“Poor Palestinians”. Yes, some Arab Palestinians and Gazans are poor, but many are mega wealthy.
In 2012 the estimated the number of ‘Gaza millionaires’ was said to be 800. As of July 2014 there were some 1,700. See ‘Luxury in the world’s largest prison !‘
Front Page Magazine says:
Fatah, which controls the official Palestinian Authority apparatus thanks to Obama’s support, despite not actually doing the whole ‘elections’ thing, has let slip a little fact about life in horribly oppressed and besieged Gaza.
It’s full of welfare millionaires.
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction went on the offensive Thursday, claiming that Hamas in Gaza is corrupt and “doesn’t represent the Palestinian people.”
The Fatah spokesman claimed that while Gaza is one of the poorest places in the world, there are 1,700 millionaires among Hamas members, hinting that the terror group imposes steep taxes on its citizens for goods entering from Egypt and Israel, and that this money finds its way into Hamas officials’ pockets.
That’s the number of millionaires in Hamas, not the total number of millionaires in Gaza. We still don’t know what the total number is.
Daniel Greenfield goes on to say:
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, whose son lost his monopoly on imported cigarettes when Hamas took over Gaza, charged that, “800 millionaires and 1,600 near-millionaires control the tunnels at the expense of both Egyptian and Palestinian national interests.”
The Palestine Pulse claimed that the tunnels had created over 1,000 new millionaires. And that’s the tunnels alone, it doesn’t account for Gaza’s extensive construction industry, its luxury hotels and all the rest of it.
Khaled Abu Toameh asks “How Many Millionaires Live in the “Impoverished” Gaza Strip? He adds that in an investigative report published in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, they refute the claim that the Gaza Strip has been facing a humanitarian crisis because of an Israeli blockade.
Mohammed Dahlan, the former Palestinian Authority security commander of the Gaza Strip, further said last week that Hamas was the only party that was laying siege to the Gaza Strip; that it is Hamas, and not Israel or Egypt, that is strangling and punishing the people there.
The Palestinian millionaires, according to the report, have made their wealth thanks to the hundreds of underground tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
Informed Palestinian sources revealed that every day, in addition to weapons, thousands of tons of fuel, medicine, various types of merchandise, vehicles, electrical appliances, drugs, medicine and cigarettes are smuggled into the Gaza Strip through more than 400 tunnels. A former Sudanese government official who visited the Gaza Strip lately was quoted as saying that he found basic goods that were not available in Sudan. Almost all the tunnels are controlled by the Hamas government, which has established a special commission to oversee the smuggling business, which makes the Hamas government the biggest benefactor of the smuggling industry.
Palestinians estimate that 25% of the Hamas government’s budget comes from taxes imposed on the owners of the underground tunnels.
The Algemeiner in the article : Gaza’s Millionaires and Billionaires — How Hamas’s Leaders Got Rich Quick says in the article from July 2014:
One of the mysteries of the current war in Gaza can be seen in the photos coming out of the tiny enclave: On the one hand, there is the desolation and squalor of Gaza neighborhoods where hundreds of thousands of Gazans live, and on the other, pictures of the homes owned by Hamas’s top officials, complete with gym equipment and fancy furniture, or else images of the five-star hotel suites where they stay.
It’s quite a conundrum; just how did these new tycoons, who grew up in refugee camps and who wave the banner of helping their people, become so filthily rich in such a short space of time?
Deborah Danan goes on to say:
Abu Marzouk is one of the major billionaires in Hamas. “Arab estimates peg his fortune at 2-3 billion dollars,” Elad says. Another senior-official-turned-terror-tycoon is Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas’s political wing. “Global estimates say Mashaal is worth $2.6 billion,” but Arab commentators, with other sources, say he is worth between 2 and 5 billion, “invested in Egyptian banks and Gulf countries, some in real estate projects.”
Next on the list is Ismail Haniyeh, who until the recent signing of a unity deal between Hamas and Fatah was the Prime Minister of Gaza.
“His fortune is estimated at 4 million dollars, and most of his assets in the Strip are registered in the name of his son in law Nabil, and a dozen children of his and other less known Hamas officials,” Elad says.
