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Selected Articles – The News And Times – Audio Posts: Telephone conversation with Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu … National Security in Context: Where Have All the Strategic Thinkers Gone?

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Selected Articles – The News And Times
События Состоялся телефонный разговор Владимира Путина с Премьер-министром Израиля Биньямином Нетаньяху. В центре внимания была острая ситуация в зоне палестино-израильского конфликта и, в частности, катастрофическая гуманитарная обстановка в секторе Газа. Владимир Путин подтвердил принципиальную позицию неприятия и осуждения терроризма во всех…
posted 1h ago via kremlin.ru
 

Far-right Trump allies Steve Bannon and Kash Patel said that the former president would target “conspirators” in the media if he wins another term in office, HuffPost reports. During an interview on his “War Room” podcast, Bannon predicted that Patel would be Donald Trump’s CIA director and said that another term for the GOP frontrunner would see the…
posted 21h ago via news.yahoo.com
 

It’s an awkward time for the Social Democrat Party to celebrate itself. The center-left SPD gathers this weekend for its national party conference, in Berlin, on the heels of yet another major poll showing how unloved they are.  If general elections were held now, the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz would only receive 14% of the vote. That is another…
posted 23h ago via dw.com
 

SaveKYIV — Anxiety is mounting in Ukraine as disagreements in Washington continue to stall billions of dollars of urgently needed wartime funding — aid that officials here say is crucial to keep the country running as the war with Russia grinds on.The strain in the relationship between Kyiv and Washington comes as internal political divisions have resurfaced…
posted 1d ago via washingtonpost.com
 

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posted 1d ago via libmod.de
 

Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a forgotten man fighting a forgotten war. The Ukrainian president’s shooting star has lost much of its altitude and gleam as Russia’s grinding invasion approaches the two-year mark. An old war has turned into a plodding stalemate. The ballyhooed Ukrainian “offensive” has stalled. The promised “breakthrough” remains stubbornly…
posted 1d ago via aljazeera.com
 

Abstract: When Hamas took over the Gaza Strip by force of arms in 2007, it faced an ideological crisis. It could focus on governing Gaza and addressing the needs of the Palestinian people, or it could use the Gaza Strip as a springboard from which to attack Israel. Even then, Hamas understood these two goals were mutually exclusive. And while some…
posted 1d ago via ctc.westpoint.edu
 

The artificial intelligence (AI) story shows no signs of slowing. Instead, AI – which could be worth $1.8 trillion by 2030, according to Statista – is already changing just about everything. In fact, it’s already changing drug discovery, education, finances, and cyber threats. All of which is beneficial for companies, such as VERSES AI Inc. (NEO:…
posted 1d ago via baystreet.ca
 
“I served in a bigger post-Cold War, post-9/11 national security apparatus [than Henry Kissinger]. As a deputy national security adviser, with responsibilities that included speechwriting and communications, I often focused more on the story America told than the actions we took.” — Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration,…
posted 2d ago via themessenger.com
 

shutterstock.com In a pivotal address at the “Karabakh: Returning Home after 30 years. Achievements and difficulties” exhibition, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev presented a nuanced stance on the delicate issue of peace with Armenia, just hours before meeting with State Department Envoy James O’Brien. The President’s proposition of a “mutual return…
posted 2d ago via turan.az
 

American and Puerto Rican flags fly outside the Capitol of Puerto Rico building in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, May 13, 2017. Photographer: Xavier Garcia/Bloomberg via Getty Images Nov. 30, 2023, 11:09 PM UTCDefendants will be charged together on first four countsBanker will face second trial on remaining three chargesFormer Puerto Rico governor…
posted 2d ago via news.bloomberglaw.com
 

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is taking heat from the hard-right conservative wing of his conference over the addition of a short-term extension of the nation’s warrantless surveillance powers in the Defense authorization bill.  Johnson huddled with a slew of animated GOP lawmakers — many of whom had long given his ousted predecessor headaches — on…
posted 2d ago via thehill.com
 

Those we are missing Those we are missing Those we are missing Those we are missing Those we are missing Those we are missing Those we are missing Those we are missing Those we are missing Those we are missing Those we are missing Those we are missing …
posted 2d ago via timesofisrael.com
 

His case demonstrates that Cuba remains a potent and far-reaching player in the world of espionage — and a security threat often overlooked by U.S. officials as other conflicts and antagonists consume oxygen in Washington, according to Jim Popkin, an expert on Cuban espionage, and the author of Code Name Blue Wren: The True Story of America’s Most…
posted 2d ago via politico.com
 

Russian President Vladimir Putin got a welcome with all the trimmings on his trip to the United Arab Emirates, which contrasted sharply with what greeted the German head of state, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on his recent visit to a regional neighbor.Following Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv’s allies, led by the U.S., have sought to isolate…
posted 2d ago via newsweek.com
 

Haaretz | Israel NewsHundreds of thousands of refugees from northern Gaza are now taking shelter in the south ■ Despite Biden’s warning Israel to make more of an effort not to harm civilians, there seems to be no significant changes in Israel’s operation in Gaza, war experts claimGet email notification for articles from Jack Khoury FollowDec 6, 2023Get…
posted 2d ago via haaretz.com
 

Workers stand next to the European Union’s humanitarian aid destined for the Gaza Strip via Rafah border area, during a temporary truce between Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Israel, at Al Arish airport, in Al Arish, Egypt, November 30, 2023. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo Acquire Licensing RightsCAIRO, Dec 7 (Reuters) – Egypt is striving…
posted 2d ago via reuters.com
 

Agencia AJN.- Varios vídeos grabados en Gaza y subidos a las redes sociales en las últimas horas muestran cómo las IDF han detenido a decenas de palestinos -posibles combatientes de Hamás- que se han entregado a las tropas israelíes en Jabaliya y otras zonas del norte de la Franja. Rendición masiva…
posted 2d ago via agenciaajn.com
 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi says the Palestinian issue and the brutal Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip will be top on the agenda of his official visit to Russia. Speaking to reporters before setting off for Moscow on Thursday, Raeisi said all Muslims and free nations are concerned about the current situation in Gaza. He added that urgent…
posted 3d ago via presstv.ir
 

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has urged Egypt to “unconditionally” open the Rafah crossing to allow the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip immediate access of to medicine, food, and fuel. “It is highly expected that top authorities in Egypt will open the Rafah border crossing unconditionally to send medicine, food and fuel to…
posted 3d ago via presstv.ir
 
Michael Novakhov’s favorite articles on Inoreader
Events

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The focus was on the acute situation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone and, in particular, the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Vladimir Putin confirmed his principled position of non-acceptance and condemnation of terrorism in all its manifestations. At the same time, it is extremely important that countering terrorist threats does not lead to such dire consequences for the civilian population. The Russian side is ready to provide all possible assistance in order to alleviate the suffering of civilians and de-escalate the conflict.

In addition, mutual interest was expressed to continue to interact on issues of evacuation of Russian citizens and members of their families, as well as the release of Israelis held in Gaza.

It was agreed to continue contacts.

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Far-right Trump allies Steve Bannon and Kash Patel said that the former president would target “conspirators” in the media if he wins another term in office, HuffPost reports. During an interview on his “War Room” podcast, Bannon predicted that Patel would be Donald Trump’s CIA director and said that another term for the GOP frontrunner would see the so-called deep state “taken apart, brick by brick,” claiming that people who did “evil deeds” would be held to account and prosecuted.

“We will follow the facts and the law,” replied Patel, a former Pentagon chief of staff who worked for the Justice Department. “We will go out and find the conspirators — not just in government, but in the media. Yes, we’re going to come after the people in the media who lied about American citizens, who helped Joe Biden rig presidential elections.” Patel continued, “We’re going to come after you. Whether it’s criminally or civilly, we’ll figure that out. But yeah, we’re putting you all on notice, and Steve, this is why they hate us. This is why we’re tyrannical. This is why we’re dictators.” Earlier in the episode, Bannon gave an ultimatum to the media, asserting that he was “absolutely dead serious” in his comments and blaming those in the “deep state” for ruining the country.

Trump himself vowed “retribution” earlier this year if reelected and has built his 2024 campaign on anger around his 2020 electoral defeat. The former president declined to say he would abuse power or retaliate against his political opponents in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity Tuesday, adding that he planned to act like a “dictator” on the first day of a new term. The Associated Press reported later on Tuesday that the Trump campaign said Bannon and Patel’s remarks “have nothing to do” with Trump’s aspirations.

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It’s an awkward time for the Social Democrat Party to celebrate itself. The center-left SPD gathers this weekend for its national party conference, in Berlin, on the heels of yet another major poll showing how unloved they are. 

If general elections were held now, the party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz would only receive 14% of the vote. That is another 2% lower than last month’s figure and the lowest since June 2021, according to DeutschlandTrend, a monthly tracking of political sentiment among the German electorate.

The Greens, who support the SPD in a coalition, land slightly ahead at 15%. The government’s third party, the business-first Free Democrats (FDP), would fall under the 5% threshold required to sit in parliament. That is also true of the socialist Left Party, which recently fractured into two groups.

For Scholz, the only way is down

The representative poll, carried out by the research group infratest-dimap surveyed 1,364 eligible voters between December 4-6 by phone and email. Of them, just 17 percent said they are satisfied with the SPD-led government. For Scholz himself, that figure is one-fifth. It’s the lowest approval rating of a German chancellor in the history of the poll, which has been tracking monthly sentiment since 1997.

Scholz’s defense minister and fellow SPD comrade, Boris Pistorius, is polling strongest of the major political figures listed. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, of the Greens, enjoys the second-highest favorability rating, at 38%. And opposition leader Friedrich Merz, chairman of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is gaining support and polls in third place.

The current legislative period has been one of crises: the tail-end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine, and the ensuing inflationary spiral and energy insecurities. Then last month, Germany’s constitutional court agreed with the opposition CDU/CSU that the government’s budget plans were illegal. It wanted to reallocate more than 60 billion euros ($64.7 billion) in unused credit, earmarked for the pandemic, for climate action.

The ruling has blown a huge hole in public finances, sparking a budget crisis with no clear solution. Broadly speaking, the government can either cut spending, raise taxes or declare a public emergency that would allow raising debt beyond constitutional limits.

No clear way out

Polling suggests that voters are as unsure as their elected officials on the least bad way forward. The largest number of them, 47%, are for cuts, while 35% are for more borrowing. Very few want to pay more in taxes. 

If cuts do come, two-thirds of voters appear comfortable with sacrificing low-income benefits, in a scheme known as “citizens’ money.” More than half would claw back savings in military aid to Ukraine. There is also a plurality of respondents, 41%, who would cut support for making the economy more climate-friendly.

The drop in support for climate action comes against the backdrop of the COP28 gathering in Dubai. A solid majority, 62%, expressed the view that Germany has done plenty to combat climate change and that other countries need to step up.

Still, 7 in 10 German voters think that lifestyle changes are essential to stopping climate change — a high number, but off its peak when the same question was asked in 2019.

This article was originally written in German.

While you’re here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.

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KYIV — Anxiety is mounting in Ukraine as disagreements in Washington continue to stall billions of dollars of urgently needed wartime funding — aid that officials here say is crucial to keep the country running as the war with Russia grinds on.

The strain in the relationship between Kyiv and Washington comes as internal political divisions have resurfaced for President Volodymyr Zelensky, with fears over the potential gaps in funding feeding into other tensions in the capital. Relations between officials who have previously maintained a public appearance of unity are now openly fraying.

A delegation of top Ukrainian officials visited Washington this week to plead for more funding for both the military and the national budget — calls that appear to have gone unheard as Senate Republicans once again blocked the proposed aid, which has been tied to controversial border control measures.

Zelensky was due to virtually address a House and Senate briefing this week but canceled at the last minute as the meeting descended into a chaotic shouting match about U.S. border policy. His cancellation was highly unusual for a leader who has not typically turned down opportunities to advocate for Ukraine, prompting questions over whether he backed out on the advice of his Ukrainian colleagues or U.S. officials.

Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, told a Ukrainian television broadcast that “nothing catastrophic actually happened” and added that “precisely because they discussed not only Ukraine’s issues, but also internal issues, we did not participate.”

However, the difference between passing the billions in aid for Ukraine by the end of this year and doing so in January is critical for Ukraine, said Oleksandra Ustinova, a parliamentarian and head of the Holos party faction.

About a third of Ukraine’s budget comes from U.S. financial assistance, she said, and if that money doesn’t come through, Kyiv might not be able to pay basic salaries for doctors, first-responders and others.

“It’s literally going to be a huge problem because if we do not survive as a state, we cannot win a war,” Ustinova said.

She also pointed to Ukraine’s dependence on U.S.-produced munitions for air defense systems. Ukrainians are expecting a difficult winter with Russia likely to again target its energy infrastructure with missiles and drones to leave people without power.

In her most recent trip to Washington, Ustinova sensed a growing fatigue in support for the war. She said she was often asked, “What is the plan?” and “How long will this take?”

“And what I’m telling them is that unfortunately the plan we have cannot be covered by the existing quantities of weapons,” she said. “It’s difficult for us to plan something when we’re lacking ammunition.”

On Wednesday, the State Department announced an additional $175 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including air defense munitions and ammunition but warned that without congressional action “this will be one of the last security assistance packages we can provide to Ukraine.”

Some officials, though, remained optimistic that allies in Washington would step up before the end of the year. Yulia Svyrydenko, the first deputy prime minister and economy minister, who visited Washington last month, said she hopes the aid package will be announced by Christmas.

“We have repeatedly heard from our partners that they will continue to support us, and they have never broken their promise. We have no reason to doubt the reliability of our partnership,” she said.

There is still the challenge of staying at the forefront of allies’ minds, however. Tymofiy Mylovanov, head of the Kyiv School of Economics and a former government minister, said global attention shifting to Israel’s military operations in Gaza and Ukraine’s “overhyped” counteroffensive not meeting expectations have both contributed to slumping support from both the United States and the European Union.

“Will Ukraine fall because of this? No, unlikely,” Mylovanov said. “But will many more people die? Yes. Will that limit the ability of Ukraine to have capable troops? Yes. It’s all attritional. It’s a long war, obviously — now everyone has come to realize that, including me.”

Trying to ascribe blame for why the counteroffensive in Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions wasn’t more successful has also stoked political rifts at a moment when Ukraine might want to appear to its Western partners as unified, he said.

“Things are tough, so everyone’s on edge,” Mylovanov said. “From the rational perspective of course, that’s the wrong thing to do.”

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a recent interview with Germany’s Der Spiegel that Ukraine is turning toward authoritarianism, adding, “At some point we will no longer be any different from Russia, where everything depends on the whim of one man.”

Then Petro Poroshenko, who served as president of Ukraine before Zelensky and is now leader of the opposition in parliament, was prevented by authorities from leaving the country a week ago in what analysts view as a political slap from Zelensky’s administration.

