Hamas leaders are not sitting among their people in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank. It is easier and safer for them to call on the Palestinians to send their children to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel while they relax in the comfort of their hotel rooms, villas and gyms in Qatar. The Hamas leaders are not going to send their own sons and daughters to engage in the jihad against Israel. Pictured: Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal (left) and Ismail Haniyeh share some laughs on December 7, 2012. (Photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images)
The leaders of the Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are continuing to urge Palestinians to take to the streets to engage in the jihad (holy war) against Israel.
These leaders are telling the Palestinians that those who are killed while carrying out attacks against Israel will be considered "heroes" and "martyrs." They are also telling them that the Palestinians must continue the jihad "until the liberation of Palestine," a euphemism for the elimination of Israel.
These are the messages that were recently sent to the Palestinians by Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh. Mashaal and Haniyeh are sending the messages from their five-star hotels and luxurious villas in Qatar.
Hamas leaders are not sitting among their people in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank. It is easier and safer for them to call on the Palestinians to send their children to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel while they are relaxing in the comfort of their hotel rooms, villas and gyms in the Qatari capital of Doha. The Hamas leaders are not going to send their own sons and daughters to engage in the jihad against Israel.
In the past, Arab journalists have criticized and ridiculed the Hamas leaders for choosing to live in luxury hotels in Qatar instead of being amongst their people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Ahmed Musa, an Egyptian journalist, presented a photo of Mashaal working out in Qatar, and reminded the Hamas leader that "the jihad is in Gaza." Musa challenged the Hamas leader:
"If you're a man and a hero, get on the first plane tomorrow and enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing. Your followers in Gaza will greet you."
A report published last month by the Ynet news website revealed that at least eight senior leaders of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) left the Gaza Strip over the past two years in favor of the good life abroad.
The first to leave was Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, who left this home in the Shati refugee camp in favor of luxury hotels in Qatar. Haniyeh justified his departure due to his candidacy for the overall leadership of Hamas. Although the Hamas internal elections ended several months ago, Haniyeh has not returned to the Gaza Strip. Instead, he put pressure on the Egyptian authorities to allow his wife and children to leave the Gaza Strip so that they could join him in the wealthy Gulf state.
Another senior Hamas figure who left the Gaza Strip is Khalil al-Hayya, who until recently served as deputy head of the terrorist group in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave. Al-Hayya decided to leave for Qatar after he was appointed as head of the Hamas bureau that manages the group's relations with Arab and Islamic countries.
Salah Bardaweel, Sami Abu Zuhri, Fathi Hammad and Taher a-Nunu, also senior and veteran Hamas officials, have also left the Gaza Strip together with their families. They are shuttling between Qatar, Lebanon, Turkey and other Arab and Islamic countries.
In addition to the Hamas leaders, senior representatives of Palestinian Islamic Jihad have left the Gaza Strip. They include Nafez Azzam and Mohammed al-Hindi, who are spending their time in Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.
It is not clear if these Hamas and PIJ leaders are planning to return to their homes in the Gaza Strip. In fact, there is good reason to believe that these spoiled leaders are not in a hurry to return to Gaza, where two million Palestinian residents continue to live in harsh economic conditions, where unemployment is estimated at more than 50% and, where the rate of poverty is extremely high.
The Iranian-backed Hamas and PIJ are the two largest groups in the Gaza Strip. Instead of investing their resources and efforts in improving the living conditions of their people, the Hamas and PIJ leaders have brought on them one disaster after the other. They have brought war and destruction on the people of the Gaza Strip by firing thousands of rockets towards Israel, forcing Israel to fire back to defend itself.
Instead of building schools and hospitals, the Hamas and PIJ leaders have chosen to invest tens of millions of dollars in a network of tunnels along Gaza's border with Israel, to attack and kill Jews.
The leaders of Hamas and PIJ left scorched earth behind them and chose to lead luxurious lives in Doha, Istanbul and Beirut. Strangely, however, instead of hiding their faces in shame, they are calling from their gyms, private jets and jacuzzis for the Palestinians to pursue the fight against Israel.
Just last week, from Qatar, Mashaal renewed the call to the Palestinians to continue sacrificing their children in the jihad against Israel. Mashaal boasted that the number of terrorist attacks against Israel in the West Bank and Jerusalem doubled in 2021 compared to 2020.
"The upcoming phase will witness an accumulation of the resistance and the development of its capabilities," Mashaal said. When Hamas talks about "resistance," it is referring to the use of various terrorist attacks against Israel, including suicide bombings, rocket launchings, stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks. "We want everyone to be involved in the growing resistance."
Everyone, of course, expect the children of Mashaal, Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders who are now enjoying the life in a number of Arab and Islamic countries while the Palestinians they left behind in the Gaza Strip struggle to feed their children. Some have become real beggars who are now knocking on Israel's door for help.
Thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are applying to work in Israel. The rate of unemployment in the Gaza Strip exceeded 50% in 2021, according to Maher al-Taba'a, director of Gaza's Chamber of Commerce. The unemployment rate has soared to even 78% among graduates aged between 20 to 29 years who have a certificate with an intermediate diploma or a bachelor's degree, he added.
Some Palestinians, it seems, refuse to be duped by the deception of the Hamas and PIJ leaders. These Palestinians have finally realized that their leaders care only about their personal interest and the well-being of their families and are enjoying the good life in Doha and Istanbul.
This is encouraging news, which shows that there are Palestinians who are fed up with the corruption of their leaders and their five-star jihad from luxury hotels around the world. Recently, these Palestinians took to social media to launch a campaign called "They (Hamas) Hijacked Gaza." For now, this campaign has enlisted only a limited number of people.
Unless more Palestinians join such campaigns and start speaking out against the corruption of their leaders, there is zero chance that their lives will improve -- not even if the international community continues to shower hundreds of millions of dollars on them.
Above all, the Palestinians need to boot out the thieves who masquerade as their leaders, the butchers responsible for the deaths of the young men and women in the Hamas-incited jihad against Israel. The Palestinians will never move forward with their lives as long as their leaders are relaxing in hot tubs in Qatar and Turkey while sending them orders to bathe themselves in yet more Jewish blood.
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.