Rena Cohen
An Israel-born, US-raised, Israel returnee

Hamas – the rich rulers of the poor Palestinians

Guess what? Selling the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza is big bucks. Seriously big bucks. Hamas has been raking in the money for years, and its leaders have been doing really, really well. Billions of dollars well.

Now, do we honestly expect people to run terrorist organizations without making a living?  I mean, these guys spend their time calling for the destruction of Israel, advocating for the genocide of the Jews, planning and ordering bombings, murders, rapes, and torture and having kids and babies, grandmas, even entire families, dragged off to Gaza as hostages. I mean this is real work. So is organizing the killing of young peace activists at a concert as well as visiting workers from Thailand, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and India, and refugees from war-torn Ukraine.

Long hours, but the pay is great. Hamas leaders Khaled Mashal, Ismail Haniyeh, Musa Abu Marzouk, Mohammed Masri (“Deif”), and Yahya Sinwar — these fellows have all been pocketing truly significant cash. And the “foot soldiers” — those workaday terrorist troops who swallowed captagon tablets made in Syria and cut across the Israeli/Gaza border on October 7th all hopped up and ready to do the raping and the killing, the burning and the torturing?  They get salaries that are no doubt the envy of the average Gazan, especially since the Strip is known for its 40% unemployment rate.

Yet somehow, these Hamas worthies won’t cough up a dime to build shelters for the Gaza population or provide them clean water, much less get involved in doing anything along the lines of actually developing an economy in the Strip.  No — Hamas has much better uses for the money provided by governments and international aid agencies (your tax dollars at work here too, folks!). The biggest development project Hamas has been engaged in for the last few years involved building some 300 miles of tunnels under Gaza so they can attack Israelis and then hide when the Israelis to hit back, hold hostages down below, and leave the noncombatants topside to fend for themselves. The tunnels cost a fortune  — but who’s counting when its international humanitarian aid?

And those tunnels sure are the gift that keeps on giving — Hamas has been collecting a nice, fat tax on anything and everything — contraband goods, drugs — brought through them from Egypt or elsewhere for years.  And who has been paying those taxes?  Why the same people that Hamas stops from getting out of northern Gaza when the IDF warns and begs them to — the poor, suffering, unemployed Gazans of course.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but since 2006 Hamas really has had a good thing going in Gaza.  They’ve been virtually the only game, and the only gang, in town.  Selling the suffering of the people of Gaza to the world has been one big, long, beautiful hustle.

So for anyone who is out there shrieking “Free Palestine” in support of the slaughter that Hamas posted for the world to see on October 7th — a little less screaming and a lot more actual thinking is long overdue. And for anyone yelling about a ceasefire — tell Hamas to send the hostages they grabbed back home, lay down their arms, and get out of town.  Then maybe we’ll talk.  But not too much.  Because you know, all good things must come to an end.  Hamas has had a great run.  Hopefully, it is just about over.

About the Author
Born in Kibbutz Nachshon Israel, raised in the U.S. and lived there on both coasts with lots of visits (even a few residential stays) in Israel, and intending to return yet again. Entrepreneurial generalist -- worked for others, built my own medical reporting business (with NO seed money), and since have had an extended career in the U.S. biotech industry in early startups through late clinical stage firms, holding positions in everything from investor relations and corporate communications to business development to Director, Facilities (my current post). Longtime editor, particularly on foreign policy topics. Co-founder, with my sister, Jade Bar-Shalom, Z"L, of the Books for Israel Project during the Second Intifada, which connected synagogues, churches and community centers in the U.S. with low-income Israeli Jewish, Arab, and Druze schools to help them build much-needed English language libraries for the kids. Author of the book, LambBunny and His Friends (on Amazon). On and off painter. Writer of op-eds. Blogger for The Times of Israel.
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