“Iran would only sell weapons to countries that it is sure “won’t misuse them” and will employ them strictly for defence purposes.”
(Iran’s defence minister Amir Hatami, in an interview with state television on 18th October 2020 regarding the lifting of the United Nations arms embargo)
The United Nations and Iran Urge Immediate Stop of Arms to Israel
Although the United Nations defines Hamas as a political party, we can break this down.
Hamas, officially known as Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement), is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist political and military movement that governs parts of the occupied Gaza Strip. Unlike Hezbollah, which identifies as a Shia resistance movement, Hamas adheres to the Sunni branch of Islam. Hamas won the majority of parliamentary seats it was not elected to power. Hamas took control by a bloody and savage coup in 2007.
There have been signs that some Palestinian civilians are openly challenging Hamas’s authority. Angry crowds have thrown stones at Hamas police, and people in UN shelters have hurled insults at Hamas officials. While not all Palestinians are members of Hamas or support it, most agree with its basic ideology.
Hamas later established a military wing known as the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Its primary goal was to engage in armed resistance against Israel with the aim of liberating Palestine. In some cases, political parties have direct affiliations with armed groups. These parties fuse ballots and bullets, combining electoral participation with armed activities. Examples include Hezbollah in Lebanon and the IRA in Northern Ireland. Hamas and al-Qassam Brigades are no different.
A political group that once elected remains in power is often referred to as an “incumbent” party or government. When a party or leader wins an election and continues to hold office without being replaced by another party, they are considered incumbents. This situation can occur in various forms of government, including democracies and non-democratic systems. For instance, the Nazi Party under Adolf Hitler maintained power after winning the 1933 election in Germany.
Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has functioned as a de facto one-party state under Hamas rule. However, smaller parties are tolerated to varying degrees. These include: Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), a faction of Fatah that opposes President Abbas.
While Hamas maintains its dominant position, these smaller parties continue to exist, albeit with limited influence.
A one-party state, also known as a single-party state, one-party system, or single-party system, is a governance structure in which only a single political party controls the ruling system. All other parties are either outlawed or only enjoy limited and controlled participation in elections.
Sometimes, the term “de facto one-party state” describes a dominant-party system that, while allowing nominally democratic multiparty elections, effectively prevents the opposition from winning power due to existing practices or the balance of political power.
Historically, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) ruling over the Ottoman Empire following the 1913 coup d’état is often considered the first one-party state. These states justify their existence through various methods.
Proponents argue that separate parties run counter to national unity. Some claim that the ruling party represents the most politically aware members and is the legitimate authority to govern. The Soviet government asserted that only a single party could lead a classless proletariat, thereby making the Communist Party of the Soviet Union the sole authorized political party.
Examples of one-party states include North Korea, China and Cuba.
The United Nations does not call Hamas terrorists but a political party. The United Nations (UN) has a delicate stance regarding Hamas as a terrorist organization.
Martin Griffiths, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, stated that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. He made this statement during a TV interview, emphasizing that he has worked with various groups, including those labelled as terrorists. Griffiths clarified that Hamas is viewed as a political movement by the UN, not a terrorist group.
The UN body formerly known as the 1267 Committee, now called the ISIL (Dae’sh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee, does not officially designate Hamas (or any other Iranian proxy) as a terrorist group. Consequently, no UN condemnation of Hamas’s brutal attacks explicitly labelled the group as a terrorist organization.
While the UN does not officially label Hamas as a terrorist group, several countries and entities do. Israel, the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom have all designated Hamas as a terror organization. These designations are based on Hamas’s history of violence, suicide bombings, and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.
Griffiths’ statement sparked outrage from Israel, which views Hamas as a terrorist entity. Israeli officials criticized the UN for what they perceive as bias against Israel. Despite Griffiths’ clarification, tensions persist regarding the UN’s handling of the Hamas issue.
On the 23rd February 2024 UN experts said, “any transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel that would be used in Gaza is likely to violate international humanitarian law and must cease immediately.” The report continued with, “States must accordingly refrain from transferring any weapon or ammunition — or parts for them — if it is expected, given the facts or past patterns of behaviour, that they would be used to violate international law.” Lastly the UN experts said, “the need for an arms embargo on Israel is heightened by the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the 26th January 2024, that there is a plausible risk of genocide in Gaza and the continuing serious harm to civilians since then.”
