Gaza’s sole power plant shut down on Sunday for lack of funds, leaving the nearly 2 million residents of the Strip with only four hours of electricity per day.
The manufactured crisis is just another example of how “Hamas remains the same cynical organization that exploits the distress of Gaza’s residents for political gain,” long-time Palestinian affairs correspondent Avi Issacharoff wrote  Wednesday in The Times of Israel.
The same rationale also serves as Hamas’ incentive behind stealing  food shipments into the Strip and diverting fuel from hospital generators: the more misery the better.
The bitterness and poverty of Gaza’s residents is the bloodline of Hamas. It is the fertile ground on which its extremist ideology flourishes and from which it recruits its fighters.
Hamas could, if it wanted to, pay for enough electricity to ease the suffering of its people and prevent a deepening of the humanitarian crisis. According to estimates by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Issacharoff reported, Hamas raises $28 million every month in taxes, a significant amount of which they use to pay their members.
But a large portion is diverted to pay for the terrorist organization’s military purposes. Estimates suggest that Hamas is spending $130 million a year on its military infrastructure and preparations for war, including terror tunnels and rockets.
Gaza’s economy lies in ruins. A decade after Hamas’ violent seizure of the Strip, unemployment is at around 40 percent and poverty is widespread. Two-thirds of the population rely on international aid organizations. The water is dangerously polluted. And now the lights have gone out.
As Issacharoff observed, “Those who took control of Gaza in a military coup and since then invested more than $1 billion in their military infrastructure, could have easily directed their resources to resolve Gaza’s problems. But what is the value of another few hours of electricity for the people of Gaza, compared to another few tunnels or rockets?”
Last March, Issacharoff recounted a scam that Hamas ran to enrich itself with the money of ordinary Gazans. It held a lottery to give away 1,040 “free” homes in a new neighborhood built with Qatari funds. However, the lottery winners — except for 150 Hamas officials — would each have to pay $40,000 to hook up utilities to their “free” homes. Altogether, Hamas made about $36 million from that Qatari foreign aid.
“In actuality, the homes, donated by Qatar, are being practically given away to Hamas cronies while others have to pay off the terror group to put a roof over their heads — one of myriad ways Hamas is exploiting the humanitarian crisis in the Strip to pad its own coffers,” Issacharoff wrote  at the time.
Veteran Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh made  a similar observation about Hamas’ priorities in February 2016. The expense and effort that Hamas puts into building attack tunnels while Gaza is mired in poverty shows that “the last thing Hamas cares about is the welfare of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” he wrote.
[Photo: Reuters / YouTube]