Aside from siphoning off international aid for its missile and tunnel programs, Hamas has been cynically manipulating its residents in Gaza by imposing unreasonable taxes to prop up its terror activities, even while deceiving the world into blaming Israel for the bleak situation.
Hamas continues to complain of the "Israeli blockade" in the international press and accuse it for Gaza's economic crisis, but meanwhile the terrorist organization is fleecing its residents in various forms of taxes and funneling tens of millions of dollars into its "military arm" every month. Meanwhile the international community continues to ignore the duplicity of Hamas and condemns Israel's legal naval blockade.
Several of Hamas' methods of ripping off Gaza residents were exposed by Walla on Friday, which reported that nearly 100,000 residents in the coastal enclave remain homeless since Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014, Hamas' third war against Israel.
Qatar has been donating enormous funds to rebuild Gaza, and slowly new homes are being built for the 17,000 families whose homes were completely destroyed.
Recently Hamas held a raffle for 1,040 housing units built by Qatar in Gaza, promising Gazan homeless who signed up that they would receive the homes for free.
However, Walla reports that those who won in the housing lottery found that Hamas demanded that they pay $40,000 for each "free" house. The terror group claimed the expenses were required to hook up the houses to the various infrastructure systems such as water and electricity.
In this way, Hamas required those who lost their homes in a war started by the terror group to pay for homes that were paid for by Qatar, and did not cost Hamas at all. Hamas is to see a benefit of nearly $40 million in the coming years thanks to the taxes on the homes.
Showing the widespread corruption, sources in Gaza revealed that around 150 of those who won in the lottery actually did receive their homes for free – because they had ties to Hamas.
The housing lottery is far from the only example of Hamas' exploitation of Gaza residents.
Another case arises from the fact that Israel prevents ships from Gaza from straying too far into the Mediterranean Sea so as to block weapons smuggling. The boats of fishermen who breach the line are seized, and if the fishermen are found not to be involved in smuggling, they are returned.
But when the boats are returned, Hamas demands that the fishermen pay a tax for the return of their own property, seized due to Hamas' weapons smuggling efforts.
Another tax is seen when residents require the services of Hamas' police force due to a disagreement or a criminal incident – in such cases they must pay a tax for calling a policeman.
Hamas also tries to manipulate residents who receive exit permits from Israel so as to establish terror infrastructures in Judea and Samaria.
For a certain price, Gazans can get a permit from a senior doctor saying they need urgent medical treatment in Judea and Samaria, or in sovereign Israeli territory. Often Hamas uses those who obtain the permits in order to transfer funds or messages to its terrorists in Judea and Samaria.
Smuggling has likewise been a huge issue as nearly every week the terrorists try to sneak materials for producing rockets or digging attack tunnels through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Every day between 650 and 700 trucks loaded with goods pass into Gaza from Israel through the crossing.
Huge quantities of materials for the nefarious terrorist programs are hid among the goods, including one case in which electrodes were found inside margarine.
Terror wages courtesy of Iran
Even as Hamas capitalizes on the plight of its residents and likewise delays the payment of salaries for its workers, the 40,000 terrorists in the group's Al-Qassam Brigades "military wing" continue to be paid.
Their wages are funded by Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism.
While Tehran has somewhat limited its financial aid to Hamas, it makes special efforts to maintain its funds for the Al-Qassam Brigades to continue the terror war against Israel.
Aside from Iran, the taxes exploited by Gazans also help to fuel the wages of the Hamas terrorists.
According to Israeli estimates, every year Hamas invests nearly 100 million shekels (around $25.7 million) into smuggling in materials to produce weapons and dig attack tunnels.