* Hamas leaders say face liquidity problem not financial
* Iran major provider of Hamas funds
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
GAZA, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Iran has cut back or even stopped
its funding of Hamas after the Islamist movement, which rules
the Gaza Strip, failed to show public support for Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad, diplomats said on Sunday.
Hamas has denied that it is in financial crisis but says it
faces liquidity problems stemming from inconsistent revenues
from tax collection in the Gaza Strip and foreign aid.
The movement is spurned by the West over its refusal to
recognise Israel and renounce violence. It receives undisclosed
sums of cash from Iran, which has acknowledged providing
financial and political support to Hamas.
One diplomat, who asked not to be identified, said
intelligence reports showed that Iran had reduced funding for
Other diplomatic sources, also relying on intelligence
assessments, said the payments had stopped over the past two
The diplomats cited Iran's displeasure over Hamas' refusal
to hold rallies in support of Tehran's ally, Assad, in
Palestinian refugee camps in Syria after an uprising against his
rule. Hamas' leadership outside the Gaza Strip is headquartered
Hamas is also widely believed to receive money from the
Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most popular and organised political
force. Diplomats said those payments also may have been reduced
because the Brotherhood has diverted funds to support the
so-called Arab Spring revolts.
In a sign of a cash crunch, the Hamas government in Gaza has
failed to pay the July salaries of its 40,000 employees in the
civil service and security forces. Hamas leaders promised full
payments in August, but not all employees received their wages
as scheduled on Sunday.
In 2010, Hamas put its Gaza budget at $540 million, with
local revenues from taxes on merchants and on goods brought in
from Israel and through smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian
border accounting for only $55 million.
Since seizing the Gaza Strip in 2007 from forces loyal to
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, Hamas has
run several investment projects in former Israeli settlements in
They include farms, greenhouses, entertainment facilities
and restaurants in areas from which Israel withdrew in 2005.