Part 2 of article
Had Israel possessed a solid public relations establishment, it could have joined the concern over the “European money being poured into Gaza.” Last month, Holland’s government transferred salaries for 10,000 police officers in the Strip. Last week, two Hamas “police courses” ended, while Hamas’ deputy finance minister announced that the movement’s 17,000 security forces receive salaries regularly.
The overall salary budget of Gaza’s government has already topped 14 million Euros per month. In addition, the government pays salaries to another 15,000 workers, mostly at the Gaza “Education Ministry.”
Israel could have proposed that visiting EU foreign policy chief Ashton look into data published in the French Le Monde, quoting the Fayyad government’s former finance minister, Bassam Khoury: The Europeans need to know what’s being done with the money they hand over to Fayyad, he said. Some of this money is being transferred to Gaza where Hamas takes control of it to fill its own pockets. Hamas has plenty of money and doesn’t know what to do with it. Hence, they buy real estate – as result, Gaza’s real estate prices rose threefold.
Israeli officials are well aware of the situation. Minister Edelstein declared that Hamas has even been taking over medicine transferred to Gaza, adding that cash must certainly not be transferred to the Strip. The problem with our PR effort is that the minister uttered these words in Hebrew, yet when it comes to English the Foreign Ministry is unwilling to deal with financial matters, but rather, only with the humanitarian situation of Gaza residents.
And so, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement, announcing that Israel has decided to allow foreign policy chief Ashton’s entry into the Gaza Strip, after she made a special request, so that she can see from up close the humanitarian activity in Gaza and examine the progress of EU projects in the Strip.
Which projects are we talking about? Perhaps the four million dollar villa being built by Haniyeh, or the one being constructed by the police minister’s aide for “only” one million dollars? No chance. The European commissioner will engage in the obligatory tour of razed sites, and horrified by the situation she will quickly return through the Erez Crossing, just like any self-respecting European diplomat, straight to the luxury hotel in Jerusalem. Why should she suffer in the Rafah heat? It’s easier to smear Israel from Jerusalem.
Avi Trengo is a journalist