Israel this summer gave millions of dollars to Fatah with one condition: The money could not be given to Hamas. Fatah then wired Hamas the $16 million last week, reported Arutz Sheva.
Fatah says it was an accident.
The $16 million figure is the same amount Hamas owed 3,500 employees in back pay for 2006-2007, and arrived in time to help Hamas pay its bills and keep its supporters happy.
The Palestinian Authority, led by Fatah, said the money was misdirected to Hamas due to a computer glitch and ordered the Bank of Palestine to remove the money. However, most of it had already been withdrawn by cash-starved Hamas operatives. Hamas reportedly said that it took it as a gesture of goodwill from Fatah that would bolster the chances of a new unity government between the two sides.
Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist organization known for its use of suicide bombers on Israeli civilians, has been under intense economic pressure recently, particularly since its forceful takeover of the Gaza Strip this summer. A $16 million influx in the Hamas treasury helps.
The incident also demonstrates the futility of Western hopes that Palestinian officials will not misdirect financial aid the way they have in the past. Arutz Sheva reported,
Salam Fayyad, formerly PA finance minister, was appointed by Fatah chief and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas as prime minister following Hamas’s takeover of Gaza, due to the U.S. and Israel’s reliance on him to refrain from mismanaging and funneling money the way Yasser Arafat’s regime was notorious for doing. The latest funneling of millions to Hamas casts substantial doubt on Fayyad’s trustworthiness in this regard.
Though Fatah has been viewed by the West through rose-colored glasses, the truth is that the organization is almost as dangerous as its Hamas brothers. Talks to re-unify the two groups are reportedly in progress. Fatah’s “accidental” transfer of funds to Hamas under direct orders not to do so should send a clear message to Israel of who can—or rather can’t—be trusted. ▪