In 2006 legislative elections, the Palestinian street overwhelmingly voted Hamas to counter rampant financial corruption in the Palestinian Authority. Now, after years of war-profiteering, it seems Hamas itself has become the premier Palestinian millionaires’ club.
Very soon after seizing control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas and its allies began escalating rocket fire against the Jewish state. Given the severity of the Israeli reprisals, that wouldn't seem very good for business. But, in fact, it is.
Over the past seven years, Hamas’ leadership has pulled in outrageous sums of money thanks to the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Most of the profits were the result of exorbitant taxes on the goods smuggled from Egypt in tunnels running under the Gaza border, or grossly overcharging for subsidized Egyptian fuel.
Neither of those revenue streams would be possible without violently provoking Israel to lay siege to Gaza.
Similarly, Hamas profits are threatened by the enormous quantities of humanitarian aid and other goods that Israel and the international community pump into Gaza every month, which is why numerous reports suggest Hamas blocks that aid from ever reaching local residents.
At the same time, Hamas leaders have proved wildly successful fund-raisers in their travels abroad. And, since Hamas’ raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel, it would be kind of hard to solicit financial backing without lobbing a few missiles at the Jews every once in a while.
So, where does all this money go?
In recent media interviews, Professor Ahmed Karima of Al-Azhar University in Egypt noted that in recent years Hamas has blossomed into a movement of millionaires. According to Karima, Hamas can boast no fewer than 1,200 millionaires among its leadership and mid-level officials. That assertion was backed up by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who in 2012 estimated the number of Gaza millionaires to be 800.
In particular, overall Hamas leader Khaled Mashal has amassed a fortune of $2.6 billion, the Jordanian media reported.
A year ago, when Hamas’ parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, was ruling Egypt, the group’s Gaza leadership was less wary of flaunting its wealth, and the luxury real estate market was booming as a result.
All of this is happening as many Gazans wallow in poverty and struggle with a 40 percent unemployment rate. Imagine how many new jobs could be created by all that money Hamas collects. Instead, the terror group is well pleased to see the people of Gaza suffer, both economically and as a consequence of its violence against Israel, all in service to Hamas’ ultimate goal.