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Relatives of missing Palestinian migrants who were on boats that sank near Malta demonstrate in Gaza, Sept. 22, 2014

As the past few weeks have, shown, hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians would rather risk their lives at sea than live under Palestinian governments and leaders whose only goal is to enrich their bank accounts.

Instead of creating job opportunities for young men and women, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority [PA] have spent the past 7 years fighting over money and power. They are now busy planning how to lay their hands on the millions of dollars that are supposed to go to the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. Hamas wants to use the PA as a tool through which the international community channels funds to he Gaza Strip — a move that would ultimately empower Hamas to tighten its grip over the Palestinian population there.

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They said that Hamas officials are providing the emigrants with forged visas and travel documents to enable them to enter Europe.

Over the past few weeks, dozens of Palestinian migrants from the Gaza Strip have been killed or injured while trying to reach Europe by sea.

At least 500 Palestinians have gone missing after the boats carrying them sank in the sea. Some reports have suggested that rival gangs deliberately sunk the boats. The gangs are fighting for the cash the Palestinians are prepared to pay to leave the Gaza Strip. Palestinians refer to the situation as their “Death Boats” scandal.

Relatives of missing Palestinian migrants who were on boats that sank near Malta demonstrate in Gaza, Sept. 22, 2014

The Palestinian migrants are said to have paid thousands of dollars to Hamas officials and Egyptian smugglers to facilitate the exodus from the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Authority [PA] Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki claimed that each Palestinian paid $1,000 to Hamas personnel at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. Others are believed to have paid $5,000 each to leave the Gaza Strip.

Malki said that preliminary investigations have revealed that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have fallen victim to Hamas and Egyptian gangsters who managed to lure them with false promises.

According to various reports, some 13,000 Palestinians have already fled the Gaza Strip to Europe with the help of the gangsters. Most left through Hamas’s smuggling tunnels or by bribing its security officials at the Rafah terminal.

Another 25,000 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip have applied to various European countries for immigration.

Although Hamas has denied any connection to the mass exodus, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip revealed that the Islamist movement had set up special offices to register those wishing to start a new life in Europe. They said that Hamas officials are providing the emigrants with forged visas and travel documents to enable them to enter Europe.

Hamas said this week that its security forces have arrested several suspects in connection with the illegal migration. But the movement refused to say whether the suspects were members of Hamas.

A Palestinian journalist in Gaza City said that Hamas has also used mosques to encourage Palestinians to immigrate to Europe. At one of the mosques in the southern Gaza Strip, a leading Hamas preacher told worshippers: “Those who are not happy can always emigrate to Europe. We do not force anyone to stay here.”

Most of the migrants left the Gaza Strip through a two-kilometer tunnel belonging to a senior Hamas operative. Survivors told a Palestinian Authority Commission of Inquiry that when they reached the Egyptian side of the border, Egyptian gangsters intercepted them and robbed them of their money.

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