Clearly the United Nations does not wish for Israels call for self-defence to be legitimate and there was no mention regarding the release of the hostages that were forcibly taken by Hamas, the Palestine Islamic jihad and other terrorist groups.
The United Nations has not called on Iran to halt its supply of weapons and ammunition to its proxies nor to stop other Iranian-backed terrorist groups from gaining military logistics from the largest state-sponsoring terrorist organisation in the world. Namely the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Attempts to Stop Supplying Weapons to the State of Israel
During the 11th and 12th January 2024 when South Africa accused the State of Israel of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Iran supported such a move. The ruling failed to stop the war in the Gaza Strip. The judgement on the 26th January 2024 did state that Israel was to take measures to stop any form of genocide and avoid civilian casualties and the destruction of property. The court also stated that the Iran-backed Hamas terrorist group release all hostages, unconditionally.
As of the 26th February 2024 the Israeli government was submitting a report to show how Israel was complying with the court’s decision. The court had stated that Israel submits a report within one month of its ruling on improving measures on the Gaza humanitarian situation and to stop the ‘plausible’ arguments regarding the accusation of genocide. The required report was not for the public domain.
Calls from the Islamic State of Iran and other countries to stop the supply of weapons to Israel came after the Hague ruling. The Tehran government sees the court’s decision whereby Israel has to take all measures to stop the deaths of civilians and the destruction of property as ‘to stop supplying weapons and ammunition’ in order for Israel to cease the destruction and death in the Gaza Strip. This would help with the survival of Hamas.
The court recognised Israel’s right to self-defence. Should nations stop supplying military logistics to Israel then that would affect its right to self-defence. Iran has, bent and twisted, the court ruling to suit its own agenda, that of the destruction of the State of Israel.
Iran uses the excuse to arm its proxies by pointing out that the United States supports and provides weapons to Israel and other allies in the region. While Iran accuses the Americans of funding Israel and its defensive capabilities by supplying weapons and ammunition it does so openly and fairly in public business transactions, accountability and by government approval. Iran, on the other hands does none of those things. The American Senate and the House of Representatives has to approve the budget for these matters before any action is taken. Both houses of Congress must approve the legislation before Biden can sign it into law.
The Tehran government openly admits that it supports its proxy or resistance groups, but any attempt to look for any open business transactions for weapons, ammunition, missiles or parts of, then you will be there for a long time as the theocratic government does not publish such documents. Recently, on the 16th January 2024, while Iran states that it supports peace in Yemen a boat was intercepted smuggling sophisticated missile components to the Houthi’s.
Iran has been a key patron of the Palestinian militant organization Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2006. Here are the details regarding Iran’s funding to Hamas.
According to a 2020 U.S. State Department report, Iran provides approximately $100 million annually to Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas. This does not include any funding for ordinary Palestinians. Hamas sees the welfare of the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip as a United Nations responsibility. However, as of 2023, an Israeli security source indicated that Iran had significantly increased its funding for Hamas to $350 million a year.
Relations between Iran and Hamas strengthened after the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) pursued peace efforts with Israel. During the 1990s, Iran committed to both military and financial backing, providing approximately $30 million per year. Additionally, thousands of Hamas members received military training at Revolutionary Guard bases in Iran and Lebanon. Following the Second Intifada, Iran’s support for Hamas continued to grow.
Iran and Hamas became dramatically closer after Hamas’ unexpected win in the 2006 Palestinian elections and its violent seizure of the Gaza Strip in 2007. In 2006, Iran committed to providing $250 million in assistance to the nearly insolvent Palestinian Authority in Gaza, now under Hamas control.
In the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) collaborated with Hamas to plan a surprise attack in southern Israel. The attack resulted in casualties and hostage-taking. Some 500 fighters from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad received training in Iran, under the guidance of the IRGC Quds Force.
United Nations Arms Embargo Against the Islamic Republic of Iran
A decade-long United Nations arms embargo on Iran, which prevented it from purchasing foreign weapons such as tanks and fighter jets, expired on the 18th October 2020 as planned under its nuclear deal with world powers. This occurred despite objections from the United States, which maintained that the ban should have remained in place. While Iran asserts that it has no plans for a “buying spree,” it can now theoretically purchase weapons to upgrade its military armaments dating back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution and sell its locally produced gear abroad. However, in practice, Iran’s economy remains crippled by broad-reaching U.S. sanctions, and other nations may hesitate to engage in arms deals with Tehran due to fear of American financial retaliation.
