July 22, 2011 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 714

Hamas's Gaza – Four Years Later; Chapter 3: Hamas's Administration of Gaza

July 22, 2011 | By C. Jacob*
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 714


In recent years, Gaza has seen a deterioration in public order and the rule of law, and its residents have accused Hamas of corruption and ostentation. The Hamas administration employs dictatorial and undemocratic measures, and endangers the lives of civilians. It has taken over banks and other institutions and has increased the burden on the public. Though it has strengthened itself economically and encouraged the ongoing smuggling of goods through the tunnels, the majority of Gazans do not enjoy the economic prosperity enjoyed by Hamas's officials and activists, and by those close to the movement.

I. Chaos Spreads in Gaza

Arson and Bombings

One pretext used by Hamas for its Gaza takeover was the claim that there was a need to institute law and order, and to put an end to the prevailing chaos. But Hamas has apparently had little success in managing the situation; violations of the law and disturbance of the peace are frequent, and violence, including shootings, bombings, and damage to institutions, is common – some of it targeting Hamas officials and members of the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades. Following is a partial list of incidents in 2010:

Following a February 2, 2010 incident, in which the car of senior Hamas official Yousuf Sarsour was blown up in Khan Younis, Hamas spokesman Hammad Al-Raqab stated that elements collaborating with Israel were trying to undermine stability and security in Gaza.[1] Also in February, anonymous individuals blew up a memorial to late Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian (PFLP) secretary-general Abu 'Ali Mustafa,[2] and in March 2010, the Mezan Human Rights Center condemned an incident in which shots were fired at Fatah Revolutionary Council member Abu Jodeh Al-Nahhal.[3]

On May 23, 2010, gunmen set fire to a large UNRWA summer camp in the Sheikh 'Ajlin area of Gaza. Anonymous individuals published an announcement inciting against UNRWA and against its executive director in Gaza, John Ging, and warning the organization against continuing activity that "harms morality."[4] A month later, on June 28, another UNRWA summer camp was torched: Gunmen set fire to a camp in the Al-Zuaida area in the central Gaza Strip.[5]

On July 15, 2010, masked gunmen attacked a wedding in Gaza, dispersing the celebrants by firing into the air and attacking them with clubs and throwing stun grenades. When police arrived, a brawl broke out between the remaining celebrants and the police, who arrested the father of the groom.[6]

On March 8, 2011, unknown assailants blew up a women's beauty salon in Gaza City's Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, seriously damaging it.[7]

Who Is Fomenting Chaos?

Investigations of the disruptions pointed mostly at the extremist Salafi-jihadi groups, which are known to have targeted businesses and sites perceived as being permissive and immoral – Internet cafes, beauty shops, and the like. Hamas is quick to arrest suspects from these groups, as it did on February 9, 2010, when its security apparatuses arrested wanted senior Salafi Jaljalat[8] leader Mahmoud Taleb, also known as Abu Al-Mu'tasam Al-Maqdisi.[9]

However, Islamist groups are not necessarily involved in all the violent actions. Sometimes they take responsibility for actions, but at other times they renounce the actions. Salafi leader Abu Al-Bara Al-Masri denied any Salafi connection to violent events in Gaza, saying: "The security elements know that behind the explosions are [Hamas] faction heads who are jockeying for position [within the organization]." In February 2010, explosive devices were set near the home of Hamas Prime Minister Isma'il Haniya. Following the continued hunt for Salafis and accusations that it was they who had planted these devices, Al-Masri claimed, "Hamas figures told Haniya's [own] bodyguards to set those explosive devices."[10] In another incident, the Islamist Jaysh Al-Islam organization condemned the Hamas Interior Ministry for arresting its members following the February 4, 2010 explosion of a bomb near a Red Cross convoy. The organization denied any connection to the bombing.[11]

However, in August 2009, a commander of the Gaza Salafi organization Ansar Al-Sunnah, Abu Hamza Al-Maqdisi, confirmed his organization's involvement in violent actions: "I don't deny a connection to some of the operations, though many of them were carried out by individuals... [and] there were only a few such incidents. [Moreover,] the bombings were carried out late at night, after we verified that no one was present on the premises."[12] Salafi leader Mahmoud Taleb, also known as Abu Al-Mu'tasam Al-Maqdisi, explained: "[Before attacking,] we advised the delinquent business owner who was in possession of contraband – by letter, announcement, or [personal] call – to remove it, and [warned] that if he did not do so, his business would be blown up after the issuance of a fatwa on the matter. [We made sure that] no damage would be caused to the neighbors, and no one's life would be endangered. We are very careful not to endanger the life of the business owner, and to cause damage only to the [place of] business."[13] On some occasions, Hamas has accused Fatah of disturbing the peace. For example, Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ahab Al-Ghazi said, "Some Fatah members are acting as part of ideologically misled groups, and are using weapons illegally to create chaos and [stage] a coup in Gaza."[14]

The uncertainty regarding the identity of those responsible for the chaos was also evident in statements by Fatah, which alternated between blaming Hamas and blaming the Islamist groups. Following the incident of arson at the UNRWA summer camp, Fatah spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi said, "Hamas is targeting UNRWA's educational system and teaching methods."[15] The Fatah-affiliated media blamed the Islamist groups for this incident; 'Adel 'Abd Al-Rahman, columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, wrote: "The commanders of the Islamist groups have made the Palestinians' lives hell... One manifestation of corruption and death is [an operation] carried out by the Jaysh Al-Islam group, namely the arson at the [UNWRA] summer camp." He also wrote that UNRWA personnel had helped Gazans, exposed the perpetrators of the arson, and given their names to Hamas, which had forced the latter to arrest them.[16]

Arson at UNRWA camp in Gaza (Source: Al-Quds, Jerusalem, May 24, 2010)

A Fatah-affiliated website accused Hamas of harassing popular and lucrative resorts that are not under its control: "It imposes heavy taxes on them, restricts them, closes them down, and finally has them destroyed, in order to create an opportunity for its own projects."[17] Former PA minister Hassan 'Asfour also held Hamas responsible for the arsons.[18]

The Palestinian Human Rights Center called for the Gaza prosecutor general to carry out a serious investigation into the September 2010 torching of the Crazy Water park in Gaza, characterizing Hamas's actions against the parks and tourist resorts as "illegal" and condemning the state of ongoing chaos they reflect. The torching of this park came after Hamas's interior minister, in August 2010, ordered the park shut down for three days, and the Hamas General Investigations Unit ordered the park owners to sign a statement promising to maintain separation between the sexes and to ban women from smoking hookahs on the premises, threatening to fine them NIS 10,000 if they failed to comply. Then, on September 5, the Gaza prosecutor general issued an order for the park to be shut down for 21 days, on the grounds that the owners had dug a well without a permit.[19] It was during these three weeks that armed men torched the park, and did not leave the scene before making sure that it had burned to the ground and could not re-open.[20]

Warnings That Hamas Is Losing Control

Against the backdrop of a prevailing sense of insecurity and lawlessness, in early March 2010, an open letter by Al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza commander Ahmad Al-Ja'bari to Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash'al was published on websites identified with Fatah and, later, also on other websites. It read in part: "This is the second letter in which I warn against danger, after my letter of last November [2009]. I wish again to stress that the situation in Gaza is beginning to worsen and deteriorate, and that we have begun to lose control of the domestic situation, since you asked us to hand [the administration] of affairs over to the [Hamas] government and not to intervene, so as to give it an opportunity to manage the affairs of the Gaza Strip.

