As Media Berate Israel, Hamas Reportedly Hiding Enough Funds to Rebuild Gaza Strip
Leading German daily Die Welt has published an expose on Hamas’ secret foreign investment portfolio. According to documents obtained by the newspaper from Western intelligence sources, the US-designated terror group holds interests in some 40 international companies in the Middle East and North Africa, with an estimated value exceeding $500 million.
“For years there were rumours about such a portfolio, which seem to be corroborated now by information found on a Hamas computer,” Clemens Wergin, Die Welt’s chief correspondent, noted on Twitter. “The balance sheet also contains coded references about 49 Million US Dollars that went from the portfolio into Hamas’ coffers, an estimated 40% of which went to military/terror expenses.”
According to Israeli data, this $49 million alone is enough to build 1,405 homes, 310 medical clinics, 114 mosques, or 98 schools in the Gaza Strip.
This would, needless to say, go a long way to reconstructing the enclave in the wake of May’s 11-day Hamas-initiated conflict with Israel. More broadly, the alleged $500 million Hamas has stashed away would be sufficient to, according to the World Bank, repair all physical damage incurred during the war as well as make up for the resulting economic losses.
Nevertheless, the story of Hamas’ apparent foreign investment portfolio — the value of which is nearly equivalent to the net worth of Queen Elizabeth — was only picked up by two English-language media outlets. This, even though CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other high-profile outlets have, since the May 21 ceasefire, published over 80 articles related to Gaza’s prospective reconstruction.
All the while, Israel is more often than not blamed for the lack of progress towards forging a long-term truce that would allow for the Hamas-ruled territory to be rehabilitated. Left unmentioned is that the terror group is, in fact, at fault, primarily over its demand that it be granted access to tens of millions of dollars in Qatari cash without giving any guarantees that the money will actually be used for humanitarian or civilian purposes.
Specifically, Israeli media reports suggest that Hamas is refusing to accept the funds via wire transfer, instead insisting that the money continues to be transferred in cash-stuffed suitcases. For their part, Israel and the Palestinian Authority are both reasonably pressing for the funds to be subjected to strict oversight so that they are not used by Hamas for terrorist activities.
“We are also working on a solution that will allow humanitarian assistance to the residents of Gaza, but without suitcases full of dollars,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stressed last month. However, Gaza’s rulers have reportedly conveyed through Egyptian intermediaries that if Jerusalem and Ramallah do not accede to its absurd condition, it will unleash a fresh round of violence against the Jewish state.
On August 12, the Hamas-affiliated Safa news agency quoted an “informed source” as saying that Gaza-based terror groups are “heading towards an escalation” with Israel over the issue. The threats intensified on Saturday, when Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem warned of an “explosion at any time.” The al-Nasser Salah al-Din Brigades, a large terror faction that participated in the recent conflict, said that the organizations “will not give the enemy more time.”
On Monday afternoon, the terrorist groups translated their threats into deeds when the first rocket from Gaza was fired at Israel since the May 21 ceasefire. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted the projectile, which triggered sirens in the city of Sderot as well as surrounding Jewish communities. The attack, which was not immediately claimed by any faction, took place as Gaza’s terror groups were set to meet to discuss “important national issues.”
However, foreign news outlets have almost entirely ignored Hamas’ demand to receive suitcases full of cash in exchange for temporary quiet — even as Die Welt uncovered that it is wealthy enough to rebuild Gaza on its own. For example, an Associated Press report about Monday’s rocket fire that was reprinted by The Washington Post and ABC News, glossed entirely over the issue. By contrast, the AP linked the attack to clashes this week between Palestinian terrorists and Israeli security forces in the West Bank.
“It [the rocket] came hours after Israeli troops clashed with Palestinian gunmen during a late-night arrest raid in the occupied West Bank, killing four Palestinians in one of the deadliest battles in the area in years,” a sentence in the article read.
As was par for the course during the conflict in May, the AP and other publications are again attributing blame to Israel for an escalation that Palestinian terrorist groups have been warning about for weeks. Indeed, Hamas appears ready to sacrifice more innocent life if it doesn’t get its hands on cold hard cash — even as it sits on a grotesquely large nest egg that could greatly improve the circumstances of ordinary Gazans.
The writer is a writer-researcher for HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias, where a version of this article was originally published.