Hamas Enjoys Its Billionaire status, While Palestine Drowns In Poverty

Published: Fri, 05/27/2016 - 08:11

Parul Verma Delhi

Israel’s military occupation and confiscation of privately owned lands in the West Bank is extremely oppressive, with Palestinians having minimal basic rights of movement and speech to begin with.  Thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children are held in Israeli prisons with physical abuse and torture as a accustomed routine.   Israeli forces invade , injure, detain minors, kidnap, and shoot if resistance  is witnessed. Now, one would believe that the sole aim of the Israeli  regime is to annihilate Palestinians (via the channels of ethnic cleansing) and build the country for Jews on the Palestinian land. This belief is not inaccurate .  But, as Israel is ripping apart the economical-political-psychological agent of change for the Palestinians , the internal political dynamics of Palestine looks much worse .

The Hamas landslide acquisition of wealth.

The economy of Gaza , accompanied by periodical onset of operations by IDF, poor governance and a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade , is expected to potentially collapse in the coming few years,  with the coastal strip suffering the highest rate of unemployment in the world. The report presented by the World Bank in 2015,reports about 43% of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents are unemployed, with youth unemployment reaching about 60% by the end of last year. While the Palestinians are drowning in poverty and are being summed to the brutal flavours of unemployment, hunger, basic necessities etc, the Hamas members are sipping the unholy grail of billions of dollars.

What needs to be questioned here is the rise of the billionaires club among the Palestinian Hamas authority. How can certain group of people, raised in the refugee camps , barred of basic necessities, have accumulated billion dollar worth empire in a short period of time.

Col. (res.) Dr. Moshe Elad, a lecturer in the Middle East Department of the Western Galilee Academic College, explained , "The vast majority of Hamas founders and leaders were refugees or second generation refugees, and some of them were the product of marriages between Egyptians and Palestinians. They had no money at all. When they and Hamas were just starting out, the organization (not in its own name) was nurtured by the Israeli military government, which fostered the Islamic associations working in the Gaza Strip as a counterweight to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Their phenomenal wealth started accumulating when they decided to disassociate themselves from Israel and search for alternative financing sources."

Hamas leader, now a buiseness tycoon Khaled Mashaal is currently worth $2.6 billion. He resides in Doha, Qatar. According to a Jordanian website in 2012, he controlled $2.6 billion of Hamas funds and have invested in Egyptian and Persian Gulf banks, and some in real estate projects in the Persian Gulf countries. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh have had an interesting history. He belonged to the Al-Shati refugee camp, and today his worth is estimated to be  $4 million .  He used an old age trick to hide under the scanner of the public criticism and  registered most of his assets in the Gaza Strip in the name of his son-in-law, Nabil, and his thirteen sons and daughters . With homes in the luxurious neighbourhoods in the Gaza Strip, where the value of each home is at least $1 million.

Mousa Abu Marzook is another billionaire club member , currently holds the title of Deputy Political Bureau Chief of Hamas,  operating out of Cairo, Egypt. His net worth is said to be $2-3 billion. Dr. Moshe Elad have had revelation about Marzook stating, "At the beginning of the 1990s, he began a fundraising campaign in the US among wealthy Muslims, while at the same time founding several banking enterprises. He himself became a conglomerate of 10 financial enterprises giving loans and making financial investments. He's an amazing financier." The US administration ordered Marzook's arrest in 1995 on charges of supporting terrorism. After he spent two years in a US prison, it was decided to expel him without trial. He kept the money. "When he was expelled from the US in 1997, he was already worth several million dollars," Elad says, adding, "Somehow he evaded the clutches of the US Internal Revenue Service and was not charged with financing terrorism. People in the know say he probably became connected to the administration and cooperated with it. There is no proof, but it's hard to think of any other reason why he escaped punishment for such serious offenses. In 2001, in the investigation of the September 11 events, it turned out that he had extensive financial connections with Al Qaeda, including the transfer of funds to the 21 Al Qaeda operatives accused of the attacks." ( source : Meet the Hamas billionaires : Ella Levy-Weinrib.)

The primary source of wealth was from the legacies of the deceased family , charity funds made to the Palestinian population, donation from various countries . It started with Syria and Saudi Arabia, Iran , and to add to the current list is Qatar. . Ismail Haniyeh is said to have profited from the Gaza tunnel business,  imposing 20% tax on everything that reaches the Palestinians . The price with which the products are sold , is not only expensive but becomes impossible for purchase, for a common Palestinian man, after the imposition of the taxes. Hamas took over land mainly near the sea , such as the former Gush Katif, then sold it ,thereby profiting millions. Infact ,  a large concentration of natural gas was found off the Gaza shoreline. According to the estimation of the British Gas group, the natural reservoir of the Gaza shore is estimated at 1.5 trillion cubic meters, at a net worth of around $4 billion US dollars. Hamas has a control over this region and considering the history of selling lands for profitability,  Gaza shore is another gateway to make billions of dollar.

Various fictitious names have been discovered of workers , recruited under Hamas with the sole a into obtain a pay slips of the payments by the international community. These money ends up filling the already filled pockets of the Hamas leaders. Intact during the on going offensive operation ( Protective Edge) , the Hamas leaders sought refugee in Qatar, while  at least 2,104 Palestinian died, including 1,462 civilians, of whom 495 were children and 253 women , according to the U.N report.

The corruption level among the  Hamas authorities is just one side of the disappointment , the ground zero reality shatters brutally. Palestine has been betrayed by its own group of community who once rose to power ,to protect and stabilise the economical -political- psychological disruptions in Palestine. Unfortunately  for the Palestinians, the real struggle does not start with the onset of an operation by the IDF, rather its termination . The little hope of relying on the humanitarian aid from the international community is destroyed by their own elected representatives,  Hamas who gladly sips the unholy profitable grail.