The Palestinian Hamas terrorist group has been restored to the Iranian fold and won the promise of an annual allowance of $200 million per year, military assistance and advanced weapons on a par with the hardware supplied to Jihad Islami. debkafile’s sources report that this deal was secretly sealed in Doha on Thursday, May 22, at a meeting between Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Hamas’s politburo head Khaled Mashaal.
It culminated a month of intense Hamas-Tehran negotiations, which were conducted quietly in parallel with Hamas’s unity talks with the rival Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
(This double track was first revealed by DEBKA Weekly 635 on May 16: Hamas forges Unity with Fatah – But Also Reopens Gaza Door to Iran.)
Hamas is now reinstated as a member of the radical Iran-Syrian-Hizballah Middle Eastern bloc, with all the accoutrements of an ally which it forfeited by turning its back on Bashar Assad at a low moment in the civil war. Tehran has promised to restore the flow of cash and advanced weapons, and go back to training Hamas operatives at courses run by the Revolutionary Guards.
US Secretary of State John Kerry knew this was going on when he met Abbas in London on May 14, but preferred not to raise the issue. Israel’s Justice Minister and negotiator, Tzipi Livni, likewise ignored the Hamas-Tehran pact when she talked to Abbas the next day.
Before clinching the deal, Iran required Meshaal to publicly endorse Iran’s policy in Syria and his support for Bashar Assad.
The Hamas politburo chief accordingly stated in Doha Thursday night that he “welcomed the position of Tehran toward Syria,” adding: “We will never forget Syrian President Bashar Al- Assad’s support for the Palestinian nation.”
Meshaal was fully backed by his own movement. Shortly before the Kerry-Abbas interview in London, the Hamas Shura Council, its supreme forum for policy and military decisions, carried three resolutions:
1. Hamas would strive to restore its ties with Tehran.
2. Khaled Meshaal would travel to Tehran to discuss the military and financial aspects entailed in the restoration of ties.
3. The revived pact with Iran should not interfere with the steps towards uniting the two Palestinian territories, the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and reconciling their rulers, Hamas and Fatah.
debkafile’s military sources add that Hamas was not only desperate for an influx of funds to its empty coffers, but extremely worried by Iran’s massive investment in building up another terrorist organization, Jihad Islami, as its senior military arm in Gaza. It was taking shape as a modern army, larger and better equipped and trained than Hamas’ own military wing, Ezz e-Din al-Qassam.
In recent months, hundreds of Jihad fighters were returning home from Iran, after training at Revolutionary Guards courses for commanders and taking instruction as military engineers and technicians for handling the new weapons. Iran was spending large sums on high-quality arms in Libya and getting them smuggled through Egypt into Gaza for Jihad.
Hamas leaders feared that if they did not move fast to repair their ties with Tehran, the Jihad Islami would soon take their place as the dominant military force in the territory.
The deal struck Thursday in Doha confronts Israel with Iran about to be ensconced solidly – not just in Syria and Lebanon, but also on the Gaza Strip to the south. Tehran's most radical surrogate forces, like Hizballah on Israel's northern border, are being armed to the teeth with the most sophisticated tools of war.