"You know that without the mujahideen of the [Al-Qassam] Brigades, the control of Gaza would have collapsed in the blessed Al-Furqan war [i.e. the 2009 Gaza war]. Instead of thanking us for our activity, some government circles have called to condemn us for operations in which several collaborators from Fatah were killed as a necessary step to preserve the domestic front. I do not deny that some of our mujahideen acted stupidly... and killed security apparatus personnel and some of their relatives, but the wellbeing of the movement is 1,000 times more important than a killing here and there.

"There is a group [within Hamas] that is trying to limit our mission to guarding the borders, and is taking the benefits for itself alone. [This group] ran its member Fathi Hammad for the post of interior minister, on the assumption that, as someone with influence over some of the wings of our triumphant brigades, he would lead to disputes among us, and the group supporting him would thus increase its influence. Unfortunately, this group has been successful in undermining the unity of the brigades, adopting a loathsome [policy of] loyalty according to geographical area. Their man [Fathi Hammad] focused on our mujahideen in northern Gaza, and filled them with the spirit of sectarianism, gave them perks, and was partially successful in establishing militias of brigade's members in northern Gaza. Their loyalty to him was so strong that [Hamas Prime Minister] Isma'il Haniya stated angrily that the interior minister was running the ministry like an independent system, in isolation from [the rest of] the administration...

"Hammad has created a state of confusion in the ranks of the security apparatuses, and also in the ranks of the brigades, by creating blocs and centers in northern Gaza and giving out ranks and promotions irregularly, according to personal loyalty – which has led to struggle and confusion, which are manifest in disputes that are acute to the point of assassinations."[21]

II. Corruption and Ostentation in Hamas

Hamas's frequent boasting that it is moral, clean, and uncorrupted – in contrast, it says, to Fatah – has been at variance with reality; it has emerged that Hamas is rife with corruption, hedonism, and ostentatious lifestyles. On July 3, 2010, the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa said, citing sources in Hamas's Political Bureau in Damascus, that "in recent weeks, there have been urgent meetings of Political Bureau members, headed by Khaled Mash'al, in order to draw up a plan for dealing with the corruption in the Gaza Strip. [This corruption] is manifest in the vilest of ways, according to periodic reports received by the Damascus bureau about what is going on there."[22]

The following are several examples of corruption in the Gaza Strip, collected from Palestinian Authority newspapers, websites close to Fatah, and an Egyptian website, inter alia:

In September 2010, Egypt issued arrest warrants against several Egyptian gold traders suspected of helping Isma'il Haniya's aide, Muhammad Na'im, to smuggle large amounts of gold into Gaza via the tunnels. Six months earlier, Na'im himself had been arrested in Egypt for owning a tunnel used to smuggle gold, silver, and suspected terrorists into the Strip.[23]

When senior Hamas officials, such as Palestinian Legislative Council member Salam Salameh and Welfare Minister Ahmad Al-Kurd, bought luxury apartments, Hamas members were enraged; this even prompted Sheikh Ahmad Al-Naqla, a senior Hamas official from Dir Al-Balah, to give a sermon about individuals involved in stealing money from the orphans of martyrs, naming, among others, Ghazi Abu Tama'a and Muhammad Al-Houli, commanders in the Al-Qassam Brigades.[24]

In another instance, Prime Minister Isma'il Haniya fired Fares Abu Mu'ammar, chairman of the Lands Authority in Gaza, because he and other residents had broken the law by expropriating land from Gaza residents.[25]

Fatah spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmeh stated that "Hamas is in a state of schism and internal disputes, because its preference is for personal and sectarian interest [when it comes to] control of sources of revenue and money." He referred to how Interior Minister Fathi Hammad gave his business partner $11 million to buy equipment for the Al-Aqsa TV station, and how both partner and the money subsequently disappeared.[26]

'Adel Al-Barash, a senior official in the Hamas Ministry of Religious Endowments, was suspended due to his involvement, together with other Hamas officials, in embezzling aid money sent to the Palestinians following the Gaza war.[27]

Still another Hamas official complied with a Gaza woman's request for aid and gave her money and food coupons, to save her and her family from hunger, and as her dependence on him increased, he began to sexually harass her.[28]

III. Trampling Democracy, Endangering Lives, Violating Human Rights

After Hamas gained a majority in the Legislative Council by democratic elections in 2006, it proceeded to trample both democracy and human rights with its armed takeover of the Gaza Strip. Even after the Gaza coup, Hamas continued to use violence and harsh measures characteristic of dictatorial regimes. These moves included: executions; suppression of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly; restriction of citizens' movements; appropriation of donations and aid funds; detaining individuals without trial; and endangering peoples' lives. Following are examples:


In April 2010, Hamas announced that it had executed two Palestinians, Muhammad Isma'il and Nasser Abu Freih, who had been convicted by a military tribunal in Gaza of conspiring with Israel. Gaza human rights organizations condemned the executions.[29] 'Omar Al-Ghoul, advisor to PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, responded to the executions by saying, "The continued policy of executions means that the philosophy is one of taking the law into one's own hands."[30]

Persecution of Political Rivals

Refusal to Hold Elections

Another anti-democratic step was Hamas's announcement that it would "not allow the PA Central Elections Committee to make preparations in Gaza for the presidential and parliamentary elections."[31] In early 2011, the PA decided that it would hold elections for the presidency and the Legislative Council in September. Hamas opposed the decision and stressed that it would not participate in the elections.[32] In April 2011, as part of the reconciliation agreement, Hamas agreed to hold elections within one year, but there is no certainty that the agreement will survive and that the elections will indeed take place.

