In 2005, Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip.
In 2006, the Quartet (the U.N, EU, Russia and the U.S) offered Hamas recognition, provided it accept three conditions: recognition of Israel, the renunciation of violence and existing agreements signed by Israel and the PLO. Hamas has consistently refused these conditions and remains resolute in its intention to destroy Israel, as declared in the Hamas Covenant.
In 2007, Gaza fell under the control of Hamas. Following the violent takeover of Gaza, Hamas proceeded to launch missiles and mortars into Israel. This forced Israel and Egypt to impose an arms blockade on Gaza to prevent Hamas’ efforts to import advanced weaponry.
At the same time, working with the United Nations, Israel has continued to provide steady shipments of goods to residents of the Gaza Strip. The UN has confirmed (in the Palmer Report) that Israel’s naval blockade is a legitimate tool to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas in Gaza. In much of the world, including Canada, the United States, and the European Union, Hamas is a designated terrorist entity.
Since Israel’s disengagement, under Hamas rule Gaza has failed to thrive socially or economically.
1. Hamas and its followers destroyed infrastructure Israel left in Gaza after the 2005 disengagement. Functioning greenhouses and other facilities were torn down and stripped of metal for rocket construction.
2. Since 2005, Hamas has fired more than 15,000 missiles and mortars into Israel. At the same time, Hamas has openly boasted of using Palestinians as human shields – and Hamas missiles have often fallen within Gaza, injuring civilians and damaging infrastructure.
3. In 2005, Gaza maintained a strong annual GDP growth rate of 8.6%. By 2014, under Hamas rule, Gaza’s GDP rate of growth rate fell -0.8%.
4. Hamas has used “modesty police” to impose increasingly restrictive social conditions in Gaza, particularly on women. This includes requiring women to wear headscarves and avoid “immodest” clothing (like certain types of jeans), banning women from smoking water pipes, banning men from styling women’s hair, banning women from riding motorcycles, banning the sale of lingerie, and other prohibitions as per Hamas’ strict view of Islamic law. In keeping with its dedication to jihad, Hamas issued a statement in 2011 mourning the death of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, calling him an “Arab holy warrior”.
5. At least 160 Palestinian children have died while digging tunnels for Hamas in Gaza.
6. Hamas’ reckless behaviour is both dangerous and economically costly. Concerned by Hamas’ abuse of funds and diversion of resources into terrorist infrastructure, international aid has been reduced. Since receiving $1.8 billion in 2008, more than $7 billion in pledges have gone unfulfilled. Although $5.5 billion was pledged following the 2014 Israel-Hamas conflict, only $960 million was actually delivered.
7. Rather than help Gazans gain access to homes, medical care, infrastructure and economic stability, Hamas has been using international donated funds to purchase weapons, build attack tunnels into Israel, and fund terrorism. In 2014, 18 of the tunnels discovered entering Israel from Gaza required 800,000 tons of concrete – more than seven times the amount required to build the world’s tallest tower (the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai).
8. Hamas regularly uses civilian locations, including hospitals and schools, as launch pads for terrorist attacks. Hamas terrorists have been known to dress like civilians, booby trap homes, and use teenagers as combatants and suicide bombers.
9. Hamas continues to devote funds to youth military training, including summer camps in which children are taught military techniques and Hamas’ violent ideology.
10. While we often hear about the effects of Israel’s blockade, Egypt also maintains an arms blockade of Gaza. This has included a metal and concrete wall between Gaza and Egypt, the creation of a large buffer zone between the two territories, and the flooding of Hamas’ smuggling tunnels beneath the Gaza-Sinai border.