Meet the Hamas billionaires - Globes
Seyi Rhodes meets some of the instant millionaires feeding the demand for an increasing number of millionaires, their fortunes fuelled by skyrocket prices for. Meet the Hamas billionaires – By Ella Levy-Weinrib guiadeayuntamientos.info article-the-phenomenal-wealth-of-hamas-leaders Khaled Meshaal in a meeting with spanish journalists. Photo: Traangal. One of Today, Abu Marzouk is one of the major billionaires in Hamas.
Business has never been so good. Essam shows off some of the glitzy property he has helped to sell. In downtown Gaza, the prices have trebled in four years. But there are complications.
Israel considers Gaza's government Hamas, terrorists and has imposed an economic blockade, restricting the movement of people and goods in and out. There was all-out war in and again in There used to be two villas there. One of them is still available, the other was destroyed. The villa was bombed by an Israeli jet. Property prices in this neighbourhood still haven't recovered.
Essam is expanding his business to take advantage of the boom. He needs to do more deals than ever to pay for his big investment. Do you think the property prices here will continue to rise? The real estate, like my father said, never loses. Nearly two million Palestinians are trapped in this 25 miles strip of land, squeezed in between Israel, Egypt and the sea. It's already one of the world's most crowd places with the population growing fast and the blockade makes it hard to leave.
An extra half a million people will live here by That's one reason for the property boom. It's supply and demand. If there's no demand prices wouldn't be rising. Doesn't the conflict have an effect on people's willingness to buy around here?
A few months ago the Israelis were bombing targets all over the strip? On the contrary, the war created these conditions. It's what started prices rising. The conflict destroys homes and worsens the housing shortage, driving prices up further.
There are the newly rich, who've become millionaires in 6 months. They have become rich from the war. Thanks to God, they're rich.
Gaza's New Millionaires
Essam was born into one of Gaza's wealther families. His dad was in property too. He has spent his life chasing deals. How much is he asking for it?
Someone just called me about a property sale. He wants;about 2 million for it, dollars. There aren't many people in Gaza with that sort of cash but Essam knows most of them. The property is a holiday village on the beach, within a few hours Essam has a potential buyer.
How much is it? His client is Muhnir Lorka, he made his money selling cars and lately he has been investing heavily in real estate. It's nice, but the price is back-breaking. There are five villas in this development: The Israeli blockade stops almost everybody travelling from Gaza, so renting villas like these is the nearest people can get to a holiday.
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If tourism flourished;it wouldn't be like this. It would be booked 24 hours a day. But there is no tourist business. Essam is not getting anywhere with the tourism angle so he changes tack.
If you split up this village, you can sell each building on its own. They won't sell for that much. Muhnir says the complex is overpriced but Essam thinks he will be back in a day or two. Always when any buyer comes to buy anything, he always say no, more or less, less, less, less.
Rising property prices have sparked a building frenzy in Gaza. From where I am standing, I can see one, two, three and this massive fourth development here, loads of flats are being built around here, there is construction going on everywhere.
The Israeli blockade restricts building materials. Israel says Hamas uses them to build military bunkers. The Gaza's property developers have found a way around this - they are smuggling building materials through tunnels. You have to keep your wits about you down here. There is constantly stuff moving this way from Egypt and then empty carriages coming down from that way.
If you are not careful, these wires can get tangled around your feet and of course each tray weighs well over a ton. It's estimated that around half a billion worth of goods pass through these tunnels every year.
The Hamas Government benefits by taxing the trade. But the tunnels have also created 1, millionaires in the last five years - New wealth that is helping to fuel the property boom.
Meet the Hamas billionaires - By Ella Levy-Weinrib - Israeli Frontline
I have been directed to this palatial looking villa on the outskirts of town because I am told this is where I will meet a tunnel millionaire.
Nahder, good to meet you. So this is your house. Nahder comes from a family of farmers who own land on the border. He has been digging and running tunnels for the past eight years and he says he has made a fortune.
So you have a second one and the second kitchen? I can't get over the size of this place. Every time we go around a corner there is another room or balcony.
Everything is finished to perfection. InI didn't even have money for a pack of cigarettes. Clearly, judging by your house there is a lot of money in tunnels. How much do you think you make? Gaza's property boom has made small group of people very wealthy, but in this economy under blockade, the majority of the population depends on United Nations food handouts.
Over a third are unemployed. Rising property prices haven't been good for everybody. This neighbourhood behind me is called Shijaia and it has some of the lowest house prices in Gaza City not just because of how it looks, but it is actually a border area, if you go all of the way down this road you get to the border with Israel, making the whole area vulnerable.
Shijaia is home to Ahmad El Rabai, a police officer. He lives in a one bedroom flat with his wife Uma Rafat and their family. When they and Hamas were just starting out, the organization not in its own name was nurtured by the Israeli military government, which fostered the Islamic associations working in the Gaza Strip as a counterweight to the Palestine Liberation Organization PLO.
Their phenomenal wealth started accumulating when they decided to disassociate themselves from Israel and search for alternative financing sources. It started with Syria and Saudi Arabia, with Iran added later and becoming one of Hamas's biggest supporters, and ended with Qatar, which has now taken Iran's place. Here, the Hamas leaders began to get their hands on some really big money.
Musa Abu Marzook, the number 2 man in Hamas," Elad says. He himself became a conglomerate of 10 financial enterprises giving loans and making financial investments. He's an amazing financier. After he spent two years in a US prison, it was decided to expel him without trial.
He kept the money. People in the know say he probably became connected to the administration and cooperated with it. There is no proof, but it's hard to think of any other reason why he escaped punishment for such serious offenses.
Inin the investigation of the September 11 events, it turned out that he had extensive financial connections with Al Qaeda, including the transfer of funds to the 21 Al Qaeda operatives accused of the attacks. Another Hamas leader-turned-tycoon is Khaled Mashaal. He's responsible for coordination between oversea Hamas and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and he's not even a leading figure, but he's already among the millionaires. They treated the money as their own personal possession.
The man pulling the strings from Egypt with the tunnels is none other than the number two man in the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat el-Shater. His connection with Hamas was ostensibly for Islamic religious purposes, but they actually built a prosperous business, which earned phenomenal profits," Elad says.
The Asharq Al-Awsat Middle East newspaper, one of the most prestigious in the Arab world, recently reported that at least millionaires were living in the Gaza Strip - the same people sitting on the money pipelines there.