ISRAEL AT WARCash flow: 16 years of Qatari money to Hamas has created a monster
ISRAEL AT WAR
Cash flow: 16 years of Qatari money to Hamas has created a monster
The Qatari government began financing Hamas in 2007, far from any international control, a financing that in 2014 became coordinated with Israel, the U.S., and the UN. Alongside this, the terrorist organization has established an international empire that is disguised under false names and through real estate companies
In Israel, Qatar has been identified for years, and certainly after the murderous attack of October 7th, as belonging to the axis of evil. This follows the aid it provides to the terrorist organization Hamas, either through financing or through hosting its leaders in its territory or through the broadcasts of Al Jazeera, which has become its mouthpiece. "Qatari money" has become synonymous with the building of the terrorist empire of Hamas which has struck with all its force in Israel.
The Qatari funding for Hamas is divided into two periods. The first, in the years 2007-2014, when the Qatari government financed Hamas as it saw fit, far from any international supervision and control, and the second from 2014 until today when Qatari financing is done in coordination with Israel, the United States and the United Nations. At the same time, independent financing channels operate all the time in Qatar, ignoring the authorities.
At the same time, over the years, the Qataris realized that they were in trouble, since the image of a country that finances terrorism stuck to them. The issue is particularly sensitive due to the desire to maintain close relations with the United States, especially before hosting the World Cup a year ago. This is why the Qataris have always made sure to claim that the aid is intended for the poorest Gazan families and to extend the hours of electricity in Gaza. They also made sure to claim that this funding actually goes through and under Israel's supervision. As evidence, they claimed that the list of those in need is transferred to Israel every month. Bottom line, the Hamas government in Gaza reaped profits from the Qatari money that flowed into the Strip on a monthly basis. This happened not only by manipulating the oversight mechanisms - such as putting Hamas members on the list of those in need - but because it controlled the economy of the Strip and collected taxes on every economic activity that took place there.
U.S. published a list of financiers
The Hamas organization does not rely only on state financial aid from Qatar and Iran, but over the years has established an international economic empire that is well disguised under false names and seemingly legitimate companies. Hamas uses all the countries in which it has a presence to operate its financing network, and in this aspect, the office of Hamas in Qatar, which opened in 2012, is no different.
Over the years, the leaders of Hamas and its operatives in Qatar have established a sophisticated financing network. In the past, it was reported that real estate investment companies belonging to Hamas are registered in Qatar under supposedly innocent names, including the names of women.
The one who is still assisting in the effort is Iran, which also has good relations with its Qatari neighbor. Last week, the authorities in the United States published a list of names of the prominent figures in the international financing network of Hamas. Among others, Muhammad Nasrallah was mentioned, a Jordanian citizen and veteran Hamas operative who settled in Doha, the capital of Qatar, and has been involved in recent years in transferring money to Hamas, including the military arm. This activist has close ties with Iran, which helps him.
Relations between Qatar and Israel relations were not always murky. Qatar was one of the two Gulf countries that opened an office of interests in Israel after the Oslo Accords. Although it was closed with the start of the second intifada in late 2000, Israel and Qatar continued to have diplomatic relations and meetings below the surface.
Money was smuggled in cash through the tunnels
In 2007, the formations were reversed when Israel and Qatar found themselves on opposite sides of the fence. This happened after Qatar was one of the only countries to publicly express support for Hamas after it carried out a violent coup against the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip. In 2012, the emir of Qatar at the time and the father of today's ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, became the first head of state to visit Gaza under the rule of Hamas, when he pledged to raise $400 million to be used for the economic rehabilitation of the strip.
These were the peak days of the "Arab Spring", when Mubarak's rule in Egypt was overthrown and allowed the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent movement of Hamas, to power in Cairo. It was then reported that Qatar transferred annual aid to Hamas estimated at $100 million. It is understood that it is difficult to provide evidence for this, since the transfers of funds, if they occurred, were done in secret to escape international supervision and possible sanctions or, alternatively, the cash was smuggled through the tunnels into the Gaza Strip.
Even before the overthrow of the Islamist President Muhammad Morsi in Egypt, in July 2013, a document was circulated in the Arab media, supposedly from the Central Bank of Qatar, in which the transfer of $250 million to the Political Bureau of Hamas was approved. It was then claimed that this amount was transferred as a special grant intended to protect Morsi's rule through Hamas terrorists. The document's authenticity has been questioned, but its publication reflected the atmosphere created around Qatar's activities at the time. After the overthrow of Morsi and the return of the army to power, it was reported that Qatar transferred to Hamas a special adaptation grant worth $350 million.
Although no conclusive evidence was given for the actual transfer of funds, in 2014 the then-U.S. Undersecretary of the Treasury David Cohen stated that Qatar had been financing Hamas "for years". This activity of Qatar also attracted the attention of the FATF organization, an international task force for the development and promotion of policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, which in recent years has published unflattering reports about the Gulf state.
The rationale that motivated Qatar to support Hamas is that Islamist organizations are getting stronger, and will hence play a more significant role in the future of the region. Therefore, it is important for a small country like Qatar, which feels threatened by a variety of factors, to maintain normal relations with them. This rationale was dominant at the height of the Arab Spring, when Islamists seemed to be reaping the political gains across the Middle East.
Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 was a turning point in Qatari funding for the Gaza Strip. The United States, the United Nations, Qatar, and Israel decided on the establishment of a new mechanism, under which the Qatari government will assist the Gaza Strip in the amount of $30 million per month. Of this amount, $10 million will be earmarked for the purchase of fuel from Israel for the operation of the only power plant in the Gaza Strip, $10 million for financing salaries of government employees, and $10 million for a monthly aid of $100 to 100,000 needy families. This was the beginning of the construction of the concept within Israel, according to which the more Hamas accumulates economic assets, the less its appetite will be to realize its murderous ideology calling for the destruction of Israel. It is difficult to know which portion of these funds ended up in the pockets of the military wing of Hamas, whose senior officials have claimed over the years that this wing has separate financing channels.