrichment.[20][22] In September and October 2003, the IAEA conducted several facility inspections.[20] This was followed by the Paris Agreement in November 2004, in which Iran agreed to temporarily suspend enrichment and conversion activities, “including the manufacture, installation, testing, and operation of centrifuges, and committed to working with the EU-3 to find a mutually beneficial long-term diplomatic solution”.[20]

In August 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hard-liner, was elected president of Iran. He accused Iranian negotiators who had negotiated the Paris Accords of treason.[22][23] Over the next two months, the EU 3 agreement fell apart as talks over the EU 3’s proposed Long Term Agreement broke down; the Iranian government “felt that the proposal was heavy on demands, light on incentives, did not incorporate Iran’s proposals, and violated the Paris Agreement”.[20][22] Iran notified the IAEA that it would resume uranium conversion at Esfahan.[20][22]

In February 2006, Iran ended its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol and resumed enrichment at Natanz, prompting the IAEA Board of Governors to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.[20][22] After the vote, Iran announced it would resume enrichment of uranium.[22] In April 2006, Ahmadinejad announced that Iran had nuclear technology, but stated that it was purely for power generation and not for producing weapons.[22] In June 2006, the EU 3 joined China, Russia, and the United States, to form the P5+1.[22] The following month, July 2006, the UN Security Council passed its first resolution demanding Iran stop uranium enrichment and processing.[22] Altogether, from 2006 to 2010, the UN Security Council subsequently adopted six resolutions concerning Iran’s nuclear program: 1696 (July 2006), 1737 (December 2006), 1747 (March 2007), 1803 (March 2008), 1835 (September 2008), and 1929 (June 2010).[24] The legal authority for the IAEA Board of Governors referral and the Security Council resolutions was derived from the IAEA Statute and the United Nations Charter.[24] The resolutions demanded that Iran cease enrichment activities and imposed sanctions on Iran, including bans on the transfer of nuclear and missile technology to the country and freezes on the assets of certain Iranian individuals and entities, in order to pressure the country.[20][22] However, in Resolution 1803 and elsewhere the Security Council also acknowledged Iran’s rights under Article IV of the NPT, which provides for “the inalienable right … to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”.[24][b]

In July 2006, Iran opened the Arak heavy water production plant, which led to one of the Security Council resolutions.[20] In September 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama, revealed the existence of an underground enrichment facility in Fordow, near Qom saying, “Iran’s decision to build yet another nuclear facility without notifying the IAEA represents a direct challenge to the basic compact at the center of the non-proliferation regime.”[30] Israel threatened to take military action against Iran.[22]

In a February 2007 interview with the Financial Times, IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei said that military action against Iran “would be catastrophic, counterproductive” and called for negotiations between the international community and Iran over the Iranian nuclear program.[31] ElBaradei specifically proposed a “double, simultaneous suspension, a time out” as “a confidence-building measure”, under which the international sanctions would be suspended and Iran would suspend enrichment.[31] ElBaradei also said, “if I look at it from a weapons perspective there are much more important issues to me than the suspension of [enrichment],” naming his top priorities as preventing Iran from “go[ing] to industrial capacity until the issues are settled”; building confidence, with “full inspection” involving Iranian adoption of the Additional Protocol; and “at all costs” preventing Iran from “moving out of the [treaty-based non-proliferation] system”.[31]

A November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate assessed that Iran “halted its nuclear weapons program” in 2003; that estimate and subsequent U.S. Intelligence Community statements also assessed that the Iranian government at the time had was “keeping open the ‘option’ to develop nuclear weapons” in the future.[32] A July 2015 Congressional Research Service report said, “statements from the U.S. intelligence community indicate that Iran has the technological and industrial capacity to produce nuclear weapons at some point, but the U.S. government assesses that Tehran has not mastered all of the necessary technologies for building a nuclear weapon.”[32]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerryshakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif after the P5+1 and Iran concluded negotiations about Iran’s nuclear capabilities on November 24, 2013

