Update July 22
The website, ynet news.com has published another article detailing the luxurious five-star lifestyle of the Hamas leadership as exemplified in this photo of Ismail Haniyeh and his entourage traveling by private jet:
While the Palestinian media endeavors to paint the blackest possible picture about conditions in Gaza by referring to such things as population density, unemployment rates, and generally poor living conditions of the population, it studiously avoids talking about the wealth of the Hamas leaders.
And it certainly doesn't -- and dare not -- intimate how that wealth was acquired.
Roron Peskin, writing on the Ynetnews website, throws some light on the subject. Firstly, he wonders about the rapid growth in the financial fortunes of former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
Prior to Hamas winning the election of 2006, 51-year-old Haniyeh was not regarded as a senior member of the Hamas hierarchy. Now he is a millionaire, which is very surprising considering that he was born to a refugee family in the al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza.
By 2010, Haniyeh was able to buy a piece of land in an upmarket beachfront neighborhood for $4 million, according to a report in the Egyptian magazine Rose al-Yusuf. In order to hide what he was doing from the scrutiny of the media and his own voters, he employed the age-old trick of registering the purchase in the name of his son-in-law.
Since then, it has been reported that he has purchased several other properties in Gaza in the names of his children. He should soon be able to amass a sizable property portfolio -- he has 13 of them!
In the past, Haniyeh's son was arrested by the Egyptians for trying to enter Gaza through the Rafah border crossing point with millions of dollars in cash -- which he claimed was for Hamas.
Gaza sources allege that Haniyeh, together with other members of the Hamas "Mafia," personally benefited from the 20 percent levy they demanded on all goods smuggled through the hundreds of tunnels which Hamas and other groups had built. In more enlightened societies, that is called "extortion."
Things really took off for Haniyeh and his cronies when former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted by the Muslim Brotherhood -- the sister organization of Hamas.
Then, the Hamas leadership was not afraid to display its ostentatious wealth. There was a property boom for villas costing $1 million and more. A Gazan resident commented wryly about a member of Hamas who he knew had recently bought one of these villas saying, "Two years ago, he couldn't afford a packet of cigarettes."
With President Morsi in control, Khairat a-Shater, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt -- who was also personally wealthy -- transferred tens of millions in cash to senior administration officials in Gaza, as well as to some of its military commanders.
Many Hamas members kept their assets outside Gaza, and one of the founder members of the group, Ayman Taha, ensured that they received all their dividends in cash. In 2011, he bought himself a villa in Gaza for $700,000.
Another scam employed by the Hamas leaders for generating cash was to re-sell the highly subsidized fuel received from Egypt for eight times the real price.
Professor Ahmed Karima of Al-Azhar University in Egypt claims that Hamas has some 1,200 millionaires among its members, but is unwilling to reveal his sources.
Khaled Mashal, the leader of the so-called "Political Wing" of Hamas, resides in luxury in Doha, Qatar. It was reported by a Jordanian website in 2012 that he controlled $2.6 billion of Hamas funds. Hamas has invested in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Dubai.
According to reports, Mashal did not always separate Hamas money and his own. Companies linked to Mashal in Qatar are registered in the names of his wife and daughter. A considerable amount of real estate development in Qatar, including a 10,000 meter shopping mall, is being undertaken by his companies.
A World Bank report in November 2013 said that the Gaza Strip ranked third in the Arab region in terms of poverty; only Sudan and Yemen were lower. It also stated that the poverty rate in Gaza is 38 percent. Gaza was the 44th poorest out of 144 countries surveyed.
Obviously, Gaza is in need of some hefty wealth re-distribution. However, it's unlikely that the Hamas leadership will agree.
Without getting into politics, or what is currently taking place in Gaza, it would appear that the actions of the Israeli military has somewhat diminished the value of certain properties belonging to the leadership.
But they are not worried. They'll just have to skim off their percentage of the money which be donated by the world for "humanitarian purposes" when the dust has settled -- literally!