Funds directed to Palestine follow at least three flows. The first is supported by individual countries or bodies such as the European Union. The second is run by the United Nations. The third, and most dangerous, supports the Hamas terrorist army. The calculations are not easy to do, because the numbers fluctuate between different sources.
1. Let’s start with the official channels. Who are the most generous donors?
PECDAR, the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction, based in the West Bank, collected official data from 1994 to 2021, with partial references to 2022 and 2023. 1994 is the year following the Oslo Accords, when Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, recognized “Israel’s right to exist.” Well, in first place among funders we find the European Union with $7.6 billion. Followed by the United States with 5.746 billion, then Saudi Arabia with 4 billion, and so on. The calculation does not include the amounts transferred by the United Nations, which we will see soon.
2. What is the role of the European Union?
European commitment has evolved over time. After an initial phase of humanitarian aid only, in 2003 the European Union developed various economic development projects, within the framework of the “Road Map for Peace”, in cooperation with the United States, Russia and the United Nations. The initiative was supposed to give economic substance to the “two-state” formula, an independent and sovereign Palestine and Israel.
Finally, the European Union launched the reliable “Common European Strategy 2021-2024” with a budget of 1.17 billion euros. Currently, €681 million has reached its destination, spread across the seven chapters of the plan, which range from institutional reforms to basic needs, such as water and energy. The money should also be used to pay public servant salaries, pensions, and social and health care for the most vulnerable groups.
3. How did the United Nations act?
The second channel of funding, mainly humanitarian aid, passes through UNRWA, the United Nations agency that deals with “Palestinian refugees in the Near East,” including the Gaza Strip. The United States leads here with $343 million. Followed by Germany with 202 million. Italy comes in fourteenth place with 18 million people. Qatar is in twentieth place with 10.5 million. Data refer to 2022.
We enter the third level, often secret. The European Union and the United States confirm that they never funded Hamas. However, there is strong suspicion that militiamen in Gaza used part of the humanitarian aid to buy weapons and missiles. Qatar’s movements are now under surveillance. In 2005, the Israeli government withdrew from Gaza; Then Hamas won the elections and asked for help from the friendly country Qatar. Doha’s “shoulders” transferred bags of dollars to the Gaza Strip, with the tacit approval of the Israelis. The Qataris themselves announced that, from 2012 to 2021, they paid $1.49 billion into Hamas’ coffers, to be used to meet the needs of the population.
Then there are the hidden revenues. According to the US State Department, Iran passes at least $100 million to jihadists in Gaza every twelve months. Other unquantifiable donations will come from groups of supporters based in Turkey, Kuwait and Malaysia. not enough. The profits from Hamas’s financial portfolio must be counted: $500 million in real estate investments in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. The account is closed with $450 million obtained from smuggling goods, including drugs, coming from South America. All this in order to maintain the army’s network of tunnels, which costs between 300 and 500 million dollars annually.
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