The Gaza Strip is presented to the world as a relief project, and tracing its funding sources reveals where billions of dollars were transferred to it. A large part of the money is diverted to finance terrorist infrastructure, even when it is supposed to be used for nutrition or education. How do you prevent a similar fate from the rehabilitation funds that will be transferred later?
A Gazan woman who is identified as an employee of the Palestinian Authority, displays dollars she received with Qatari funding, as part of her salary from the PA. Confused? Not only you, but everyone who is supposed to supervise the routing of the thresholds from the moment they are put into the strip.
The UN announcement about the tripling of humanitarian aid to Gaza, from 25 million euros to 75 million euros (about 78.8 million dollars), alongside the Palestinian Refugee Agency’s call for an additional 104 million dollars in funding, once again raised a question mark over the allocation of funds.
In the absence of independent sources of income, Gaza survives mainly on donations. Some? It’s hard to gauge, but we’ll try anyway:
According to the Palestinian Authority, Gaza and the West Bank together produce an annual deficit of approximately 6.6 billion dollars, and in 2020, approximately 53% of the residents of the two territories (Gaza and Judea and Samaria) were defined by the Authority and the United Nations as being below the poverty line. Naturally This situation is a magnet for donations from all over the world, some open, some hidden – and in any case, very few of them are monitored.
Data from the OECD organization, for example, show that the total donations transferred to Gaza by its member states (including Israel) amounted to approximately 26.7 billion dollars in the decade between 2011 and 2021, that is, an average annual contribution of approximately 2.6 billion dollars.
To this must be added the money of the Qataris, who according to estimates have so far contributed to the Strip, in those famous suitcases of money designed to buy peace, under the auspices and courtesy of the Israeli government, about 1.3 billion dollars since 2012 until now.
To this sum must be added a commitment to transfer about half a billion dollars from Egypt, the fate of which is unknown, donations collected by factions such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and their supporters around the world and other countries such as Iran, which manage to flow funds into Gaza, most of which are intended for financing terrorism, under a disguise of various associations and charitable organizations, most of them operate as such in the Western countries and raise funds openly, only some of which the various bodies dealing with the prevention of terrorist financing manage to get their hands on.
Indirect contribution to terrorism
One of the important sources of funding for the Gaza Strip is the Palestinian Authority, which according to its publications transfers about 1.7 billion dollars a year to Gaza, as salary payments to its activists and PA employees whose work has been stopped since Hamas came to power in Gaza in January 2006. The Palestinian Authority, it should be noted, is the body that receives most of the funds The support of the UN and the supporting countries.
What will we do with all the billions? This is where the plot begins to get complicated: the UN reports that the money transferred is used for education, health, food supply and the basic living required for the residents of the Gaza Strip, and that as of 2020 approximately 73% of the residents of the Gaza Strip were helped, mainly with money and food.
The activities of the United Nations in Gaza are carried out mainly through the agency UNRA, which was established on its behalf to treat the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and is budgeted in billions of dollars. This year, for example, its budget is about 1.63 billion dollars – similar to its budget last year, which was also about 1.6 billion dollars.
UNRA reports that it uses the money to operate a network of approximately 284 schools, which employs approximately 9,000 staff members and educates approximately 294,000 children; 22 hospitals in Gaza employing approximately 1,000 staff members who treat approximately 3.3 million patients; and to assist in equipping food and money.
As much as you scan the visible funding sources of Gaza, the purpose of the money is hidden. When UNRA, for example, finances educational projects such as kindergartens and schools where Gazans teach their children, among other things, anti-Semitic incitement materials – is it strengthening education or terrorism?
The same is the case with the academy: what is the point of cultivating engineers if their knowledge is not used for building houses and factories, but for mining terrorist tunnels, missile engineering and more.
When the child of a terrorist operative is fed in one of the refugee aid centers, while his father is busy planning an invasion for massacre purposes – are you saving a child from starvation or providing resources, indirectly, to a murderous infrastructure?
Moreover, when a donation is received that is apparently directed to the provision of religious services, but turns out to be used to fund a brainwashing system for suicide terrorists, is this not support for terrorism?
The billions of the military arm
All of this is even before we get to the funds that go directly to terrorism: like the famous “Metro” of Gaza, labyrinths of underground tunnels, lathes for the production of missiles and training bases for murderers.
It is now known that those who committed the crimes against humanity in the southern settlements trained for a period of almost a year, on facilities similar to IDF bases and on models of kibbutzim on the border of the Strip (every Israeli soldier may recall training at the famous IDF training camp, not far from the Strip Gaza).
Wasn’t part of the money, not to say most of it, directed to building the models, to planning the (inhumane, but militarily successful) raid, to couriers who moved between Tehran and Gaza, through other large centers controlled by Iran such as Beirut, Damascus or even under the influence of Iran, such as Istanbul?
As we learned from the case of the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior member of the Az ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, who was a senior member of the organization of smuggling Iranian weapons to the Gaza Strip (weapons some of which were seized after the IDF took over the southern settlements, even before they had time to use them), the organization’s emissaries, the Danes Their people, to the shame of hunger, do not stay in luxury 5-star hotels on their travels abroad.
It is possible and perhaps even necessary to be angry at the UN, the European Union and other bodies that enable the raising of funds that amounted to many billions in their field – and its transfer to unsupervised purposes in Gaza, but while Israel is doing this, it must be made clear that not only was this activity carried out while partially turning a blind eye of Israel, but sometimes even with its encouragement (again we will mention the most blatant example, the suitcases of money from Qatar that were transferred with the knowledge and supervision of the Israeli government and even, it’s chilling to think about it now, with the security assistance of IDF soldiers at the crossings to the Gaza Strip).
Ruined villages in the Gaza Strip. No matter how and when the campaign ends, it is clear that billions will flow into the reconstruction of the Strip. How do you prevent them from financing the next murder?
What will happen the day after?
What has been done cannot be answered: funds that were supposed to be directed to the well-being of the residents of Gaza were used to prepare for the murder of the residents of Israel. Therefore, the only thing that can be demanded now from the decision-makers in Israel, as well as from international organizations, is to think about the day after, since no matter how the campaign ends, it is already clear that huge sums of money will be poured into the Gaza Strip.
Can anyone among those promising the citizens of Israel today the “collapse of Hamas rule” also assure them that the billions that will be invested, on their face, in the restoration of civil infrastructure in Gaza, will not be diverted again to the development of terrorist infrastructure?
Since there are those who are already engaged in planning the mechanisms for ending the fighting in Gaza, it is appropriate that they turn their attention to this avenue as well. After all, without funding of billions, it is not possible to carry out major acts of terrorism, such as firing missiles and funding an army of thousands of murderers. Israel is already saying, rightly, that it no longer wants to be responsible for the humanitarian situation in Gaza, but with all due respect to this statement, we need to think from now on who is – and above all, funding for the establishment of a new terrorist infrastructure should not be withheld.
October 18, 2023 Published by The Walla Financial News Israel.