TEL AVIV – Hamas is facing accusations of cronyism for giving preference to its own members during the very limited periods the Rafah Crossing, the Gaza Strip’s only gateway to the outside world, is open.
In 2015, the crossing was open for 26 days only, and for a mere three since the beginning of 2016.
Hamas, which rules Gaza, has come under fire for exploiting the population’s desperate desire to leave the territory, whether to receive medical treatment, work, or do business.
Gaza residents told local media that Hamas officials charged them thousands of dollars to add their names or move them to the top of a waiting list, in order to make sure they can leave before the crossing closes arbitrarily.
They blamed Hamas for giving preference to its members for ostensibly “humanitarian” reasons, when they are in fact perfectly healthy men traveling to Turkey or Malaysia to pursue their studies.
Hamas sources told Breitbart Jerusalem that over the last four years hundreds of members of the movement studied on scholarship in these countries, where they continue to train and be active on behalf of Hamas.
They added that when Khaled Meshal visited Malaysia last December, he met with some 150 Hamas operatives studying there.
Muhammad Uthman, a journalist from Gaza, recently posted on Facebook:
I’ve noticed something… and please be patient with me… Hamas urges people to hold on, be strong, and other things… But in reality, who gets to leave Gaza to study? Hamas members! They are the only ones who are lucky enough to leave, and many don’t even come back! Why? How? Where? I’ve given up on trying to understand.
The post received many responses, including one from journalist Suheir Elkharaz: “The people for you are pawns on a chessboard. You only serve your own interests… The question is what about the others, who are either ignorant or letting themselves be duped.”
Others responded by saying that scholarships are supposed to be for the entire population of Gaza, but are handed out only to Hamas members.
Regarding the cronyism accusations, an Interior Ministry spokesperson told Breitbart Jerusalem, “It is simply not true. Those who go through the crossing are patients in need of urgent medical care and students, and there’s no discrimination whatsoever.”