Gaza Strip Full of Corrupt Millionaires, Says Palestinian Official

Unusual London rally highlights inter-Palestinian split as activists blame West Bank leadership for Gaza suffering.

Anshel Pfeffer
Anshel Pfeffer
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Anshel Pfeffer
Anshel Pfeffer

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations in London and other British cities are a matter of routine. This week, for a change, the demonstration did not take place outside an Israeli-linked event but outside the Palestinian embassy.

With the geographical split between the Fatah-ruled West Bank and the Gaza Strip under Hamas, the confrontation between the two Palestinian camps rarely takes place face-to-face and in the open. Sometimes you have to go as far away as London to see it.

On Thursday, a demonstration by a handful of activists took place outside the Palestinian mission in London. The demonstrators were protesting over their claim that the Palestinian Authority is preventing the transfer of money from the European Union funding diesel fuel for Gaza's power station and this is creating power-shortages in the Strip.

While it would perhaps be a stretch to call the event an intra-Palestinian confrontation -- on one side, a small group of local, English-speaking activists, (among them was former U.S. Marine Ken O'Keefe who attracted attention when he fought Israeli soldiers on board the Marmara during the operation against the Gaza Flotilla) and on the other a lone Palestinian diplomat -- it opens a window on the way the PA is trying to counter accusations that it is cooperating with the closure on Gaza and contributing to the suffering there.

On a youtube video of the discussion, the unnamed diplomat is seen at first telling demonstrators that "the Palestinian Authority has nothing to do with the closure of Gaza" and imploring them to "do this in front of the Israeli embassy, not the Palestinian mission." But the demonstrators, no fans of Israel, in this case are not accepting that the blame is necessarily there, and are insisting that the PA received the European funding for Gaza and are not passing it on. The representative insists that "the people in Gaza are our people we look after them and we care for them" and says that "the problems lie with the rulers of Gaza Strip who don't want to cooperate with the PA because they are authoritarian rulers and the problem is they have taken advantage of the suffering of the Palestinian people."

To underline the commitment of the PA to the Gaza Strip, he says that they pay the salaries of 70 thousand Gazan public employees and "forty-five percent of our budget goes to Gaza." He tried to highlight the corruption and black market flourishing in the Strip under Hamas, claiming that "there are 1,200 millionaires in Gaza since Hamas took power... these people took advantage of the tunnels and the commerce of fuel to Gaza and took advantage of the people in Gaza."

He accuses also other countries saying "they [Iran] received millions and millions from Iran and other sources, they have to invest this money for the people."

Palestinians standing on a building under construction in Gaza look at security forces during an anti-Israel parade on November 13, 2013.Credit: AFP
Palestinians gather around Hamas militants as they take part in a military parade marking the first anniversary of the eight-day conflict with Israel, in Gaza City November 14, 2013.Credit: Reuters

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