Gaza merchants protest new Hamas shakedown tax

The Hamas terror organization tyrannically rules the Gaza Strip, but oppressed Palestinians are fighting back.

By: Atara Beck, World Israel News

Hamas terrorists in Gaza. (AP/Adel Hana)

Several Gazan wholesalers on Tuesday stopped importing fruits and livestock from Israel via the Kerem Shalom crossing to protest new additional taxes imposed by the Hamas government, the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported.

Salim Abu Samra, a wholesaler in Gaza, told Ma’an that the Ministry of Finance in Gaza recently imposed an additional import tax of $30 per ton of fruits entering Gaza.

The new tax, he said, was in addition to $25 the ministry had already been collecting.

A further $50 tax was imposed on the import of calves and $25 for sheep, he said.

Abu Samra said wholesalers in the Strip would refuse to import fruit and livestock until the new taxes are rescinded, without providing further details about how many Palestinian wholesalers in Gaza are taking part in the boycott.

A Hamas spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

In April, a new tax of $51 was imposed per ton of fruits in what was named the “joint responsibility tax.” It was later reduced to $38 per ton after wholesalers protested the tax.

Hamas Shakes Down Gaza Residents

Hamas is notorious for its brutal rule in Gaza.

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In November 2014, Forbes Israel ranked Hamas as the second-richest terror organization in the world with a $1 billion annual income, coming in second to the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group in Syria and Iraq.

Hamas head Khaled Meshaal

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (AP/Nader Daoud)

Since its hostile takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas has managed to transform itself from a small organization that relied on charity into a massive financial conglomerate, and until the advent of ISIS, Hamas was the richest terror organization in the world.

Existing as a demi-state, Hamas has a strong influence on the economy in Gaza. According to Forbes’ estimates, Hamas controls 10-15 percent of the economic activity in Gaza at the sum of $3 billion, making off of it about $500 million annually.

Hamas has its own set of taxes that it imposes on the residents of Gaza, aside from those collected by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Hamas has created a set of rules according to which only those who pay their additional taxes have a chance of surviving in Gaza. For example, only those who pay the annual car tax get a special sticker which enables them to buy gas.

The milking of Gaza’s residents is Hamas’s main source of income, according to Forbes.

Hamas leaders are known to be personally wealthy.

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Reports show that they and their associates have been involved in multi-million dollar deals and lining their own pockets with public funds.

They are involved in land deals, the purchasing of luxury villas and trading in black-market fuel from Egypt, but they profit primarily on the smuggling business through tunnels from the Sinai into Gaza, the reports say.

However, more than 60 percent of young people do not have work, while 39 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and 80 percent depend on various forms of aid.