Gaza: To Give Or Not To Give?

June 17, 2007

The conquest of the Gaza Strip by Hamas places European donors in a quandary. If they continue to distribute aid in Gaza, will they be helping Palestinians and thus securing a healthier peace process? Or will this support simply find increased violence in the region -- against Israeli and Palestinian alike?

The issue was given extra prominence when, contrary to EU policy, several EU parliamentarians met Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas in Gaza City in May. And in June, 250 MEPs launched a move to restart direct funding of the PA even though they realised this would involve funding Hamas. A week later, Hamas launched its bloody coup against Fatah.

The new situation in Gaza has rekindled diplomats' fears of a humanitarian crisis in this tiny and historically poor region. Israel has stated that it will continue to let in food and medical supplies. At the same time, reports on the BBC Web site and elsewhere question if Hamas is truly concerned about the needs of all the populace.

In the past, the EU has not only funded the Palestinian Authority and government directly. It services Gaza schools via UNRWA and a host of other governmental agencies through the special TIM arrangements. However, the concerns of the Funding for Peace Coalition (FPC) reach beyond the rhetoric and claims of various sides in the conflict.

Given this unstable region is dominated by various terrorist factions, who have been stealing international aid for decades, FPC asks a simple question; When will the EU implement effective controls over its aid money?

Even in 2006, a year that saw a significant increase in total foreign aid to the Palestinians after the victory of Hamas at the polls, there is no evidence of poverty being stemmed. As frequent FPC reports over a long period show, very little ends up improving the long term outlook for the target population. Nevertheless, there has been ample available for "militants", the infrastructure of violence and weaponry.

And there is an open risk that this transfer of funds may run contrary to the EU Constitution. Moussa Abu Marzouq, Deputy Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, proudly described at a meeting of Egyptian academics in early June the "quality" terrorist attacks perpetrated in Israel ("the Zionist entity") during the Hamas government's term.

It is the first time since the Oslo Accords that a Palestinian (Hamas) government supports the resistance [i.e. terrorism], does not go after the resistance operatives, does not arrest them, and does not hinder their activity.

This approach directly contravenes the EU's acceptance of international law.

Of equal concern is that Hamas has also shown that it will attack fellow Palestinians, who appear to conflict with its own moral order. While it is hard to obtain news out of Gaza, there is documented evidence that civilians in Gaza have been subject to a series of horrors, including:

  • Rivals have been brutally murdered - some even while in hospital beds.
  • Hamas have been filmed by TV crews shooting helpless Fatah prisoners in cold blood in flagrant disregard of the Geneva Convention.
  • John Ging, director of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has described how two of his workers have been killed and another two wounded.
  • Open Doors, one of the few Christian ministries still committed to working inside Gaza, has reported that the offices of the Bible Society were firebombed at the beginning of June.

Hamas has shown how it views a future world order. It is very hard to comprehend how donations to this cause can be considered moral, let alone secure a better life for Palestinians and the region as a whole.

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