Poroshenko claimed that his trip abroad, which included a trip to the United States to meet with lawmakers and other officials, was intended to lobby support for Ukraine. The internal intelligence agency, the SBU, which answers to the presidential office, said Saturday that it had blocked Poroshenko’s departure to prevent his trip from being used for propaganda purposes by Russia.

Ukrainian and U.S. officials have also noted friction between Zelensky and his commander in chief, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny. The 50-year-old Zaluzhny rarely makes public statements, and though he’s never revealed any political ambitions, his popularity in Ukraine rivals Zelensky’s.

Analysts said that if he chose to run for president in the future, he would present the biggest challenge to Zelensky. The Ukrainian legislation prevents elections from being held during martial law, and Zelensky has said that he personally is against holding them while the country remains at war.

Tension between the two increased after Zaluzhny asserted in an interview with the Economist that the war had reached a “stalemate” and that “there will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough” for Ukraine on the front line like in successful counteroffensives last year.

Zelensky publicly rebuked Zaluzhny’s “stalemate” assessment, and in the weeks since, there have been changes made to the country’s military leadership, replacing the commanders of special forces and medical forces. Both personnel changes were made by the Ministry of Defense, bypassing Zaluzhny despite the commanders reporting to him.

A member of parliament in Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, Mariana Bezuhla has been repeatedly criticizing Zaluzhny on Facebook, polling followers on if he should be replaced. Klitschko and Poroshenko have expressed support for the general.

Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, who was in Washington this week, defended Zelensky on Fox News, saying Klitschko’s “comments indicate the beginning of the political season.”

He also said that resorting to negotiations with Russia would be a “shame for the civilized world” and only encourage violent authoritarianism.

Many in Ukraine fear that they could be forced to negotiate with Russia if Western partners, including the United States, perceive the battlefield as having stalled. Zelensky has long insisted that the only acceptable outcome of the war will be to return Ukraine to its borders established in 1991.

President Biden has been pushing for the Senate to quickly come to a resolution before the end of the year, scolding lawmakers this week for thus far failing to approve aid for Ukraine. “History is going to judge harshly those who turned their backs on freedom’s cause,” he said after the vote failed to pass Wednesday.

Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Zelensky who was in Washington this week, said in remarks at the U.S. Institute of Peace that U.S. support remains crucial to Ukraine’s fight. Without it, he said, “it will be difficult … for the people to really survive.”

Olena Tregub, a member of the Anti-Corruption Council of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, which monitors defense procurements, said that she has been told by “people involved in defense procurement” that “for the front line, the moment is critical now.” She said the situation on the front line “is maybe worse than [Ukraine’s] partners estimate, because the signals definitely are not good,” as she has heard “a lot of small stories here and there when our military were lacking things.”

“Even though the majority of Ukrainian society — they probably still believe that everything will be solved and it’s just like a bargaining game, internal political game, happening in the U.S.,” she said. “But I really fear the situation will get out of control. And there is no plan B. … If Congress fails to pass the funding, then I don’t know — it will be very, very negative for Ukraine.”

Kamila Hrabchuk contributed to this report.

Iran-Russia-Hamas: A New Axis of Terror?

posted on Dec 09 2023 11:53:41 UTC via libmod.de

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Volodymyr Zelenskyy: The forgotten man

posted on Dec 09 2023 11:06:14 UTC via aljazeera.com

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Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a forgotten man fighting a forgotten war.

The Ukrainian president’s shooting star has lost much of its altitude and gleam as Russia’s grinding invasion approaches the two-year mark.

An old war has turned into a plodding stalemate. The ballyhooed Ukrainian “offensive” has stalled. The promised “breakthrough” remains stubbornly elusive – if possible at all. The lethal, tit-for-tat exchanges have sadly become routine. Stoicism has replaced outrage. However it may be defined, “victory” is far beyond strategic or even conceivable reach.

The world, it seems, is tired of Ukraine. Worse, it is bored.

So, the columnists who once praised Zelenskyy’s courage and Ukraine’s resistance in saccharine-laced homilies have largely forsaken both.

Gone too are the invitations to address US Congress or parliaments, where, clad in his trademark green pullover, Zelenskyy was feted as an impish, unorthodox warrior and liberator.

The mass demonstrations of solidarity with Ukraine’s “brave” and “just” fight disappeared many months ago.

Ukraine is no longer urgent, sympathetic “news”.

Lately, the only “news” that Zelenskyy and Ukraine are inviting is mostly bad – courtesy, in part, of unflattering leaks from a skittish White House.

“Leaked US strategy on Ukraine sees corruption as the real threat,” the prickly headline on Politico’s popular online portal read.

The story’s lead sentence was equally damning and a blatant sign that America’s – and, perhaps more particularly, US President Joe Biden’s – steadfast affection for plucky Ukraine is beginning to wane.

“Biden administration officials are far more worried about corruption in Ukraine than they publicly admit,” Politico warned.

The blunt, existential consequence of the brewing discontent among “Biden administration officials”?

“… that corruption could cause Western allies to abandon Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion, and that Kyiv cannot put off the anti-graft effort.”

That’s trouble, big trouble, for Zelenskyy.

He knows, I suspect, that time and circumstances are not his allies. Soon, very soon, his fair-weather friends in Europe and Washington, preoccupied, as always, with the present, will lose interest in the quickly receding past. Their “ironclad will” is slowly, but surely, being displaced by resignation.

When the “will” evaporates, inevitably so does the money.

And Zelenskyy needs a lot of money to keep a patient Vladimir Putin and his imperial plans at bay. Untold billions have already been spent. The prospect that Congress and the European Union will continue acting as Ukraine’s flush piggy bank is dimming. The pan-continental coffers are closing – fast.

So much so, that one frantic “Biden administration official” was reduced, in effect, to begging for cash. That, by any measure, is not a confident or reassuring look.

“I want to be clear: without congressional action, by the end of the year we will run out of resources to procure more weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from US military stocks,” the director of the Office of Management and Budget at the White House wrote.

“There is no magical pot of funding available to meet this moment. We are out of money – and nearly out of time.”

The panic-tinged gambit has failed, to date, to move reluctant European and North American lawmakers wary of bankrolling a war that is stuck in winter’s mud. A slog. A dead end.

Still, Ukraine’s rhetorical resolve is intact. Its foreign minister assured other diplomats gathered in Brussels recently that Ukraine would not “back down”.

“We have to continue; we have to keep fighting. Ukraine is not going to back down,” Dmytro Kuleba said. “The issue here is not just Ukraine’s security, it is the security and safety of the entire Euro-Atlantic space.”

His rallying cry has lost its potency. The call to shared purpose and goals sounded worn out, like a record skipping. The foreign minister’s bombast cannot camouflage the obvious: fatigue has set in.

On the horizon, an exasperating figure and a threat loom. Donald Trump must weigh on Zelenskyy’s mind and designs like a heavy, foreboding albatross.

The possible return of Putin’s pet president to the Oval Office in a touch more than a year from today could mean the sudden end of many things, including the war and Zelenskyy’s career.

In the meantime, another “war” is draining support for Zelenskyy and his fading cause. I think he understands this. He also understands that he is powerless to do anything tangible to staunch or reverse Ukraine slipping further into irrelevance and the back page.

Hence the near desperate plea made last week by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to his restive colleagues to “stay the course”. A course – an emerging consensus agrees – that leads to nowhere.

The murderous madness engulfing Palestinians in the pummeled-into-desert remains of Gaza and the overrun occupied West Bank has, once again, revealed the fraudulence and gaping hypocrisy of Biden and sycophantic company who oppose Russia’s “aggression” but champion Israel’s wanton inhumanity and cruelty.

Their defence of international law is a convenient sham. Their defence of human rights conventions is a convenient sham. Their defence of so-called “territorial integrity” is a convenient sham. Their defence of the supposed sacrosanct principle of the “responsibility to protect” is a convenient sham. Their defence of rules governing how “wars” are prosecuted and the weapons barred from use against civilians is a convenient sham. Their malleable reading of what constitutes a “war crime” is a nauseating sham. Finally, their opportunistic reading of what constitutes “genocide” is a repugnant sham.

Despite the predictable effort from the predictable quarters to “distinguish” the horrors in Ukraine from the horrors in Gaza and the West Bank, it is not working.

Millions of citizens whom Biden et al claim to represent have made that plain in the streets and have vowed to make it plain in the ballot box: the horrors by all must end.

Ceasefire now.

Unless and until that happens, Zelenskyy is confronting what he may fear most: apathy and obscurity.

That pervasive indifference is the product of the myopia and miscalculations of “statesmen” who failed to consider or anticipate the visceral, sweeping reaction to their wholesale rush to defend Israel unconditionally.

They were convinced that with the help of the ever reliable keyboard cavalry who populate the establishment press, their infuriating duplicity could be buried behind stale, condescending bromides.

They were wrong.

Ukraine’s fate has, as a result, vanished from much of the world’s consciousness seized, as it is, by the awful fate of Palestinians – abandoned by the same craven powers who, in due and deliberate course, will abandon Ukrainians.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy knows that too.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

Abstract: When Hamas took over the Gaza Strip by force of arms in 2007, it faced an ideological crisis. It could focus on governing Gaza and addressing the needs of the Palestinian people, or it could use the Gaza Strip as a springboard from which to attack Israel. Even then, Hamas understood these two goals were mutually exclusive. And while some anticipated Hamas would moderate, or at least be co-opted by the demands of governing, it did not. Instead, Hamas invested in efforts to radicalize society and build the militant infrastructure necessary to someday launch the kind of attack that in its view could contribute to the destruction of Israel. This article explores the road from Hamas’ 2007 takeover of Gaza to the October 2023 massacre.

The brutal Hamas-led October 7 attack on Israeli communities near Gaza represented a tactical paradigm shift for the group, which was previously known for firing rockets at Israel, carrying out suicide bombings targeting city buses or cafes, and conducting roadside attacks and shootings on restaurants and bars. October 7 was something different. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, after viewing evidence of the attackers’ brutality, said that it “brings to mind the worst of ISIS.”1 The Secretary was painfully blunt in describing the attack: “Babies slaughtered. Bodies desecrated. Young people burned alive. Women raped. Parents executed in front of their children, children in front of their parents.”

The group’s explicit targeted killing and kidnapping of civilians baldly contradicts Hamas’ articulated revised political strategy since it took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.a Ironically, Hamas’ sharp tactical shift only underscores that the group never abandoned its fundamental commitment to the creation of an Islamist state in all of what it considers historical Palestine and the destruction of Israel.2

Moreover, Hamas has always described itself as a resistance organization, pushing back firmly against the ‘terrorist’ designation Israel, the United States, the European Union, and many others apply to the group. But by any measure, the October 7 attack is one of the worst acts of international terrorism on record. Thousands of Hamas operatives, aided by small numbers of terrorists from other groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, murdered some 1,200 people in Israel,b wounded thousands, and took at least 240 hostages with nationals from more than 40 countries.3

As such, the Hamas massacre demands a re-examination of a critical point in Hamas history: its 2007 takeover of the Gaza Strip by force of arms aimed at fellow Palestinians, and its initiation of its governance project in Gaza. Despite wide-held beliefs that the shift to governance led to a more moderate Hamas, it is now clear that Hamas did not moderate—nor was it co-opted by the responsibility of providing public services to its constituents—but rather it prioritized building and maintaining its militant and terrorist capabilities. The October 7 attack obliterates all Hamas claims to legitimacy as a political actor.

This article will explore where Hamas came from, how the group used its governance to further its long-term goals, and how the group played a long game, obfuscating its commitment to employing violence to replace the State of Israel with an Islamist Palestinian state in all of what the group considers historic Palestine.

Background: Founded in Violence, Driven from the Bottom Up
Founded in 1987, Harakat al-Muqawwama al-Islamiyya, commonly known as Hamas, emerged out of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, where it gained popularity among Palestinians through its extensive social services.c The group released its first official statement as Hamas on December 14, 1987,4 before publishing its organizational charter through the Islamic Association for Palestine, a Hamas front organization in Chicago, in August 1988.5 The group’s charter outlined its connection to the Muslim Brotherhood,6 highlighted its focus on Palestine, nationalism, and Islamic law (sharia),7 and underscored the group’s fundamental rejection of any negotiations with Israel. For Hamas, only through violence—specifically jihad—could the group achieve its goal: the complete destruction of Israel and creation in its place of an Islamist state in all of historic Palestine.8 Hamas’ charter also conflated Jews with Israel, and is ripe with historical anti-Semitic tropes.9 Hamas’ official debut corresponded with a growing discontent among many Palestinians with the failed Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), an umbrella organization dominating Palestinian politics at the time.10

Its Muslim Brotherhood roots are a vital part of understanding who Hamas is as an organization, and how it seeks to garner support—both internally and externally. Specifically, its modus operandi has focused on revolution-from-below, participating in aspects of the modern political systems, including its eventual participation in the 2006 Palestinian elections, in order to create a government one day ruled by sharia.11 In doing so, Hamas seeks to frame its “Islamization” of society as a “choice,” driven by the populous that lives under it. Despite this framing, Hamas has used violence and pressure countless times on civilian populations in order to achieve its goals of a ‘traditional’ Islamic society.

The spiritual founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, rejected the idea that Hamas’ political and social wings were separate from its military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades: “We cannot separate the wing from the body. If we do so, the body will not be able to fly. Hamas is one body.”12 Hamas itself sees three areas of the group’s activity—political, social and charitable, and military—as mutually reinforcing. Each of these areas serve to benefit the other, and all are aimed at furthering the group’s overarching goal of creating a culture of resistance and destroying Israel.13 As such, Hamas deemed the mingling of funds given to the group as legitimate, as it considers the social services it provides a jihadi extension of its terrorist attacks. Hamas has a long history of raising funds through its charity, social welfare, and proselytizing organizations (collectively known as the Hamas dawa), including funds intended for terrorist and militant purposes. In a 1992 letter between two Hamas operatives that was seized by the FBI and later introduced as evidence in federal court, the two noted how when Hamas was still young, before the Hamas military wing had its own budget, Hamas operatives would “take not less than 50,000 from the monthly allowance of the dawa” for military expenses.14

Overseeing all of Hamas’ activities is its Majlis al-Shura, the group’s overarching political and decision-making body. Hamas also maintains geographically-based leadership structures representing the interests of the group in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, within Israeli prisons, and among the group’s external leadership. The Hamas external leadership was based in Jordan until authorities there expelled the group’s leaders in 1999.15 Hamas external headquarters then moved to Syria, where it remained until the group broke with the Assad regime over the Syrian civil war, after which Hamas leaders left Damascus for Turkey, Lebanon, Qatar, and (briefly, during the Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood government) Egypt.16 Hamas also maintains representative offices and personnel running Hamas investments and companies throughout the Middle East and North Africa.17 Since the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, the Gaza-based leadership has become the most prominent given its control of territory and the financial and military advantages that presents. Today, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, working in tandem with Gaza-based Hamas militant leaders like Mohammed Dief, are in effect more powerful than the group’s overall leader, Ismail Haniyeh, who was once based in Gaza but moved to Qatar in late 2019.18

Since its foundation, violence has been a central part of Hamas and its goals.d As Article 12 of the 1988 Hamas charter notes:e

Nationalism, from the point of view of the Islamic Resistance Movement, is part of the religious creed. Nothing in nationalism is more significant or deeper than in the case when an enemy should tread Muslim land. Resisting and quelling the enemy become the individual duty of every Muslim, male or female. A woman can go out to fight the enemy without her husband’s permission, and so does the slave: without his master’s permission.

