(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas, which rules Gaza, has been named as the world’s second-richest terrorist organization in the latest issue of Forbes Israel. It rakes in around $1 billion annually, outdone only by Islamic State which – with an annual income of some $2b. – tops the chart of terrorist moneybags.
Hamas’s financial success by far eclipses that of Hezbollah, Taliban and al-Qaida.
Islamic State finances its offensives by selling thousands of barrels of Iraqi oil on the black market every day. 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.
The Forbes data should, if nothing else, induce a sobering reassessment among donor organizations who, for all intents and proposes, are supporting the terrorist hierarchy that brings misery to Gaza and then pleads for overseas assistance to fix the damage.
Funds are raised from charities, businesses, financial institutions and foreign governments. But the overlords who inflicted disaster on the population under their sway happen to be extremely affluent.
Instead of going hat in hand to the international community, they might be asked to bankroll the reconstruction themselves. They have deep pockets.
More than anything, Hamas uses cash from abroad to line its pockets further and underwrite its military capabilities. Amassing, maintaining and deploying rocket arsenals does not come cheap and neither does mobilizing, training and sustaining sizable militias.
Foreign NGOs that pay for reconstruction (unwittingly?) sow the seeds of more destruction in Gaza – the very thing they purportedly seek to repair.
The incontrovertible fact of the matter is that there is very little supervision over the foreign aid funneled into the Strip. Worse yet, the few token procedures that pass as pro forma oversight are sorely inadequate.
In this context, the warning from European Parliament Member Arne Gericke of Germany last week is salient.
In December 2013, the European Court of Auditors could not account for a whopping €400 million of the aid the EU earmarked for the Palestinian Authority and Gaza, he noted. This money is missing, and it is anyone’s guess in whose hands it ended up and for what nefarious purposes.
Gericke added that this month the Court of Auditors found that 2.6 percent of the EU’s budget for “external relations, aid and enlargement” was misused. There’s no indication where the money is.
Gericke reckons that if this proportion is applied to the €450m. pledged to Gaza by the EU, it may plausibly (and quite conservatively) be deduced that in due course at least €11.7m. is likely to bolster Hamas’s coffers.
It is no stretch to say that the financial operations of terrorist organizations closely mimic those of organized crime – including protection rackets and extortion.
The international community, NGOs and assorted charities cannot insure fair play. They need to ask themselves whether they want their benevolent contributions to fall into the wrong hands. Do they want to prop up villainous fat cats instead of help the needy? The solicitation of contributions for the Hamas-run domain is part of an elaborate con. The international donors who promised $5.4b. to the Gaza regime in Cairo last month would do well to ascertain that they are not cast as dupes in a massive scam.
Misplaced generosity does far more harm than good.