Iran is currently negotiating a deal with its ally Russia for the purchase of Sukhoi Su-35 air-defence fighter and is supplying drones to Russia.
The Trump administration had warned that any sales of weapons to Iran or exports from Iran will be penalized. Although the arms embargo has technically expired, the U.S. insists that it reimposed all UN sanctions on Iran, including the arms embargo, via a clause in the nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew in 2018. However, this claim has been ignored by the rest of the world.
Iran, on the other hand, views the end of the arms embargo as a “momentous day for the international community” and a win for multilateralism and peace and security in the region. The then U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, flatly rejected the expiration and emphasizes that the U.S. was prepared to use its domestic authorities to sanction any individual or entity materially contributing to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran.
In an interview with Iranian government state run television on 18th October 2020, Iran’s defence minister Amir Hatami said Iran would only sell weapons to countries that it is sure “won’t misuse them” and will employ them strictly for defence purposes. Iranian weapons were found in Gaza by the IDF a report in the Jerusalem Post sated on the 18th February 2024.
The European Union
The European Union (EU) holds a balanced position regarding Hamas. Official EU Statement (October 2023). The European Council has condemned Hamas in the strongest possible terms for its brutal and indiscriminate terrorist attacks across Israel. The EU deeply deplores the loss of lives caused by these attacks. In a statement the EU emphasizes that there is no justification for terror. The EU strongly emphasizes Israel’s right to defend itself in accordance with humanitarian and international law.
It also calls on Hamas to release all hostages without any precondition.
The EU remains committed to a lasting and sustainable peace based on the two-state solution through reinvigorated efforts in the Middle East Peace Process.
In 2014, the EU had designated Hamas as a terrorist organization. However, in 2019, the European Court of Justice annulled this designation, citing issues with the process and the need for specific evidence. The EU has since worked to reinstate the designation to protect its regime against further legal challenges.
While the EU acknowledges Hamas’s role in the region, it balances this with the need for peace and stability. The situation remains controversial, and the EU engages with various actors to prevent further escalation. The EU views Hamas as a group responsible for violence but navigates a delicate path to address the broader context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On the 12th February 2024 EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged allies of Israel, primarily the United States, to stop sending weapons to Israel. However, there are some EU countries that have halted weapon exports to Israel. The countries are Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium. These countries have stopped for the time being should there be a situational judicial case to answer in the Israeli ‘plausible’ case of genocide.
On the 26th February 2024 Josep Borrell responded to questions about his assertion in January that Israel had “created” and “financed” the Hamas militia group, a claim made amid the country’s war against Hamas in Gaza. “I do not say that (Israel) financed it by sending a cheque, but it has enabled the development of Hamas” as a rival to leading Palestinian party Fatah. “It is an unquestionable reality that Israel has bet on dividing the Palestinians, creating a force to oppose Fatah,” he said.
Nothing was mentioned regarding Iranian support for Hamas and the Palestinian Jihad group and how they obtain their weapons.
We should understand how Hamas evolved.
The Muslim Brotherhood
The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna in Ismailia, Egypt, has undergone significant evolution over the years. Initially, the Brotherhood focused on religious and educational programs, providing essential social services. In the 1930s, its membership grew rapidly as it addressed social needs. However, it began to politicize its outlook, opposing Egypt’s ruling Wafd party during World War II.
In the late 1930s, the Brotherhood established an armed branch, which engaged in violent acts like bombings and assassinations. The group’s armed element sometimes operated independently of Hassan al-Banna’s control. In 1948, the Brotherhood assassinated Prime Minister Maḥmūd Fahmī al-Nuqrāshī. Hassan al-Banna himself was assassinated shortly afterward, possibly at the government’s behest.
With the 1952 revolutionary regime in Egypt, the Brotherhood went underground. An attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1954 led to its forcible suppression. Several leaders were executed for treason, and many members were imprisoned. Writer Sayyid Quṭb, imprisoned during this time, authored influential works that shaped modern Sunni militancy.
