- Hamas’s financial tactics encompass local taxation, strategic international support, and forward-looking investment strategies.
- Cryptocurrency emerges as a discreet financial tool in Hamas’s arsenal, complementing traditional funding sources.
- Geopolitical ties play a crucial role in Hamas’s finances, with significant backing from Iran and Qatar amid international sanctions.
Amidst the turbulent political landscape of the Middle East, Hamas, the Palestinian organization, operates with a financial strategy as multifaceted as its political agenda. A closer examination reveals a sophisticated blend of traditional funding methods and modern financial tactics, allowing the group to navigate through the sanctions and scrutiny it faces internationally.
Since its ascension to power in the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas has implemented an extensive taxation regime. This regime encompasses a wide range of sectors in Gaza, from commercial enterprises and utility services to routine daily activities. A significant component of this taxation system comes from the revenues generated by goods transferred through the vast network of tunnels. These subterranean passages, circumventing the official border crossing with Egypt, are critical for the economic sustenance of the region.
In addition to these, Hamas imposes taxes on civilians and companies, alongside fees for various services like vehicle registration, licenses, and even birth certificates. This multifaceted approach to taxation is estimated to net the organization between $350 million and $630 million annually, marking it as the largest source of income for the group.
International Donations: A Vital Pillar
Hamas, designated a terrorist entity by the US and EU, is barred from receiving official aid that goes to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in the West Bank. However, it has historically relied on funding from Iran, other state sponsors like Syria and Sudan, and various charities, including those running crowdfunding campaigns. Significant contributions also come from Qatar, evaluated at $180 million, and Iran, contributing around $100 million annually. Cryptocurrency has played a role in these crowdfunding efforts, offering a discreet channel for small-dollar donations.
Iran and Qatar: Steadfast Supporters
Iran remains one of Hamas’s most significant benefactors, providing funds, weapons, and training. This support is estimated to fluctuate between $70 million to $120 million annually. The funds are believed to be channeled through Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, directly aiding Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine Al Qassam Brigades.
Qatar’s role is multifaceted, providing monetary aid to pay employee salaries and running social services in Gaza. This aid commenced following the Palestinian Authority’s decision in 2017 to cut salaries of government employees in Gaza. Qatar’s support extends beyond financial aid, as it also hosts Hamas leaders in Doha.
Turkey’s relationship with Hamas sets it apart from many Western nations. Ankara does not view Hamas as a terrorist organization and has played a prominent role in facilitating access to funds for the group. This stance has created friction with the United States, which has urged Turkey to reconsider its ties with Hamas.
Investment Strategies and Cryptocurrency
Hamas has not limited itself to traditional funding sources. It has ventured into business investments, particularly in the construction and real estate sectors, across countries including Turkey, Qatar, Algeria, and Sudan. These investments, overseen by the Hamas investment office based in Turkey, are estimated to be worth over $500 million.
Cryptocurrency, a relatively new addition to Hamas’s financial arsenal, has been primarily used for fund transfers, especially crowdfunding campaigns. Estimates suggest that Hamas received about $41 million through cryptocurrencies between August 2021 and June 2023.
Allegations of Israeli Financing
In a controversial claim, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, suggested that Israel once financed Hamas in a bid to weaken the Palestinian Authority. This assertion has been vehemently denied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, adding another layer of complexity to the understanding of Hamas’s early financial sources.
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