Just weeks before Hamas launched the deadly Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, the head of Mossad arrived in Doha, Qatar, for a meeting with Qatari officials.
For years, the Qatari government had been sending millions of dollars a month into the Gaza Strip — money that helped prop up the Hamas government there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel not only tolerated those payments, he had encouraged them.
This is from Mark Mazzetti and Ronan Bergman, “‘Buying Quiet’: Inside the Israeli Plan That Propped Up Hamas,” New York Times, December 10, 2023.
The money from Qatar had humanitarian goals like paying government salaries in Gaza and buying fuel to keep a power plant running. But Israeli intelligence officials now believe that the money had a role in the success of the Oct. 7 attacks, if only because the donations allowed Hamas to divert some of its own budget toward military operations. Separately, Israeli intelligence has long assessed that Qatar uses other channels to secretly fund Hamas’ military wing, an accusation that Qatar’s government has denied.
Thus, the title of my post.
Later in the NYT article, a former CIA official notes what I noted:
“Money is fungible,” said Chip Usher, a senior Middle East analyst at the C.I.A. until his retirement this year. “Anything that Hamas didn’t have to use out of its own budget freed up money for other things.”
Interestingly also, Netenyahu appeared to want to support Hamas in order to deflect a two-state solution. Two key paragraphs:
As far back as December 2012, Mr. Netanyahu told the prominent Israeli journalist Dan Margalit that it was important to keep Hamas strong, as a counterweight to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Mr. Margalit, in an interview, said that Mr. Netanyahu told him that having two strong rivals, including Hamas, would lessen pressure on him to negotiate toward a Palestinian state.
The official in the prime minister’s office said Mr. Netanyahu never made this statement. But the prime minister would articulate this idea to others over the years.
I don’t say this often, but the whole NYT piece is worth reading.