In March 2013, the United States began a series of secret bilateral talks with Iranian officials in Oman, led by William Joseph Burns and Jake Sullivan on the American side and Ali Asghar Khaji on the Iranian side.[22][33] In June 2013, Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran.[22][34] Rouhani has been described as “more moderate, pragmatic and willing to negotiate than Ahmadinejad”. However, in a 2006 nuclear negotiation with European powers, Rouhani said that Iran had used the negotiations to dupe the Europeans, saying that during the negotiations, Iran managed to master the conversion of uranium yellowcake at Isfahan. The conversion of yellowcake is an important step in the nuclear fuel process.[35] In August 2013, three days after his inauguration, Rouhani called for a resumption of serious negotiations with the P5+1 on the Iranian nuclear program.[36] In September 2013, Obama and Rouhani had a telephone conversation, the first high-level contact between U.S. and Iranian leaders since 1979, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had a meeting with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, signaling that the two countries had an opening to cooperation.[22][36] Former officials alleged that, in order to advance the deal, the Obama administration shielded Hezbollah from the Drug Enforcement Administration‘s Project Cassandrainvestigation regarding drug smuggling and from the Central Intelligence Agency.[37][38] As a result of the Politico report, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered an investigation to determine the veracity of the allegations.[39]

After several rounds of negotiations, on 24 November 2013, the Joint Plan of Action, an interim agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, was signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries in Geneva, Switzerland. It consisted of a short-term freeze of portions of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions on Iran, as the countries work towards a long-term agreement.[40] The IAEA began “more intrusive and frequent inspections” under this interim agreement.[36] The agreement was formally activated on 20 January 2014.[41] On that day, the IAEA issued a report stating that Iran was adhering to the terms of the interim agreement, including stopping enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, beginning the dilution process (to reduce half of the stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to 3.5 percent), and halting work on the Arak heavy-water reactor.[36][41]

A major focus on the negotiations was limitations on Iran’s key nuclear facilities: the ArakIR-40heavy water reactor and production plant (which was under construction, but never became operational, as Iran agreed as part of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action (interim agreement) not to commission or fuel the reactor); the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant; the Gachin uranium mine; the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant; the Isfahan uranium-conversion plant; the Natanz uranium enrichment plant; and the Parchin military research and development complex.[42]

Negotiations

Foreign Ministers from the P5+1 nations, the European Union, and Iran in Vienna, Austria, on November 24, 2014

The agreement between the P5+1+EU and Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is the culmination of 20 months of “arduous” negotiations.[43][44]

The agreement followed the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), an interim agreement between the P5+1 powers and Iran that was agreed to on 24 November 2013 at Geneva. The Geneva agreement was an interim deal,[45] in which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some sanctions. This went into effect on 20 January 2014.[46] The parties agreed to extend their talks with a first extension deadline on 24 November 2014[47] and a second extension deadline set to 1 July 2015.[48]

An Iran nuclear deal framework was reached on 2 April 2015. Under this framework Iran agreed tentatively to accept restrictions on its nuclear program, all of which would last for at least a decade and some longer, and to submit to an increased intensity of international inspections under a framework deal. These details were to be negotiated by the end of June 2015. The negotiations toward a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action were extended several times until the final agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was finally reached on 14 July 2015.[49][50] The JCPOA is based on the framework agreement from three months earlier.

Subsequently the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 continued. In April 2015, a framework deal was reached at Lausanne. Intense marathon negotiations then continued, with the last session in Vienna at the Palais Coburglasting for seventeen days.[51] At several points, negotiations appeared to be at risk of breaking down, but negotiators managed to come to agreement.[51] As the negotiators neared a deal, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry directly asked Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to confirm that he was “authorized to actually make a deal, not just by the [Iranian] president, but by the supreme leader?”[51] Zarif gave assurances that he was.[51]

Ultimately, on 14 July 2015, all parties agreed to a landmark comprehensive nuclear agreement.[52] At the time of the announcement, shortly before 11:00 GMT, the agreement was released to the public.[53]

The final agreement’s complexity shows the impact of a public letter written by a bipartisan group of 19 U.S. diplomats, experts, and others in June 2015, written when negotiations were still going on.[54][55] That letter outlined concerns about the several provisions in the then-unfinished agreement and called for a number of improvements to strengthen the prospective agreement and win their support for it.[54] After the final agreement was reached, one of the signatories, Robert J. Einhorn, a former U.S. Department of State official now at the Brookings Institution, said of the agreement: “Analysts will be pleasantly surprised. The more things are agreed to, the less opportunity there is for implementation difficulties later on.”[54]

The final agreement is based upon (and buttresses) “the rules-based nonproliferation regime created by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and including especially the IAEA safeguards system”.[56]

Souvenir signatures of lead negotiators on the cover page of the JCPOA document. The Persian handwriting on top left side is a homage by Javad Zarif to his counterparts’ efforts in the negotiations: “[I am] Sincere to Mr. Abbas [Araghchi] and Mr. Majid [Takht-Ravanchi].”[57]

