UAE pays Hamas hush money after attempting to facilitate Dahlan’s return

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A picture taken from the southern Israeli Gaza border shows smoke billowing from buildings following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, on July 10, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Jack Guez)

By: Ahmed Hadi

Published Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Hamas movement acted ahead of the scheduled date on which the Palestinian government in the West Bank was supposed to transfer 25 million Israeli shekels ($7 million) to the Gaza Strip, and gave [public sector] employees cash handouts ranging between $200 and $800, said to be part of accumulated overdue amounts that were a burden on the previous government.

Gaza – Many questions were raised about the source of these funds, especially since Hamas has been suffering from a severe financial crisis for almost a year, preventing it from paying the salaries of its 40,000 employees. But how did Hamas come up with the money at this time?

Security sources in Gaza revealed that “the UAE was the source of the money,” and that “it was carried to Gaza by a UAE medical delegation that set up a field hospital in Deir al-Balah in the middle of the Strip.”

Regardless of what these “advance payments” represent, in the end the money was distributed to employees who had not been paid for over four months and were facing hardships.

Certainly, readers can be struck by such a paradox, and may not grasp why the UAE – a part of the anti-Muslim Brotherhood alliance – would fund Hamas, even if it did so through the security portal (ousted Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan is currently a security adviser for Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed).

According to sources close to Hamas, “the UAE money is the price it paid to cover up the scandal of having sent an intelligence delegation to Gaza, along with its medical personnel, for security reasons that include delivering money to Dahlan supporters in order to cause unrest.”

“Millions of dollars were seized from the UAE delegation which were brought to support some parties affiliated to Dahlan,” the sources told Al-Akhbar, without revealing the exact amount.

The sources explained they made their move following a security tip received from a party in the Gulf that they declined to identify. According to the tip, “the intelligence delegation was waiting for a deeper Israeli penetration into the Palestinian territories in order to support unruly Dahan backers and cause unrest which would weaken the interior [Palestinian] front, and facilitate the return of the ousted Fatah leader to Gaza.”

Dahlan maintains a good relationship with Egyptian President General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. On July 15, he posted photos on his Facebook page that showed him visiting Palestinian casualties wounded in the recent Israeli aggression, and were being treated at Cairo’s al-Zaytoun Hospital after they were transferred there through the Rafah Crossing.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz recently revealed that Tel Aviv lacked enough intelligence about the events on the ground in Gaza, particularly after Hamas’ security branches were able to expose, arrest and even kill a large number of collaborators.

This would explain why Israel had to resort to Arab parties for help in this war, especially if the UAE’s strong support for the Egypt-brokered ceasefire deal is taken into consideration, which was rejected by the Palestinian factions.

The same sources confirmed that this is not the first time Dahlan attempts to deliver huge amounts of money to his supporters in Gaza, “in order to cause a chaotic security situation and shake internal stability in the Strip.”

“Abu Dhabi is trying to give the Palestinian security adviser a new opportunity to get back to political life after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ousted him from Fatah,” the sources added.

Back to the Emirati role, UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan has allocated $25 million “as urgent humanitarian aid to support the Palestinian people, who have been subjected to Israeli aggression for days,” and assigned the Emirates Red Crescent to supervise the distribution of aid.

According to a number of employees in Gaza, the so-called “advance payments” that they have recently received consist of new $100 bills, a banknote never before circulated in Gaza due to the Israeli sanctions and security restrictions.

In the past years under siege, the Hamas-led government in Gaza used a number of different currencies to pay salaries (US dollar, euro, shekel), depending on what it had available. This led many local employees to be suspicious of the new $100 bills, and some even thought they were counterfeit banknotes.

In fact, people in Gaza had not seen the new $100 bill since it was first issued last year. It is reasonable to assume that Hamas has not received any sort of secret support recently, especially since all underground tunnels were shut down and Egyptian authorities continue to bar all solidarity delegations from entering the Strip.

Furthermore, the funds that the current consensus government had decided to transfer to Gaza as “salaries to employees affiliated to the former government who were hired after 2007,” estimated at 25 million shekels, are yet to arrive to the Strip, further proving that Hamas used the UAE money to pay its employees.

A high-ranking source in the Finance Ministry of the former Gaza government, who asked to remain anonymous, said his ministry was not officially informed about the possibility of a money transfer from Ramallah to Gaza. He added that until the time of writing this article, the money transfer announced by Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdullah had not arrived.

The source explained that the money being distributed to employees today (in bags) away from banks, including one Hamas affiliated bank that was targeted by [Israeli] shelling, is part of overdue amounts that weigh down on the former government and is not from Hamas’ own money. However, he refused to reveal the source of these funds, saying “I am not authorized to disclose that information.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


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