When Hamas leaders live in luxury- as recent news would claim - amid the economic hardships and ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip, such won’t be taken lightly.
Their purported lavish lifestyle raises eyebrows, to say the least.
As Gaza grapples with poverty and the harsh realities of war, pictures suggest that those at the helm of the territory may be living a life of relative luxury.
This stark contrast sheds light on the complexities and challenges faced by the people in the Gaza Strip.
It likewise raises questions about the allocation of resources and the priorities of those in power.
If Hamas leaders live in luxury, what will be the future of Gaza now that it’s being bombarded literally with bombs and figuratively speaking with various economic and political challenges?
To better comprehend this article, the author deems it right to provide a quick discussion of what Hamas is and some information about two places closely related to it.
If Hamas leaders live in luxury, then the following tidbits of information will help you, readers, piece things together.
Israel and Gaza are in Asia, specifically in the Middle East region.
Gaza is a region on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and it’s part of the larger historical and cultural region of Palestine.
It’s also often referred to as the Gaza Strip, derived from its geographical shape: a narrow and elongated piece of land. Hence, the term “strip.”
Again, this designation of “strip” in its name merely reflects its geographical shape rather than its status as an independent country.
Well, for your information, Gaza isn’t considered a sovereign country. It doesn’t have the international recognition of full statehood.
That explains why it’s referred to as:
- a region
- a territory
- an unrecognized state
The Gaza Strip only occupies a total area of 141 square miles (sq. mi.). To give you a perspective on its size:
- London: 607 sq. mi.
- New York City: 472.43 sq. mi.
- Washington, D.C.: 68.34 sq. mi.
The people living in Gaza - about 2.3 million, per an October 2023 Reuters report - are often referred to as Palestinians. Majority of the population identifies as one.
Islam is the predominant religion in Gaza; thus, most Palestinians are Muslims. Still, there’s also a significant Christian minority among the Palestinian population.
There are two countries near the Gaza Strip. In fact, they each share a border with it:
The crossing point between Gaza and Egypt is called the Rafah Crossing Point, aka Rafah Border Crossing.
The crossing point between Gaza and Israel is the Erez Crossing, aka Beit Hanoun Crossing.
A wall - a concrete military wall - surrounds the Gaza Strip. Egypt and Israel can control the flow of people and goods in and out of it.
At 75, Benjamin Netanyahu serves as Israel’s incumbent prime minister.
He first held that position from 1996-1999. The second time was from 2009-2021. Netanyahu has been assuming the role for the third time since December 29, 2022.
Isaac Herzog is Israel’s president, albeit he primarily holds a ceremonial role, with limited executive powers.
Looking at the world’s ranking of major economies, Israel is at number 27, according to WorldData.info. In 2022, its gross domestic product (GDP) reached $522.03 billion.
GDP reflects the total of all goods and services sold by a country.
Israel, then, is one wealthy country.
In terms of military might, a report published by Al Jazeera in October 2023 describes it as “one of the world’s most powerful militaries.”
What further fortifies Israel’s military is the funding it receives from the U.S. every year. How much is this annual American military aid?
A cool $3.8 billion.
So, Israel’s not only rich; it’s also powerful.
Prime Minister Netanyahu must be doing a good job.
As for Gaza, perhaps this phrase from an October 2023 Sky News headline captures the core of its economic status: “from desperately poor to even poorer.”
Can Gaza’s leaders be blamed for this dire economic situation?
Ed Conway, economics & data editor at Sky News, reported that in 2022, per data from the World Bank and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Gaza’s unemployment rate was a disheartening 45 percent.
Israel’s? For the same year: 3.5 percent.
Going back to politics, if Israel has Netanyahu, Gaza has Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist group.
The name can also be written in all uppercase letters because it’s an acronym, in the first place.
HAMAS is the shortened form of the Arabic name Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya(Islamic Resistance Movement). The Arabic word hamasalso translates to zealin English.
