A new article titled: "‘Buying Quiet’: Inside the Israeli Plan That Propped Up Hamas” published Dec. 10 by the New York Times reveals new details about Netanyahu and Israel’s support for Hamas over the recent years. The avenue was payments from Qatar, which at its height reached $30 million per month to Palestine. While much of this went to various humanitarian and logistical purposes in Palestine, the article details that Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders also wanted to support Hamas as an insurance policy against a unified Palestinian state. As Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of research for Israel’s military intelligence, said: “The logic of Israel was that Hamas should be strong enough to rule Gaza, but weak enough to be deterred by Israel.”
The article was written by journalist Mark Mazzetti and Israeli-American author Ronan Bergman. It begins with the visit to Doha by Mossad chief David Barnea just weeks before Oct. 7. While meeting with Qatari officials, Barnea was asked if Israel wanted the payments to continue, to which he said yes, “The Israeli government still welcomed the money from Doha.”
The article claims, whether factually or not, that the intelligence assessment was that “Hamas was neither interested in nor capable of a large-scale attack.” It details the most recent agreement with Qatar, which began in 2018. “Every month, the Qatari government would make millions of dollars in cash payments directly to people in Gaza as part of a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. Shin Bet, the country’s domestic security service, would monitor the list of recipients to try to ensure that members of Hamas’s military wing would not directly benefit,” they write—a tenet that Israel knew was not being followed.
In addition to the overall illicit nature of the agreement itself, the means by which it was carried out exemplified its absurdity. The authors explain how, for years, Israeli intelligence officers would literally escort Qatari officials into Gaza carrying suitcases with millions of dollars, which they would proceed to hand out. The official who oversaw the agreement with Qatar, Yossi Cohen, remarked after retiring in 2021 that there was little oversight over the money, and that it had become “out of control.”
Shlomo Brom, retired general and former deputy to Israel’s national security advisor, spoke more to the core of the Netanyahu strategy, and why this was no mere accident or oversight. “One effective way to prevent a two-state solution is to divide between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” he said in an interview. It gives Netanyahu the ability to say, “I have no partner.”
Similarly, current Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich had said in 2015 when he was a member of Israel’s Knesset: “The Palestinian Authority is a burden. Hamas is an asset.”