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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hamas' official response to PFLP charges

Yesterday I reported that the PFLP accused Hamas of ten things that were contributing to Gazan misery:

1.New taxes on small shops, like falafel stands
2. Converting cars to taxis and levying large taxes on the owners
3. 60% tax on cigarettes
4. Confiscating private apartments owned by people outside Gaza and giving them to Hamas members
5. Restricting the activities on Gaza NGOs
6. Owners of apartments who had built (with permission) on government-owned lands now being taxed thousands of dollars
7. New taxes on groceries
8. Preventing many citizens from traveling outside Gaza
9. Restrictions on Gaza institutions and organizations
10. Violent and insulting treatment of Gaza citizens

Hamas' initial reaction was to arrest the people who made these accusations, which certainly must have increased the Gazan citizens' sense of security.

So, today Hamas' interior ministry issued a formal, point-by-point response to the PFLP charges.

In summation, Hamas is saying that all of the accusations are pretty accurate but that all of their actions are legal and justified. For example, the cigarette tax is meant to curb smoking by children, who could easily get inexpensive cigarettes. Taking over apartments is only done to people who have not paid their taxes; restrictions on people leaving Gaza is only being done for security reasons, and so forth.

Their response to the NGO accusation is especially interesting: Hamas says that many Gaza NGOs are corrupt:
Many institutions are delusional, founded during the previous authority to steal the money from donors without these associations doing any work. This money is going to the pockets of their leaders without their delivering any benefit to the people. This is an abuse of public money, in addition to ethical irregularities in a number of these institutions.

This story has still not been mentioned in any English-language source as far as I can tell.