Over time, Hamas released several other documents that explained its goals and ideals. For example, in the mid-1990s, the European Commission asked Hamas to clarify its “objectives, values and ideals,” which led Hamas to release a document titled “This is what we struggle for.”19 While this, and another memorandum written in 2000 just before the Second Intifada, were written in an overall softer tone than the Hamas charter, both documents continued to acknowledge Hamas as a violent Islamist movement struggling for “the liberation of Palestine” that opposed Israel’s right to exist as a state.

Since its founding, Hamas has committed countless acts of violence against both military and civilian targets, including bombings, rocket and mortar attacks, shootings, stabbings, kidnappings and attempted kidnappings, and car ramming attacks. With the onset of the Second Intifada in 2000, Hamas attacks dramatically increased. Between 2000 and 2005, 39.9 percent of the 135 suicide attacks carried out during the Second Intifada were executed by Hamas.20 According to the Global Terrorism Database, Hamas killed 857 people and injured 2,819 between 1987 and 2020.21 Intended to terrorize not only the targeted individuals but also the general Israeli population, Hamas attacks have been indiscriminate in nature.f

From its inception, Hamas attacks were intended to instill fear in the civilians who comprise the local population so that they will either leave the land Hamas claims belongs to the Palestinians or, at a minimum, pressure their leaders to give concessions to Hamas, such as obtaining the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons. For example, both before and after the so-called “Shalit deal” in which Israel released over 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners in exchange for one Israeli soldier captured in Gaza in 2006—Gilad Shalit22—Hamas has ceaselessly engaged in kidnappings and attempted kidnappings in hopes of gaining a valuable bargaining chip to use in future negotiations with Israel.23

For Hamas, eager to create a “culture of resistance,”24 its bottom-up approach to shaping popular support for violence meant engaging with both men and women. While some parts of its charter were aimed at wide audiences, Articles 17 and 18 specifically note women’s unique role in Hamas. Stressing women as vital to the dissemination of their ideology, the Hamas charter calls Muslim women the “maker of men,” noting that “[w]oman in the home of the fighting family, whether she is a mother or a sister, plays the most important role in looking after the family, rearing the children and [imbuing] them with moral values and thoughts derived from Islam.” One of the reasons Hamas emphasizes women’s education is so that female supporters are knowledgeable enough to pass on Islam and the organization’s ideology to their children.g Hamas has organized events on women’s issues since its inception, and these have been attended by the highest echelons of the organization.25 The group even established the “Islamic Women’s Movement in Palestine” in 2003,26 highlighting the strategic incorporation of women even prior to governance.h

Despite Hamas’ transition into governance, most countries around the world do not engage in formal diplomatic relations with the group, due to the group’s continued engagement in violent activities.i The following section will explore Hamas’ governance project.

Members of Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement, march in Gaza City on May 22, 2021. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images)

Governance: Playing the Long Game on Their Own Terms
From its creation in late 1987 until its decision to participate in Palestinian elections held in early 2006, Hamas operated as a sub-state actor engaged in a spectrum of activities including terrorism, social welfare provision, charity, religious proselytization, and local political activities within professional syndicates and student groups on university campuses.27

Active as a violent non-state actor for almost 20 years, Hamas entered legislative politics with support from local populations that benefited from its largesse and were frustrated with the corruption of the group’s primary Palestinian political rival, Fatah. For Hamas, efforts to win local support can have a significant pay-off in its bid for international legitimacy.28 Hamas’ pivotal juncture came in the January 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections. The group won a majority 74 out of 132 seats in the PLC as part of the “Change and Reform” bloc, and, notably, ran with both men and women on the ballot.29 For the first time since its formation, Hamas joined the Palestinian government. Election results led to the formation of a new government under Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh, which heightened tensions with its political rival, Fatah. Hamas’ electoral success signified the first time an Islamist group democratically took power in the Arab world, with Hamas’ governance style being described as an “Islamic democracy of sorts,” in which the group saw compatibility between democracy and Islamism.30

In 2006, Fatah and Hamas agreed to a short-lived national unity government to govern the areas of the West Bank under PA authority and all of the Gaza Strip.31 During this brief attempt at unity, Hamas tried to change the Palestinian political system from within and move the Palestinian Authority away from security cooperation with Israel and its pursuit of a two-state solution, and toward violent competition with Israel in pursuit of its destruction and the creation in its place of a single, Islamist, Palestinian state.32

For some, the very fact that Hamas decided to participate in elections for seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council—itself a product of the Oslo peace process—was a sign that the group could, and maybe already was, moderating its hardline positions.33 Indeed, more hardline jihadis such as Usama bin Ladin lambasted Hamas, saying the group had “forsaken their religion” by participating in elections.34

As for Hamas, the group’s leaders were crystal clear that Hamas’ participation in elections did not mean the group had moderated its position calling for the destruction of Israel. Gaza was to be a launchpad to further this goal, not a distraction from it. In an interview with an Israeli newspaper (not buried in an obscure Arabic publication), senior Hamas official Manmoud Zahar explained: “Some Israelis think that when we talk of the West Bank and Gaza it means we have given up our historic war. This is not the case.” And Hamas’ idea of parliamentary participation was equally clear, Zahar continued: “We will join the Legislative Council with our weapons in our hands.”35

Perhaps, then, it should not have been a surprise when in 2007 Hamas turned its guns on its fellow Palestinians, took over the Gaza Strip by force of arms, and split the Palestinian polity in two.36 Between January 2006 and June 6, 2007, more than 600 Palestinians were killed in factional fighting.37 And in one week alone, between June 7, 2007, and June 14, 2007, more than 160 Palestinians in Gaza were killed in factional fighting, with at least 700 injured.38 Tensions with Fatah continued, with reports that Hamas threw Fatah supporters off rooftops in 2009.39

Hamas has been the de facto ruler in Gaza since mid-June 2007, running the administration of government and leveraging the same to build up its military capabilities to fight Israel. This resulted in two entities governing the Palestinian people: Hamas ruling Gaza and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) governing the West Bank. That said, Hamas in Gaza is not recognized as a legitimate government by the United Nations, other multilateral organizations, or the vast majority of countries around the world, including the United States. Hamas does not coin its own currency.40 The legitimacy of Hamas’ continued control of Gaza is regularly questioned by the PA, Israel, and the international community as there have been no elections since 2007.

Since its formation, Hamas has received and continues to receive significant financial and other support from Iran.41 Ahmed Yousef, a Hamas leader and former advisor to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Haniyeh, confirmed this in January 2016, when he stated that “the financial and military support Iran provides to the movement’s military wing has never stopped, it has been reduced over the past five years.”42 While the exact amount has fluctuated over the years, Iranian funds to Hamas have covered operational costs—weapons, intelligence, sanctuary, safe haven, operational space, and training—as well as long-term organizational costs, such as leadership, ideology, human resources and recruitment, media, propaganda, public relations, and publicity.43ハEven when as a result of the Syrian civil war Hamas broke with the Assad regime in Syria, where it long maintained its external headquarters, Iran cut some funding for the Hamas political bureau but maintained funding for Hamas military activities.44

Iran is not the only state actor offering support to Hamas. For decades prior to the Syrian civil war, the Assad regime provided support to the group.45 More recently, Qatar has publicly—with Israel’s knowledge and acquiescence—provided Hamas monthly stipends to pay for fuel for electricity and to help Hamas pay public sector wages.46 Moreover, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ top political leader, along with several other senior Hamas leaders, lives in luxury in Qatar.47 Since October 7, Qatar has utilized its unique relationship with Hamas to facilitate hostage negotiations and has publicly indicated it is open to reconsidering Hamas’ continued presence in Doha.48

Through its governance, Hamas developed the necessary bureaucracy to collect taxes, customs duties, and bribes, as well as extortion and racketeering schemes, through which the group raised significant funds.49 Eventually, Hamas’ income from local governance of Gaza would dwarf its funding from Iran by a factor of about four to one.50 Indeed, Hamas has used its governance to entrench its system of control and continue its military engagement.

Entrenching the System of Control
Long before Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, the group invested in grassroots efforts to entrench its position within society and create broad public support for its goal of destroying Israel.j In the years that followed, Hamas took advantage of the benefits of governance to deliver educational and social service programs that instilled its “culture of resistance” in Gazan society.51 On Hamas’ payroll were Gazan men and women who worked in their police, and as teachers, doctors, administrators, and more. A critical component of Hamas’ ideology has been transforming the ethno-political Palestinian struggle into a religious conflict, which allows the group to inspire Palestinians to reject any sort of compromise or peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict.

Hamas emphasizes its campaign of radicalization targeting Palestinian youth. In 2010, on its Al-Qassam Brigades website in English, Hamas announced that it operated 800 youth summer camps, reaching over 100,000 male and female students. According to the group, the “Hamas summer games is an annual enterprise aim[ed] to convey joy and entertainment for Palestinian children and youth who suffer from cruelty of Israeli siege imposed after Hamas great democratic win.”52 Arguing that youth are the most vital part of Palestinian society, Hamas claims “[t]he Islamic ideology adopted in Hamas summer games, meets with the Islamic values of the Palestinian people.” Hamas combines youth social services with its ideology, as seen by the fact that the theme of the summer camp that year was “Our Aqsa Mosque, Our Prisoners, Freedom Is Our Appointment,”53 not the catchiest of summer camp names.

Hamas has used the tactic of exposing Gazan children to such radical messages at a young age in both recreational institutions and schools. In 2013, Hamas issued a new education law that excluded male teachers from girls’ schools and segregated classes by gender after age nine.54 Hamas framed this as a decision to “codify conservative Palestinian values into law.”55 Hamas has argued that women have agency to decide whether or not to wear a hijab, though the group has also noted that doing so is a religious obligation.56 Hamas’ actions, however, did not always reflect this framing. To assist in the internalization of its ideals, Hamas exerted pressure mainly through “virtue” campaigns seeking to discourage “Western” behaviors.57 In 2010, the group enforced the removal of “immodest” mannequins, which it argued was a policy derived from the complaints of ordinary Gazans.58 While Hamas has not codified all of its behavioral strictures into law, in 2016, its police officers began to penalize driving instructors who did not have a chaperone for female students,59 and in 2021 a Hamas-appointed judge sought to require a male guardian’s permission for women to travel outside of Gaza.60

To be sure, Hamas leverages its position in Gaza to radicalize Palestinians to support its commitment to violence. After taking control of Gaza, Hamas embarked on a considerable public relations campaign, focusing on culture and the arts to glorify violence against Israel. For instance, in July 2009, Hamas premiered the feature-length film Emad Akel, celebrating the life of a leading Hamas terrorist killed by Israeli troops in 1993. Written by hardline Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, the film was screened at the Islamic University in Gaza City and dubbed by Hamas interior minister in Gaza Fathi Hamad as the first production of “Hamaswood instead of Hollywood.”61

Similarly, Hamas’ Al Aqsa Television produced a children’s show featuring a Mickey Mouse lookalike named Farfur who praised “martyrs” and preached Islamic domination. After being roundly condemned, including being described as “pure evil” by Walt Disney’s daughter, Hamas ran one final skit in which Farfur refused to sell his land to an Israeli, who then murdered the Palestinian mouse.62 The young Palestinian girl presenting the skit commented, “Farfur was martyred while defending his land.” He was killed “by the killers of children.”63 Farfur was quickly replaced with a new character, Nahoul the Bee: “I want to continue in the path of Farfur, the path of Islam, of heroism, of martyrdom and of the mujahedeen … We will take revenge of the enemies of Allah.”64 Most recently, the program introduced Nassur, a stuffed bear who called for “slaughter” of Jews “so they will be expelled from our land.”65 Notably, in 2016, the U.S. State Department designated Fathi Hammad himself as a specially designated terrorist for his ongoing terrorist activities on behalf of Hamas.66

Hamas has faced pushback to some of its politics, such as its promotion of “traditionalist” behaviors for men and women. For example, female lawyers fought back against a 2009 Hamas-appointed judge’s ruling which enforced a new uniform that mandated wearing a hijab and jilbab. In response to pressure, Hamas withdrew the decision, citing a misunderstanding.67 Additionally, public protests erupted in February 2021 after a Hamas-appointed Higher Shari’a Council judge ruled that women required permission from a male guardian to travel outside of Gaza.68 Gazan protests drove the court to amend the law, rewriting it to allow male guardians to petition the court to prevent a woman from traveling.69 Protests also arose in 2019 and 2023 against living conditions in Gaza under Hamas, both of which Hamas violently suppressed.70

Notwithstanding such protests, Hamas has not tolerated any real challenge to its governing authority. In 2009, for example, Hamas security forces raided a mosque affiliated with a salafi-jihadi group that challenged Hamas’ authority in Gaza, killing 24 and wounding 130.71

Continued Military Engagement and Preparation
Even as Hamas entrenched its political control of Gaza, it significantly expanded its security, militant, and terrorist cadre; developed domestic weapons production capabilities; dug tunnel networks to smuggle goods and covert weapons; and facilitated militant activities.72 Hamas continued to engage in terrorist activities targeting Israel, instigated rocket wars with Israel, and invested significant time, energy, and funds into militant infrastructure such as rocket production and tunnel networks in preparation for future military engagements with Israel.

