by: Elior Levy
Thursday, 09 August 2018 | The scope of Iran’s aid to the Gaza Strip comes into light as the civil protest against the regime in the Islamic Republic grows stronger amid the grave economic crisis in the country, which is expected to be exacerbated when American sanctions come into effect.
Iran transfers $100 million every year to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two main Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip. The money is divided as follows: $70 million is transferred to Hamas, while Islamic Jihad gets $30 million. The vast majority of this money is used by the two organizations to further bolster their military wings, instead of aiding the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.
While this is indeed a high sum of money, it is only a tenth of the annual budget that Iran transfers to Hezbollah, which is on average $1 billion annually.
Over the past year, however, Iran’s budget for the Lebanese Shiite organization was reduced to only $800 million due to the economic crisis it is suffering from, but the budget for the Gaza Strip remained unchanged.
Since the Hamas leadership changed in the last elections, the pro-Iranian faction in the organization, which is led by Deputy Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri and the military wing’s leadership, has grown in power and influence.
While the pro-Iranian faction in Hamas grows strong, Egypt is putting all its weight on Hamas and Fatah to implement the reconciliation agreement they signed.
Inside Palestinian sources told Ynet that there has been a power struggle inside Hamas in recent weeks between the pro-Iranian faction and the moderate faction. According to the sources, the moderate faction wants to move ahead with the reconciliation process, while the pro-Iranian faction, led by al-Arouri, is opposed to the reconciliation with Fatah, believing it will weaken Hamas’s control over the Gaza Strip.
Al-Arouri arrived in the Gaza Strip on Thursday in an effort to resolve the internal strife within the organization in future discussions between him and Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar over the reconciliation process and the negotiations for a long-term ceasefire with Israel.
One of the disputed issues regarding the ceasefire agreement is Hamas’s continued military buildup. For Hamas, this appears to be a critical matter in light of recent flare-ups in the Gaza Strip, which included extensive Israeli attacks.
Posted on August 9, 2018
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