Signatories

Summary of provisions

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) runs to 109 pages, including five annexes.[44] Major provisions of the final accord include the following:[44][58][59]

Nuclear

JCPOA summary of enrichment-related provisions
(sources: The Economist[60]Belfer Center[61]:29)
Capability Before JCPOA After JCPOA
(for 10-year period)
After 15 years
First-generation
centrifuges installed
19,138 capped at 6,104 Unconstrained
Advanced centrifuges installed 1,008 0 Unconstrained
Centrifuge R&D Unconstrained Constrained Unconstrained
Stockpile of
low-enriched uranium
7,154 kg 300 kg Unconstrained
Stockpile of
medium-enriched uranium
196 kg 0 kg Unconstrained
  • Iran’s current stockpile of low-enriched uranium will be reduced by 98 percent, from 10,000 kg to 300 kg. This reduction will be maintained for fifteen years.[44][62][63][64] For the same fifteen-year period, Iran will be limited to enriching uranium to 3.67%, a percentage sufficient for civilian nuclear power and research, but not for building a nuclear weapon.[62][63][65] However, the number of centrifuges is sufficient for a nuclear weapon, but not for nuclear power.[66] This is a “major decline” in Iran’s previous nuclear activity; prior to watering down its stockpile pursuant to the Joint Plan of Action interim agreement, Iran had enriched uranium to near 20% (medium-enriched uranium).[62][63][64] These enriched uranium in excess of 300 kg of up to 3.67% will be down blended to natural uranium level or be sold in return for natural uranium, and the uranium enriched to between 5% and 20% will be fabricated into fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor or sold or diluted to an enrichment level of 3.67%. The implementation of the commercial contracts will be facilitated by P5+1. After fifteen years, all physical limits on enrichment will be removed, including limits on the type and number of centrifuges, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium, and where Iran may have enrichment facilities. According to Belfer, at this point Iran could “expand its nuclear program to create more practical overt and covert nuclear weapons options”.[61][67]
  • For ten years, Iran will place over two-thirds of its centrifuges in storage, from its current stockpile of 19,000 centrifuges (of which 10,000 were operational) to no more than 6,104 operational centrifuges, with only 5,060 allowed to enrich uranium,[44][62] with the enrichment capacity being limited to the Natanz plant. The centrifuges there must be IR-1 centrifuges, the first-generation centrifuge type which is Iran’s oldest and least efficient; Iran will give up its advanced IR-2M centrifuges in this period.[42][63][64] The non-operating centrifuges will be stored in Natanz and monitored by IAEA, but may be used to replace failed centrifuges.[68][69] Iran will not build any new uranium-enrichment facilities for fifteen years.[62]
  • Iran may continue research and development work on enrichment, but that work will take place only at the Natanz facility and include certain limitations for the first eight years.[42] This is intended to keep the country to a breakout time of one year.[62]
  • Iran, with cooperation from the “Working Group” (the P5+1 and possibly other countries), will modernise and rebuild the Arak heavy water research reactor based on an agreed design to support its peaceful nuclear research and production needs and purposes, but in such a way to minimise the production of plutonium and not to produce weapons-grade plutonium. The power of the redesigned reactor will not exceed 20 MWth. The P5+1 parties will support and facilitate the timely and safe construction of the Arak complex.[70] All spent fuel will be sent out of the country.[42] All excess heavy water which is beyond Iran’s needs for the redesigned reactor will be made available for export to the international market based on international prices. In exchange, Iran received 130 tons of uranium in 2015 and in late 2016 was approved to receive 130 tons in 2017.[71] For 15 years, Iran will not engage in, or research on, spent fuel reprocessing.[72] Iran will also not build any additional heavy-water reactors or accumulate heavy water for fifteen years.[42]
  • Iran’s Fordow facility will stop enriching uranium and researching uranium enrichment for at least fifteen years; the facility will be converted into a nuclear physics and technology center. For 15 years, Fordow will maintain no more than 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges in six cascades in one wing of Fordow. “Two of those six cascades will spin without uranium and will be transitioned, including through appropriate infrastructure modification,” for stable radioisotope production for medical, agricultural, industrial, and scientific use. “The other four cascades with all associated infrastructure will remain idle.” Iran will not be permitted to have any fissile material in Fordow.[42][62][64]
  • Iran will implement an Additional Protocol agreement which will continue in perpetuity for as long as Iran remains a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The signing of the Additional Protocol represents a continuation of the monitoring and verification provisions “long after the comprehensive agreement between the P5+1 and Iran is implemented”.[73]
  • A comprehensive inspections regime will be implemented in order to monitor and confirm that Iran is complying with its obligations and is not diverting any fissile material.[62][63][c]
    • The IAEA will have multilayered[84] oversight “over Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, from uranium mills to its procurement of nuclear-related technologies“.[85] For declared nuclear sites such as Fordow and Natanz, the IAEA will have “round-the-clock access” to nuclear facilities and will be entitled to maintain continuous monitoring (including via surveillance equipment) at such sites.[85][86] The agreement authorizes the IAEA to make use of sophisticated monitoring technology, such as fiber-optic seals on equipment that can electronically send information to the IAEA; infrared satellite imagery to detect covert sites, “environmental sensors that can detect minute signs of nuclear particles”; tamper-resistant, radiation-resistant cameras.[54][87] Other tools include computerized accounting programs to gather information and detect anomalies, and big data sets on Iranian imports, to monitor dual-use items.[84]
    • The number of IAEA inspectors assigned to Iran will triple, from 50 to 150 inspectors.[54]
    • If IAEA inspectors have concerns that Iran is developing nuclear capabilities at any non-declared sites, they may request access “to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities or activities inconsistent with” the agreement, informing Iran of the basis for their concerns.[86] The inspectors would only come from countries with which Iran has diplomatic relations.[88] Iran may admit the inspectors to such site or propose alternatives to inspection that might satisfy the IAEA’s concerns.[86] If such an agreement cannot be reached, a process running to a maximum of 24 days is triggered.[86] Under this process, Iran and the IAEA have 14 days to resolve disagreements among themselves.[86] If they fail to, the Joint Commission (including all eight parties) would have one week in which to consider the intelligence which initiated the IAEA request. A majority of the Commission (at least five of the eight members) could then inform Iran of the action that it would be required to take within three more days.[89][90] The majority rule provision “means the United States and its European allies—Britain, France, Germany and the EU—could insist on access or any other steps and that Iran, Russia or China could not veto them”.[89] If Iran did not comply with the decision within three days, sanctions would be automatically reimposed under the snapback provision (see below).[90]