Over the years, the Brotherhood experienced ideological shifts. From an active participant in a nationalist movement. To a banned group operating underground, leaning toward armed struggle. And then back to a reformist-minded party.
After the 2011 uprising in Egypt, the Brotherhood briefly held power. Despite challenges, it continues to pursue its mission, navigating a complex path in the ever-changing political landscape. the Muslim Brotherhood’s evolution reflects a blend of social services, political activism, and ideological adaptations, shaped by historical events and internal dynamics.
The Evolution of Hamas
Israel did not create or finance Hamas contrary to claims by the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
Hamas, founded in 1987, emerged during the First Intifada against Israeli occupation. Its origins trace back to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement, which had been active in the Gaza Strip since the 1950s. Here’s how Hamas evolved from its roots.
Ahmed Yassin, a Palestinian imam and activist, established Hamas in 1987. Before this, Yassin had been associated with the Mujama al-Islamiya, an Islamic charity affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The outbreak of the First Intifada provided the context for Hamas’s formation. It quickly gained a broad following among Palestinians. Unlike the traditional Muslim Brotherhood approach, Hamas embraced armed resistance. It became the first Muslim organization to use suicide bombers as a tactic against Israel.
Hamas leaders recognized that waiting for a Palestinian state was futile, given Israel’s superior military strength. In 1999, Hamas moved its leadership from Jordan to Syria. Between 2001 and 2008, Hamas underwent significant changes. It restructured its organization and strategic vision. It sought a strong base of support deeply rooted in society.
It became an independent organization, distinct from the formal leadership of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. Its ties with the Jordanian regime and the Jordanian Brotherhood evolved. Hamas evolved from its Muslim Brotherhood roots, adapting its strategies and organizational structure to navigate the complex dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and regional politics.
What was the Muslim Brotherhood’s Stance on Israel?
Historically, the Brotherhood has advocated anti-Israel sentiments. It has supported violent resistance against Israel and terrorism. Some prominent Brotherhood members, like Dr. Muhammad Mursi, were involved in committees against Israel and Zionism. The Brotherhood’s rhetoric has included anti-Semitic claims, portraying Jews as innately evil and enemies of Islam.
While the Brotherhood itself is Sunni, it has embraced movements like Hamas, which is Sunni but closely aligned with the Brotherhood. Hamas considers itself the spearhead of the struggle against Israel.
Hezbollah, a Shia resistance movement, also shares anti-Israel sentiments. Although not directly affiliated with the Brotherhood, it has received support from Iran, which has influenced its stance on Israel.
The Brotherhood’s political platform, published in 2007, offered an alternative to the Mubarak regime in Egypt, including a different approach to Israel. Its position has evolved over time, influenced by regional dynamics and internal considerations. The Brotherhood’s stance on Israel has been marked by both anti-Israel rhetoric and pragmatic political choices. It’s essential to recognize that different leaders within the Brotherhood may hold varying views.
The understanding of Hamas evolved is important and proves Mr Josep Borrell statement regarding Israel forming Hamas as incorrect.
The other organisation that Josep Borrell mentioned was Fatah. This is a brief round-up of the group.
Fatah, also known as the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, is a political and military organization of Arab Palestinians. It was founded in the late 1950s by Yasser Arafat and Khalīl al-Wazīr (also known as Abū Jihād). Fatah’s primary aim was to liberate Palestine from Israeli control through low-intensity guerrilla warfare.
Initially, Fatah focused on armed struggle against Israel. It obtained Syrian support and was based in Damascus. In 1964, Fatah carried out its first military operation by blowing up an Israeli water-pump installation.
By 1968, Fatah had emerged as a major Palestinian force, especially after its strong showing in the Karameh battle in Jordan. It became the largest and best-funded of all Palestinian organizations and took over effective control of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
In the late 1980s, Fatah began seeking a two-state solution through diplomatic avenues. Its leaders played prominent roles in the Oslo peace process, which led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. Fatah’s journey reflects both militancy and a shift toward negotiation in pursuit of Palestinian rights.
What is the History of Iran's Involvement with Terrorist Groups?
Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has faced accusations from several countries regarding its involvement with terrorist groups. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been accused of training, financing, and providing weapons and safe havens for non-state militant actors. These include, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and other Palestinian groups such as Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
These groups are designated as terrorist organizations by various countries and international bodies like the EU, UN, and NATO. However, Iran considers them to be “national liberation movements” with a right to self-defence against Israeli military occupation.
Iranian Republic Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF)
Iran’s special operations unit, the Quds Force, plays a significant role. It provides arms, training, and financial support to militias and political movements across the Middle East, including; Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Yemen.
How has Iranian Supplied Arms and Ammunition Effected the Security of the Middle East?
Iran’s involvement in supplying arms and ammunition has had significant implications for the security dynamics in the Middle East. Iran’s military-industrial complex has expanded rapidly since the mid-1990s. It reportedly exports weapons to fifty-seven countries, including conflict zones, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The actual export value is likely higher than reported and is expected to rise further as restrictions are relaxed.
Iran’s primary arms customers are believed to be in the Middle East, Africa, and South America. It offers cheap and reliable weapons, which may attract emerging markets. However, due to economic sanctions, Iran closely guards its export figures and customer identities.
Independent investigations have found Iranian weapons and ammunition in service with various nonstate entities. These include foreign-backed insurgents, rebel forces, Islamist armed groups, and warring civilian communities in countries like Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda. Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iraqi Shiite militias are also beneficiaries of Iranian arms.
Potential Threats to Regional Security
The upsurge in arms exports could affect Iran’s allies and proxies in the Middle East and beyond. If such equipment ends up in the wrong hands, it poses a threat to regional security. Terrorist and extremist groups in the Middle East, West Asia, and Africa could gain access to Iranian weapons.
What has the United Nations done to Deter Iran Exporting Arms and Ammunition to Others?
The United Nations (UN) has taken several measures to address Iran’s arms exports. UN Security Council Resolution 2231. On the 20th July 2015, the UN adopted Resolution 2231 specifically related to Iran. This resolution endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
In March 2007, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1747, which established an embargo on the export of all arms and related materials from Iran. This embargo effectively prohibited all states and groups from purchasing or receiving arms from Iran.
The UN arms embargo on Iran would have expired on the 18th October 2023 had it been left to run its natural course. Despite this expiration, the United States has been closely monitoring Iran’s actions. The international community stands ready to respond swiftly and severely if Iran engages in such arms transactions. In the past the UN has played a crucial role in regulating Iran’s arms exports, but recent developments have raised concerns about potential proliferation and its impact on regional security.
How does the United Nations Police Iran’s Arms Exports?
The United Nations (UN) has taken several measures to address Iran’s arms exports. Annex B of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (17th July 2015) endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal.
The UN monitors and reports on Iran’s compliance with the arms embargo. The Security Council receives regular updates on Iran’s arms-related activities. This information helps shape international responses and decisions.
Member states collaborate to prevent illicit arms transfers by sharing intelligence, track suspicious shipments, and enforce sanctions. Cooperation among nations is crucial in policing Iran’s arms exports.
The UN sanctions regime aims to deter Iran from exporting arms. Diplomatic efforts encourage Iran to comply with international norms. Sanctions may be imposed on entities violating the embargo. Policing arms exports is challenging due to covert channels and regional dynamics. Balancing security concerns with diplomatic engagement remains delicate.
The exporting of drones to Russia in its illegal war against the Ukraine along with other countries has proven to be extremely difficult to police.
How Effective has the United Nations (UN) Policing Iran’s Arms Exports Been?
The effectiveness of the United Nations (UN) in policing Iran’s arms exports has been a topic of concern and debate. Despite heavy sanctions, Iran has managed to build a burgeoning arms industry over the last decade.
It has become proficient in producing cost-effective ballistic missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Iran’s arms exports have raised concerns, especially to countries like Syria, Venezuela, and Russia, as well as various armed factions in the Middle East. These exports raise worries about human rights violations and the risk of civilian casualties in conflicts.
The expiration of UN arms embargoes allowed Iran to import and export conventional arms. The lifting of restrictions on components for ballistic missiles and UAVs further raised international concerns.
Iran has reportedly developed a global arms industry, with an estimated 200 to 240 production sites across Iran and other countries. It specializes in cost-effective ballistic missiles and UAVs.
The European Union (EU) and the United States have imposed separate restrictions on Iran’s arms trade to reduce proliferation. However, these restrictions are regional and do not carry the same weight as UN Security Council measures.
