Posted tagged ‘Bankruptcy’

Gaza’s economy and the feeding of Hamas

February 20, 2009

The Western media has concluded that Israel’s air force and artillery flattened the Gaza Strip. Many are homeless. And Hamas, yes they are naughty for firing rockets at Israel, but it needs to be helped in order that the population at large does not suffer further.

According to a debate in the British Parliament, “the Muslim community in Blackburn raised £150,000 for a Palestinian charity in just one week.” Praiseworthy indeed, and let us hope that transparency has improved since the days when the Arafat and Dahlan team pocketed much of such donations.

In the past few months, there has been growing evidence to suggest that Hamas is in fact far wealthier than it wants to admit.

1) Khaled Abu Toameh is one of a rare breed. An investigative Palestinian journalist, he has eyes and ears in many parts of the territories. In a recent interview, he noted that:

Hamas could not have taken control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 had it not been for support from Iran and Syria. They had logistical and financial support, which means weapons. Most of the weapons coming into Gaza are being financed by Iran and facilitated by Syria.

2) Hamas is also not burdened with having to provide over a million people with education and welfare. Much of that role has been taken on by UNRWA. In a recent report,  UNRWA was slammed for becoming a political institution, managed by Palestinians for Palestinians, even open to abuse by terrorists. Ironically, on at least 3 separate occasions since early January, Hamas members have stolen UN property, including UNRWA supplies.  

3) It is the smuggling tunnels that have historically been the financial lifeblood of Hamas. Speak to any journalist, like Matt Rees, who has covered the Gaza Strip over the years. During the Intifada, cease fires with Israel were broken because gangs could not bring in their contraband. Toameh notes that the tunnels have existed for decades.

 And new evidence is emerging that Hamas has actively encouraged the tunnel industry since 2007. The tunnels provided a way to bring in weapons and raw materials. Hamas sold “licenses” for the building of some tunnels, raking in a fortune in undisclosed taxes in a poor economy. Individuals made a fortune out of commissions, just like Dahlan of Fatah in the past.

To quote Hamas Finance Minister Ziyad Thatha:

A number of investors collected millions of dollars in a way that is against sharia (Islamic law) and we will operate against them.

At least now we know why Muslims around the world have to collect money for their brothers and sisters in Gaza. No wonder, national appeals have been started for them. it will be interesting to see if that includes donations from governemnt ministries.