Restrictions on Freedom of Assembly and Freedom of Movement

Hamas prevented the holding of rallies and memorials, including events marking national occasions or promoting national causes, such as ending the inter-Palestinian schism. Following the February 2010 beating of PFLP activists by Hamas apparatuses at the conclusion of a memorial gathering for late PFLP leader George Habash, PFLP official Rabbah Mahana accused Hamas of implementing a policy of suppression. The PFLP claimed that the Hamas security apparatuses were "preventing institutions and factions from carrying out national activity in closed halls and investigating residents illegally and violently, and sometimes humiliating them, in the interrogation facilities and internal security [headquarters]."[33]

Hamas also forcibly suppressed the activity of the Islamic organization Hizb Al-Tahrir in Gaza. On July 13, 2010, Hamas apparatuses in Gaza arrested activists from the organization and beat them with clubs to prevent the holding of a conference marking the 89th anniversary of the collapse of the Islamic Caliphate.[34]

Hamas militias attacked gatherings held by the General Women's Association to mark Nakba Day. The militias demanded that the participants disperse and, when they did not, attacked and beat them.[35]

The PA media reported that, on March 15, 2011, the Hamas security apparatuses had attacked protestors at a mass demonstration in Gaza calling for an end to the Palestinian schism using fists, clubs, and tear gas, injuring 30. Journalists covering the demonstration were also attacked and their equipment confiscated. It was also reported that Ahmad Al-Ja'bari, head of the Al-Qassam Brigades, ordered the release of criminal detainees held in Gaza prisons so that they could be set loose on the protestors, and that after Hamas supporters took over the venue where the demonstration was to be staged, its organizers were forced to relocate the event.[36]

The March 15 protest (, March 15, 2011)

As for restrictions on freedom of movement, Hamas prevented PLO Executive Committee member and PLO Refugees Department head Zakariyya Al-Agha from leaving Gaza for Cairo to attend meetings of the UNRWA Advisory Commission there.[37] Two months previously, it had prevented members of Fatah's Revolutionary Council from leaving Gaza for the West Bank to attend council meetings, just as it had prevented Fatah members from leaving for the West Bank to participate in the Fatah Sixth Convention in August 2009.[38]

Hamas kept people from leaving Gaza even to obtain medical treatment, as in the case of Fatah Revolutionary Council member Muhammad Al-Nahhal, whose health deteriorated after he was denied exit from the Strip. Only after he had a heart attack was his departure to Jordan for medical treatment approved.[39] In another instance, Hamas required Fatah Central Committee member Muhammad Dahlan to file an official request to enter Gaza to attend his mother's funeral.[40] It also banned flower shops from selling wreaths for the funeral.[41]

Restrictions on Freedom of Expression; Human Rights Violations

Restrictions on the Media

Hamas hobbled the media, and persecuted journalists on numerous occasions. In February 2010, Hamas militias kidnapped British journalist Paul Martin, accusing him of security violations.[42] In April 2010, there was an assassination attempt against journalist Saher Al-Aqra in Gaza.[43] The family of Jabaliya journalist Nasser Abu Al-Foul accused the Hamas government's internal security apparatuses of arresting him and seizing computers from his home and office.[44]

Hamas set conditions for bringing the Palestinian newspapers Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Al-Ayyam, and Al-Quds into Gaza – namely, that they refrain from sharply criticizing Hamas, and that the distribution of the Hamas newspapers Al-Risala and Filastin be allowed in the West Bank. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA) condemned Hamas and accused it of grossly violating freedom of expression.[45]

The Gaza Journalists Union condemned Hamas for ordering its former culture minister, Dr. Ibrahim Abrash, to sign a statement in which he undertook to refrain from writing articles against Hamas, and for threatening to punish him after he refused to do so.[46] Earlier, Hamas gunmen had raided the union's offices and summoned its heads for interrogation.[47]

Hamas also persecuted websites and media figures, using various methods, including threats. Hassan Abu Hashish, director of Hamas's media office in Gaza, called the Fatah and Palestinian Authority websites "clandestine security websites [operating] illegally under media names," warning that "anyone who works with them will be prosecuted. [The websites] and those behind them are waging all-out, black propaganda war against Hamas's government and its members in the Legislative Council, and against the leadership of the resistance."[48]

Palestinian film director Iyad Abu Rok accused Hamas of preventing him from completing the filming of his documentary, titled "Identity Without a Homeland," about Palestinian emigration since 1948, which Hamas claimed caused harm to the movement and to the Palestinian cause.[49] He said that Hamas had threatened to kill him for his determination to produce the film.[50]

Media, parties, and factions in the PA strongly condemned the death threats received by Asma Al-Ghoul, secretary of the Palestinian Media and Development Institute and a correspondent for the Lebanon-based Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom. The threatening letter accused her of maligning the Palestinian people and Palestinian women. She responded: "The threats of murder and arson [against] my son and myself will not make me budge an inch from my views, my life[style], and my campaign against injustice and corruption."[51]

Tamim Mu'ammar, correspondent for the Voice of Palestine radio station in Gaza, wrote in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: "These actions [against journalists] do not [reflect] strength [on the part of Hamas], but... a failure to lead society. Where are the principles of democracy that brought you [i.e. Hamas] to power? Where is the respect for human rights?... The press must be free. That is its right, as the fourth branch [of government]."[52]

When a poll was released showing a drop in Hamas's popularity and in the Gazans' satisfaction with the functioning of its government and security institutions, the movement banned the poll's release in Gaza.[53]

Human Rights

Along with the anti-democratic steps mentioned above, Hamas is also working to conceal its infractions. Mamdouh Al-'Aker, head of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, reported that the Hamas government in Gaza was working toward establishing a human rights organization to replace his independent organization. He said, "Hamas is threatening to close the human rights organizations in Gaza because of the views they express, which upset those [in charge] in Gaza."[54]

Jurists and human rights activists demanded that Gaza residents no longer be tried in the military courts, calling it a violation of the law and of human rights.[55]

Interference in Citizens' Personal Lives and Lifestyles

One aspect of Hamas' interference in the Gazans' lives is its persecution of alleged occultists. The deputy head of Hamas's investigations unit, Mansour Hammad, said that some 150 people had been arrested in the recent year for "practicing witchcraft." Senior Hamas officials, including Hammad and Deputy Religious Endowments Minister Dr. 'Abdallah Abu Jarbu', explained that this phenomenon harmed the social fabric in Gaza and caused the breakup of families.[56]

Fatah Revolutionary Council member Dr. Jamal Nazzal stated that Fatah had discovered from internal Hamas correspondence that Hamas has a plan called the "Hamasization of the Womb," which calls on Hamas members to propose marriage to women from Fatah, while preventing Hamas women from marrying Fatah men.[57] Mental health specialist Ibtisam Daloul said that when a young man asks for the hand of a woman, he is immediately asked to state the political organization to which he and his family belong; Fatah families accept only grooms from Fatah, and Hamas families accept only grooms from Hamas.[58]

Endangering Civilians

Hafez Al-Barghouthi, editor of the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, criticized members of Hamas's armed wing, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, for using civilians as human shields – for instance by digging tunnels to hide in underneath Gazans' homes. He said this was a public-relations gift to Israel, because the latter could use it as "an excuse to harm the homes of the residents." He called on Hamas fighters to maintain a distance from populated areas. [59]

Prosecution of "Violators of Shari'a"

Hamas banned two books, one by a Syrian writer and the other by an Egyptian, on the claim that they violated shari'a law. The Palestinian Human Rights Center condemned the ban, which it called an infringement on freedom of expression and publication. 'Adel 'Abd Al-Rahman, a columnist for the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, said that the ban was part of a campaign waged by Hamas in recent years against culture and knowledge, and called for coming out against Hamas's violations and in defense of the culture of enlightenment and democracy.[60]

IV. Increasing Burden on Public, Taking Over Institutions and Enterprises

In addition to persecuting its political rivals, Hamas is striving to take over institutions, enterprises, and businesses in various domains. Former PA minister Hassan 'Asfour wrote in an article that since taking over Gaza, Hamas has been taking over real estate, hotels, restaurants, housing projects, and land. Moreover, public land has been seized for the construction of Hamas-owned facilities, commercial centers, and media centers, established with the help of prominent businessmen, traders and leaders from Hamas. It has managed to purchase nearly anything it wanted since it gained control of the tunnel economy and establishing a commercial network known in Gaza as the "tunnel mafia."

'Asfour added: "Recently, Hamas has revealed a new facet of its character. It no longer persecutes only its political and ideological rivals and anyone who disobeys its security directives regarding military activity [against Israel]. It has [also] begun engaging in a new kind of persecution: targeting businesses that do not belong to Hamas. Dozens of coffee shops, cafeterias, kiosks, barber shops and other businesses have been closed down or torched on the pretext that they violated shari'a... [Hamas's] goal is to shut down all competition in Gaza, and leave only businesses belonging to the movement, which already has nearly complete control over the Gaza economy."[61]

Demolition of Homes in Gaza

Gazans' resentment towards Hamas increased on May 16, 2010, as Hamas police officers stood guard while bulldozers demolished dozens of buildings in the Al-Barahma neighborhood in Rafah, restraining residents who tried to stop the demolition. Hamas explained that the buildings had been built illegally and that a court had issued a demolition order. It also explained that they stood on public land that was the future site of a Hamas real-estate project called Dar Al-Fadila. The residents whose homes had been demolished referred to the move as "a nakba and catastrophe that Hamas has inflicted upon us on the anniversary of the [original] Nakba, in which we were first driven out of our villages and homes."[62]

This move led many to compare Hamas to the Israeli occupation. A Hamas-affiliated website wondered: "How is the Hamas administration different from the occupation state that means to Judaize Jerusalem through the daily demolition of homes and confiscation of land?"[63] A frustrated Gazan said: "We voted for Hamas based on [its promise] of reform and change, but that is not what we got. Hamas will not be reelected, because those who gave it its victory are [politically] independent and will not vote for it again.[64]

The editor of the London daily Al-Quds Al-'Arabi, 'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan, wrote: "The Hamas government is making mistakes... that provide its enemies with 'heavy ammunition' against it, [allowing them] to malign it, incite the people of Gaza against it, and embarrass it. We say this in response to reports that the movement has demolished over 20 homes in... southern Rafah, and has made 150 people refugees, on the grounds that their homes had been built illegally on public land, and that the demolition [of the buildings] was backed by an order from the Supreme Court. We do not object to enforcing the law, but we do object to the timing and the manner in which the court's ruling was carried out:... mercilessly and without finding [alternative] shelter for the residents... I feel the need to mention another mistake Hamas has made in the city of Rafah, when its forces destroyed the Ibn Taymiyya mosque[65]... The political entity [governing] Gaza should have been more sensitive to the people's suffering and to the gravity of the deed [of demolishing homes]..."[66]

Criticism was even heard within Hamas itself. Ahmad Yousuf, a senior official in the Hamas Foreign Ministry and an advisor to Prime Minister Haniya, said, "It would seem that Hamas these days is not in the best situation politically, security-wise, or morally."[67]

In light of the harsh reactions by residents and human rights organizations, the Rafah municipality announced that it was suspending the demolition of further homes until a settlement could be reached with the home owners, the Land Authority, and the government.[68]

Taking Over Organizations and Seizing Funds

In the first quarter of 2010, it was reported that due to liquidity problems, Hamas was increasing the burden on Gaza residents. The head of the finance committee in Hamas's parliament in Gaza, Jamal Nassar, said that the financial difficulties had been caused by several factors, including tax evasion by some of Gaza's wealthier residents, as well as Palestinian banks' refusal to bring Hamas's funds into Gaza from abroad, for fear of punitive measures by the U.S. Treasury, which has prohibited any dealings with Hamas and its Gaza government.[69] Hamas official Isma'il Radwan clarified: "The difficulty is in bringing funds into [Gaza], not in obtaining them."[70]

Due to the temporary shortage of funds, Hamas was unable to pay government workers their full salaries in March and April 2010. Analysts assessed that the shortage was caused primarily by Egypt's crackdown on the smuggling of "suitcase funds" (i.e. cash smuggled in suitcases) from various countries, including Iran.[71] Hamas attempted to ease the crisis by raising donations in mosques. A columnist associated with Fatah wrote: "Hamas is begging for money in the name of the Palestinian people, [but the donations] go into its private coffers and into the pockets of its leaders."[72] A Fatah-affiliated website reported that worshippers at the Khalil Al-Rahman mosque, near the Al-Shaja'iyya neighborhood in Gaza, had largely ignored the request to donate money to Hamas.[73]

The shortage of funds, and the desire to show the PA that Hamas would not obey the directives of the central bank in Ramallah, led Hamas to seize funds from Gaza banks by force. On March 29, 2010, a Hamas police force stormed the Gaza branch of the Bank of Palestine and seized $250,000 from the account of the Friends of the Sick Association, on the strength of an order issued by a Gaza court.[74] One year previously, Hamas had taken over this association, until then headed by a Legislative Council member from Fatah, and had replaced its management. In response, the PA Monetary Authority froze the association's account at the Gaza branch of the Bank of Palestine, so that the funds would not reach Hamas. The association's new management appealed to the court, which authorized Hamas to seize the money from the bank.[75]

In another incident, in late June 2010, the Palestinian Islamic Bank announced that it was to close its branch in Gaza, after the Hamas police seized funds belonging to the Al-Khalij Education and Culture Association there. The Gaza police said in response that "the policemen were [only] carrying out a court ruling to the effect that $16,000 be returned to the association, whose account had been frozen by the bank."[76]

Following Hamas's storming of the Bank of Palestine branch, a Fatah-affiliated website posted an article by Dr. Maher Taha, who wrote: "A movement that has a reputation for integrity, transparency, and honesty – especially in comparison to its predecessor in the Palestinian leadership [i.e. Fatah] – has become a movement of money-hungry murderers... Recently, clouds of disappointment began obscuring our hopes, after reports were leaked to the media about what is going on behind the scenes of the Hamas government in Gaza: the fancy cars and homes purchased by some of its top officials... and the incident in which a gang of armed robbers from Hamas took over a branch of the Bank of Palestine in Gaza, and stole a million shekels at gunpoint... This begs the question: Are the [Gaza] banks still a safe place for residents to deposit their money? Can [Gaza] residents feel secure about their financial future when the political and security reality is such that gunmen can do as they like with the people's savings?...Can the Gazans trust the promises of their government after it has behaved like a gang of lawless armed robbers?..."[77]

In early 2011, the Hamas government took over the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) in Gaza by appointing a new board of directors. The PIF condemned the takeover of its Gaza branch and of companies it owns there, which it claimed was carried out under orders of the Hamas government.[78]

Hamas has not refrained from targeting charities and humanitarian organizations, including international aid organizations. In August 2010, Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad issued a decision to ban PA officials from establishing charity or non-governmental organizations, and even from joining them.[79] Prior to this, Hamas took over several charity organizations, seized equipment and materials from them and closed them down.[80] PA Welfare Minister Majda Al-Masri accused Hamas of preventing the Aramex company from transferring checks issued by the PA Welfare Ministry to the needy in Gaza.[81]

UNRWA said that Hamas had seized food and equipment intended for the needy residents of Gaza, after the organization rejected Hamas's demand to transfer the aid to the Hamas government. Palestinian Broadcasting Authority director Bassem Abu Sumaya stated in an article in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida that Hamas had lost its credibility and its moral and religious values, and was therefore not fit to be in charge of rebuilding Gaza.[82]

In August 2010, a French health organization accused Hamas of seizing medical equipment and documents from the organization's clinics in Khan Younis, and of shutting them down.[83] The official in charge of overseeing freedoms in the Legislative Council condemned the Hamas takeover of the International Red Cross in Gaza.[84] The PA Health Ministry accused Hamas of stripping the equipment from all the ambulances donated to the ministry by the Arab countries and of turning them into military vehicles.[85] Hamas members arrested businessman Salam Al-Zanat, owner of a medical equipment company; company sources said that the arrest was aimed at extorting money from him.[86]

The Hamas apparatuses raided the Gaza trade office, and seized hundreds of documents and photocopied others in advance of its taking over the office.[87]

The Tax Drive

Hamas's cash shortage prompted it to launch a tax drive, including a heavy tax on cigarettes.[88] Sheikh Hamed Al-Bitawi of Hamas, head of the Palestinian Clerics Association, described this tax as "an intelligent move in the campaign against smoking."[89] Gaza resident Nabil Shihad said that the cigarette tax was meant to enable the Hamas government to pay salaries.[90] The Hamas-run Gaza municipality has also imposed a fee of NIS 400–600 on wagon owners, of NIS 150 for operating a market stall, of NIS 82 for the use of scales in food stores, and a monthly 'disturbance fee' of NIS 20 for operating a generator.[91] The Hamas Land Authority imposed a special tax on the residents of high-rise buildings in the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood to help pay the salaries of Hamas's militiamen.[92]

The barrage of new taxes and fees evoked much resentment. Jamil Mazhar, a leader of the PFLP said: "The Hamas [government's] financial distress is no excuse for pressuring the citizens of Gaza and squeezing them for money... These funds are used... to finance the government mechanisms and cover the private expenses of government workers."[93] During a May Day march in Gaza, demonstrators called on Hamas to stop the tax drives.[94] The PFLP and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) circulated pamphlets attacking Hamas for imposing the new taxes.[95] The PFLP also accused Hamas of "seizing the apartments of Gazans who were abroad and handing them over to its members" and of "requiring people who own apartments built on state land, which were given to them by presidential decree, to pay between $2,500 and $3,000 for the land." In response to the accusations, Hamas raided the PFLP headquarters in Gaza and arrested some of its activists.[96] The movement accused the PFLF of spreading rumors and incitement in order to undermine Gaza's security and stability, while Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the PFLP had "abused the freedoms granted in Gaza."[97]

Hamas attempted to silence the talk about the taxes. A Fatah-affiliated website, citing sources in Hamas, reported: "The Gaza Endowments Ministry has instructed the mosque imams on its payroll to avoid the topic of the tax [drive]. Hamas Endowments Minister Taleb Abu Sha'er advised the imams to inform [the worshippers] that [talk of new] taxes is only a rumor [spread] by Fatah and the PA as part of their propaganda campaign against Hamas, and to explain to them that this war [against Hamas] is more dangerous than the Zionist war."[98]

Fatah spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi said: "Hamas is trying to consolidate its black coup by imposing taxes... Hamas's leaders are the ones who gain the most from the perpetuation of the current situation in Gaza, because they control the sources of cash and profit from trade via the tunnels and from [the sale of] smuggled gasoline..."[99]

According to a Fatah-affiliated website, residents of Gaza appealed to the office of PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas, begging that he "rescue them from the blood-soaked and rapacious Hamas administration."[100] A trader named Abu Amin said that Hamas "is making the people pay for its failure to bring money into Gaza."[101]

A columnist for the PA newspaper Al-Ayyam, Tawfiq Wasfi, attacked Hamas for taxing the Gaza residents instead of the wealthy tunnel operators: "Everything that enters Gaza through the tunnels passes under the gaze of Hamas's employees and mechanisms, [who should] tax the importers directly instead of [taxing] the businesses and shop-owners..."[102]

A Fatah-affiliated website stated that the tax drive sparked arguments within Hamas, with many criticizing the move of imposing a further burden on the public instead of aiding it.[103] A letter sent to Khaled Mash'al in Damascus by Hamas's Executive Bureau in Gaza described the complaints of the public, which is suffering both from the burdensome taxes and from "the financial, administrative, and moral corruption of the government mechanisms."[104]

V. The Egypt-Gaza Tunnels

Smuggling Weapons, Goods, and People

A 2009 U.N. report stated, "The tunnels have become a vein of life for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, despite the great dangers for workers in them and for those passing through them... They provide the residents with a supply of goods that are prohibited from passing through the official border crossings."[105] However, following years of vigorous traffic in the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, activity has declined sharply, due to Egypt's determination to fight it, and also because Israel has eased the Gaza closure.

The original aim of the Palestinian tunnels was to be used for smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip; over time, however, an extensive industry developed for smuggling other goods as well. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned in early 2010 that "the tunnels caused Egypt heavy damage on several levels, the most important of which is the security level, since they were the reason for the Sharm Al-Sheikh and Taba [terror] attacks..."[106] As early as November 2009, Egypt had thwarted such smuggling attempts, when it uncovered four storehouses in Sinai in which missiles and half a ton of explosives were concealed.[107] In 2010, Egypt stepped up its fight against the smuggling activity.

The goods coming through the tunnels have been extremely varied: food products, including fish, clothing and footwear; construction materials; fuel; cigarettes; electrical appliances; toys; drugs; motorcycles, and even cars (which at one time were brought through only in pieces, but now arrive in Gaza fully assembled). Animals, too, were smuggled into Gaza through the tunnels, primarily sheep. A sheep merchant, Ibrahim Muslih, said that he had been "surprised when [Egyptian] police forces destroyed dozens of tunnels by flooding them."[108]

The supervisor of the Gaza police anti-drug unit, 'Amer 'Issa, said that the most common drug brought through was a tranquilizer, Tramal, followed by hashish, and bongs. The least common drug brought through the tunnels was opium, he said.[109]

The tunnels were also used by people who could not pass through the border crossings – for example, global jihad activists.[110] Women came to Gaza via the tunnels to marry; Zainab, a Yemeni woman whose father is Palestinian, said, "I never imagined that I would crawl more than 600 meters underground in order to reach Gaza."[111]

Fatah Revolutionary Council member Tawfiq Abu Khoussa wrote: "The phenomenon of the tunnels in the Gaza Strip was and remains a bitter nightmare and a grave danger – even though they serve for transferring staples to the Gaza residents – because they have become an artery for smuggling weapons, drugs and all contraband... Thus, for example, they can be used, with the supervision and sponsorship of Hamas elements, to enable members of Al-Qaeda and extremist Islamic organizations to enter Gaza."[112]

The tunnels were also used to kidnap Gaza resident 'Abdallah Al-Barim, who was taken to Sinai and held for ransom.[113]

Tunnels of Death: Approximately 160 Dead

The tunnel activity has created great resentment among many Gaza Strip residents, and the employment of children for excavations has been criticized by human rights organizations – with criticism directed both against tunnel owners and against parents who send their children to do this dangerous work.[114]

Over 160 tunnel workers have died in collapses or by electrocution since the beginning of the siege on Gaza, and over 650 have been injured.[115] Tunnel worker Muhammad Saleh said that his parents had pressured him to stop working there for fear he would be killed, and that many of his coworkers' families did likewise. Tunnel worker Ibrahim explained that "tranquilizers have become the tunnel workers' most effective weapon for dealing with [fears about] the dangers. Taking the [pills] before going down into the tunnel creates a sense of happiness and dispels the fear."[116] The many protests about the high death rate in the tunnels have forced the tunnel owners into compensating the surviving families, at NIS 7,000 for a single man and NIS 10,000 for a married man.

Journalist Majed Yassin wrote that the food products smuggled into the Strip also included infant formula – and that many infants died because of spoilage resulting from poor storage conditions and expiration.[117] According to another report, medicines smuggled through the tunnels have been offered for sale to passersby on the sidewalks, under the blazing sun.[118] Human rights organizations in Gaza warned about other dangers that had already caused deaths. Dr. Mu'awiya Hassanein, director of first aid and emergency wards in Gaza hospitals, said that 75 Gazans had died in explosions of smuggled generators and gas pipelines that never underwent safety inspections.[119]

Following the many deaths in the tunnels, the leader of the Palestinian Salafi ulama, Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Abu Jami', issued a fatwa banning work in the tunnels, saying: "The tunnels were not dug for the Palestinian people or to make [their lives] easier, but for the personal interests of a few... The tunnels have harmed the [Palestinian] victims and the struggle of the Palestinian people, making it look like a terrorist people."[120]

Teenage boy at mouth of tunnel in Gaza (Source: Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Palestinian Authority, April 17, 2010)

Hamas Encourages Tunnel Excavations

A reflection of Hamas' legitimization and monitoring of the tunnel activity is Hamas Interior Ministry's Political Direction Authority's April 2010 visit to the "Tunnels and Borders Authority," during which it was agreed "to step up cooperation between these two bodies."[121]

To the question of whether Hamas was encouraging the digging of tunnels, Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar replied: "Of course. The government was silent because this is private economic activity, and a means of breaking the siege... We must do anything that will assure us life."[122]

The tunnels have served Hamas as an alternative to obtaining goods from Israel. For instance, the movement has succeeded in ensuring a steady supply of diesel from Egypt to Gaza, thus freeing itself from dependence on diesel from Israel. In February 2011, a fire broke out in one of the tunnels used to transport diesel.[123]

Hamas has benefited economically from the tunnels. Fatah Revolutionary Council member Tawfiq Al-Khoussa wrote: "The 'bloodshed coup' movement [i.e. Hamas] has legitimized the smuggling tunnels, and is charging their owners for permits to excavate, work, and [hook up to] power for lighting and operating cranes in them."[124] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida columnist 'Adel 'Abd Al-Rahman wrote: "The tunnels are a wellspring of gold for the leaders of the Hamas coup... A group of 'tunnel czars' has arisen among the influential in the Hamas leadership."[125]

Former PA minister of prisoner affairs Ashraf Al-'Ajrami said: "Hamas is the one that profits the most from the siege on Gaza. The closing of the main border crossings with Israel and Hamas's control of the trade via the tunnels enable it to make huge sums of money [by] levying a high tax on the smuggled goods. Hamas is smuggling in products of every kind, including internationally banned [products] like drugs and pills, as well as funds for money-laundering in Gaza. Thanks to the siege, Hamas has taken over the Gaza economy, liquidating the traditional sector of traders, magnates and businessmen in favor of a new sector of nouveau-riche fat cats... who have taken control of Gaza's resources."[126]

The activity in the tunnels drove commerce in Gaza, particularly in Rafah and Khan Younis. Until the Gaza war in December 2008, tunnel activity flourished, and tunnel owners raked in huge profits. Journalist Nader Al-Qasir wrote: "In the past two years, many have joined the class of the wealthy, accumulating a fortune, at the expense of the blood of their fellow countrymen in Gaza, from the smuggling tunnels. For this class, all is permitted – and it turns everything into a business, including the lives of people whose distress pushed them to seek a crust of bread in the belly of the earth. Some [of these people] found their deaths beneath the sand... At times when trade in the tunnels is weak, this class of people needs new blood to suck. So they turn to the lands, which are controlled by a gang of bloodsuckers who invest their money, drenched in the blood of the victims of the tunnels, and buy up extensive areas, and cause land prices to rise. Now, all the money saved up by the families who lived under tin and asbestos roofs in the refugee camps is not enough for them to build a home."[127]

Slowdown in Construction of Tunnels

After the Gaza war, when Egypt decided to step up oversight of the Egypt-Gaza border, to blow up tunnels, and to build an underground steel barrier, tunnel activity slowed. In February 2010, tunnel owners closed many tunnels, and many residents joined the ranks of the unemployed.[128] Many tunnel owners went bankrupt. Gaza resident A.S. said: "A curse on all those who advised my husband [to engage] in trade in the tunnels. We sold everything we had so that my husband could rent a tunnel together with others... At first there were profits, but later my husband's situation changed. The turning point came when he became addicted to the tranquilizers smuggled through the tunnels, becoming a wild animal in the guise of a man – tense and a troublemaker. He even stopped praying."[129]

In April 2010, Egyptian sources said that the closure of the tunnels had "directly impacted the smuggling of funds into Gaza," and that "activity among the Egyptian security apparatuses [had] increased and successfully brought down several money smuggling networks." The sources reported a 70% drop in smuggling.[130]

Another development came in June 2010, when Israel announced it was easing the closure – a move that significantly reduced the need for the tunnels.[131] Gaza merchant Abu Hassan said that he was forced to drastically lower beverage prices so that he would not get stuck with his entire inventory, because Israel had announced that it would permit the import of food products and soft drinks.[132]

A tunnel owner reported that "the golden age of the tunnels is over... Only 10% of them are active now, and most of them deal with transporting cement, iron, and construction materials, and smuggling them to the market – which is crying out for such products."[133] The Egyptian campaign against the tunnels continued, and in November 2010 it closed down 16 tunnels in three operations, and also arrested a smuggler in whose possession were found weapons and ammunition.[134]

In October 2010, Palestinian websites reported about movement of goods in the opposite direction: from Gaza to Sinai. This was prompted by Israel's opening of the border crossings, among other reasons. One of the tunnel workers said: "We are exporting aluminum, and iron and copper scrap." A major smuggler and owner of several tunnels said that export through the tunnels had grown because copper scrap could be bought low in Gaza and sold high in Egypt. He added that there was a growing demand for soap and shampoo in Egypt, as well as for fruits, vegetables, nuts, Israeli dairy products, and low-priced eggs and baked goods. Egyptian smugglers were making million-dollar deals, especially in fruit, thanks to the price gap between the Egyptian and Gazan markets.[135]

After the Egyptian Uprising

During the January 2011 revolution in Egypt, goods and products passed from Gaza to Egypt through the tunnels, as aid to residents of Egyptian Rafah who were suffering from food shortages.[136] As of this writing, the future of the tunnels remains uncertain, because there have been indications that the Egyptian government intends to ease control at the border crossings, and also because the post-Mubarak government's policy regarding the tunnels is still unclear.

Building materials coming in through Gaza tunnel (source:

VI. Hamas's Economic Prosperity

Hamas has largely succeeded in circumventing the blockade on the Gaza Strip, despite the occasional liquidity problems its government has faced. The movement's funding sources include moneys transferred from overseas through both the border crossings[137] and the tunnels and funds collected from taxes and fees, in addition to the funds it receives from the Palestinian Authority. That said, it is the movement itself, and the nouveau riche, which have profited most from the financial prosperity, rather than the people of Gaza.

Al-Ayyam columnist Walid Al-Batrawi said: "Despite the siege, everything is available in Gaza, from needles to missiles, but the prices vary... Products brought in through the [border] crossings that Israel [occasionally] opens, according to its whim, have more or less fixed prices, but [products] brought in through the tunnels are expensive... If you ask why a product costs [so much], the answer is always 'tunnels,' and then you understand and pay up. Something that costs one shekel is sold for three shekels just because it came through the tunnels."[138]

Resorts Open, Prices Drop

Toward the second half of 2010, Hamas overcame its financial difficulties and the economic situation in Gaza began to improve. In an article in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, journalist Ashraf Abu Al-Houl reported on the burgeoning recreation industry in Gaza and the low merchandise prices: "I was last in Gaza in mid-February [2010]. Returning three weeks ago, [in June 2010], I found it almost unrecognizable... and the greatest surprise was the nature of that change. I would have expected a change for the worse, considering the blockade – but the opposite was the case; it seemed as if it had emerged from the blockade.

"A sense of absolute prosperity prevails, as manifested by the grand resorts along and near Gaza's coast. Furthermore, the sight of the merchandise and luxuries filling the Gaza shops amazed me. Merchandise is sold more cheaply than in Egypt, although most of it is from the Egyptian market, and there are added shipping costs and costs for smuggling it via the tunnels – so that it could be expected to be more expensive... The reality [in Gaza] proves that the siege was broken even before Israel's crime against the ships of the Freedom Flotilla in late May; everything had already been coming into the Gaza Strip from Egypt. If this hadn't been the case, businessmen would not have been able to build so many resorts in under four months.

"During my tour of the Rafah and Khan Younis markets, I noticed that the merchants were drastically marking down their merchandise, so as to get rid of goods smuggled in through the tunnels, and to prevent heavy losses... after Israel decided to allow in Israeli and imported goods, as part of Israeli government measures to ease the blockade following the Freedom Flotilla massacre.

"Despite the drop in prices due to the abundance of goods in the Gaza markets, the residents sense that even lower prices are on the way, due to the easing of the Israeli blockade. The consumers are carefully watching prices, [particularly for] smuggled electrical appliances and cars, and refrain from buying, expecting that merchandise will arrive via the border crossings [leading to a further drop in prices]."

The article continued: "The Gaza resorts paint a picture of prosperity enjoyed by only a few groups, most of which have become rich from the blockade, because they either own tunnels or else work for the many international organizations in Gaza, headed by UNRWA... Several months ago, Gaza had only one luxury resort, Zahrat Al-Madain. Today, another one opens up every day, such as Crazy Water, Aqua Park, and Al-Bustan. Most of them are owned by members or associates of Hamas...

"Walid Al-'Awwad, a member of the Palestinian People's Party political bureau, said, 'In the past two years [2008-2010], money-laundering has flourished in Gaza, as reflected by the construction of numerous resorts – all of which belong to influential individuals who participate in trafficking via the tunnels. Compared to the tunnel owners' increasing wealth, the [status] of the [established] wealthy families has waned... The spread of the grand resorts reflects the emergence of a bourgeoisie. Some of the fluidity in the Gaza market stems from the activity of clandestine elements – distributors of drugs, arms, and tunnel merchandise.'

"Human rights activist and political correspondent Mustafa Ibrahim said, 'Building resorts in the north [of the Strip] is contrary to the most fundamental principles of investment, because they are in regions exposed to shelling and destruction, due to the unceasing Israeli threats.' Thus, veteran investors don't dare invest in this area. The elements behind the investment [in the north], who are sometimes hasty, rely on profits from trafficking via the tunnels for funding... This huge investment in the leisure industry is taking place today in Gaza at a time when 80% of the residents depend on aid from UNRWA and other organizations, and unemployment is at 45%..."[139]

A July 22, 2010 report in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida likewise referred to the resorts: "The Al-Bustan resort on the coast belongs to an Islamic association linked to Hamas. It offers a cafeteria, a restaurant, and fish ponds; it receives 1,000 visitors a day and about 2,000 during the weekend, says manager Ahmad Qadoura. A Gaza resident whose home was destroyed in the Gaza war, Abu Kamal Al-Awajeh, expressed his resentment over the resort's high entry fee of NIS 35... He says, 'Priority should be given to rehabilitating Gaza and building housing for those whose homes were destroyed by the occupation in the war.' Nearby, the Wa'ed Prisoners Association, which is close to Hamas, has built the Al-Hurriya [Freedom] Resort.[140]

Source: Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 17, 2010

Source:, July 21, 2010

Mall Opens in Gaza

The Palestinian website Firas Press reported on the opening of a mall in Gaza: "The inaugural ceremony was attended by Hamas ministers and officials, along with merchants and investors. Hamas Welfare Minister Ahmad Al-Kurd said, 'The mall will participate in meeting the basic needs of the population, against the backdrop of the siege, with merchants bringing in [goods] via the border crossings and the tunnels.'"[141]

Source:, July 21, 2010

The Bisan Tourism City

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported on the Bisan Tourism City resort, opened by Hamas in May 2010 in Beit Lahiya: "Previously a garbage dump, the 270-dunam [site], which belongs to the Hamas government, provides a leisure and vacation [destination] for Gaza residents... [Its construction], under the oversight of Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad, cost $1.5 million. The city includes an 86-dunam park and a small zoo..."[142] In June 2011, the resort was officially opened in a ceremony attended by Hamas Prime Minister Isma'il Haniya and Interior Minister Fathi Hammad.[143]

Israel Eases Gaza Blockade

Though the Palestinians attempt to draw a picture of relentless distress in Gaza, the reality is different, and there is no shortage since Israel has eased the blockade, lifting the restrictions on all goods except for "dual-purpose" materials[144] and building materials. The latter, restricted to construction projects approved by the PA and funded by the international community, are delivered into Gaza under the supervision of international organizations. According to data provided by Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, there has been a significant increase in the amount of goods entering Gaza daily; in fact, the daily scope of import falls short of the maximal scope allowed. In the past six months, trucks delivering goods into Gaza average 250 per day (the maximal number allowed is 300). Among the goods delivered daily are refrigerators, washing machines, LCD television screens and electrical appliances, as well as ceramics, plumbing and electrical supplies. Forty new cars are imported weekly. For a detailed list of truckloads delivered into Gaza in a sample week (May 29-June 2, 2011), see Appendix I below.

