As supplies of virtually every basic human necessity dwindle in Gaza, one group in the besieged enclave remains well-stocked: Hamas.
Arab and Western officials say there is substance to Israeli claims of Hamas stockpiling supplies, including desperately needed food and fuel. Hamas, they say, has spent years building dozens of kilometers of tunnels under the strip where it has amassed stores of virtually everything needed for a drawn-out fight. It is a reality that Israel may soon find itself grappling with if it makes good on its threat to invade Gaza.
Hamas has hundreds of thousands of liters of fuel for vehicles and rockets; caches of ammunition, explosives and materials to make more; and stockpiles of food, water and medicine, the officials said. A senior Lebanese official said Hamas, which is estimated to number between 35,000 and 40,000, had enough stocked away to keep fighting for three to four months without resupply.
One of the four Israeli hostages released by Hamas even described the group providing captives with medicine, shampoo and feminine hygiene products. All are now said to be extraordinarily scarce in Gaza more than two weeks after Israel, aided by Egypt, imposed what it called a “complete” blockade following the attack by the terrorist group on Oct. 7.
The Arab and Western officials who described Hamas’s supply situation all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were disclosing information gleaned from human sources, communications intercepts and other streams of intelligence. The stockpiles are typically kept underground, they said, and cautioned that precise details on Hamas’s supplies were difficult to come by.
While the blockade has left Gaza’s roughly 2 million people scraping by with what little food and water they scrounge up, it does not yet appear to have begun to degrade Hamas’s ability to fight. The group has launched hundreds of rockets at Israel since the blockade began and have fended off preliminary Israeli incursions into the enclave.
The supply situation speaks to the relative sophistication of Hamas as a fighting force — an axiom among military professionals is that while amateurs talk about tactics, professionals talk about logistics. Yet with Gazans facing a humanitarian catastrophe, Hamas’s stockpiles raise questions about what responsibility, if any, it has to the civilian population.