As a result of the above, the “breakout time”—the time in which it would be possible for Iran to make enough material for a single nuclear weapon—will increase from two to three months to one year, according to U.S. officials and U.S. intelligence.[44][62][91][d] An August 2015 report published by a group of experts at Harvard University‘s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs concurs in these estimates, writing that under the JCPOA, “over the next decade would be extended to roughly a year, from the current estimated breakout time of 2 to 3 months”.[61] The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation also accepts these estimates.[93][94] By contrast, Alan J. Kuperman, coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin, disputed the one-year assessment, arguing that under the agreement, Iran’s breakout time “would be only about three months, not much longer than it is today”.[95]

The longer breakout time would be in place for at least ten years; after that point, the breakout time would gradually decrease.[44][91] By the fifteenth year, U.S. officials state that the breakout time would return to the pre-JCPOA status quo of a few months.[44][91] The Belfer Center report states: “Some contributors to this report believe that breakout time by year 15 could be comparable to what it is today—a few months—while others believe it could be reduced to a few weeks.”[61]

Exemptions

Reuters reported that exemptions were granted to Iran prior to 16 January 2016. The reported purpose of the exemptions was so that sanctions relief and other benefits could start by that date, instead of Iran being in violation. The exemptions included: (a) Iran able to exceed the 300 Kg of 3.5% LEU limit in the agreement; (b) Iran able to exceed the zero Kg of 20% LEU limit in the agreement; (c) Iran to keep operating 19 “hot cells” that exceed the size limit in the agreement; (d) Iran to maintain control of 50 tonnes of heavy water that exceed the 130 tonne limit in the agreement by storing the excess at an Iran-controlled facility in Oman.[96] In December 2016, the IAEA published decisions of the Joint Commission that spell out these clarifications of the JCPOA.[97]

Sanctions

The following provisions regarding sanctions are written into the JCPOA:

  • Following the issuance of a IAEA report verifying implementation by Iran of the nuclear-related measures, the UN sanctions against Iran and some EU sanctions will terminate and some will be suspended. Once sanctions are lifted, Iran will recover approximately $100 billion of its assets (U.S. Treasury Department estimate) frozen in overseas banks.[98]
    • Eight years into the agreement, EU sanctions against a number of Iranian companies, individuals and institutions (such as the Revolutionary Guards) will be lifted.[99]
  • The United States will “cease” application of its nuclear-related secondary sanctions[100] by presidential action or executive waiver.[101]Secondary sanctions are those that sanction other countries for doing business with Iran. Primary U.S. sanctions, which prohibit U.S. firms from conducting commercial transactions with few exceptions, are not altered by the JCPOA.[102]
    • This step is not tied to any specific date, but is expected to occur “roughly in the first half of 2016”.[100][103][104]
    • Sanctions relating to ballistic missile technologies would remain for eight years; similar sanctions on conventional weapon sales to Iran would remain for five years.[44][105]
    • However, all U.S. sanctions against Iran related to alleged human rights abuses, missiles, and support for terrorism are not affected by the agreement and will remain in place.[64][106] U.S. sanctions are viewed as more stringent, since many have extraterritorial effect (i.e., they apply worldwide). EU sanctions, by contrast, apply only in Europe.[99]
  • No new UN or EU nuclear-related sanctions or restrictive measures will be imposed.[107]
  • If Iran violates the agreement, any of the P5+1 can invoke a “snap back” provision, under which the sanctions “snap back” into place (i.e., are reimplemented).[62][63][107]
    • Specifically, the JCPOA establishes the following dispute resolution process: if a party to the JCPOA has reason to believe that another party is not upholding its commitments under the agreement, then the complaining party may refer its complaint to the Joint Commission, a body created under the JCPOA to monitor implementation.[64][108] If a complaint made by a non-Iran party is not resolved to the satisfaction of the complaining party within thirty-five days of referral, then that party could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under the JCPOA, notify the United Nations Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance, or both.[108] The Security Council would then have thirty days to adopt a resolution to continue the lifting of sanctions. If such a resolution is not adopted within those thirty days, then the sanctions of all of the pre-JCPOA nuclear-related UN Security Council resolutions would automatically be re-imposed. Iran has stated that in such a case, it would cease performing its nuclear obligations under the deal.[53][108] The effect of this rule is that any permanent member of the Security Council (United States, United Kingdom, China, Russia and France) can veto any ongoing sanctions relief, but no member can veto the re-imposition of sanctions.
    • Snapback sanctions “would not apply with retroactive effect to contracts signed between any party and Iran or Iranian individuals and entities prior to the date of application, provided that the activities contemplated under and execution of such contracts are consistent with this JCPOA and the previous and current UN Security Council resolutions”.[68]

Ankit Panda of The Diplomat states that this will make impossible any scenario where Iran is non-compliant with the JCPOA yet escapes re-imposition of sanctions.[108] Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (which opposes the agreement) argues, however, that because the JCPOA provides that Iran could treat reinstatement of sanctions (in part or entirely) as grounds for leaving the agreement, the United States would be reluctant to impose a “snapback” for smaller violations: “The only thing you’ll take to the Security Council are massive Iranian violations, because you’re certainly not going to risk the Iranians walking away from the deal and engaging in nuclear escalation over smaller violations.”[109]

Records

According to several commentators, JCPOA is the first of its kind in the annals of non-proliferation and is in many aspects unique.[110][111][112][113][114] The 159-page JCPOA document and its five appendices, is the most spacious text of a multinational treaty since World War II, according to BBC Persian.[115]

This is the first time that the United Nations Security Council has recognized the nuclear enrichment program of a developing country[115][116] and backs an agreement signed by several countries within the framework of a resolution (United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231).[115][117] For the first time in the history of the United Nations, a country—Iran—was able to abolish 6 UN resolutions against it—169617371747180318351929—without even one day of implementing them.[115]Sanctions against Iran was also lifted for the first time.[115]

Throughout the history of international law, this is the first and only time that a country subject to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter has managed to end its case and stop being subject to this chapter through diplomacy.[115][118][119] All other cases have ended through either regime changewar or full implementation of the Security Council’s decisions by the country.[120]

Gary Sick states that during the history of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), no country other than Iran has ever voluntarily agreed to put such extraordinary restrictions on its nuclear activities.[121]

During the final negotiations, U.S. Secretary of StateJohn Kerry stayed in Vienna for 17 days, making him the top American official devoting time to a single international negotiation in more than four decades.[122]Mohammad Javad Zarif broke the record of an Iranian Foreign Minister being far from home with 18-days stay in Vienna,[115] and set the record of 106 days of negotiations in 687 days, a number higher than any other chief nuclear negotiator in 12 years.[123] The negotiations became the longest continuous negotiations with the presence of all foreign ministers of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.[115]