Despite periodic talk of ceasefires with Israel and reconciliation with its Palestinian political rival, Fatah, Hamas continued to engage in a wide array of militant and terrorist activities targeting Israel.73 Shooting attacks and launching incendiary balloons were not uncommon along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.74 Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip became accustomed to the firing of rocket-propelled grenades and mortar shells from Gaza toward their communities.75 From time to time, Hamas operatives placed explosives along the Gaza border fence.76 And for years, Hamas invested millions of dollars in an underground tunnel network—used by the group to smuggle weapons from Egypt, carry out attacks into Israel, and hide its operations and weapons production from Israel’s above-ground surveillance capabilities.77 These were purposefully dug near and under schools, mosques, and U.N. facilities.78 The placement of the tunnels near U.N. facilities was purportedly intended as a preventive measure, using these as human shields against an Israeli attempt to destroy the terror infrastructure.79

Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials also point to Hamas’ plots to target PA officials and instigate a coup to take over the PA. In 2009, for example, Palestinian security forces in the West Bank seized $8.5 million in cash from arrested Hamas members who plotted to kill Fatah-affiliated government officials. Palestinian officials reported that some of the accused had “recently purchased homes adjacent to government and military installations, mainly in the city of Nablus” for the purpose of observing the movements of government and security officials. Security forces also seized uniforms of several Palestinian security forces from the accused Hamas members.80 Israeli and PA authorities thwarted another Hamas coup attempt two months later, this one overseen by Hamas external leadership based in Turkey and operatives in Jordan.81 PA officials warned of still more Hamas coup plots in 2019.82

Meanwhile, working closely with Hezbollah, Hamas also slowly developed a terrorist capability in Lebanon that it could use at some point in the future to target Israel from more than one front at a time. In 2017, not long after Hamas leader Salah al-Arouri relocated from Turkey to Lebanon, the head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service warned that Hamas was setting up a base of operations in Lebanon. This was intended to complement the group’s main center of gravity in Gaza, he added, where the group was continuing “to invest considerable resources in preparation for a future conflict [with Israel], even at the cost of its citizens’ welfare.”83 Fast-forward to 2023, and Hamas’ long-term planning in Lebanon paid off. In June 2023, Hamas operatives fired rockets into Israel from Lebanon.84 And in the weeks following the October 7 massacre, Hamas again fired rockets at Israel from Lebanon in an attempted effort to encourage Hezbollah to open a second front with Israel and draw Israeli troops away from Gaza.85

Since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip by force in 2007, Hamas and Israel have had several ‘mini wars,’ including in 2008-2009, 2012, 2014, 2021, and now the most recent full-scale war sparked by the October 7 attack (see Figure 1). Hamas struggled to find ways to target Israel, despite the restraints of governance. The group evolved its strategy over time to employ new methods of targeting its primary threat—the Israeli state—but continued to make use of tried and trusted methods, including terror tunnels, rockets, and other hallmarks of the group’s decades-long history of violent action.

Figure 1: Israel-Hamas Conflicts Since 2007

Additionally, Hamas regularly sought to instigate violence in the West Bank, and periodically managed to carry out attacks there despite Israeli and PA security efforts to counter terrorism. Most notably, in August 2014, Hamas operatives kidnapped three teenage Israeli boys—one of whom was also an American citizen. The operation was led by Hamas operatives from the West Bank, but funded by Hamas operatives in Gaza through the al-Nour Association, a Hamas-affiliated charity in Gaza.86 From a conference in Turkey, Hamas leader Salah al-Arouri took credit for the operation, explaining the goal had been to spark a new Palestinian uprising.87

Al-Arouri has always been particularly focused on fanning the flames of violence in the West Bank, which is where he cut his teeth as a young Hamas operative himself.88 This was especially true in the period following the summer 2014 war. Just in 2016, 114 local Hamas cells were apprehended in the West Bank, while only 70 were apprehended in 2015.89 One cell, broken up near Hebron in February 2017, had been receiving instructions online from Hamas commanders in Gaza to carry out shooting, kidnapping, and explosives attacks in the West Bank and Israel, including a bus station, a train station, and a synagogue.90 Another attempted kidnapping plot was foiled a few weeks earlier, resulting in the seizure of large quantities of ammunition, two AK-47s, three pistols, and a shotgun from a West Bank cell.91

A Shift? Softening the Language
Since wresting control of Gaza, Hamas has strived to portray itself as a legitimate political actor and representative of Palestinians in Gaza—one less focused on violence, even operating with a semblance of foreign policy objectives. The group also operated several social media accounts, including an official Twitter account, to engage with the general public. One academic study examining Hamas’ Twitter account found that between 2015 and 2018, the group mostly tweeted about its internal governance and foreign policy, with the smallest focus on “resistance.”k

Even earlier, in 2009, Hamas leader Khaled Mishal offered to cooperate with U.S. efforts to promote a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.92 Mishal stated that Hamas was willing to engage in a ceasefire with Israel and approve a new Israeli-Palestinian status quo, based on the 1967 borders, a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with its capital in East Jerusalem.93 Such sentiments were echoed by Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh in 2017, who stated that “while we are not opposed to the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, on the basis of the 1967 territories, we refuse settlements and we adhere to our strategic choice not to recognize Israel.”94

Yet at other times, Mishal, Haniyeh, and other senior Hamas leadership have outright refused to consider political compromise, instead asserting that violence is necessary for the group to achieve its stated goals. For example, at a 2009 speech in Damascus, Mishal insisted, “We must say: Palestine from the sea to the river, from the west to the occupied east, and it must be liberated. As long as there is occupation, there will be resistance to the occupation.”95 Violence, Mishal stressed, “is our strategic option to liberate our land and recover our rights.”96

The inconsistency in Hamas’ messaging was, at least in part, a result of its internally conflicted nature. Hamas—the government—seems to recognize that it must at least appear moderate for political expediency in an effort to achieve near-term political goals, like opening border crossings into Gaza for trade. In particular, Hamas has been eager to gain access to building materials and financing to rebuild infrastructure destroyed during each round of fighting.97

The sometimes-conciliatory tone of Hamas leaders public messaging is belied by the group’s continued violent actions and radicalization on the ground, as well as the rise to prominence of violent extremist leaders within the group’s local shura (consultative) councils.98 Indeed, the discrepancy between Hamas’ periodically softer messaging and its consistently hardline activities has underscored the group’s discomfort with the ideological crisis presented by its governance project in Gaza.

This was further highlighted by the rhetorical shift in its May 2017 “Document of General Principles and Policies.” Seen by some as an update to its 1988 charter, the document—which did not supersede the previous charter, despite the new language—adopted what seemed like a softer, more moderate tone. In the document, Hamas dropped reference to its Muslim Brotherhood roots and seemingly presented itself as a more “centrist” alternative to global jihadi organizations like the Islamic State and secular nationalist groups like the Palestine Liberation Organization. Hamas also highlighted that it believed in “managing its Palestinian relations on the basis of pluralism, democracy, national partnership, acceptance of the other and the adoption of dialogue.” And for the first time, the group acknowledged in writing the possibility of a Palestinian state drawn along the borders that existed in 1967. But rhetoric aside, Hamas’ actions at that time also offered a clear indication of the group’s continued hardline militancy.

Hamas’ so-called moderation was aimed at widening its international appeal at a time when the group faced multiple challenges, including a dismal economic situation in Gaza—most recently underscored by the energy crisis in Gaza—and strained relations with Egypt, which has violently suppressed Hamas’ parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. And despite being hailed as a sign of moderation, the document still included less friendly sections, including a rededication to armed resistance to liberate all of Palestine: “Resistance and jihad for the liberation of Palestine will remain a legitimate right, a duty, and an honor for all the sons and daughters of our people and our umma [global Islamic community],” the document stated.

Even as Hamas was trying to change its tune, its parallel militant activity spoke volumes about the group’s true intentions. After Yahya Sinwar became the group’s leader in Gaza in 2017, the internal balance of power shifted from Hamas external leadership to officials inside Gaza. At this time, Hamas weathered a period of diminishing foreign relationships with longtime partners, including a break with Syria’s Assad regime and the ouster of Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. Sinwar’s tenure has also seen mounting influence exerted by two overlapping Hamas constituencies: prisoners and the military wing, both of which Sinwar has belonged to.99

In 2021, Palestinians were scheduled to vote for new legislators, and the Hamas list stood out for its sheer number of hardline militant candidates. These included Hamas members with known ties to deadly terrorist attacks, and several members who, like Sinwar, were released from Israeli prisons under the Shalit deal100—once again highlighting that there is no distinction between the group’s political activities and its military wing. Some old-guard Hamas leaders appeared in the top ranks as well, including number-one candidate Khalil al-Hayya and Nazar Awadallah, who challenged Sinwar in the group’s recent internal elections. Yet, two-thirds of the candidates were under age 40, according to Al-Monitor.101

Hamas has demonstrated its staying power in a competitive and often unforgiving institutional environment, including numerous challenges to its governance from both the PA and violent Islamist groups, including PIJ and the Islamic State. It has maintained control and adapted when necessary to stay in power.102 For example, Hamas has previously accepted fragile calm with Israel, though reluctantly, to stabilize Gaza’s economic situation,103 and in March 2021, the group appointed a woman, Jamila al-Shanti, to its Political Bureau for the first time.104 Hamas has also attempted to expand its political footprint, encroaching on Fatah strongholds in the West Bank through participating in student elections.105

As it turned 35 in 2022, Hamas unabashedly highlighted what it considers to be its most admirable traits in its continued attempt to gain international legitimacy. It brought attention to its self-proclaimed democratic rule allegedly supported by Gazans, alleged gender inclusivity, and its multi-language messaging aimed at local and international audiences.106 Hamas hoped that by distracting Israeli and international attention away from its violent activities, it would be able to obfuscate its core, violent objectives. And yet, despite changes in Hamas rhetoric, as the events of October 7 underlined, the group remained committed to its original goal of Israel’s destruction by any means necessary, and establishing a Palestinian state in its place with itself as its leader.

Conclusions
The Hamas governance project in Gaza presented the group with a critical ideological and tactical crisis. Hamas was forced to choose between engaging in acts of violence targeting Israel or attempting to effectively govern the territory it took over by force of arms. For a short period of time after 2007, Hamas found itself forced by circumstance to suspend the tempo of resistance operations, for which it is named and by which it defines itself. For some, the cessation of violence, however temporary, was a sign of moderation within Hamas. Others expected Hamas to be co-opted by the day-to-day responsibilities of governance. However, Hamas’ actions, including its continued radicalization and weapons smuggling into Gaza, better denoted the movement’s true intentions and long-term trajectory. To be sure, Hamas is not a monolithic movement. But the one constant among its various currents is its self-identification as a resistance movement committed to Israel’s destruction and the creation in its place of an Islamist state in all of what it considers historic Palestine.

Looking back at the Hamas governance project in Gaza, it is clear the group remained committed to engaging in terrorist activity, and indeed it prioritized militancy over other activities at the expense of the Gaza Strip’s civilian population. Never co-opted, Hamas invested in efforts to inculcate its ideal of violent resistance against Israel throughout its time governing Gaza, and played a long game lulling Israeli and Western leaders into thinking it could be deterred with periodic nods to moderation. Meanwhile, it built tunnels and weapons production facilities, trained operatives, and prepared for the day it could finally act on its commitment to destroying Israel. As Hamas politburo member Khalil al-Hayya noted in the wake of the October 7 attack, “Hamas’s goal is not to run Gaza and to bring it water and electricity and such. Hamas, the Qassam and the resistance woke the world up from its deep sleep and showed that this issue must remain on the table.”107 Al-Hayya aptly summed up the relative weight Hamas gives to addressing the needs of Palestinians and fighting Israel. Referring to the October 7 attack, he explained: “This battle was not because we wanted fuel or laborers. It did not seek to improve the situation in Gaza. This battle is to completely overthrow the situation.”

Hamas’ attack was designed to elicit a “disproportionate” response from Israel. While several Israeli leaders have said the stated war objectives is the destruction Hamas, such an operation cannot be done by military force alone. Rather, what the war appears to be about is ending Hamas’ governance project in Gaza. What comes next for the group is largely dependent on how the war goes. Most of Hamas’ leadership remains, Israelis are still being held hostage in Gaza, and the scale of Israel’s response could serve to radicalize a new generation. As Hamas leader Haniyeh said in the days after Israel began its retaliatory attacks on Gaza that have resulted in thousands of deaths, “[w]e are the ones who need this blood, so it awakens within us the revolutionary spirit, so it awakens within us resolve, so it awakens within us the spirit of challenge, and [pushes us] to move forward.”108 Questions remain about what is next for Hamas. While true supporters of Hamas will see the October 7 attacks as a victory, many in Gaza will see the attacks as a betrayal of Hamas’ governance promise.     CTC

Dr. Devorah Margolin is the Blumenstein-Rosenbloom Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. Her research primarily focuses on terrorism governance, terrorism financing, the role of propaganda and strategic communications, countering/preventing violent extremism, and the role of women and gender in violent extremism. Dr. Margolin is the co-editor of Jihadist Terror: New Threats, New Responses (I.B. Tauris, 2019). X: @DevorahMargolin

Dr. Matthew Levitt is the Fromer-Wexler fellow and director of the Reinhard Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Levitt teaches at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and has served both as a counterterrorism analyst with the FBI and as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the U.S. Treasury Department. He is the author of Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad (Yale, 2006), and has written for CTC Sentinel since 2008. X: @Levitt_Matt

© 2023 Devorah Margolin, Matthew Levitt

Substantive Notes
[a] Over 35 years, Hamas had never undertaken an operation of such scale, and it had not explicitly targeted vulnerable groups like children or the elderly. While the group has struck civilians over the years, before October 7 those attacks mainly targeted adults, whom the group sees as legitimate targets due to Israeli military draft laws. To Hamas, all Israeli adults are military targets. Hamas has also indiscriminately targeted civilians through rocket attacks or suicide bombings. The taking of children and elderly hostages into Gaza is a first for the group, which before October 7 had only taken male hostages over the age of 18.

[b] Regardless of Hamas’ framing, the number killed on October 7 is similar to the number who died when al-Qa`ida crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into the World Trade Center’s south tower two decades ago: 1,385 of the nearly 3,000 deaths caused on 9/11, according to the Global Terrorism Database. See “Incident Summary,” GTD ID 200109110005, Global Terrorism Database; “Israel revises Hamas attack death toll to ‘around 1200,’” Reuters, November 10, 2023.

[c] The Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine was active starting in the 1960s and 1970s. See Shaul Mishal and Avraham Sela, The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006); Jerrold Post, The Mind of the Terrorist: The Psychology of Terrorism from the IRA to Al-Qaeda (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

[d] Article 8 of the group’s charter, reflects the centrality of violent jihad—religiously sanctioned resistance against perceived enemies of Islam—to its objectives: “Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.” Hamas, “The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” August 18, 1988. This was also found in early leaflets produced by the group published in June 1988: “For our war is a holy war for the sake of Allah unto victory or death.” Reproduced in Mishal and Sela, p. 51.

[e] Hamas’ language in Article 12 is seemingly a nod toward Abdallah Azzam’s notorious fatwa on the individual duty of jihad. Ideologue Azzam, a Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood member, inspired the likes of other terrorist groups such as al-Qa`ida and the Islamic State, as both organizations have cited nearly indistinguishable language in their justifications for violence. See Devorah Margolin, “Hamas at 35,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, December 21, 2022.

[f] While Hamas terror attacks may not explicitly target Westerners, the group’s terrorist attacks do not discriminate among their victims. As such, innocent civilians from around the world have been killed in Hamas attacks, including civilians from the United States, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Romania, China, the Philippines, and Sweden, among other nationalities. Hamas has purposely targeted many busy civilian venues, including buses, bus and light rail stops, discotheques, restaurants, markets, universities, and even a hotel hosting a Passover Seder. See “Chinese Worker, Palestinian killed in Gaza Settlement Attack,” Agence France-Presse, June 7, 2005; “The Family of Nations Under Fire: Victims of Palestinian Violence From 18 Countries,” Beyond Images, March 2, 2004; “Palestinian Suicide Bombings 1994-2004: Don’t Let the World Forget …,” Beyond Images, September 2, 2004.

