Online scammers who solicit money for “poor Gazans” are pocketing donations, but not before the Hamas terror group takes a cut.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
Online charity scams in the Arabic speaking world are exploiting the plight of Gazans during the coronavirus pandemic. The scammers are paying a percentage to the neighborhood gang leader so to speak – Hamas terrorists who rule the coastal enclave with an iron fist.
A Hebrew-speaking anonymous Arabic blogger who calls himself “Abu Ali Express” runs a news channel on the Telegram app with over 47,000 subscribers, most of them Israelis. The blogger posts updates from the Arabic mainstream press and social media on the latest happenings in the Arab world, but with a focus on Palestinian areas including Gaza, and was featured on the Israellycool site.
Using pictures of destitute kids in Gaza, where unemployment under Hamas is well over 50 percent, scammers troll the internet posing as charities to raise money for the poor. In reality, they pocket the money and make huge profits.
Abu Ali Express, a play on the huge online Chinese retailer Ali Express, posted a tweet by a Gaza charity organization called Rahma, telling them to bring a child to be photographed as a prerequisite for receiving bread. “Supplying donors with photographs of poor Gaza children is an important part of the Gaza donations industry,” he said.
The Palestinian Authority’s official newspaper, Al Hayat al-Jadida, ran an expose about the scam last week, detailing Hamas’ role.
While Hamas claims to be be a righteous Islamic group with charity as one of its pillars, it turns out the terrorists are letting the scams continue – so long as they get their cut.
Sources told Al Hayat al-Jadida that Hamas’ internal security apparatus, in cooperation with money exchange offices in the Gaza Strip, knows every detail funds that enter Gaza. Hamas calls in anyone suspected of receiving large sums of money and is known to shake them down for a cut of the revenue.
The sources indicated that this “security measure” imposed by Hamas applies to all associations, institutions and charitable initiatives in Gaza. The body overseeing charities is supervised by Abu Osama al-Kurd, who happens to be a member of the political bureau of Hamas. His office ensures that all entities under its umbrella skim the correct percentage of aid, which is under Hamas’ total control.
According to the Al Hayat al-Jadida report, Hamas requires anyone who works in this branch of “charity donations” to pay half of the money scammed either directly the Hamas movement or to groups affiliated with it.
Activist Ramzi Harazallah told the paper there has to be a way to let unsuspecting donors know their charity is not going to support the poor, but to line the pockets of Hamas terrorists. According to Harazallah, the first task is to “hold Hamas and its government accountable before holding individual scammers accountable. ”
Palestinian journalist Muhammad Lalla commented on the electronic begging issue, saying it’s clear that whoever collects donations of 200,000 dollars from abroad and spends only half of the amount on the poor in Gaza must be forbidden from doing so. Lalla calls the scammers “beggar thieves.”