Hamas steals aid, taxes humanitarian deliveries, Gaza residents say

‘Drivers said that Hamas imposes a tax on them in the amount of $27,000, or 50% of the contents of the truck.’ a Gaza resident said.

By Baruch Yedid, TPS

Residents of the Gaza Strip are accusing senior Hamas officials of working with criminal gangs to steal humanitarian aid and even imposing heavy taxes on the deliveries.

The residents who talked to The Press Service of Israel all spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by Hamas.

M., a resident of Nuseirat, told TPS-IL described witnessing Hamas operatives, often out of uniform, looting aid trucks arriving from the Kerem Shalom crossing carrying items from Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

“They stole the packages with threats after beating the drivers and now they are selling them to the residents at an inflated price,” he said.

Another resident, P., who has been displaced to Rafah from northern Gaza, described the systematic nature of the theft.

“Drivers said that Hamas imposes a tax on them in the amount of $27,000, or 50% of the contents of the truck. The drivers are forced to pay this tax so that the Hamas squads or local terrorist squads will secure the trucks from the Kerem Shalom crossing to the distribution points. Any driver who refuses to pay will be beaten, and the goods will be looted and taken entirely by the new terrorists born in the Gaza Strip,” he explained.

Hundreds of thousands of Nuseirat residents have returned to their homes and repairs to the water system and electrical grid are already underway.

The market is full of fresh fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, bananas, cucumbers, and even frozen meat, fish and chicken. But Palestinians told TPS-IL the scene’s sense of normalcy is a facade.

One resident, P., explained that Hamas has established ties with local crime families and young gangs, entrusting them with securing various convoy routes, particularly in central Gaza and Rafah.

“All the goods that pass through these routes are secured by them. Those who refuse to pay pay a heavy price for it. The gangs take the aid and sell it to Hamas, receiving commissions for the goods,” he said.

The situation has reached a critical point, prompting international aid organizations to halt the transportation of aid through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

A journalist assisting with this report noted, “Since [Saturday], international aid organizations have stopped transporting aid in trucks through the Kerem Shalom crossing after it became clear that over 60% of the trucks’ contents had been looted by Hamas.”

More than 1,000 truckloads of undelivered aid have piled up on the Palestinian side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing as drivers refuse to make the risky journey.

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Another resident, T. angrily told TPS-IL, “The members of the families of senior Hamas officials who still remain in the Gaza Strip have enough food. They steal the food from the trucks and distribute it to their people while we are here, inside the tents and camps of the displaced, trying to get a piece of bread and soup for the children every morning.”

Infiltrating the Tent Camps

The theft of aid is not limited to hijacking trucks.

Residents told TPS-IL that Hamas operatives in civilian clothes are infiltrating the tent camps where displaced Palestinians are sheltering and interrogating civilians to locate and control aid distribution points.

“It is clear to Hamas and all of us that whoever controls the aid currently controls Gaza,” one resident, H., told TPS-IL.

Another resident, A., elaborated, “Many times the Hamas operatives threaten the residents not to leave the place so as not to serve Israel’s war plans. Even in the displaced persons camps, we became a human shield for Hamas.”

On Thursday night, Israel destroyed a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket launching site set up inside a humanitarian zone in the Khan Yunis area.

A UN committee of experts said in a recently released report that there is “no supporting evidence” to conclude that there is a famine in Gaza while an Israeli academic study concluded that Hamas is the biggest threat to food security in Gaza.

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When Hamas slashed food prices in April, Gaza residents told TPS-IL that the problem wasn’t a lack of food but a shortage of money for families to purchase it.

But criticism of Hamas is dangerous.

Residents told TPS-IL that the terror group’s operatives walk around the crowded camps in civilian clothes to settle scores with individuals who criticize Hamas and its leaders, particularly on social media.

Shooting people in the legs and looting their tents is a common Hamas response, with some people being murdered, they said.

At least 1,200 people were killed, and 252 Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on October 7. Of the 116 remaining hostages, more than 30 are believed dead.