[g] For example, in two identical articles on Hamas’ Al-Qassam website, it is stated that: “More important than the role in armed resistance is women’s role in spreading Islamic teaching and principles inside the Palestinian society. Women are very active in teaching the Holy Quran and Islamic conduct in various life issues. Women as mothers who carry the burden of caring for children have been able to educate future mothers on how to lead their lives, and how to raise their children.” “Women’s Participation in the Palestinian Struggle for Freedom,” Al-Qassam website, December 3, 2006; “International Woman’s Day Is Different in Palestine,” Al-Qassam website, March 7, 2007; Gina Vale, Devorah Margolin, and Farkhondeh Akbari, “Repeating the Past or Following Precedent? Contextualising the Taliban 2.0’s Governance of Women,” International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT), January 12, 2023.

[h] While Hamas highlighted women’s roles as wives, mothers, and supporters of the movement throughout the 1980s and 1990s, in the early 2000s, a shift occurred. In 2001, Ahlam Mazen Al-Tamimi was arrested for her support role in bombing a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem, and Hamas’ Al-Qassam website praised Al-Tamimi and called her “the first female member in Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.” “Prisoners: Ahlam Mazen At-Tamimi,” Al-Qassam website, 2006 (online at time of collection in 2016, undated). Then, in 2004, Reem Riyashi became Hamas’ first female suicide bomber. While Hamas praised Riyashi, the group also continued to underscore its use of women as suicide bombers only under conditions of strategic necessity. See Sami Abu Zuhri and Faraj Shalhoub, “Debate, al-Majd TV, Clip No. 117,” MEMRI, June 13, 2004.

[i] Hamas has been variously designated as a terrorist group by countries around the world. Both the political and military wings of Hamas are designated as terrorist entities by Canada, the European Union, Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom. In 1995, the U.S. government designated Hamas a Specially Designated Terrorist (“SDT”). In 1997, the U.S. government designated Hamas a Foreign Terrorist Organization (“FTO”), a designation that has been renewed every two years. In 2001, the U.S. government designated Hamas a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (“SDGT”), a designation Hamas has retained through the present. Additionally, several individuals and front organizations associated with Hamas have been designated SDTs and SDGTs. See Executive Order 12947, “Prohibiting Transactions with Terrorists Who Threaten to Disrupt the Middle East Peace Process,” Part IX, January 25, 1995; U.S. State Department Bureau of Counterterrorism, “Designation of Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” October 8, 1997; Executive Order 13224 – Blocking Property And Prohibiting Transactions With Persons Who Commit, Threaten To Commit, Or Support Terrorism; “US Designates Five Charities Funding Hamas and Six Senior Hamas Leaders as Terrorists,” Office of Public Affairs, U.S. Treasury Department, August 22, 2003. In contrast, only the military wing of Hamas—Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, or more simply, Al-Qassam—has been designated by others, including Australia and New Zealand. In the Middle East, policies toward the group are mixed. Saudi Arabia’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood led to cool relations with Hamas, while Egypt overturned its previous designation of Hamas in 2015. The governments of Jordan, Qatar, and Turkey have not overtly supported Hamas and its agenda, but they have met with its leaders and played bystander or intermediary roles. Elsewhere, the group’s complex relationship with Syria has just started to thaw, while Iran has financially and militarily supported Hamas for decades. See “Egypt court overturns Hamas terror blacklisting,” BBC, June 6, 2015; Ido Levy, “How Iran Fuels Hamas Terrorism,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, June 1, 2021.

[j] Hamas has used its governance to run an extensive social service network in Gaza. These include food-based charities (feeding women and children), operating weddings and financial incentives to newlyweds, and supporting widows and families of “martyrs” or those who are killed or imprisoned while supporting Hamas’ cause. See “Zionists Resort to ‘black Propaganda’ to Counter Hamas,” Al-Qassam website, September 5, 2009; “Because of the Siege, Children Suffer in Gaza,” Al-Qassam website, February 23, 2008; “We Will Never Recognize the Occupation,” Al-Qassam website, July 17, 2009.

[k] In 2015, the group tweeted, “Hamas respects human rights; that is part of our ideology and dogma #AskHamas.” See Tweet 2720, March 15, 2015, cited in Devorah Margolin, “#Hamas: A Thematic Exploration of Hamas’s English-Language Twitter,” Terrorism and Political Violence 34:6 (2020).

Citations
[1] Anthony Blinken, “Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu After Their Meeting,” US Department of State, October 12, 2023.

[2] Devorah Margolin, “A Major Pivot in Hamas Strategy,” War on the Rocks, October 16, 2023.

[3] Cassandra Vinograd and Isabel Kershner, “Israel’s Attackers Took About 240 Hostages. Here’s What to Know About Them,” New York Times, November 2, 2023.

[4] Wael Abdelal, Hamas and the Media: Politics and Strategy (Oxfordshire: Routledge, 2016).

[5] See Ahmad Dep., Exhibit 11, included in Boim at al v. Quranic Literacy Institute et al, cited in Matthew Levitt, Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), p. 150.

[6] For example, see Article 2: “The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine.” Hamas, “The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” August 18, 1988.

[7] For example, see Articles 1, 5, 6, 8, and 11. Hamas, “The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement.”

[8] For example, see Preamble, Articles 6, 7, 8, 11 and 13. Hamas, “The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement.” This was also found in a Hamas leaflet published on August 18, 1988: “Every negotiation with the enemy is a regression from the [Palestinian] case, concessions of a principle, and recognition of the usurping murderers’ false claim to a land in which they were not born.” Reproduced in Mishal and Sela, p. 51.

[9] For example, see Preamble, Articles 7, 17, 22, 28, and 32. Hamas, “The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement.” This was also found in early leaflets produced by the group published in January 1988, “[The Jews] are “brothers of the apes, assassins of the prophets, bloodsuckers, warmongers … Only Islam can break the Jews and destroy their dream.” Reproduced in Mishal and Sela, p. 52.

[10] Pamala L. Griset and Sue Mahan, Terrorism in Perspective (London: Sage Publications, 2003).

[11] Gina Vale, Devorah Margolin, and Farkhondeh Akbari, “Repeating the Past or Following Precedent? Contextualising the Taliban 2.0’s Governance of Women,” International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT), January 12, 2023.

[12] “Yassin Sees Israel ‘Eliminated’ Within 25 Years,” Reuters, May 27, 1998.

[13] Levitt, Hamas.

[14] “Subject: Hamas/Bassem Musa’s Letter,” in Stanley Boim et al. v. Quranic Literacy Institute et al. Currency unstated, likely Israeli Shekel or U.S. dollar, cited in Levitt, Hamas, p. 68.

[15] William A. Orme Jr., “Jordan Frees Four Jailed Hamas Leaders and Expels Them,” New York Times, November 22, 1999; “Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal returns for Jordan visit,” BBC, January 29, 2012.

[16] Fares Akram, “Hamas Leader Abandons Longtime Base in Damascus,” New York Times, January 27, 2012; Omar Shaaban, “Hamas and Morsi: Not So Easy Between Brothers,” Carnegie Middle East Center, October 1, 2012.

[17] “Treasury Targets Covert Hamas Investment Network and Finance Official,” U.S. Department of Treasury, May 24, 2022; Hadeel al Sayegh, John O’Donnell, and Elizabeth Howcroft, “Who funds Hamas? A global network of crypto, cash, and charities,” Reuters, October 16, 2023.

[18] Fares Akram and Isabel Debre, “As Young Gazans Die at Sea, Anger Rises Over Leaders’ Travel,” Associated Press, January 6, 2023.

[19] Michelle Pace, “The Social, Economic Political and Geo-Strategic Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union, European Parliament, 2012.

[20] Efraim Benmelech and Claude Berrebi, “Human Capital and the Productivity of Suicide Bombers,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 21:3 (2007): p. 227.

[21] Global Terrorism Database, National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland, 2020.

[22] William Booth, “Israel’s prisoner swaps have been far more lopsided than Obama’s Bergdahl deal,” Washington Post, June 5, 2014.

[23] “Hamas Kidnappings: A Constant Threat in Israel,” Israel Defense Forces, June 16, 2014.

[24] Ethan Bronner, “Hamas Shifts From Rockets to Culture War,” New York Times, July 23, 2009.

[25] Islah Jad, “Islamist Women of Hamas: between feminism and nationalism,” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 12:2 (2011).

[26] Ibid.

[27] Levitt, Hamas.

[28] Devorah Margolin, “#Hamas: A Thematic Exploration of Hamas’s English-Language Twitter,” Terrorism and Political Violence 34:6 (2020); Sagi Polka, “Hamas as a Wasati (Literally: Centrist) Movement: Pragmatism within the Boundaries of the Sharia,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 42:7 (2019): pp. 683-713.

[29] Joshua L Gleis and Benedetta Berti, Hezbollah and Hamas: A Comparative Study (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).

[30] Bjorn Brenner, Gaza Under Hamas: From Islamic Democracy to Islamist Governance (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016).

[31] David Rose, “The Gaza Bombshell,” Vanity Fair, April 2008.

[32] “National Reconciliation Document,” Palestine-Israel Journal 13:2 (2006).

[33] General Shlomo Brom, “A Hamas Government: Isolate or Engage?” United States Institute of Peace, March 10, 2006.

[34] Reproduced in Cole Bunzel, “Gaza and Global Jihad,” Foreign Affairs, November 2, 2023.

[35] Reproduced in Michael Herzog, “Can Hamas be Tamed,” Foreign Affairs, March 1, 2006.

[36] Rose, “The Gaza Bombshell.”

[37] Mohammed Assadi, “Factional battles kill 616 Palestinians since 2006,” Reuters, June 6, 2007.

[38] Palestine Center for Human Rights, “Black pages in the absence of justice – Report on bloody fighting in the Gaza Strip from 07 to 14 Jun 2007,” Relief Web, October 9, 2007.

[39] “Fatah Man Thrown Off Roof,” Agence France-Presse, March 17, 2009; “Hamas seizes Fatah headquarters in Gaza,” Associated Press via NBC News, June 11, 2017.

[40] See “2015 Investment Climate Statement – West Bank and Gaza,” U.S. Department of State Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, May 2015.

[41] Colin P. Clarke, Terrorism, Inc.: The Financing of Terrorism, Insurgency, and Irregular Warfare (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Security International, 2015), pp. 102-111.; Joshua L. Gleis and Benedetta Berti, Hezbollah and Hamas: A Comparative Study (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012), p. 156; “Terrorist Group Profiler,” Canadian Secret Intelligence Service (CSIS), June 2002, author’s personal files. See also Stewart Bell, “Hamas May Have Chemical Weapons: CSIS Report Says Terror Group May be Experimenting,” National Post (Canada), December 10, 2003.

[42] Ahmad Abu Amer, “Will Iran deal mean more money for Hamas?” Al Monitor, January 27, 2016.

[43] Clarke, pp. 102-111; Zeev Schiff, “Iran and Hezbollah Trying to Undermine Renewed Peace Efforts,” Haaretz, May 12, 2004.

[44] Matthew Levitt, “Combating the Networks of Illicit Finance and Terrorism,” Testimony submitted to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, 118th Congress, October 26, 2023.

[45] “State Sponsors of Terrorism” in “Country Reports on Terrorism 2010,” United States Department of State, August 18, 2011; Fares Akram, “Hamas Leader Abandons Longtime Base in Damascus,” New York Times, January 27, 2012.

[46] Hadeel Al Sayegh, John O’Donnell, and Elizabeth Howcroft, “Who funds Hamas? A global network of crypto, cash and charities,” Reuters, October 16, 2023.

[47] Evan Dyer, “How tiny Qatar hosts the leaders of Hamas without consequences,” CBC News, October 18, 2023.

[48] Humeyra Pamuk, “Qatar open to reconsidering Hamas presence in Qatar, US official says,” Reuters, October 27, 2023.

[49] Levitt, “Combating the Networks of Illicit Finance and Terrorism,” p. 3.

[50] Ibid., p. 2.

[51] Levitt, Hamas, p. 56.

[52] “Hamas Summer Games, Tomorrow Pioneers,” Al-Qassam website, June 19, 2010.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Fares Akram, “Hamas Adds Restrictions on Schools and Israelis,” New York Times, April 1, 2013.

[55] Ibid.; “Hamas law promotes gender segregation in Gaza schools,” Reuters, April 1, 2013.

[56] “Hamas and Women: Clearing Misconceptions,” Hamas website, January 12, 2011, accessed July 14, 2018.

[57] Dina Kraft, “Hamas launches ‘virtue campaign’ in Gaza,” Telegraph, July 28, 2009.

[58] “Hamas targets women’s underwear in modesty drive,” Reuters, July 28, 2010.

[59] Emily Harris, “Hamas: Gaza Women Learning To Drive Must Have A Chaperone,” NPR, June 1, 2016.

[60] “Women need male guardian to travel, says Hamas court in Gaza Strip,” Guardian, February 15, 2021.

[61] “Gaza: Hamas produces first feature film,” Jerusalem Post, July 18, 2009.

[62] Yaakov Lappin, “Disney’s daughter slams Hamas’ Mickey,” Ynet, May 9, 2007.

[63] “Hamas TV Kills Off Mickey Mouse Double,” Associated Press, June 30, 2007.

[64] Simon Mcrgegor-Wood, “Bye, Bye Mickey! Hamas TV Abuzz Over Nahoul the Bee,” ABC News, July 17, 2007.

[65] Josiah Daniel Ryan, “Hamas Children’s TV Program Again Calls for ‘Slaughter of Jews,’” Jerusalem Post, October 4, 2009.

[66] “State Department Terrorist Designation of Senior Hamas Official – Fathi Hammad,” U.S. Department of State, September 16, 2016.

[67] Rory McCarthy, “Hamas patrols beaches in Gaza to enforce conservative dress code,” Guardian, October 18, 2009; “German Mediator Is Serious,” Al-Qassam website, September 3, 2009, accessed July 19, 2018.

[68] “Women need male guardian to travel, says Hamas court in Gaza Strip.”

[69] Nidal al-Mughrabi, “Gaza law barring women from travel without male consent to be revised, judge says,” Reuters, February 16, 2021; Fares Akram, “Hamas ‘guardian’ law keeps Gaza woman from studying abroad,” Associated Press, November 5, 2021.

[70] Oliver Holmes, “Hamas violently suppresses Gaza economic protests,” Guardian, March 21, 2019; Gianluca Pacchiani, “Protests against Hamas reemerge in the streets of Gaza, but will they persist?” Times of Israel, August 8, 2023.

[71] Matthew Levitt and Yoram Cohen, “Deterred but Determined: Salafi-Jihadi Groups in the Palestinian Arena,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, January 11, 2010.