Pictured here, Iranian Minister of Foreign AffairsMohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of StateJohn Kerry shaking hands at the end of negotiations on 14 July 2015, Vienna. They shook hands on 26 September 2013 in the United Nations Headquartersfor the first time.[124]

The negotiations included ‘rare events’ in Iran–United States relations not only since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, but also in the history of the bilateral relations. The U.S. Secretary of State and Iranian Foreign Minister met on 18 different dates—sometimes multiple occasions a day—and in 11 different cities, unprecedented since the beginning of the relations.[125] On 27 April 2015, John Kerry visited the official residence of the Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations to meet his counterpart. The encounter was the first of its kind since the Iran hostage crisis.[125][126] On the sidelines of the 70th session of the United Nations General AssemblyU.S. PresidentBarack Obama shook hands with the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, marking the first such event in history. The event was also noted in form of diplomatic ranks, as a head of state shook hands with a minister.[127] Obama is reported to have said in the meeting: “Too much effort has been put into the JCPOA and we all should be diligent to implement it.”[128]

Reactions

Political and diplomatic reactions

There was a significant worldwide response following the announcement of the agreement; more than 90 countries endorsed the agreement,[129] as did many international organizations.

From countries that are parties to the JCPOA

  •  China
    • Foreign MinisterWang Yi said, “the most important achievement of the comprehensive agreement is that the international nuclear non-proliferation system is safeguarded. It can be said that China had played a unique and constructive role and thus is highly praised and affirmed by all parties. In the next step, there are still many matters to be attended to concerning the implementation of the agreement. China will continuously make new contribution [sic] to this end with a responsible attitude.”[130]
  •  European Union
  •  France
    • In a Bastille Day speech, PresidentFrancois Hollande praised the deal and called upon Iran to “show that it is ready to help us end” the Syrian civil war.[133] French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Le Monde that the pact was a “robust agreement” that would last at least a decade.[134] Both Hollande and Fabius pledged that France would be “extremely vigilant” in the implementation of the agreement.[133][134]
    • Fabius visited Iran on 29 July, telling reporters in Tehran, “this deal allows the relations between our countries to develop and allows us to renew cooperation.” His visit was controversial in Iran and met with public anger for several reasons.[135][136]
  •  Germany
    • ChancellorAngela Merkel said that the agreement was “an important success” of international diplomacy.[137]
    • Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that the agreement was a “historic breakthrough”.[138] In mid-July 2015, Gabriel, along with a delegation of German industry and science representatives, completed a three-day visit to Iran focused on bolstering German-Iranian trade.[138] Gabriel said there was “great interest on the part of German industry in normalizing and strengthening economic relations with Iran”.[138]
  •  Iran
    • Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei who initially issued a letter of guidelines to President Rouhani, ordering him on how to proceed with the deal,[139][140] threatened to ‘set fire’ to nuclear deal if West violates.[141]PresidentHassan Rouhani said the final agreement proved that “constructive engagement works” and presented the deal as a step on the road towards a wider goal of international cooperation: “With this unnecessary crisis resolved, new horizons emerge with a focus on shared challenges.”[131]
    • Minister of Foreign AffairsMohammad Javad Zarif called it an “historic moment” and said: “Today could have been the end of hope on this issue, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope. Let’s build on that.”[142]
    • In a 21 July speech to the Iranian Parliament, Zarif said that the agreement was a defeat for Israel, saying, “Never before was the Zionist regime so isolated, even among her own allies.”[143] On 12 August, after a meeting with Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Zarif said that the agreement “created a historic opportunity to [sic] for regional cooperation to fight extremism and face threats posed by the Zionist entity”.[144]
    • Many Iranian families and youth celebrated at Vanak Square and elsewhere on the streets of Tehran on the evening of the agreement’s announcements.[145] Some held signs calling for the release of Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi from house arrest.[145] Other ordinary Iranians cheered the announcement on social media.[145]
    • On 16 July 2015, two days after the agreement was signed, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made his first public comments on the final agreement in a letter to President Hassan Rouhani posted on Khamenei’s website.[146] Khamenei wrote, “bringing the negotiations to a conclusion was a milestone” but, “the prepared text, however, needs careful scrutiny”.[146] Iranian hard-liners too