EU Officials Warn: Hamas Siphoning Off Reconstruction Funds to Rearm, Despite Aid Projects
Hamas in Gaza may be exploiting European Union (EU) funds to rearm instead of rebuild after its pounding in this summer’s Operation Protective Edge, according to European parliament member Arne Gericke, Israel’s Ch. 2 News said Monday night.
Gericke and other EU officials have voiced concerns over a European Court of Auditors report alleging that over 2.5 percent of the EU budget for external relations, aid and enlargement had been misappropriated.
If that percentage is applied to the more than $560 million (â‚¬450m) pledged to Gaza, that means nearly $14.7 million (â‚¬11.7m) could end up in Hamas’s hands.
The Israeli army’s 51-day foray to quell some 4,000 rockets and mortars, and destroy over 30 attack tunnels destroyed much of the Islamist group’s facilities and arsenal, according to senior Israeli officials.
Adding to the concern is exiled Jordanian politician, Mudar Zahran, who confirms that Hamas is already trying to confiscate construction materials donated by the international community, with some success.
“Aid earmarked for reconstruction is turning up on the Hamas controlled black market, where it is being sold at premium prices,” Zahran recently charged.
Hamas has annually funneled over $300 million towards weapons and paying military salaries, according to the Shin Bet Israel Security Agency.
Meanwhile, instead of offering road crews, an Iranian military commander said Monday that “Millions of Basijis (volunteer forces) are ready in Iran to be dispatched to Syria and Gaza,” to fight alongside Palestinian terrorist groups in the latter.
However, Basiji volunteer forces chief, Brig.-Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, said at a press conference that “there is no need to dispatch troops to Gaza” saying that the Palestinians had sufficient abilities to “battle the Israelis,” themselves, according to Iran’s state controlled Fars News Agency.
“The most serious job is that they need to receive the necessary training and skills, as today, Gaza has its own defensive industry and they have stood on their feet; we also try to implement the same plan in the West Bank, God willing,” Naqdi said.
In the West Bank, the rival Palestinian Authority’s minister of civil affairs said Monday that reconstruction material for Qatari-funded construction projects will enter the Gaza Strip upon agreement with the Israeli side, according to Palestinian media.
Hussein al-Sheikh said in a statement that reconstruction material started flowing to Gaza on Monday, including some 100 trucks carrying 4,000 tons of supplies for road repairs, according to the Ma’an News agency.
Al-Sheikh added that asphalt will be entering the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, and said that Israel’s Civil Administration agreed to allow 100 trucks of road construction materials in daily.