[72] Levitt, “Combating the Networks of Illicit Finance and Terrorism;” Daphné Richemond-Barak, Underground Warfare (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 2017).

[73] Matthew Levitt and Aviva Weinstein, “How Hamas’ Military Wing Threatens Reconciliation with Fatah,” Foreign Affairs, November 29, 2017.

[74] See, for example, “Incendiary balloons from Gaza spark two fires in south,” Times of Israel, September 30, 2018.

[75] See, for example, Andrew Carey, Hadas Gold, Kareem Khadder, and Abeer Salman, “Israel launches airstrikes after rockets fired from Gaza in day of escalation,” CNN, May 11, 2021.

[76] See, for example, Emanuel Fabian, “Palestinians detonate large explosive on Gaza border in latest rioting,” Times of Israel, September 6, 2023.

[77] Richemond-Barak.

[78] Marco Hernandez and Josh Holder, “The Tunnels of Gaza,” New York Times, November 10, 2023.

[79] “Israel Protests to UN after Hamas Tunnel Found under UNRWA Schools in Gaza,” Times of Israel, June 10, 2017.

[80] “Palestinian police arrest West Bank plotters,” Reuters, July 4, 2009.

[81] Terrence McCoy, “After Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, Palestinian unity government on rocks,” Washington Post, September 10, 2014.

[82] “Senior PA official said to warn Hamas plotting coup against Abbas in West Bank,” Times of Israel, April 16, 2019.

[83] Judah Ari Gross, “Shin Bet chief: Hamas setting up in Lebanon with Iran’s support,” Times of Israel, September 10, 2017.

[84] “Rocket launch at Israel from Lebanon draws Israeli cross-border shelling,” Reuters, July 6, 2023.

[85] Emanuel Fabian, “Hamas claims responsibility for rocket fire from Lebanon,” Times of Israel, October 19, 2023.

[86] Isabel Kershner, “New Light on Hamas Role in Killings of Teenagers That Fueled Gaza War,” New York Times, September 4, 2014.

[87] “Hamas Admits to Kidnapping and Killing Israeli Teens,” NPR, August 22, 2014.

[88] Matthew Levitt, “Hamas’ Not-So-Secret Weapon,” Foreign Affairs, July 9, 2014.

[89] Jonathan Lis, “Hamas is Plotting Attacks on Israel Every Day, Shin Bet Chief Warns,” Haaretz, March 20, 2017.

[90] Judah Ari Gross, “Shin Bet nabs Hamas terror cell ‘plotting attacks in Israel,’” Times of Israel, February 6, 2017.

[91] Anna Ahronheim, “Israel foils terror cell’s kidnapping, attack plot to free Hamas prisoner,” Jerusalem Post, December 8, 2016.

[92] Matthew Levitt, “Reality Contradicts New Hamas Spin,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, August 7, 2009.

[93] “Transcript, Interview with Khaled Meshal of Hamas,” New York Times, May 5, 2009.

[94] Kifah Zboun, “Haniyeh: We Support Establishment of Palestinian State on Basis of 1967 Borders,” Asharq al-Awsat, November 2, 2017.

[95] Ali Waked, “Mashaal: Abbas leading us to doom,” Ynet, November 10, 2009.

[96] Howard Shneider, “Defiant Abbas Reiterates Conditions Before Talks,” Washington Post, October 12, 2009.

[97] Becky Sullivan, “Gaza Wants to Rebuild, but Ensuring Funds Don’t Go to Hamas is Slowing the Process,” NPR, June 23, 2021.

[98] Katherine Bauer and Matthew Levitt, “Hamas Fields a Militant Electoral List: Implications for U.S.-Palestinian Ties,” PolicyWatch 3473, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 21, 2021.

[99] Ali Hashem and Adam Lucente, “Meet Hamas’ Key Leaders, Many on Israel’s Target List in Gaza,” Al-Monitor, October 18, 2023; Adnan Abu Amer, “How Hamas Prisoners Elect Leaders Behind Bars,” Al-Monitor, February 13, 2017.

[100] See Bauer and Levitt.

[101] Adnan Abu Amer, “Drawing on past lessons, Hamas submits inclusive electoral list,” Al-Monitor, April 1, 2021.

[102] David Pollock, “Netanyahu and Hamas Set to Coexist Uneasily Again,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, November 29, 2022; Wafaa Shurafa and Fares Akram, “Mass funeral in Gaza draws tears, rare criticism of Hamas,” Associated Press, December 18, 2022.

[103] Pollock; Shurafa and Akram.

[104] “Hamas elects first woman to political bureau,” Times of Israel, March 14, 2021.

[105] Aaron Boxerman, “Hamas wins landslide victory in student elections at flagship Birzeit University,” Times of Israel, May 18, 2022.

[106] Devorah Margolin, “Hamas at 35,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, December 21, 2022.

[107] Ben Hubbard and Maria Abi-Habib, “Behind Hamas’s Bloody Gambit to Create a ‘Permanent’ State of War,” New York Times, November 9, 2023.

[108] “Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh: We Need The Blood Of Women, Children, And The Elderly Of Gaza – So It Awakens Our Revolutionary Spirit,” Special Dispatch No. 10911, MEMRI, October 27, 2023.

AI.jpg

The artificial intelligence (AI) story shows no signs of slowing. Instead, AI – which could be worth $1.8 trillion by 2030, according to Statista – is already changing just about everything. In fact, it’s already changing drug discovery, education, finances, and cyber threats. All of which is beneficial for companies, such as VERSES AI Inc(NEO: VERS) (OTCQB: VRSSF), Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: META), and Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ: AMD). Even better, if we look at the global artificial intelligence as a service market, we’re looking at a potential $155.3 billion opportunity by 2032, from just $6.3 billion today, according to Precedence Research.

“Artificial intelligence as a service is made use of in order to make the process automated with minimum human intervention wherever necessary. In today’s world it includes machine learning and computer vision which is helping to reset the entire business world. With the help of artificial intelligence, the total investment of the company is reduced to a negligible amount which in turn helps to boost the economy of the business,” added Precedence Research.

Look at VERSES Technologies Inc. (CBOE: VERS) (OTCQX: VRSSF), For Example

VERSES AI Inc., a cognitive computing company specializing in next-generation of intelligent software systems, welcomes Peter Provost as VP of Product, Developer Platforms. Mr. Provost will lead the strategic development and enhancement of Genius™, VERSES’ Intelligence-as-a-Service platform, leveraging his experience in product engineering, leadership and deep understanding of the developer community.

Jason Fox, Chief Technology Officer at VERSES, said, “Peter brings with him nearly two decades of experience shipping developer platforms and tools at Microsoft in the Visual Studio and Azure teams. We’re excited to welcome him to lead the developer experience for the Genius™ platform. Peter will take a leadership role in advancing our developer platforms, fostering creativity and driving forward VERSES’ mission to create a smarter world through the power of AI.”

Peter Provost brings a diverse background to VERSES, with over 18 years of experience at Microsoft, where he held key roles in engineering, product management, and leadership. Mr. Provost has demonstrated a commitment to developer-focused initiatives throughout his career. His expertise spans various domains, including enterprise systems, big data, IoT, launch strategies, and the software development life cycle. This breadth of experience aligns well with VERSES AI’s vision for intelligent systems.

Mr. Provost received his BS in Computer Science from Colorado State University in 1994 and has been coding for over 40 years.

Other related developments from around the markets include:

Nvidia reported revenue for the third quarter ended October 29, 2023, of $18.12 billion, up 206% from a year ago and up 34% from the previous quarter. GAAP earnings per diluted share for the quarter were $3.71, up more than 12x from a year ago and up 50% from the previous quarter. Non-GAAP earnings per diluted share were $4.02, up nearly 6x from a year ago and up 49% from the previous quarter. “Our strong growth reflects the broad industry platform transition from general-purpose to accelerated computing and generative AI,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA.

Microsoft and Siemens are deepening their partnership by bringing the benefits of generative AI to industries worldwide. As a first step, the companies are introducing Siemens Industrial Copilot, an AI-powered jointly developed assistant aimed at improving human-machine collaboration in manufacturing. In addition, the launch of the integration between Siemens Teamcenter software for product lifecycle management and Microsoft Teams will further pave the way to enabling the industrial metaverse. It will simplify virtual collaboration of design engineers, frontline workers, and other teams across business functions.

Meta Platforms’ CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said, “We had a good quarter for our community and business. I’m proud of the work our teams have done to advance AI and mixed reality with the launch of Quest 3, Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses, and our AI studio.” Facebook daily active users (DAUs) – DAUs were 2.09 billion on average for September 2023, an increase of 5% year-over-year. Facebook monthly active users (MAUs) – MAUs were 3.05 billion as of September 30, 2023, an increase of 3% year-over-year. Ad impressions and price per ad – In the third quarter of 2023, ad impressions delivered across our Family of Apps increased by 31% year-over-year and the average price per ad decreased by 6% year-over-year. Revenue – Revenue was $34.15 billion, an increase of 23% year-over-year, and an increase of 21% year-over-year on a constant currency basis.

Advanced Micro Devices announced “Advancing AI,” an in-person and livestreamed event on December 6, 2023 to launch the next-generation AMD Instinct™ MI300 data center GPU accelerator family and highlight the Company’s growing momentum with AI hardware and software partners. AMD Chair and CEO Dr. Lisa Su will be joined by AMD executives, AI ecosystem partners and customers who will discuss how AMD products and software are re-shaping the AI, adaptive and high-performance computing landscape.

Legal Disclaimer / Except for the historical information presented herein, matters discussed in this article contains forward-looking statements that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Winning Media is not registered with any financial or securities regulatory authority and does not provide nor claims to provide investment advice or recommendations to readers of this release. For making specific investment decisions, readers should seek their own advice. Winning Media is only compensated for its services in the form of cash-based compensation. Pursuant to an agreement Winning Media has been paid three thousand five hundred dollars for advertising and marketing services for VERSES AI Inc. by VERSES AI Inc. We own ZERO shares of VERSES AI Inc. Please click here for disclaimer.

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“I served in a bigger post-Cold War, post-9/11 national security apparatus [than Henry Kissinger]. As a deputy national security adviser, with responsibilities that included speechwriting and communications, I often focused more on the story America told than the actions we took.” — Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration, New York Times, Nov. 30, 2023.

Few obituaries on Henry Kissinger fully considered his achievements and failures in the context of other national security advisers and the nature of the job, then and now. When Kissinger took office in January 1969, he increased the senior staff from about 20 to 34. His successor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, kept about the same number.  

By the beginning of the 21st century, and more recently, that number grew to more than 300. And roles changed. Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, who succeeded him and later would become George H.W. Bush’s national security adviser, kept the staff relatively small. Their consistent perspective was strategic. Each had developed close relationships with their presidents, whom they considered to be a client. And each recruited staff selected for intelligence, experience and judgment.

As the size of subsequent National Security Council (NSC) staffs exploded, both the roles and the staff members changed. Ben Rhodes made this astonishing admission noted above. In essence, NSCs became “spin doctors” for the administration in power, regardless of political affiliation. And who were the future Kissingers, Brzezinskis and Scowcrofts?

Robert Gates, who would head the CIA and Defense Department, was one. He was a Scowcroft protege, as Scowcroft was Kissinger’s. Former Marine Gen. James Jones — on whose advisory boards I served when he was both Commandant of the Marines and Supreme Allied Commander Europe — had the intellectual and strategic judgment to fill that role, but too many of his staff were political appointees, a bad practice that began in the early 2000s, with other loyalties.

One member of his staff was regarded by President Obama as a younger brother. In meetings, this person often called the president “Barry,” infuriating the general on grounds of decorum and respect. In the White House, it was less about what you had to say than to whom you said it. Many were members of the president’s campaign, eager to spend time in the Oval Office. Jones left after two years, having organized a more disciplined decision-making process in an often chaotic White House.

Former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attend a National Defense University Foundation event in Washington in 2013.Paul Morigi/WireImage

Kissinger and Brzezinski were men of vision. I knew Dr. Brzezinski well. He had one of the most innovative, creative minds I have ever encountered — and he brooked no fools. One wonders how he might have survived in today’s political and cultural environment where integrity, truth and facts rarely are found.

Scowcroft, because his short stature and impeccably polite behavior camouflaged an intellect equal to his two more famous predecessors, seemed to remain in the background. But that was untrue; he gave both Presidents Ford and Bush the advice they needed. And the proximity with Bush led not only to a great book but, doubtless with George H.W. Bush’s approval, Scowcroft wrote a tough opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal before the launch of George W. Bush’s Iraqi Freedom in 2003, titled, “Don’t Attack Saddam.”

One conclusion is that today’s environment and demands on the NSC for making or recommending policy are so vastly different that it is no surprise the role and size of the staff have profoundly — and irreversibly — changed. The current adviser, Jake Sullivan, is perfect for that role. Bright and competent, Sullivan would never think of becoming like Kissinger, Brzezinski or Scowcroft because that would not work — even though President Biden, as a U.S. senator, worked with each of those men.

A second conclusion is that the ability to think strategically — as certainly those three and Gen. Jones were able to do — is missing today. Why? Politics and shaping public opinion often dominate what passes for strategic thinking. 

That is why polling data, for all its flaws, are taken more seriously than they should be. This absence of strategic thinking does not guarantee that failure is inevitable. However, ignoring it courts substantial risk.

With his death on Nov. 29, Kissinger has been praised and pilloried in near equal measure. But this question remains: Will we ever see a national security adviser like Kissinger, Brzezinski or Scowcroft again? One can only hope so.

Harlan Ullman is senior adviser at the Atlantic Council. He is the author of “Shock and Awe,” “Anatomy of Failure: Why America Loses Every War It Starts,” and his latest book, “The Fifth Horseman and the New MAD: How Massive Attacks of Disruption Became the Looming Existential Danger to a Divided Nation and the World at Large.”

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In a pivotal address at the “Karabakh: Returning Home after 30 years. Achievements and difficulties” exhibition, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev presented a nuanced stance on the delicate issue of peace with Armenia, just hours before meeting with State Department Envoy James O’Brien. The President’s proposition of a “mutual return of refugees to Azerbaijan and Armenia” introduced a fresh layer of complexity to the already intricate negotiations.

Aliyev asserted that any peace process must involve a parallel return of both Azerbaijani and Armenian refugees, emphasizing that the rights and security of both communities should be considered. However, he lamented that this proposition faced rejection from the Armenian side, potentially creating a significant obstacle to the establishment of lasting peace.

The President’s stance indicates a divergence from Yerevan’s preference for the unilateral return of Armenians to Karabakh, as outlined in the draft Peace treaty. Aliyev’s demand for the simultaneous return of Azerbaijanis expelled 35 years ago introduces a stumbling block in the path towards a comprehensive agreement between the two nations.

Responding swiftly, the head of the Armenian Parliament, Alain Simonyan, condemned Aliyev’s condition as unacceptable. Simonyan expressed concerns that Azerbaijan’s insistence on issues such as the return of Azerbaijanis to what they term Western Azerbaijan could impede the conclusion of a peace treaty.

