Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
Hamas checks an ambulance at the border with Egypt.

Residents of the Gaza Strip are complaining that donations collected on their behalf in Arab countries are not reaching them, and even as the economic hardship in the Strip intensifies Hamas is not transferring budgets from its funds to deal with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Sources in the Gaza Strip say that in recent days, following the Corona crisis and the deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip, there has been severe criticism of Hamas after disclosures of its corruption and embezzlement of donations for those in need, as well as over the fact that Hamas has not thawed its own budgets in favor of the civilian systems in Gaza.

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Hamas, in turn, is accusing the Palestinian Authority (PA) of not passing on the donations and assistance to Gaza’s residents.

In an interview with the Hamas website, Khalil Al-Haya, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, said Saturday that Hamas has harnessed all its organizational, financial and logistical capabilities for the benefit of the Gaza Strip in its fight against the Coronavirus and also designated its charities and the Izz A-Din Al-Qassam brigades for the benefit of the various authorities.

Al-Haya stressed that the building of 1,000 isolation rooms was funded by Hamas and so was the purchase of 30 respirators. He said Hamas also provided financial assistance to the camps in Lebanon and other countries, with the aid of Qatar and charities.

Al-Haya’s remarks came in response to criticism from Gaza residents and to a series of publications on Hamas’ corruption during the Corona crisis.

One recent case involves Masa’ev Al-Haya, his associate and relative, who is accused of embezzling funds contributed to the Gaza Strip by Turkey and Iran.

Last week, a Jordanian news site published an article based on Hamas sources, saying that while the Gaza Strip is suffering a severe economic crisis following the Coronavirus outbreak, corruption is broadening among Hamas’ leadership.

The report quotes sources who said that Zahar Jabarin, who oversees the Hamas headquarters in Turkey, has embezzled over $2 million in organization funds and is also using his position in the top Hamas headquarters to acquire real estate and assets.

The paper further reported that Jabarin recently opened bank accounts on his wife’s behalf because his name appears on the blacklist of terrorists sanctioned by the US.

Hamas fears the damage to its image and the recent revelations of corruption and is now blaming the PA for denying essential aid to Gaza residents. In the interview, Al-Haya noted that donations to the Palestinian people were not transferred to the Gaza Strip.

The PA, for its part, has so far not complied with Hamas’ demands to remove the economic sanctions over the Gaza Strip and reportedly opposes transferring external aid directly to the Gaza Strip.

Al Haya signals that the solution to the situation is threatening Israel and said that “all options are open to us to compel Israel to provide the Gaza Strip’s needs and requirements, and if needed, we will take other steps to force Israel to deliver aid.”

He said Hamas was in contact with Egypt and Qatar and demanded that they press Israel to transfer medical aid and equipment to the Gaza Strip.

However, the IDF last week transferred 88 tons of medical supplies through the Kerem Shalom Crossing into the Gaza Strip.

Thousands of COVID-19 test kits have been transferred to Gaza through COGAT’s Coordination and Liaison Unit and to Judea and Samaria through the Civil Administration, as well as thousands of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits for medical staff and disinfectant material.

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