Living conditions in the Gaza Strip, the “world’s largest open-air prison” as many call it, were difficult long before Hamas attacked southern Israel in early October and the conflict erupted, with half its population dependent on food supplies provided by the UN.
These conditions have become unbearable in the last month, as Israel continues its bombings and operations in the Palestinian enclave with the stated goal of wiping out Hamas.
But while the vast majority of the 2.3 million inhabitants of the densely populated Gaza Strip live in conditions of poverty under the threat of death, former and current high-ranking Hamas officials enjoy lavish lives in expensive hotels, mansions with marble floors and luxury skyscrapers and their children attend private schools, while the fortunes of some amount to billions of dollars, as noted by the Daily Mail.
With a fortune of billions of dollars, senior Hamas officials
According to a recent post by the Israeli Embassy in the USA on social media, three of the most senior Hamas officials, Musa Abu Marzouk, Khalid Mashal and Ismail Haniyeh each have a net worth of over three billion dollars! The embassy also claims that Hamas’s annual turnover amounts to $1 billion, making it the second richest terrorist organization on the planet after ISIS.
Israel Embassy: Hamas spends money on terrorism and tunnels – Terrorists get rich
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Since 2006, when Hamas took power in the Gaza Strip with its political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, in the role of prime minister, it has never called an election. It de facto rules the enclave by managing organizations including social services, the health system and the media and has amassed vast wealth, which it uses – according to a recent video from the Israeli embassy in the US – to build the tunnels and equip its approximately 40,000 members. of its armed wing instead of building vital infrastructure such as water treatment systems and wells.
A 2021 study showed that about a quarter of diseases spreading in the Gaza Strip are caused by water pollution, and infections related to contaminated water are responsible for 12% of the deaths of young children. “While the people of Gaza are deprived of basic needs, Hamas uses aid & funds to line their own pockets,” the Israeli embassy said in a post on the X platform.
The four zaplutos of Hamas
Haniyeh and his sons
According to the German newspaper Bild, four Hamas officials have amassed enormous wealth over the years, the three mentioned above (Musa Abu Marzouk, Khalid Mashal and Ismail Haniyeh) and a fourth named Younis Kafiseh.
Haniyeh is believed to be the richest of them, although he once vowed to live on nothing but olive oil and Arabic pies spiced with za’atar. Father of 13 children, the 61-year-old political leader of Hamas has been hiding since 2019, living in luxury in luxury hotels in Qatar and Turkey. Haniyeh frequently travels on his private jet between Tehran, Istanbul, Moscow and Cairo to meet with leaders of friendly states, while two of his sons, Maaz and Abdel Salam, are often seen in Instagram posts lounging in hotel beds in Istanbul or Doha, Qatar.
Maaz Haniyeh, a real estate magnate, is known in the Gaza Strip as the “Father of Houses”. And although a Muslim, when in Turkey he is often seen enjoying the company of attractive women and copious amounts of alcohol. His brother Abdel Salam’s reputation, according to Bild, was tarnished when he was found to be pocketing money as a sports ambassador for Hamas’ “Shura Council” (political bureau). The German newspaper estimates his fortune at $2.5 million, the Israeli embassy at $3.2 billion and i24News at $5 billion, as reported last month.
Former head of Hamas’s political office, Khaled Mashal, 67, fled Damascus to escape the Arab Spring uprising in Syria and lives, like Haniyeh, in Qatar.
From there, Mashal manages real estate and financial transactions on behalf of Hamas. When he left Syria, he allegedly took $1.5 billion with him from Hamas headquarters in Damascus, according to Bild. The Israeli embassy in the US estimates his net worth at $4 billion.
The deputy leader of Hamas, Musa Abu Marzouk
72-year-old Musa Abu Marzouk is considered the second-in-command of Hamas and serves as its foreign minister. He lived for 14 years in the US, where he was arrested in 1995 for activities supporting terrorism and deported two years later.
He moved first to Jordan, then to Syria and finally to Cairo in 2012. Despite his arrest, he kept his money and today Bild reports that his fortune is estimated at $2 billion, while the Israeli embassy in the US raises the fortunes of 3 billion dollars.
The 67-year-old Younis Kafiseh is the fourth in a group of embattled Hamas leaders, one of its most important financial managers who is on a US sanctions list from 2022 accused of “participating in the management of Hamas operations and [κατέχει] key positions in various Hamas-controlled companies, including Sudan-based Agrogate Holding and Turkey-based Trend GYO.” Trend GYO, which is also on the US terror watch list, reported a 2022 net profit of 57.8 million Turkish liras (about 2 million euros).
The economic empire of Hamas
According to the Israeli network i24News, the wealth that Hamas’ top executives have accumulated is only the tip of the iceberg. He claims that hundreds of Hamas operatives have amassed millions by taxing goods imported into the Gaza Strip and through international donors, mainly from Qatar.
As the US Treasury Department reported in 2022, “the Hamas Investment Office, whose leadership oversees this network, had assets estimated to exceed $500 million, including companies operating in Sudan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates.”
And according to documents obtained by the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Hamas has managed to build a financial empire outside the Gaza Strip worth nearly $750 million.