U.S. Middle East Envoy Blasts Hamas for Prioritizing Tunnels over Basic Necessities for Gaza

The American Special Representative for International Negotiations, who is currently in Israel, blasted Hamas for prioritizing the building of “tunnels & rockets” at the expense of “getting the lights on, the water flowing & the economy growing” for the people of Gaza, as he toured southern Israel and was briefed on Hamas’s preparations for war against Israel.

Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories Yoav Mordechai, met with the envoy, Jason Greentblatt, and took him on a tour of one of the tunnels recently uncovered by Israel built Hamas, which has complete political and military control over the Gaza Strip.

Mordechai criticized Hamas for “investing funds in death tunnels and arms” and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for adding to the humanitarian suffering in Gaza by trying to pressure Hamas politically.

Greenblatt insisted in October that if Fatah, the main Palestinian faction, would reconcile with Hamas, then Hamas would have to disarm. This demand has been consistently rejected by Hamas.

The envoy’s criticism of Hamas echoes a recent comment made by an IDF officer who noted that in recent months there has been a fifty percent drop in commercial goods brought into Gaza because Hamas is using funds to build up its arsenal instead. The officer noted that “a lack of funds is not the problem in Gaza.”

Similarly, last week, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin asked the international community to recognize “that the ones who are preventing rehabilitation are Hamas.”

The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff reported in March 2016 on a scheme where Hamas enriched itself using Qatari money that was intended to build homes for Gazans. Although the homes were meant to be free, Hamas charged families $40,000 each, ostensibly to connect utilities, collecting an estimated $38 million to fund its other activities.

Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh pointed out a month earlier that Hamas has prioritized building up its terror infrastructure over rebuilding Gazan homes, writing that “the last thing Hamas cares about is the welfare of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

In December 2014, Neri Zilber observed that, while Fatah and Hamas fight over control of Gaza’s reconstruction, “Israel, of all the parties involved, has shown the greatest degree of flexibility towards a Gaza Strip still ruled by Hamas.”

[Photo: AP Archive / YouTube]