Thursday, March 17, 2016

Hamas’ Financial Crisis Affects its Military Wing for the First Time - Kifah Ziboun

by Kifah Ziboun

The squeeze has led to leaders of Al-Qassam receiving one salary rather than two

Employees of the TV channel “Al-Aqsa” demonstrate in front of the French embassy building in Gaza in protest at the channel closing down (AFP)
Employees of the TV channel “Al-Aqsa” demonstrate in front of the French embassy building in Gaza in protest at the channel closing down (AFP)

The financial crisis faced by Hamas is now affecting its military arm the Al-Qassam Brigades for the first time. The brigades have not been affected until now and informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that it has been nearly two months since the salaries of the brigades’ soldiers have been reduced and are being paid later than usual.

Soldiers of the brigade used to receive their salaries at the beginning of each calendar month without any delays or cuts during the past few years despite the fact that the organisation has failed to pay its employees in government and has imposed cutbacks on large affiliate institutions. The sources said that “the Al-Qassam Brigades are a red line for Hamas and have always been unaffected by any financial or political crises. However, the organisation was forced to impose cuts on the salaries of the brigade’s soldiers two months ago after the financial crisis deepened”.

According to the sources, the salary cuts extend to soldiers, leaders and officials of the Al-Qassam Brigades. In addition to this, soldiers of the military wing who receive a salary from the brigades as well as another from the government have been requested to choose either one of these salaries and be content with it. The sources also pointed out that the expenses of the brigades were being reduced in general but will not affect “those military occupations that are a high priority”.

Hamas is experiencing a financial crisis since Iran stopped its financial support of the organisation. The financial crisis has become critical after the imposition of international, Arab and Israeli control over the money that arrives in the Gaza Strip through transfers and banks. The crisis reached its peak at the end of 2014 after Egypt launched a war against commercial tunnels.

Hamas now seeks to restore its relationship with the countries that used to provide it with financial support, including Iran. However, the differences in political stances make the restoration of the relationship a complex issue.

Iran has offered to resume its financial support of Hamas in exchange for the organisation’s support of Iran in its dispute with Saudi Arabia on the topics of Yemen and Syria, but Hamas rejected the offer. Hamas seeks to get closer to the Arab Gulf states in an attempt to find alternative funding.

Kifah Ziboun


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