According to Elad, Ayman Taha, a mid-tier official,
“was born in desolate poverty at the El Buraj refugee camp, but recently built a house worth at least a million bucks. He is in charge of coordinating Hamas operations inside and outside the Gaza Strip and is not even a senior member, but he’s already a member of the millionaire club.”
Most of their money comes from misused donations to the Gaza Strip, since every dollar passes through Hamas’s pipeline. Elad assesses that smuggling of goods through tunnels generates hundreds of millions a year and those who control the siphon became wealthy along the way. There are several hundred millionaires in Gaza and there would be hundreds more if smuggling would continue unabated. The man pulling the strings in Egypt is Khirat el Shatr, who is No. 2 in the Muslim Brotherhood. His connection to Hamas is allegedly based on a shared religious outlook, “but in effect it’s a thriving business, with a revenue of millions.”
The Pan-Arab London based paper, Asharq al Awsat, ran a story saying how the corrupt officials charge for every car load smuggled through the tunnels was taxed by a fixed sum of $2000 and additionally 25% of the value of goods. Between June 2007 and 2010 the tunnel smuggling business generated $800 million. Hamas also taxed all merchants in Gaza, from car retailers to sellers of fruit and vegetables. Hamas also took over lands and then resold them at a profit.
Corruption in Hamas apparently is not just rampant but extrovert.
“What’s unique about Palestinian leaders over the years is the motto ‘Get rich quick’. Leaders there have no shame. They take over crucial industries like communications and gasoline as soon as they take the reins. In Western society you also have people gaining wealth quickly and corruptly, but there it is usually done subtly with envelopes of cash and elaborate forms of bribery which are not easy to track down. But the Palestinians will say to your face: ‘I want to be rich’.”
In December 2014, AIJAC – Australia Israel Jewish Affairs Council, published an article:
They say that foreign donors have pledged around US$5.4 billion for the reconstruction in the Gaza Strip. Yet Hamas still controls the Strip, and therefore has control over the supplies that enter Gaza. Many are concerned that the cement and other building supplies which Gaza receives for its reconstruction will again be diverted to enable Hamas to restore its tunnels that are built to smuggle goods/weapons, and to attack Israelis.
Hamas is also known to have profited from foreign donations. This issue was recently highlighted when Forbes Israel named Hamas the second-richest terrorist organisation in the world, after ISIS, taking in US$1 billion annually.
A Jerusalem Post editorial notes,
“Hamas’s chief source of earnings, according to the exhaustive Forbes report, comes from skimming hefty sums off foreign NGO donations and putting the squeeze on ordinary Gazans – the very ones the NGOs ostensibly seek to aid. Hamas taxes them to the hilt, imposes harsh penalties and fees, and trades in the black market. All provisions and material that enter the Gaza Strip fall under the control of Hamas gangsters who garner lavish profits from their distribution and/or sale. Such supplies enrich Hamas and enhance the organization’s power – above and beyond moral travesties such as their using cement earmarked for civilian construction to reinforce labyrinthine attack tunnels into Israel.”
Maan news reported that Hamas is collecting taxes on all goods that enter Gaza:
“Al-Najjar also accused the Hamas movement of inventing ‘a new department at the Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing called the general administration of custom tax security.’
This department, he said, ‘forcibly collects 2.5 percent custom tax on everything that enters Gaza, including medicines and medical equipment.'”
Moreover, Palestinian journalist Hazem Balousha posted an image on Twitter appearing to show cement imported into Gaza under the auspices of the UN being sold on the black market. He tweeted next to the photo:
“Cement came to #Gaza through #UN mechanism and sold out just at entrance of warehouse to the black market”.
According to blogger Elder of Ziyon, there were reports in the Arab press that the Ministry of Finance in Gaza controlled by Hamas started taxing every ton of cement a fee of 20 shekels, but that after complaints Hamas stopped imposing the tax.
Elder of Ziyon also wrote:
“The Gaza Ministry of Housing is apparently in charge of which citizens can get the cement and construction materials, and they have published a list of nearly 6000 homeowners who qualify. This sure seems like a system that is ripe for corruption and diversion of the materials.”
Yes indeed “Poor Palestinians”