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Explained | How Hamas gets weapons in Gaza

Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip reportedly rampaged through parts of southern Israel on Saturday after it announced the start of new “military operations” against the country, in the deadliest Palestinian militant attack in Israel’s history.

With Israel now vowing to escalate its response to the attack with a ground offensive and conflict between the two nations raging, here’s a look at how and where Hamas gets its weapons from:

The Gaza Strip is flanked by Israel on two sides, while also sharing a border with Egypt. To the west lies the Mediterranean Sea, patrolled by the Israeli Navy within a 12-nautical-mile limit, controlling the movement of people.

According to NDTV, weapons are dropped along the Mediterranean shore by arms smugglers, finding their way to Hamas despite strict Israeli naval oversight. Historically, it is believed Hamas has received a large proportion of their weaponry through sea-based smuggling.

As per reports, a secret tunnel also serves as an alternative route for arms smuggling — a network built to transport weapons like the Fajr-3, Fajr-5, and M-302 rockets from Iran and Syria. According to a WION report, after Israel evacuated its troops and settlers from Gaza in August 2005, Hamas established a covert supply route with Iran and Syria through a complex tunnel network.

A person familiar with US intelligence told Bloomberg that Hamas has excelled for years at hiding its weapons stockpiles in tunnels or underground.

Apart from that, Hamas has refined its crude rocket technology over the years, extending its range of weapons reportedly provided by Iran, which also proved effective against Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system when it fired over 5,000 rockets from Gaza last week.

Iran has supported Hamas’ operation against Israel ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’, though the country denied any direct involvement or funding, contrary to Israel’s claims.

A BBC report stated that Hamas gets majority of its funding from Iran. The fund reportedly goes towards weapons and training.

A Taliban connect has also emerged. Hamas is known to be utilising US-built weapons supplied by the Taliban in Afghanistan, reported NDTV. In 2021, the US army had left a stockpile of weapons during their departure from the country after the Taliban assumed control.

(Published 11 October 2023, 17:11 IST)

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