The fate of enclaves further complicates the negotiations, with eight Azerbaijani enclaves on Armenian territory and one Armenian enclave on Azerbaijani soil. While Armenia, represented by Prime Minister Pashinyan, acknowledges the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within Soviet borders, it remains hesitant to relinquish control of these enclaves in the immediate future.

Despite O’Brien’s discussions with President Aliyev aiming to revive the negotiation process, skepticism looms over the effectiveness of the planned meeting in Washington between the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, facilitated by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The deep-seated differences in positions on refugee repatriation and enclave control pose formidable challenges to the expeditious progress of the peace process.

As the world watches, the intricate web of historical grievances, territorial disputes, and the pressing issue of refugees threatens to prolong the resolution of the longstanding conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The road to peace appears fraught with complexities that demand delicate diplomacy and compromise from both sides.

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American and Puerto Rican flags fly outside the Capitol of Puerto Rico building in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Saturday, May 13, 2017.

Photographer: Xavier Garcia/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Nov 30, 2023, 11:09 PM UTC
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Former Puerto Rico governor Wanda Vázquez-Garced will be tried alongside bank founder Julio M. Herrera-Velutini in a corruption trial tentatively scheduled for early 2024—but not on all counts seven counts listed in the 2022 indictment.

Herrera-Veluntini will be tried separately on counts five through seven of the indictment, after the US District Court for the District of Puerto Rico said it had identified “prejudicial joinder.”

“While the Court recognizes the burden severance imposes on its calendar and the Government, efficiency cannot come at the cost of defendants’ rights to a fair trial,” Judge Silvia Carreño-Coll said.

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Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is taking heat from the hard-right conservative wing of his conference over the addition of a short-term extension of the nation’s warrantless surveillance powers in the Defense authorization bill. 

Johnson huddled with a slew of animated GOP lawmakers — many of whom had long given his ousted predecessor headaches — on the House floor Thursday about Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The lawmakers have lobbied against any short-term extension of Section 702, arguing its impact on civil liberties should only be considered through stand-alone legislation. 

Johnson has appeared to waffle on the matter, as he initially indicated that Section 702 would not be included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). That flipped Wednesday afternoon, when a four-month extension was included in the NDAA, annoying those who want to see serious reforms to the surveillance act.

“We shouldn’t be doing an NDAA that’s watered down with a four month extension. That’s absurd,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said of the surveillance act.

Shortly after speaking with the group, Johnson sent a dear colleague letter to the conference, pledging to take up competing bills from the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees next week.

The vote comes through a process that allows each to be considered as amendments, while only the top vote getter proceeds as a bill.

It’s a move Johnson said “provides members a fair opportunity to vote in favor of their preferred measure.” 

Section 702’s inclusion in the NDAA “provide[s] the necessary time to facilitate the reform process in a manner that will not conflict with our existing appropriations deadlines and other conflicts.”

Section 702 allows for the warrantless surveillance of foreigners located abroad. But Americans who are in touch with targets also have their communications swept up on the search, a dynamic of alarm to both Republicans and Democrats passionate about privacy rights.

“We were talking about the elements of our reform bill, and the need to get that passed and sent over to the Senate,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who has worked on a House Judiciary Committee 702 proposal that would require a warrant to review information collected on Americans — something vehemently opposed by the intelligence community.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) was not part of the discussion but warned earlier Thursday that he now sees a more difficult path for the NDAA. 

“I think there’s people that are going to vote against NDAA now because of the changes that were made,” he told reporters.

The spy powers are set to expire at the end of the year. The extension in the NDAA to mid-April would largely punt a heated debate over four different reform bills being debated by the House and Senate.

Johnson has faced significant lobbying on the matter by leaders of the House Intelligence Committee. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), the top Democrat on the panel, was spotted speaking with Johnson on the House floor earlier this week.

“You can air drop the whole reform bill into the NDAA. And you know, he decided not to do that. OK, that’s fair. But what you can’t do is not have a temporary extension. Because the next likely vehicle for reauthorization is the Jan. 19 successor to the [continuing resolution]. So just that alone is a potential 19-day, no-702 period, which is the period in which Americans get killed,” Himes told The Hill on Tuesday.

There are a fair number of lawmakers who say they’re indifferent to the inclusion of a short-term extension, including those who say they are grateful for the extra time to consider bills that offer considerable reforms to the program.

But some would rather take up a reform bill next week — the last week the House is in session before Section 702 expires Dec. 31.

“I remain disappointed” about its inclusion, said Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), who was in the House chamber as Reps. Ben Cline (R-Va.), Andrew Cylde (R-Ga.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), and Eric Burlison (R-Mo.) huddled with Johnson.

Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-Okla.), who was also in the conversation, said little about the discussion but expressed gratitude to Johnson, nodding to the difficulty of his role.

“I am grateful for a Speaker who’s asking for wise counsel on the decisions he’s making,” Brecheen said.

“I think that Speaker Johnson is asking the right questions. He’s got a listening ear, and he’s got a heart to do the conservative thing.”

Emily Brooks and Mychael Schnell contributed.

Updated 1:06 p.m. ET

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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His case demonstrates that Cuba remains a potent and far-reaching player in the world of espionage — and a security threat often overlooked by U.S. officials as other conflicts and antagonists consume oxygen in Washington, according to Jim Popkin, an expert on Cuban espionage, and the author of Code Name Blue Wren: The True Story of America’s Most Dangerous Female Spy―and the Sister She Betrayed.

“We have underestimated [Cuba] in terms of intelligence capabilities over the years, and also when it comes to things like patience, smarts, determination, we really have underestimated them,” Popkin, an award-winning investigative journalist, told POLITICO Magazine.

“The Cubans are really good at espionage.”

Since the end of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Cuba’s government has utilized its proximity to the U.S. as a conduit to geopolitical relevance, cultivating a sophisticated spy network in Washington and other Western capitals and selling its intelligence findings to friendly regimes around the world, including China, Russia, North Korea and Iran.

Unlike other countries, which usually recruit spies through bribes and blackmail, Cuba appeals to ideology, sourcing its spies among academics and U.S. officials sympathetic to the liberationist aims and ambitions of the Castro regime. In 2007, federal law enforcement arrested two professors at Florida International University, accusing them of spying on Cuban exile groups in Miami for the Castro regime. And in 2009, Kendall Myers, a Europe analyst in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and his wife were arrested on charges of passing along classified information to Havana.

Until Rocha’s arrest, the most damaging case of Cuban espionage was that of Ana Belen Montes, a senior analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency who was arrested in September 2001 and convicted of spying for Havana for over 17 years. At the time of her arrest, she was positioned to have extensive access to U.S. military plans during the war in Afghanistan.

Rocha’s case, Popkin said, “is just yet another example of how incredibly skilled [Cubans] have been.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What surprised you the most about this arrest?

It’s really an amplification of what I thought: the Cubans are really good at espionage. Their intelligence agency, which goes by the acronym DGI, is incredibly effective. And they take the long game. If you look at Rocha, in his case, you know, the allegation here is that he starts with the State Department in 1981. But he’s already been recruited by the Cubans before he even applies to the State Department. It appears that they met him maybe in Chile as early as 1973. That’s just conjecture, based on the criminal complaint, but they definitely got him on their radar in the 70s, or maybe the early 80s, and then they helped him apply for a job at the State Department.

This is a patient, clever bunch of intelligence experts working on behalf of the Cuban government to have, that kind of fortitude and patience to put someone in and wait that long, in this case with Rocha, on and off. He’s been affiliated by his own admission with Cuba for more than 40 years. And the fact that this never came out until this past week is really remarkable. It’s to me a testament to the skill set of the Cuban intelligence agency, the DGI.

A lot of things stand out to me. One, how high ranking he was, and also the length of time he was spying. What was more unusual, the fact he was so high ranking, or that he went undetected for so long?

I would go with high ranking in this case. Keep in mind, he only had about 20 years of service at the State Department, the rest of his spying allegedly took place when he was in the private sector afterwards, including a stint advising SOUTHCOM, which oversees Cuba, for the military. But yeah, it’s very unusual for an ambassador to be accused of a crime of this nature. I would argue that Montes was a really important analyst, she was a GS-14, I believe, when she was at DIA, she was a top analyst and thought of as one of the U.S. government’s very top experts on Cuba in general. To have her compromised, a Cuba expert working for the U.S. government, but secretly working for Castro, was a big deal.

Prior to Rocha, you had Kendall Myers, who was a State Department official, a career diplomat. He and his wife were also convicted of spying for Cuba. You also had Ana Montes’ basically partner in crime and the woman who first identified her, Marta Velazquez. Velasquez met Montes at SAIS, at the Johns Hopkins international school in D.C. She was already working for the Cubans at that time, identified her as a good recruit, and then traveled with her to New York to meet her Cuban contact and officially signed on up as an asset for Cuba. Later Marta Velazquez was a lawyer and later went to work for USAID all over the world.

Rocha does distinguish himself, and is surprising, because he was an ambassador. You know, at the end of his career, he became the U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia. He had top secret clearance. Part of what the government, our government, is doing right now is trying to assess, what did this guy reveal? Because he certainly would have known the names of undercover operatives working for the U.S. in Cuba, he would have known about top secret programs that we were running against the Cubans, and presumably others in the region as well. So even though he left the State Department in 2002, I’m sure there’s a damage assessment that’s going on right now to try to figure out what he revealed in his 20 years of government service.

What kinds of information does Cuba want about the United States? And do you think Rocha throughout his career would have been able to supply it?

Definitely. He worked all over Central and South America, all places that the Cubans care a lot about, like Mexico City. He worked for the U.S. in what is essentially like our embassy, the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. He was well placed in locations that would have directly benefited the Cubans. So he definitely had access to all kinds of juicy information that the Cubans would have loved.

Especially when Fidel Castro was alive, for good reason, he was obsessed with the notion that the United States might invade or attack his country as we had in the Bay of Pigs. So that was probably the number one thing that the Cubans wanted to know: is there an active threat and what are the details of any potential threat against the country?

One of the incidents that is mentioned in the criminal complaint and I write about it in my book as well, was the shoot down of civilian planes called Brothers to the Rescue. Rocha was at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana when this whole episode unfolded and Montes was also heavily involved with this at the same time. On the U.S. side, she was in the Pentagon and briefing generals about this same incident. So they both would have had access to information and would have been able to provide Cuba with details about a possible U.S. response.

The key thing to remember is that this happened under the Clinton administration. Clinton was under an enormous, enormous amount of pressure to act and to either bomb bases in Cuba, or maybe something even more extreme than that, because here the Cubans had shot down civilian planes supposedly not over Cuban airspace, although there was always some debate about where the planes were at the time. The Cubans were terrified that Clinton was going to either invade the island, or bomb them in retaliation.

We know that as an example, Montes’ Cuban handler showed up unannounced in the Cleveland Park neighborhood in Washington, D.C,. to quiz her about what she was learning, moment by moment, at the Pentagon. That was a big security breach for her handler to show up in D.C. in this neighborhood, right by the National Zoo, and out in the open, confront her and ask her what was going on. That was just an example of how paranoid they were at the time. So if Rocha also had inside information, and he’s in Havana, he presumably would have been meeting with his handler in Havana, and passing on the information that he had.

That was the main thing that the Cubans wanted to know: are we going to be invaded? Is the U.S. going to target us? Are they going to try to assassinate Fidel or Raul Castro? Those are the things that were kind of foremost on their minds.

Do you think that Americans underestimate Cuba as an adversary? And if so, in what ways?

That’s a really important question. I do. I think that we have underestimated Cuba for a long time. In terms of a military, they’re not much to speak of compared to the United States. They have been a threat regionally in Africa and Latin American countries where they’ve gotten involved over the past decades. But you know, as a threat to the U.S., a direct threat there, not much in terms of their military.

So they spend an enormous amount of money on their intelligence service. I had an FBI agent, a former FBI supervisor, tell me that he was almost jealous of the Cubans and their ability to work with their own spy network without any real rules at all. They don’t have Congress breathing down their neck. There’s no oversight. And their sole enemy is the United States — unlike in our case, where we’re worried about all kinds of friends and enemies all over the world. In Cuba, they can focus like a laser on the United States. So instead of spending an enormous amount of money on their military, they overspend on their intelligence service and without any of the same rules and regulations that the CIA is an example.

We have underestimated Cuba in terms of intelligence capabilities over the years, and also things like patience, smarts, determination, we really have underestimated them. And this Rocha case is just yet another example of how incredibly skilled they have been.

What role does ideology play in recruitment? And how do they find people to spy for them?

The Cubans have a track record of looking for potential recruits at a very young age. Marta Velazquez was at Princeton University as an undergrad and wrote her senior thesis on Cuba and went to Cuba. It’s likely that the Cubans first met her then as an undergraduate. By the time she gets to SAIS, she’s already met with the Cubans. And she’s recruited and working for them as a spotter of new talent. Ana Montez is in graduate school and is identified by Marta and the Cubans in graduate school as a young woman in her 20s.

That is their M.O. They scour American graduate schools, and many other places as well, but they are primarily looking for ideological recruits who just believe in the cause.

And Rocha appears to be one of those. By his own words to the FBI, and diplomatic security at the State Department, he’s told them that he believed in the cause and he speaks glowingly of Castro and the revolution and the regime. And he said that he created a legend, a story about himself, where he poses as basically like a MAGA Republican, even though in his heart, he supports a Communist ideology. So it’s really fascinating and, again, just goes to the skill of the Cubans — find young people who believe in the cause, you don’t have to pay them very much, if anything at all, and let them go to work for you. And in Rocha’s case, apparently, it continued for 42 years.

That anti-Cuba hardliner and MAGA Republican image, is that a typical M.O. that Cuban spies have adopted over the years? Or was this a unique kind of cover for Russia?

I’m not familiar with any other Cuban recruits who’s posed as a MAGA Republican or even you know, even a hardline conservative. In Montes’ case that was not her identity. She, if anything, tried to be mostly neutral, and occasionally would speak a little bit about her ideology. But in her case, she just thought she should just keep her head down and not really comment too much on politics. And she mostly didn’t. That was mostly true as well of Kendall Meyers.

Maybe they show their colors a little bit. But in this case, Rocha created a whole facade and a scenario where he’s a hardcore Republican to the public, but in private, in reality, he’s supporting a communist regime. I’m not familiar with anyone else doing that, at least in recent history.

Many Americans think about Cuba through a Cold War foreign policy lens. What do you think that most people don’t know about Cuba right now and its placement in the security landscape?

The problem is no one thinks about Cuba anymore. We’re very focused on Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and nuclear powers in the national security context. Cuba’s an afterthought, often.

I’m sure what national security experts are looking at right now is — these examples that I’ve cited, these four examples, are all pretty ancient at this point. In Rocha’s case going back at least till 1981. Montes was recruited a couple years later in the 1980s. Is that a vestige of the Castro-run communist regime in Cuba? Or, are they still doing the exact same thing today?

