by Hugh Fitzgerald
Hamas was soundly defeated by Israel in an 11-day campaign in May, and now is threatening to restart hostilities if Israel does not permit tens of millions of dollars supplied by Qatar to be handed over, in cash, directly to Hamas for distribution to the 100,000 poorest families in Gaza. A report on the latest threats from Hamas is here: “Report: Hamas Threatens Hostilities Unless It Gets Qatari Cash,” JNS, August 15, 2021:
Hamas is threatening to renew violence against Israel unless it is granted access to Qatari funds in cash, Palestinian media reported over the weekend.
According to reports, the terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip refuses to receive the funds via wire transfers and demands the funds be transferred as they have been to date — in cash-stuffed suitcases….
Wire transfer of funds will make it harder for Hamas to divert funds meant for rebuilding damaged buildings into the pockets of its grasping leaders. It’s not a theoretical worry. Two leaders of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal and Mousa ibn Marzouk, each managed to amass fortunes of $2.5 billion, colossal sums they skimmed from the foreign aid sent to Gaza.
What Hamas wants is for the tens of millions of dollars in aid from Qatar to be delivered in suitcases full of untraceable cash; its methods are those of old-fashioned Mafia gangsters.
And Hamas is like the Mafia, too, in its extortion racket: give us the money, now, it tells Israel, or we will start up again with our Grand March of Return, with our children carefully positioned at the front as shields for the adults walking behind, right up to your security fence, where we will throw rocks, Molotov cocktails, and other explosive devices at your soldiers, we will set fire to tires so the smoke will make it harder for you to target us with rubber bullets and stun grenades as we try to breach the barriers. And at the same time, we will again launch our cross-border arson balloons that will set fire to thousands of acres, as they have done before, to your farmlands and forests.
Israel is worried that Hamas could much more easily use aid delivered in the untraceable form of cash to build up its terrorist infrastructure, including paying for rockets to replace the 4,500 that were used up in the May war and, especially, to rebuild the tunnel network underground, some 62 miles of which the IDF destroyed in the May campaign.
Hamas spokesman Azam Qassem was quoted by Palestinian media as saying, “The easing of restrictions approved by the Zionist occupation in recent days [increasing the volume of goods delivered to Gaza as well as expanding its fishing zone] is not enough. These are attempts by the Zionist occupation to undermine Hamas and the Palestinian people and we will not allow it.”
Hamas appears to have forgotten what it achieved in the two years of its Great March of Return: nothing. The Palestinians burned tires and hurled rocks, explosive devices, firebombs and grenades at IDF troops and the security fence. But the Israeli soldiers held their ground at the security fence; of the tens of thousands of Palestinian marchers, only a half-dozen actually breached the fence, and then only for a matter of a few minutes. No Israeli soldiers were killed by the marchers, and fewer than ten were wounded, but 214 Palestinians – those who came right up to the fence and threw their rocks and explosive devices – were killed, and some 36,000 were wounded over the two years during which the Great March took place. Does Hamas think of that as a victory? Would it really like to repeat the experience? Or would it like to provoke Israel into a repeat of the devastating 11-day war it fought with the IDF this past May?
Now Israel has showed its good will by lifting restrictions on the kind, and amount, of goods that will be allowed into Gaza, and has increased the fishing zone available to Palestinian fishermen. Instead of welcoming this, Hamas has sourly declared these unilateral Israeli acts as “not enough.” Hamas could so easily win points with Israel by, in turn, agreeing to at long last returning the bodies of two Israeli soldiers as well as two Israeli civilians, mentally imbalanced, who wandered into Gaza. Such an act would cost it nothing. But wanton cruelty is Hamas’ preferred behavior. And that money the terror group wants Israel to deliver from Qatar will, as a consequence, whatever form it does take, it won’t be in suitcases full of cash.
First published in Jihad Watch.