Iran’s arms exports pose a threat to regional security. There are claims that these weapons have been used in attacks on U.S. military bases in Iraq by Iran-backed militias. The lack of Iran’s participation in the Arms Trade Treaty exacerbates concerns about potential misuse of exported weapons. The UN has implemented embargoes and monitored Iran’s actions; challenges remain in effectively policing Iran’s arms exports. Regional and national restrictions play a role, but the situation remains intricate.
Who Supplies the Weapons to Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad Terrorist Groups?
Both designated terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), receive support from various sources.
Iran established ties with Hamas and PIJ in the 1980s. Iran provides funding, weapons, and training to these militant groups. Iran transfers several types of artillery rockets, including Fajr 3, Fajr 5, and M302s (originally made in Syria) to Gaza. Tehran focuses on equipping its allies and proxies, including Palestinian factions, with the knowledge and equipment to produce rockets locally. The goal is to enhance their ability to operate Iranian-delivered rockets and build their own missiles.
Historically, Iran smuggled weapons via Sudan, where the IRGC Quds Force operated warehouses. Some rocket production for Palestinian factions may have been constructed there. These rockets were then smuggled via Egypt through tunnels from the Sinai Peninsula into Gaza. However, Egypt has sealed or destroyed many tunnels since 2013.
How are Weapons Smuggled into the Gaza Strip?
Weapons are smuggled into the Gaza Strip through various covert methods, despite strict border controls.
Smuggling Tunnels. Underground Network: The Gaza Strip smuggling tunnels are a network of tunnels dug beneath the Egypt–Gaza border, specifically along the Philadelphi Route. These tunnels were initially created to subvert the blockade imposed on Gaza and facilitate the smuggling of essential goods, including fuel, food, and weapons.
These tunnels serve as secret passages for transporting weapons, ammunition, and other contraband into Gaza. They connect the southern part of Gaza (in Palestinian territory) with the smaller part of Rafah located in Egypt (Rafah is situated on the border between the two countries). The first recorded discovery of such a tunnel by Israel was in 1983, after Israel had withdrawn from the Sinai. These tunnels often start from basements of houses in Rafah on one side of the border and end in houses on the other side.
After Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, control of the Rafah Border Crossing shifted. Israel declared that Palestinians would not have control of their side of the crossing, leading to restrictions on movement. Egypt intermittently opened and closed the Rafah crossing during this period. The Kerem Shalom crossing became the primary route for goods, supervised by Israelis and monitored by EU personnel.
In June 2007, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip. Following this, both Egypt and Israel largely sealed their border crossings with Gaza, citing the absence of Palestinian Authority security on the Palestinian side. Despite these measures, weapons continue to be smuggled into Gaza. Arms suppliers use tunnels as an alternative route to supply weapons, bypassing maritime control by the Israeli Navy.
In 2009, Egypt began constructing an underground barrier to block existing tunnels and make new ones harder to dig. However, some smuggling persists. In 2013–2014, Egypt’s military destroyed most of the 1,200 smuggling tunnels. The Gaza Strip’s smuggling tunnels remain a critical conduit for weapons and other contraband, despite efforts to curb their use.
How did Egypt Destroy the Tunnels into the Gaza Strip?
Egypt employed several methods to destroy the tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. In 2015, the Egyptian military initiated a strategy to flood the tunnels by transferring Mediterranean Sea water to the Rafah border area. Egypt also attempted to flood the tunnels with sewage. A newly-built crude canal was filled with seawater, which flowed into the tunnels, rendering them unusable. These tunnels, often 20 meters deep and stretching up to 300 meters inside Egyptian Rafah side, were severely impacted by this flooding. The Egyptian government aimed not only to disrupt the tunnels but also to economically weaken Hamas.
Egyptian military bulldozers destroyed many homes on the Egyptian side of Rafah to create a buffer zone. This zone extended between 500 and 1,000 meters on the Egyptian side and 1,000 meters on the Gaza side. Entire neighbourhoods were flattened to prevent tunnel construction and secure the border.
The flooding approach caused concern for the local environment and the livelihoods of communities living around the border. It led to ground subsidence, damaging already-meagre homes and livelihoods. Egypt’s efforts aimed to curb the “tunnel economy” that had flourished in Gaza, but it also affected civilians and their homes.
