by The Vantage Take Last Updated:October 12, 2023 09:23:03 IST
This is money meant for Palestinians, for their progress and welfare. But who uses it? The Hamas
Hamas is brutal. They are terrorists who don’t care about people – neither Palestinians, nor Israelis. After Saturday’s attack, you would think there is agreement on that. Well, think again. People are lining up to support Hamas, to blame Israel for what happened.
Now, let’s be clear about two things here. One, we sympathise with Palestine. They have become refugees in their own land. It is wrong. But whose fault is that? Was it the fault of the 260 youngsters who attended the Re’im music festival? Was it the fault of the children in Kfar Aza? Was it the fault of the grandmother abducted from Be’ri? We don’t think so. Killing innocent Israelis does not advance the Palestinian cause. It is not activism, it is bloodlust.
Point number two: Hamas is not Palestine. They are a terror group that rules over Gaza. The last elections in Gaza were in 2006. It’s been 18 years without another election. If the Hamas is so popular, why not hold elections? Why not prove their popularity?
Here’s what an opinion poll found in July 2023: 62 per cent Gazans wanted Hamas to uphold the ceasefire, to not start a war with Israel. And what did Hamas do? The exact opposite. The same poll revealed more interesting data – 50 per cent Gazans wanted Hamas to stop demanding Israel’s destruction, 70 per cent wanted the Palestinian authority to take over Gaza. The Palestinian authority rules over West Bank and most Gazans prefer them over Hamas. So clearly Hamas is not Palestine.
Who are Hamas’ supporters?
Most of us understand this difference, even major world powers do. “The Palestinian authority is our partner. We don’t deal with Hamas. but yes, we support, and we deal, and we work together with the Palestinian authority. And not all the Palestinian people are terrorists,” says European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. It’s as simple as it gets.
But tell that to some so-called activists. A student organisation at Harvard has released a statement on Saturday’s attack. They say: “Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum… the apartheid regime is the only one to blame”. This is the message from America’s elite university. 1,200 Israelis are dead, but the whole thing is Israel’s fault.
You also have pro-Palestine rallies across the world. Nothing wrong with that. Everyone is free to organise rallies but look what’s happening at these events – in New York, people are holding up the swastika, the Nazi symbol; in Sydney, they are chanting anti-Semitic slogans; in London, Jewish eateries are being attacked. How is any of this helping Palestine?
It isn’t, but it exposes their true colours. By all means protest against Israel, express solidarity with Palestine, but at the same time condemn what happened on Saturday. What’s wrong is wrong, you can’t justify that by pointing at the past.
Some habitual offenders like Iran and Hezbollah are openly supporting Hamas. Some mainstream politicians like the liberal democrats in America are doing so behind the scenes. You may have heard about these people – Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. They are members of the US Congress. Neither of them has condemned Hamas. Instead, they are asking the U.S. to stop helping Israel. There is clear anti-Semitism here.
Take Ilhan Omar for example. In 2012, she accused Israel of hypnotising the world. To give some context, hypnotism is linked to an offensive Jewish stereotype. In 2019, she did it again. She accused Israeli lobbies of using Benjamins baby. Again, to give you some context, Benjamins baby refers to 100 dollar bills. When confronted about this, she said she wasn’t aware of the stereotype around Jews and money. How believable!
The point is a simple one: you can support Palestine without celebrating the murder of innocent people.
Similar things are happening in India’s neighbourhood as well. In Pakistan, Israeli flags are being burnt. Some Pakistanis are praising the Hamas attack, calling it historic. Rallies were held in Bangladesh as well where thousands marched with Palestinian flags demanding an end to Israeli air strikes. Protests were also held in Muslim-majority Indonesia.
Where does money come from?
But this is political support. Where does the financial support for Hamas come from? Where do they get their money? A number of places. Like taxes, for example. Hamas collects tax on goods imported from Egypt. In 2021, this was worth $12 million per month. Iran also gives a lot of money – around $100 million annually. Then you have Qatar. Their total financial assistance to Gaza stands at $1.8 billion. Their yearly aid is $360 million.
And who handles it? The Hamas. The terrorist group has not released Qatari aid to Gaza strip officials, due to an ongoing dispute over the sum of money received, according to Israeli public broadcaster Kan. There are reports of Hamas holding onto this money. In 2016, a World Vision official in charge of its Gaza aid activities was arrested and charged with diverting $50 million to Hamas. Also, of diverting the aid funds. This is money meant for Palestinians, for their progress and welfare. But who uses it? The Hamas.
So, cutting off funds is a top priority. You need money to carry out the kind of attack they did on Saturday. You need money to fire thousands of rockets. Does that mean aid should be totally cut off? Of course not. Most Palestinians, including in Gaza, live on aid. If you cut that off people starve to death. But blank cheques should end. The aid should be delivered and monitored by global agencies. The likes of Hamas should not be able to touch it. If not, the money will never reach the people and the attacks won’t stop.
Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect Firstpost’s views.