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.

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinians

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy