The Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip has decided to impose a new tax on goods coming from the Palestinian Authority (PA), an illegal move in the eyes of Ramallah and a political statement by Hamas that sees itself as a separate entity.
The new tax, at 16% and already known as the “Hamas Tax”, was imposed on a variety of goods coming from the PA, including mineral water, chips, and soft drinks, and is intended to be a response to taxes levied by the PA on goods coming from the Gaza Strip.
The decision to impose the tax also follows the PA granting an exemption from the increase in import taxes to importers living in the PA, but not to importers in the Gaza Strip.
A source in the Gaza Strip told the media that the government’s step is meant to cause the Ramallah government to stop collecting taxes on products coming from Gaza and to include Gaza in the wheat and flour tax exemption, as was done in the PA.
In Ramallah and Gaza, it is believed that “this is a political step that is based on deepening the split [between the PA and Gaza], but above all as a statement by Hamas that it sees itself as an independent state in every respect and separate even from the Palestinian Authority.”
A Gazan trader who imports juice, who has so far paid $400 for the levy on each truck, in any weight and quantity, will now pay an additional 16% of the value of the goods, or a total of $2,000 arbitrarily, when the daily wage per capita in the Strip measures about $8.
This is not a time such a tariff war has ensued. In 2013 Hamas imposed levies on goods coming from Judea and Samaria territories and provoked harsh criticism within the Gaza Strip.