Hamas’s Leaders Used “Charity” and Extortion to Get Rich

The Gaza Strip may not be quite so squalid and impoverished as one would guess from its portrayal in the media, yet there is no doubt that the territory is quite poor. Nonetheless, its rulers live in luxury, often with fortunes totaling millions or billions of dollars. Deborah Danan explains:

According to Moshe Elad, a Middle East expert from the Western Galilee Academic College, most of the founders of Hamas were refugees or direct descendants of refugees. . . . The money, Elad told the Israeli financial newspaper Globes, came from several directions. “Donations by the families of people who died, charity money, called zakala in Arabic, and donations from various countries. [These donations first came from the governments of] Syria and Saudi Arabia; then Iran, one of the main sponsors; and ended with Qatar, which has today taken Iran’s place.”

There were also campaigns to raise money in the U.S. “Mousa Abu Marzook,” [currently the group’s deputy chairman], Elad says, “started raising funds among the rich Muslims in America and also established several bank funds.” Over time he built a conglomerate of ten financial operations “that give loans and conduct investments. He’s an amazing financier.”

Today, Abu Marzook is one of the major billionaires in Hamas. “Arab estimates peg his fortune at 2 to 3 billion dollars,” Elad says. Another senior-official-turned-terror-tycoon is Khaled Mashal, head of Hamas’s political wing. “Global estimates say Mashal 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, [the organization’s current chairman].

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.

Hamas also apparently published fictitious names of employees to sponsors abroad and then scooped up their salaries and distributed them among a few senior members.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinians

 

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy