The Hamas experiment in Gaza is nearly 10 years old. What have the people of Gaza gotten out of it? As the leadership of Hamas continues to fill their coffers (it’s estimated there are over 1,500 millionaires living in the strip), the people have been neglected. This summer’s electricity crisis is the latest example of how Hamas hurts Palestinians. Hamas is refusing to pay their electric bill. The Palestinian Authority, under an agreement from the Oslo Accords, pays Israel for the electricity that it pumps into Gaza. They have informed Israel that they do not plan on paying the bill and have asked Israel to cut the electricity to Gaza. This is an apparent attempt to reclaim rule in the strip.
Hamas states that they can not or will not pay the electric bill. But what can they pay for?
- Since the unilateral Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005, Hamas (and other factions) have fired more than 11,000 rockets into Israel. The cost of a Qassam rocket, the most rudimentary in their arsenal, costs about $800. So let’s assume an average cost of $1000 per rocket (Qassam and others). That means they have spent over $11 million on rockets fired into Israel. They have replenished their arsenal since the 2014 war, so you can assume they have spend at least the same amount on rockets not yet fired into Israel.
- Hamas has built dozens upon dozens of tunnels to infiltrate into Israel. The goal is to kidnap soldiers or other Israelis which they could use for ransom. One tunnel that was discovered went from Gaza into an Israeli kindergarten. The estimated cost of these tunnels is between $30 and $90 million dollars. In addition both adults and children have been used in and have died during the construction of these tunnels.
Between the rockets and tunnels alone, they have spent between $50 to $110 million. In addition Hamas has spent millions on armaments and training, including running indoctrination and training summer camps for children. What has all of this gotten them? Israel militarily is stronger today that they were in 2005 when they disengaged.
The rocket attacks have lead to the development and real world testing of the very successful arrow anti-missile system plus development of David’s Sling, an anti-ballistic missile system. Both of these will be useful the next time a more formidable threat attacks Israel, such as Hezbollah. As far as the tunnels, Israel this summer is beginning construction of an underground barrier that will render the tunnels useless. All those tens of millions of dollars wasted.
That money and raw material could have been used to improve infrastructure and the lives of the residents of Gaza. It could have kept the electricity flowing and the clean water running. But Hamas has shown they do not care about the people they rule and are willing to sacrifice them to achieve their ultimate goals, even if their ultimate goals are a delusion. They would rather the people of Gaza suffer so they can use that as a weapon to further blame Israel. They know that the longer Gaza is without electricity, the more likely the international community will blame Israel and not Hamas. They are willing to trade the lives of Palestinians for a few diplomatic points.
There are reports that the people of Gaza are not as gullible as the international community. This by no means signals that the people of Gaza are siding with Israel or are more open to peace, but they do understand that Hamas is the culprit here. That Hamas is responsible for this crisis and that they are the pawns in a sectarian battle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas collects approximately $29 million a year from Gazan residents in taxes. A large amount of that money is used to fund terror, rockets, tunnels, instead of paying for electricity or building water treatment plants. Gaza does have a power plant in the strip, but it has been inoperable to to a dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. They do however manage to find enough electricity to provide power to the offensive tunnels as they are being constructed.
Hamas’ gamble is simple. They want Israel to provide it with free electricity so that they could use all of their funding to build up their arsenal and infrastructure to attack Israel. In other words, they want Israel to pay for attacks against Israel. It sounds crazy, but they know that the international community will buy into it and blame Israel for the crisis. They are hoping diplomatic pressure will force Israel to fund a war against Israel, and they may be right. Israel is under no legal or moral obligation to provider free electricity to a regime that’s stated goal is it’s destruction and that has attacked her on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, whether Israel caves in and supplies Hamas with free electricity or eventually the PA resumes paying Israel or Hamas diverts money from their terror funding to pay the bill, the people of Gaza will suffer. And the only one to blame of it is Hamas.