They were very focused and obviously incredibly successful in the 1980s in identifying and placing young people in our government who then worked hard and rose up the ranks. Are they still doing the same thing today? Indications are yes. But I can’t say that they’re doing so with the same skills and success level as they showed in the 1980s.

How closely is Cuba aligned to Russia these days? Back in the Cold War era, the Soviets were the biggest customer. Is Russia still a big customer of Cuban intelligence?

Russia is definitely a customer of Cuban intelligence. But, their relationship has definitely shifted over the years. Russia used to pretty much prop up the Cuban economy and they’ve scaled way back on that. The fear about Cuba, one of the reasons why Cuba remains a serious threat, is that information that they steal doesn’t stay in Cuba.

They have a track record of selling it to the Russians or to other adversaries, U.S. adversaries. So it doesn’t just end on the island, it could easily go to Russia. That was one of the fears in the Montes case. She was arrested 10 days after 9/11. And it’s because she had gotten her hands, or was about to get her hands, on our bombing targets in Afghanistan. The FBI and others were very concerned that if she had learned of specific bombing targets in Afghanistan, she would have provided that information to Cubans. And who knows what the Cubans would have done with that, would they have sold it to the Russians or the Taliban?

Unclear, but the government didn’t want to ever be put in that position. And that’s why the DIA forced her arrest, just 10 days after 9/11 to get her out of DIA and away from that very sensitive bombing targeting information.

What questions are you asking about this case now? What are you looking out for as more details are coming out about the Rocha case?

I want to know, was he paid? We’ve not yet seen evidence of that, whether this is strictly ideological, or whether he also was paid along the way. I obviously want to know details on what information he provided that may be difficult to ascertain, unless he fully cooperates because he quit the government in 2002.

I’d love to know how he was recruited. He was born in Colombia but is a naturalized U.S. citizen. When did he decide and what was his rationale? He visited Cuba several times recently. What was the purpose of that?

I’m curious to know what information he provided when he was advising SOUTHCOM, which is basically our military base that oversees Cuba. And we also don’t know whether any information that he provided ever led to the death or injury of any Cubans or any Americans working in Cuba.

In the case of Montes, no one is known to have been arrested or killed but we don’t know that about Rocha yet. And that would obviously really elevate his importance as a spy and also the level of concern from our government about him.

Russian President Vladimir Putin got a welcome with all the trimmings on his trip to the United Arab Emirates, which contrasted sharply with what greeted the German head of state, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on his recent visit to a regional neighbor.

Following Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv’s allies, led by the U.S., have sought to isolate Russia from the global financial system with sanctions. The International Criminal Court (ICC) to which the UAE is not a signatory, has issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader for the abduction of children in Ukraine.

But there was no sign he was a pariah on his state visit, which saw him receive the red-carpet treatment, including jets painting the colors of the Russian flag in the sky while his country’s ensigns fluttered in the streets of Abu Dhabi as his convoy drove through, accompanied by cavalry.

Vladimir Putin in the UAE

Vladimir Putin and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan attending a welcoming ceremony ahead of their talks in Abu Dhabi on December 6, 2023. Putin got a very warm welcome. SERGEI SAVOSTYANOV/Getty Images

“This is how internationally ‘isolated’ President of Russia Vladimir Putin was greeted in the UAE,” read a mocking post by the account of Moscow’s mission in South Africa to X (formerly Twitter), next to a video demonstrating a greeting as warm as the Middle Eastern climate.

One social media user compared the video of Putin’s trip to the welcome that greeted German president Steinmeier in Qatar last month, when footage showed him standing forlornly at the top of the steps of his airplane because no Qatari official was in attendance.

“Steinmeier was forgotten by authorities in Qatar: How Russian and German presidents are received in Arab countries,” posted the X account of Ignorance, the root and stem of evil to its 59,000 followers.

Deutsche Welle journalist Rosalia Romaniec, who traveled with the German head of state, said that the diplomatic bungle made her wonder whether it was a planning mistake or if Doha had cooled towards Germany after Steinmeier spent time during his three-day trip to the region in Israel.

💥🇷🇺 🇩🇪 Steinmeier was forgotten by authorities in Qatar: How Russian and German presidents are received in Arab countriesVladimir Putin is increasingly isolated in Russia and abroad. 

😂😉😂👇 pic.twitter.com/8SXPK0K7qY

— Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil (@ivan_8848) December 4, 2023

Meanwhile, next to a video of Putin during his visit, entrepreneur Kim Dotcom posted “You just have to watch how Putin was greeted in the UAE and Saudi Arabia on his current Middle East visit to understand that the petrodollar is history and that the multipolar order is taking over.”

The Kremlin said Putin was on a “working visit” to the UAE, during which he met its president, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and discussed “the current state of multifaceted bilateral cooperation,” as well as the situation in the Middle East.

Saif Islam, an associate at global intelligence agency S-RM, said while Putin was “unlikely to return home with extraordinary gains,” the trip would bolster relations on issues such as oil.

Another goal was “to leverage relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia to cope with Western sanctions over the Ukraine invasion,” he told Newsweek in emailed comments, adding that on the agenda was the war between Israel and Hamas, which has led to a spike in attacks in the region by Iranian proxies.

“The UAE and Saudi Arabia will likely hope that Russia can use its influence over Iran in a constructive manner, particularly in response to the Houthis’ hostile activities in the Red Sea and the group’s history of attacking Saudi and Emirati interests,” Islam added.

Meanwhile, social media users expressed anger at the visit.

“Absolutely disgraceful. The UAE has rolled out the red carpet for indicted war criminal Vladimir Putin,” posted Bill Browder, a political activist fighting against Putin.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Brendan Cole

Brendan Cole is a Newsweek Senior News Reporter based in London, UK. His focus is Russia and Ukraine, in particular the war started by Moscow. He also covers other areas of geopolitics including China. 

Brendan joined Newsweek in 2018 from the International Business Times and well as English, knows Russian and French.

You can get in touch with Brendan by emailing b.cole@newsweek.com or follow on him on his X account @brendanmarkcole.

Brendan Cole is a Newsweek Senior News Reporter based in London, UK. His focus is Russia and Ukraine, in particular … Read more

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Haaretz | Israel News

Hundreds of thousands of refugees from northern Gaza are now taking shelter in the south ■ Despite Biden’s warning Israel to make more of an effort not to harm civilians, there seems to be no significant changes in Israel’s operation in Gaza, war experts claim

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Dec 6, 2023

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Israel’s heavy bombardment of central and southern Gaza could lead refugees to cross the border into Egypt, people in Gaza fear. Reports from the southern Gaza Strip describe a large flow of refugees headed in the direction of Rafah, with so-called “tent cities” being constructed near the Egyptian border.

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Workers unload humanitarian aid destined for the Gaza Strip via Rafah border area, at Al Arish airport

Workers stand next to the European Union’s humanitarian aid destined for the Gaza Strip via Rafah border area, during a temporary truce between Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Israel, at Al Arish airport, in Al Arish, Egypt, November 30, 2023. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

CAIRO, Dec 7 (Reuters) – Egypt is striving to accelerate the delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip, a senior official said on Thursday, after the amount of relief getting through to the Palestinian enclave dipped with the end of the Israel-Hamas truce on Dec. 1.

Diaa Rashwan, head of the State Information Service, said Egypt would never allow the emptying of the Gaza Strip of its residents as Israel’s military campaign pushes them southwards towards the border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Rashwan added that Egypt believed Israel’s operations in the Israeli-occupied West Bank aimed to force Palestinians towards Jordan.

Since the conflict in Gaza began on Oct. 7, the Rafah crossing on its border with Egypt has been the only entry point for aid trucks carrying desperately needed supplies of food, medicines, water and fuel.

The number of trucks crossing daily has dropped in recent days to fewer than 100, from nearly 200 when the week-long truce was in place. On Wednesday, 80 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies and 69,000 litres of fuel entered Gaza from Egypt, according to the United Nations.

Egypt, along with the United Nations, has been lobbying Israel to speed up an inspection process for aid trucks that requires the vehicles to drive to Egypt’s border with Israel before looping back to Rafah.

Reporting by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Janet Lawrence

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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AJN Agency.- Several videos recorded in Gaza and uploaded to social networks in the last few hours show how the IDF has detained dozens of Palestinians – possible Hamas fighters – who have surrendered to Israeli troops in Jabaliya and other areas of the north. of the Strip.

Mass surrender of Hamas terrorists in Khan Younis in front of Israeli soldiers

Use: https://t.co/fnrO942Ori #HamasisISIS #Israel #Gaza #IDF #Hamas #Hezbollah #Palestine #WestBank #Jihad #فلسطين #بالقدس #السلتة #Iran #هنية #تعليمنجاشت #نابلس #السهم_الواقي pic.twitter.com /ZYDJMlDnON

— Agencia AJN (@AgenciaAJN) December 7, 2023

The young Palestinians appear naked, blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs.

In a video, a group of them is seen being transported in the back of an Israeli military vehicle.

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The IDF has not yet commented on the apparent mass arrests.

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AJN Agency.- The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) passed intelligence information on the Islamic Jihad to Israel, the Washington Post reported tonight.

According to the report, based on statements by “Israeli military officials” who spoke with the aforementioned media, Hamas’ objective was “to create the image that it is interested in collaborating with Israel” and not in a military confrontation, and thus “sleep.” to the Hebrew State prior to the attack on October 7, known as “Black Saturday.”

Additionally, the report noted that an Israeli Security Service official confirmed that Jerusalem collected intelligence indicating that Hamas was planning “a major attack” more than a year ago.

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It should be noted that last May, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began operation “Magen veJetz” against Islamic Jihad, after eliminating six senior officials in a series of targeted assassinations.

Hamas did not participate in the clashes that lasted five days. In that round of combat, Islamic Jihad fired more than 1,400 rockets toward Israel, two of which landed and killed two people.

This Wednesday the British newspaper “Guardian” reported that among the documents that Hamas members had on October 7 and that were seized by the IDF, maps with details of military bases in southern Israel were discovered.

According to the report, they reached the hands of Hamas through an “Israeli intelligence source,” through “internal information” sent by the “spy.”

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AJN Agency.- A Thai foreign worker residing in Israel and who was kidnapped by the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) on October 7 gave his testimony about the days of horror he experienced in the Gaza Strip.

In an interview with Reuters, Anucha Angkaew said: “The Israelis received worse treatment.”

He detailed that Hamas members beat the Israeli hostages with cables.

“When they hit us we shouted ‘Thailand,’ which worked in our favor,” he said. “The Israelis did not get any mercy,” he added.

On October 7, Anucha, 28 years old, along with five compatriots were kidnapped by ten armed Hamas members. “We shouted Thailand, Thailand, but they didn’t care,” he recalled in an interview with Reuters.

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Two of the kidnapped people who were with him died. Anucha highlighted that the Hamas gang shot one of his friends.

In captivity, the kidnapped people slept on the ground, ate pita (Arabic bread) twice a day and shared two bottles of water, Anucha said.

Four Thai abductees, who were kept inside two small underground rooms, were guarded by Hamas gunmen, played chess on makeshift boards and shared family memories, while suffering threats and beatings.

They had a hole in the ground as a bathroom, and they had to be accompanied by a member of Hamas.

Anucha was released on November 25 and that day he was born again, he said.

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi says the Palestinian issue and the brutal Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip will be top on the agenda of his official visit to Russia.

Speaking to reporters before setting off for Moscow on Thursday, Raeisi said all Muslims and free nations are concerned about the current situation in Gaza.

He added that urgent efforts to stop the Israeli regime’s bombing raids against Gaza, lift the blockade on the Strip, provide aid to the Palestinians in the war-hit teritory, and help the Palestinian people restore their absolute rights will be among other main topics to be discussed.

Iranian authorities have held talks with high-ranking officials from various countries about the Palestinian issue and Israel’s ongoing onslaught against Gaza, which would be pursued during the visit to Moscow as well, he noted.

Israel launched relentless air and ground attacks on the coastal territory, including hospitals, residences, and houses of worship, since Palestinian resistance movements carried out a surprise attack, dubbed Operation al-Aqsa Storm, against the regime on October 7.

Since then, the Israeli regime has also imposed a complete blockade on Gaza, impeding the Strip’s access to food, water and medicine.

At least 16,248 Palestinians, including 7,112 children and 4,885 women, have been killed and more than 43,616 others injured in relentless air and ground attacks on the territory since the onset of the war.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Raeisi said the promotion of political, economic, trade, cultural and knowledge-based cooperation between Iran and Russia is also among other objectives of his visit, which is taking place at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Iranian president emphasized that the exchange of delegations between Tehran and Moscow showed that the two sides have taken steps to further promote relations in a bid to serve bilateral and regional interests.

Iran and Russia have a common stance on peace and stability in the region, leading regional and extra-regional developments and the fight against unilateralism, he pointed out.

Raeisi said the Eurasian Economic Union, the Shanghai Cooperation Council and the BRICS group of emerging economies have prepared the ground for the expansion of Tehran-Moscow ties and relations with the regional and allied states.

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov signed an agreement in Moscow to make joint efforts to counter unilateral sanctions imposed on the two countries.

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Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has urged Egypt to “unconditionally” open the Rafah crossing to allow the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip immediate access of to medicine, food, and fuel.

“It is highly expected that top authorities in Egypt will open the Rafah border crossing unconditionally to send medicine, food and fuel to the entire Gaza [Strip],” Amir-Abdollahian said in a post on X on Wednesday.

“Today, the eyes of the women and children of Gaza, who are without water, medicine, or food, are on the Rafah border and [they are waiting for] Egypt’s decisive decision,” he wrote.

The Rafah border, located in the south of the Gaza Strip, is one of two main crossings for inhabitants of Gaza and the only crossing that is not directly controlled by the Israeli regime. 

All goods and humanitarian aid cross through the Rafah border. But because of the blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel, the border has only intermittently been open to Palestinians. 

Palestinians have accused Egypt of bolstering the Israeli blockade of Gaza by refusing to reopen the Rafah crossing.

Israel has launched relentless air and ground attacks on the coastal territory, including hospitals, residences, and houses of worship, since Palestinian resistance movements carried out a surprise attack, dubbed Operation al-Aqsa Storm, against the regime on October 7.

Since then, the Israeli regime has also imposed a complete blockade on Gaza, impeding the Strip’s access to food, water and medicine.

At least 16,248 Palestinians, including 7,112 children and 4,885 women, have been killed and more than 43,616 others injured in relentless air and ground attacks on the territory since October 7.

The Gaza-based Ministry of Health said Wednesday that a total of 800,000 Palestinians in the northern part of the besieged Strip are currently without health coverage.

The ministry warned against “acts of genocide committed by Israel in the northern Gaza Strip.”

In a statement on X, the ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qudra said the Israeli occupation deliberately aims to undermine health care infrastructure in northern Gaza.

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