The Times of Israel reports: As the residents of the Gaza Strip endure daily hardships due to the dire economic situation in the enclave, their Hamas leaders spend over $100 million a year on the group’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, according to estimates by both Israeli and Palestinian sources.
Spending on digging tunnels accounts for some $40 million of that annual sum.
By way of comparison, the budget of the last Hamas government, which dissolved in April 2014, was $530 million. In other words, some 20 percent of the budget was funneled toward arming the group with advanced weapons, digging tunnels, training, and salaries for Hamas fighters.
Some 1,500 Hamas members from various brigades are currently employed in tunnel digging. The average salary for an excavator is $250-$400 a month — relatively high for the Strip, where unemployment is rampant. The diggers also receive bonuses and incentives for meeting deadlines set by the Hamas military leadership. Veteran diggers receive higher salaries than others.
The military wing of Hamas continues to be helmed by the Muhammed Deif, who serves as a chief of staff, while Yahya Sinwar serves as a defense minister and liaison with the political wing. Under them, Marwan Issa, Deif’s aide de camp, deals with building up the group’s military capabilities. Reporting to Issa are various commanders of different brigades and areas, such as defense industries and others.
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