Hamas celebrates 26th anniversary … in silence

Today is the 26th anniversary of the founding of the Gaza-based terrorist group, Hamas, by the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Informed observers might have noticed a marked shift from last year in terms of the almost complete lack of public celebration by the terrorist group.

The official explanation provided by Hamas is that the group would rather give money to the poor instead of wasting it on a large celebration.

The truth, however, is substantially more tangible and consistent with the facts. As per Times of Israel journalist Avi Issacharoff, “Hamas incurred significant public criticism following the military processions held on the anniversary of Operation Pillar of Defense last month — and wanted to avoid a repeat.”

Indeed, Hamas is facing growing external isolation – specifically, the group is suffering from major financial and strategic setbacks, the result of an ongoing failure to effectively confront the dynamically changing geopolitical landscape across the Middle East.

Hamas’s twin woes – financial setbacks and regional isolation – have been compounded by the ouster of former Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi and the ongoing civil war in Syria between the mainly Islamic rebel forces and the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

In Egypt, the toppling of the Islamist-led Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi and the subsequent rise of the Egyptian army chief, Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, have resulted in the closure of most of the tunnels running between the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza.

These tunnels were once a major means of facilitating economic support for the denizens of Gaza, and especially for fueling Hamas’s massive terrorist enterprise. At their apex, underground smuggling tunnels reportedly numbered an estimated 1,200 and funneled some US$500-700 million in goods every year. However, recent reports have indicated that Egypt’s closure of the tunnels is causing Hamas to lose $230 million per month.

Additionally, the civil war in Syria has caused a breakdown in the Iranian-Hamas relationship. Until recently, Iran was a premier patron of Hamas, with the Islamic regime in Tehran reportedly contributing to Hamas’s political and military wings between $20-30 million annually.

Recently, however, that support has dwindled due to the position taken by Hamas over the sectarian conflict in that country. While Iran has been actively supporting the al-Assad regime, Hamas sided with the Syrian government.

Hamas doesn’t appear to be backing away, either, but rather doubling down on its initial position. Prime Minister of Hamas Ismael Haniyeh recently said, “(Hamas) does not regret nor does it apologize for honourable positions, just to placate others.”

So Hamas seemingly prefers to protect its own image (and interests) by chalking up the glaring lack of an anniversary celebration to a new era of purported fiscal prudence. But given what we know about Hamas’s devastating financial woes, the forgoing of any large-scale celebration may have been inevitable.

Aryeh Fischer is a contributor for JewishInsider.com

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