Israel also attempted to combat Gaza’s tunnels by digging a canal and pumping seawater into the 14 km borderline with Egypt. However, due to environmental damage and risks to natural aquifer water systems, Israel eventually built a separation wall instead. Despite these efforts, desperate Gazans continued to build tunnels to escape Israel’s economic restrictions.
Has the Destruction of Tunnels from Egypt to the Gaza Strip Worked?
The destruction of tunnels from Egypt to the Gaza Strip has had mixed results. While some tunnels have been rendered unusable due to flooding and buffer zones, others continue to operate. The flooding strategy and buffer zones have disrupted several tunnels, making them impassable. The destruction of tunnels has weakened the “tunnel economy” that relied on smuggling goods and weapons. Hamas impose a tunnel tax to assist with revenues. Egypt’s efforts contribute to border security and prevent illegal activities.
Despite these measures, some tunnels remain operational. Desperate Gazans continue to build new ones. The flooding approach caused environmental damage and affected local communities. Bulldozing homes and creating buffer zones displaced civilians and impacted their livelihoods.
Does Iran use the United Nations for its own Revolutionary Cause?
Iran, with its revolutionary ideology and geopolitical interests, has strategically engaged with the United Nations (UN) to further its goals. Iran actively participates in UN forums, including the General Assembly and various specialized agencies. It uses these platforms to advocate for its revolutionary principles, challenge Western dominance, and promote its vision of a multipolar world.
Iran cites international law and UN resolutions to support its positions. For instance, it refers to Resolution 2231 (related to the Iran nuclear deal) to argue against sanctions and arms embargoes.
Iran engages in soft power diplomacy by highlighting its commitment to human rights and social justice. It uses UN mechanisms to criticize Western countries and project itself as a champion of justice.
Iran builds alliances with like-minded countries within the UN. It collaborates with nations that share its anti-Western sentiments, especially in the context of anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism.
Iran often challenges Western narratives and policies within UN debates. It criticizes the United States and its allies, particularly regarding issues like Palestine, Syria, and Yemen.
Iran strategically uses the UN to advance its revolutionary cause, shape global narratives, and challenge Western dominance. Its engagement is multifaceted, combining diplomacy, legal arguments, and propaganda.
Some examples of the Iranian use of the United Nations
During a session at the United Nations on the 6th February 2024 Iran’s envoy to the United Nations said that regional groups act independently. The Iranian government run news outlet Fars News Agency reported: Iran's Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Nations Amir Saeed Iravani once again stressed that the resistance groups in West Asia are not directed by Tehran and do not take orders from Tehran, adding that they have legitimate rights to end the illegal US presence in Iraq and Syria, stop the killings in Gaza and end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
Addressing a United Nations Security Council meeting on the threat to international peace, the ambassador touched on anti-Israeli and anti-US operations by various resistance groups across the Western Asia region.
“All of the resistance groups in the region are independent and their decisions and actions are motivated by their legitimate rights under international law, which include ending the illegal presence of the US in their territories, stopping the genocide in Gaza, and ending the occupation of the Palestinian territories,” he said.
“Therefore, any attempt to attribute these actions to Iran or its Armed Forces is misleading, baseless, and unacceptable,” Iravani added.
“It is evident to everyone that the root causes of the crises in the region are occupation, aggression, and the continued genocide and horrific atrocities [that are being] committed by the Israeli regime and fully supported by the US against innocent Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” the envoy stressed.
For all the trouble that Iran causes in the Middle East on the 11th February 2024 the Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Raisi called for the expulsion of Israel from the United Nations following the Zionist regime’s military onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip. They failed to mention who was the chess master behind the attack nor the Israeli hostages held by their proxy groups.
On the 24th February 2024 Iran declared that it would be the voice of Palestine at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
On the 26th February 2024 Islamic Republic of Iran Foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian attended the 55th session of the Human Rights Council. Iran foreign minister in his speech said: The Islamic Republic of Iran remains steadfast in adhering to and respecting human rights and dignity based on its national cultural values and the Islamic teaching.
Using the world platform, he went on to say, “Unfortunately, the realization of the lofty goals of human rights is faced with some trying challenges, the most urgent of which is the systematic and widespread “human slaughtering" by the world's only apartheid regime i.e. the occupying war-mongering regime of Israel.”