Do Hamas leaders live in luxury as Palestinians in the Gaza Strip deal with poverty and unemployment? What would be their founder’s reaction if he was still around?
Palestinian politician Sheikh (Arabic for “elder” or “respected old man”) Ahmed Yassin (1936-2004) founded Hamas in 1987 and stood as its spiritual leader.
The Israeli government wanted him dead, and on March 22, 2004, it successfully assassinated Sheikh Yassin. He was 67.
In the January 2006 parliamentary elections, Hamas won against the political party Fatah.
Following the elections, tensions escalated between Hamas and Fatah, leading to a civil war (June 10-15, 2007), according to Slate.
A series of violent clashes ensued and ultimately resulted in Hamas taking control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
A white-haired Khaled Mashal in plain white long sleeve shirt under a dark blazer gesturing with his right hand
The parliamentary elections held on January 25, 2006 were the last elections that took place.
Thus, Hamas leaders have been the ruling authority in the Gaza Strip since 2007.
In October 1997 - more or less a decade after its founding - the U.S. State Department officially classified HAMAS as a terrorist group.
That’s according to the Counterterrorism Guide of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which also identifies the following as the current key Hamas leaders:
|Hamas Leader's Name||Position|
|Ismail Haniyeh||Political Bureau Chief|
|Salih al-Aruri||Political Bureau Deputy Chief |
|Yahya Al Sinwar||Gaza Political Bureau Chief|
|Khaled Mashal||Political Bureau External Region Chief|
All of them, except for Mashal (also spelled as Meshaal), have held their respective positions since 2017.
Mashal, the former political bureau chief (April 1996 to May 2017) became political bureau external region chief in 2021.
Since 2020, per the NCTC, Haniyeh has been residing in Doha, Qatar.
There, Hamas leaders live in luxury, according to various news reports.
Reading the title of this heading, you must have realized by now the need to know some background information on Israel and Gaza, which has been provided in the earlier part of this article.
A war between the economically poor Gaza and the wealthy nation that is Israel, with multibillion-dollar weaponry at its disposal?
What could be the odds?
- By Air:paraglided their way to Israeli territory; and launched rockets.
- By Land:stormed the border fence.
- By Water:arrived on Israel’s shores via motorboats.
They launched rockets and shot Israeli civilians on sight. Per U.S. News & World Report, they:
- attacked Israelis right in their homes
- burned houses, with people inside
- took hostages along the way
The number of casualties was estimated at 1,300.
No wonder Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, as quoted by Reuters:
We will take mighty vengeance for this wicked day.- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
And Israel did.
Therefore, no goods - foods, medicines, essential supplies, etc. - can reach Gaza.
Also, it goes to say that as tensions arise, no Palestinian who wants to flee and seek refuge somewhere can exit the Gaza Strip.
A group of people holding flags of Palestine and a man with a sign that says ‘pray for Gaza’
This blockade is just a part of Israel’s major reprisal.
By November 7 - the 31st day of the 2023 Gaza-Israel War - per ABC News:
|Casualties in the Gaza Strip||Casualties in Israel|
|10,022 dead||1,400 dead|
|25,000 injured||4,500 injured|
With all these reports of death, suffering, and displacement, if indeed Hamas leaders live in luxury, how will people feel?
According to the Embassy of Israel to the USA, which tweeted the information on October 29, 2023, the net worth of Hamas leaders are in billions of U.S. Dollars:
- Mousa Abu Marzook - $3 billion
- Khaled Mashal - $4 billion
- Ismail Haniyeh - $4 billion
Marzook, 72, is another senior Hamas leader.
With that kind of money, it might not be surprising if Hamas leaders live in luxury; still, it doesn’t sit well for most people.
When interviewed in March 2021 - long before the surprise Hamas attack - Youssef Ahmed, who works in a market in Gaza, told The Arab Weekly:
Every year, the situation is getting from bad to worse. People don’t have money to buy the basic things.- Youssef Ahmed
That year, social media showed a video of Haniyeh, 61, playing soccer in Qatar. Seen from the video are its majestic skyscrapers.
The Arab Weekly notes how contrasting is the view when compared to one that you can see in the Gaza Strip, particularly in Beach Refugee Camp, his place of birth.
In another video, he was in an expensive-looking suit attending a red-carpet event in Qatar and rubbing elbows with the country’s dignitaries.
Modern high-rise buildings at daytime in Doha, Qatar, with palm trees and parked cars on the ground
One is a photo of Ismail Haniyeh’s adult son - he has 13 children - looking at the camera while lounging comfortably in what appears to be a luxurious room.
It could be one of the bedrooms in a presidential suite of a five-star hotel.
Another picture shows some Hamas leaders inside a private jet.
Khaled Mashal, 67, was photographed having a meal. The photographer didn’t take a wide shot to show the whole scene but was able to show in the picture seven bowls of assorted dishes.
According to the New York Post, in October 2023, Haniyeh allegedly checked in at Four Seasons Hotel Doha, where some rooms command a $900 average rate per night.
The hotel denied it.
Of all people, Bill Gates got dragged into these controversial reports that Hamas leaders live in luxury. How come?
Upon learning that the 68-year-old billionaire Microsoft co-founder has a major stake at the said luxury hotel in Qatar, there were reportedly calls demanding Gates kick Haniyeh out of the hotel.
Façade of the Four Seasons Hotel Doha in Qatar during nighttime as viewed from a low angle
Hamas leaders make approximately $1 billion annually from, as quoted from a Fox News report published in November 2023:
- “real estate”
- “legitimate business”
Based on these reports and pictures, Hamas leaders live in luxury in Qatar (reports also mention they go to Turkey from time to time) as Palestinians in the Gaza Strip aspire to live a comfortable and peaceful life.
You have learned that America provides Israel with multibillion-dollar military aid.
If there’s one known country giving financial aid to Hamas, that will be Iran, according to an October 2023 report by the U.S. Department of Treasury.
The report says that Hamas invests the money in various ventures, including investments in the following countries:
- the United Arab Emirates
It also states:
This investment network . . . has allowed Hamas senior officials to live in luxury while ordinary Palestinians in Gaza struggle in harsh living and economic conditions.- U.S. Department of Treasury
Hamas allocates an annual budget of $100 million for its military infrastructure, reported online newspaper The Times of Israel in 2016.
They have long been in violent conflict since 2015, reported Reuters.
In the Middle East, there is this place designated as Palestinian territory, aka the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), per the U.S. Department of State, namely:
- the Gaza Strip
- East of Jerusalem
- West Bank (located on the west of the Jordan River and east of Jerusalem)
As Hamas Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh said, as quoted by Reuters in October 2023:
How many times have we warned you [Israel] that the Palestinian people have been living in refugee camps for 75 years, and you refuse to recognize the rights of our people?- Ismail Haniyeh
UNICEF noted that the date June 20, 2022, marked the 15th year of Gaza’s blockade. By that time, poverty had strangled 2 million Palestinians living there.
Since 2007, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have felt the pressure when Israel and Egypt joined forces to restrict the flow of goods and services in this impoverished region.
Based on a report published in October 2023 by the Associated Press, Arab and Muslim countries have been supporting Hamas.
Some of them include:
Per The Sydney Morning Herald, here are some of the countries that support Israel with its ongoing war with Gaza:
- the U.K.
- the U.S.
As for countries who condemn Israel for the continuous bombing of the Gaza Strip, they include, according to BBC:
The thought that Hamas leaders live in luxury away from the people they have undertaken to serve and protect can be deplorable.
Now reports abound pointing at their super comfortable way of living, not to mention, a net worth amounting to billions of dollars.
The true progress of a nation is measured not only by the prosperity of the members of the upper society.
It must also be measured by the upliftment of its most vulnerable members, particularly during times of strife.
When Hamas leaders live in luxury as Palestinians in the Gaza Strip face poverty and war, some serious introspection and concrete changes must be made.