Appendix I: Truckloads Delivered to Gaza through the Land Crossings in One Week (May 29-June 2, 2011)

The following is a detailed itemization of goods that entered Gaza through the Gaza-Israel land crossings in May 29-June 2, 2011, as provided by the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Appendix II: Images

Building materials coming in through Gaza tunnels (source:

Gaza market: No sign of food shortage (source:


[1], February 2, 2010.

[2], February 14, 2010.

[3], March 7, 2010

[4], May 23, 2010; Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), May 24, 2010.

[5], June 28, 2010.

[6], July 18, 2010.

[7] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), March 10, 2011.

[8] "Jaljalat" is a name used by Gaza residents for some of the Salafi groups.

[9], February 10, 2010.

[10], February 27, 2010. In addition, a Jund Ansar Allah commander, Abu Hareth, said, "Many of the bombings were carried out due to interpersonal and inter-organizational disputes among the factions and their supporters, including Hamas members.", April 19, 2010.

[11] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), February 28, 2010.

[12] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 20, 2009.

[13] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 11, 2009.

[14] Al-Risala (Gaza), February 15, 2010.

[15] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), May 24, 2010.

[16] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), May 27, 2010.

[17], September 19, 2010.

[18], September 20, 2010.

[19], September 19, 2010.

[20], September 25, 2010.

[21], March 4, 2010.

[22] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), July 3, 2010.

[23] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), September 13, 2010.

[24], March 9, 2010.

[25], February 28, 2010.

[26] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), March 10, 2010.

[27], March 7, 2010.

[28], March 1, 2010.

[29] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), April 16, 2010.

[30] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), April 22, 2010.

[31], October 28, 2009.

[32], February 12, 2011.

[33] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), February 2, 2010.

[34], July 14 and 17, 2010.

[35], May 23, 2010.

[36], March 16, 2011; Al-Hayat Al-Jadida,, March 15, 2011.

[37], June 19, 2010

[38] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Au8thority), April 24, 2010.

[39] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), April 23, 2010.

[40] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), January 18, 2010.

[42], February 15, 2010.

[43], April 28, 2010.

[44], June 21, 2010

[45] WAFA (Palestinian Authority), July 8-9, 2010.

[46] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), November 16, 2010.

[47] WAFA (Palestinian Authority), October 12, 2010.

[48] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), March 11, 2010.

[49] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), August 21, 2009.

[50], September 2, 2009

[51] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), November 15, 2010.

[52] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), October 17, 2010.

[53] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 3, 2010.

[54] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), January 7, 2011.

[55] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), October 22, 2009.

[56], January 13, 2010.

[57], March 14, 2010.

[58], November 13, 2010.

[59] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), January 7, 2009.

[60] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), January 26, 2011;, January 25, 2011.

[61], September 20, 2010.

[62], May 16, 2010; Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), May 20, 2010.

[63], May 21, 2010.

[64], May 30, 2010.

[65] The mosque, which belonged to the Salafi-jihadi group Jund Ansar Allah, was stormed by Hamas forces on August 14, 2009, after the group proclaimed the establishment of an Islamic emirate.

[66] Al-Quds Al-'Arabi (London), May 20, 2010.

[67] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), June 4, 2010.

[68] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), May 21, 2010.

[69], April 11, 2010.

[70] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), May 6, 2010.

[71] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), May 6, 2010.

[72], May 29, 2010.

[73], April 17, 2010.

[74] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), March 30, 2010.

[75], March 29, 2010;, March 30, 2010.

[76] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), June 28, 2010.

[77], April 13, 2010.

[78] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), March 3, 2011.

[79] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), August 9, 2010.

[80] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), June 5, 2010.

[81] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), March 25, 2010.

[82] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 5 , 2009.

[83] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), August 19, 2010.

[84] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), March 5, 2010.

[85] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority, May 20, 2009.

[86] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 14, 2010.

[87] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, (Palestinian Authority), June 6, 2010.

[88] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), April 20, 2010.

[89], April 24, 2010.

[90] Aafaq (PA), April 29, 2010.

[91], March 10, 2010.

[92], April 25, 2010.

[93], April 28, 2010.

[94] WAFA (Palestinian Authority), May 2, 2010.

[95] WAFA (Palestinian Authority), April 29, 2010.

[96] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), April 30, 2010.

[97], April 28, 2010.

[98], May 18, 2010.

[99] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), April 11, 2010.

[100], April 25, 2010.

[101] WAFA (Palestinian Authority), April 29, 2010.

[102] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), April 21, 2010.

[103], April 28, 2010.

[104] Al-Jazair News (Algeria), April 6, 2010.

[105] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), January 20, 2010.

[106], January 18, 2010.

[107] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), November 19, 2009.

[108], November 25, 2009.

[109] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), August 15, 2010.

[110], January 17, 2010.

[111], January 17, 2010.

[112], January 17, 2010.

[113] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), September 22, 2010.

[114], November 28, 2010.

[115], September 19, 2010.

[116], May 1, 2010.

[117], February 21, 2010.

[118] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), October 26, 2009.

[119], February 17, 2010.

[120], January 13, 2010.

[121], April 28, 2010.

[122] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), June 25, 2010.

[123] Al-Risala (Gaza), February 17, 2010;, December 20, 2010;, February 18, 2011.

[124], January 17, 2010.

[125] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), January 20, 2010.

[126], June 2, 2010.

[127] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), April 17, 2010.

[128] Al-Quds, (Jerusalem), February 19, 2010.

[129], February 21, 2010.

[130], April 27, 2010.

[131] Following the events of the Freedom Flotilla, Israel eased the blockade, allowing more goods to be brought into Gaza, especially a wide range of foodstuffs, fuels and medicines.

[132], June 21, 2010.

[133], July 4, 2010.

[134], November 4, 2010.

[135], October 8, 2010.

[136], February 6, 2011.

[137] In early 2009, Egyptian authorities stopped Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha from entering Gaza with $11 million in cash in his luggage. He was taken to an Al-Arish bank to deposit the money, until a decision could be made on what to do with it. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), February 6, 2009.

[138] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), August 23, 2010.

[139] Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 18, 2010.

[140] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), July 22, 2010.

[141], July 21, 2010. For a video about the mall, see MEMRI TV Clip No. 2596, " Al-Arabiya TV Reports on a New Shopping Mall in Gaza," August 27, 2010,

[142] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), July 22, 2010.

[143], June 4, 2011.

[144] This refers to materials that can be used to manufacture weapons and munitions.

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