The world is witnessing the maximum support for the Israeli atrocities by the United States of America and some of its allies that make them complicit to the ongoing crime of genocide. The Human Rights Council must hold the Zionist regime and its supporters accountable for the atrocity crimes committed in the occupied Palestine.
Islamophobia, which is mainly a result of racist and supremacist discourses in some political circles in the West, still persists in many ways. The consequence of such extremism is the rise in discrimination and religion-based violence in different parts of the world against Muslim individuals and communities and their sanctities. This is all the while that Islam is a religion of mercy and humanity, and this challenge needs to receive continuous attention in the Human Rights Council. The national, cultural and religious values and beliefs of nations should be respected and the imposition of a single prescriptions for all nations should be avoided.
Within these examples its easy to see how the Islamic Republic uses any and all platforms to drive home their hate against those who oppose them. Regarding human rights and according to the Global Economy human rights ranking website from 2007 – 2022 the Islamic Republic of Iran had the second worst human rights record in the world. Israel was rated at number 141. The Iranian backed Houthi’s in Yemen being the worst with Norway being the best.
The Biden Administration
Once Joe Biden, the New American President came to office on the 20th January 2021 doubts crept in regarding America’s response to its allies in the Middle East. The administration wanted to renegotiate the nuclear agreement (JCPOA) with Iran which his predecessor Republican Donald Trump had withdrawn from in 2018. The Democrats had used the renegotiation as an election promise. Once in the White House Biden toned down his stance and rhetoric against Iran in the hope that all parties would return to the negotiation table and he could bring about his electoral promise. But Tehran is one of these governments that will take and offer nothing in return.
American allies in the Middle East saw this as allowing Iran to basically do what it wanted in West Asia and relax the policing of sanctions against them. The allies believed that this action would bring about an even worse unsettling peace in the region than by not keeping Iran in check.
The Biden administration stated that they would always help their allies in times of need. The allies were not convinced and even swayed towards Russia as a possible replacement.
The Biden administration has since proven that they stand by their word on supporting their allies in times of need. The Arab nations of the Middle East did not envisage the Hamas attack on the State of Israel on the 7th October 2023. But, true to their word, the United States is supporting their ally, Israel. Those Arab nations who wanted the reassurance of the Americans did not expect the 7th October nor the response from the Biden administration nor that it would be the State of Israel that would be the first in need of American assistance.
Nations must understand that there are Israeli’s and Arabs living in the same region. If they all want peace then any interfering body must be kept out. That includes any and all proxies and the support of those entities.
It appears that the request by the United Nations is somewhat one-sided as are some views in the European Union. The major disruptive actor in the region of West Asia who supports, trains, funds and supplies are the one at fault by continually stoking the embers of a fire in which the flames do the damage. It’s all very well demanding that countries stop selling military equipment to Israel but if that happened it would make the Iranian revolutionary goal of destroying Israel that much easier. By stating that one side of the conflict be denied weapons and military logistics but allowing the other to receive weapons and ammunition is both idiotic and biased. The only way to stop more conflicts similar to the Israel/Gaza situation is to be more pro-active in dealing with those responsible for the upset in the Middle East. Like a chess master, Iran uses its pawns to fight its battles but keeping its main pieces in reserve. Hamas have been proven to be a terrorist group but the United Nations refuses to see that and then blame another state for the current chaotic and catastrophic events. The United Nations is aware that Iran uses them for a double-edged reason but it appears that no one confronts Iran for their propaganda use on a world platform, thus allowing them to spread more lies. The United Nations seems to blame Israel but in reality, if the UN was to take a more aggressive stand with Iran, then this and other events in the Middle East may not happen. It is time that the UN, the EU and those who live in the Middle East come together and outlaw the Tehran government if it wants a settled peace negotiation. Hamas have been proven to be a terrorist group but the United Nations refuses to see that and then blames another state for the chaotic and catastrophic events. Perhaps once the conflict in Gaza has ended, countries, nations and world bodies will see that they cannot keep turning their back on the main cause of problems in the Middle East but make moves to end them once and for all. It will be time to stand up to the plate and ensure that a conflict such as the one in Gaza never happen again.