Despite the talk of a possible reconciliation between Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, which reigns in the West Bank through the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Hamas, which rules Gaza, the PA has still not resumed its subsidies for Gaza’s fuel, electricity, and other civilian needs. Evelyn Gordon examines the results:
Hamas cut its annual military budget from $200 million in 2014—the year of the last Hamas-Israel war—to just $50 million this year. Granted, the cut is partially offset by renewed donations from Iran, which, flush with cash thanks to the 2015 nuclear deal, has resumed funding Hamas for the first time in five years. But even with the Iranian contribution, estimated at $60 to $70 million in 2017, Hamas’s military budget remains around 40 percent lower than it was in 2014. This has substantially reduced the risk of a new war. The less Hamas spends on its military, the longer it will take to rebuild the military capacity it lost in the last war. . . .
None of the above happened because Hamas suddenly decided to beat its swords into plowshares. Rather, it happened because Gaza faced a humanitarian crisis so severe that Hamas felt compelled to take the unprecedented step of spending its own money on civilian needs just to preserve its own political position. . . .
The [great] irony is that all three Hamas-Israel wars of the past decade might have been averted had the international community not tried so hard to “protect” Gaza’s civilian population. [Until recently], Hamas felt free to invest all of its money in the rockets and tunnels that sparked those three wars. And those wars caused greater devastation than anything Gaza has experienced due to Abbas’s funding cuts.