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Mashal's meal
Private jets, restaurants, luxury hotels: The good life of senior Hamas officials
Hamas leaders are facing criticism inside and outside of Gaza for enjoying a lavish lifestyle while Gazans suffer.

Hamas leaders have been often seen in recent days talking about the suffering of the residents of Gaza. But while most Palestinians are faced with shortages and restrictions on movement in the Gaza Strip, this is far from the case for officials from Hamas, which has been the de facto ruler there since throwing out political rivals Fatah in 2007.

 

 

As reported recently in Ynet, Hamas has millions in assets, and it seems that the wealth extends to day-to-day life as well as investments and fat bank accounts. For them, life is about private jets and luxury, not war planes and hunger.

 

But as the IDF's Operation Protective Edge, triggered by Hamas rocket fire on Israel, continues, more and more voices can be heard inside and outside of Gaza attacking the movement and its leaders' ostentatious lifestyle.

 

On Sunday, Egyptian officials sharply criticized Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal, stating that "while the Hamas leadership lives in luxury hotels, it is abandoning the innocent Palestinian people, who are being killed in their dozens."

 

Devastation in Gaza (Photo: EPA) (Photo: EPA)
Devastation in Gaza (Photo: EPA)

 

These claims are just the beginning of the attacks - unprecedented in their intensity – directed at Mashal, Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, and the Hamas leadership outside the country, mostly by groups aligned to Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi.

 

According to sources within Hamas, the movement's leadership abroad was one of the opponents to the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire in Gaza, while the leadership in the Strip, which is closer to the Gazan citizens, was more inclined to accept. But now, as part of the criticism against Hamas, old photos have resurfaced of Mashal in Qatar, exercising in the gym, playing tennis, watching TV and dining at a restaurant with a full table of food in front of him.


Mashal's meal
Mashal's meal

 

There is even a new Twitter campaign entitled "No hello and no welcome, Khaled Mashal", directed against the Hamas political chief, which places images of Mashal in the gym against a background of Palestinian children killed by the IDF.

 

Mashal exercising in Qatar
Mashal exercising in Qatar

 

One of the most prominent voices voicing criticism is Egyptian journalist Ahmad Musa, who is a clear al-Sisi supporter. On one of his recent programs for the "Sda al-Balad" channel , Musa presented the same images of Mashal working out in Qatar, and reminded the Hamas leader that, "the jihad is in Gaza."

 

Then, with the image of Mashal on an exercise bike in the background, Musa said: "This is the jihad before the meal to break the (Ramadan) fast. Before the meal he does sports, then he eats the honored meal, then he closely follows the television."

 

Relaxing in front of the TV
Relaxing in front of the TV
 

 

The Egyptian broadcaster then posed a challenge to the Hamas political wing: "If you're a man and a hero, get on the first plane tomorrow and enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. Your followers in Gaza will greet you and get you into hiding with Ismail Haniyeh."

 

He then showed pictures of Haniyeh playing soccer, and mockingly called it jihad for Allah.

 

Ismail Haniyeh on the pitch
Ismail Haniyeh on the pitch

 

Another Hamas official who has in recent years carefully documented his travels around the world is Haniyeh adviser Taher a-Nunu, who recently served as spokesman for the organization. In photos he posted on social networks, you can see him at one of the upper floors of a Qatar hotel, or on a "hunting trip" off the Gaza coast.

 

A-Nunu in Qatar
A-Nunu in Qatar

 

Hunting in Gaza
Hunting in Gaza

 

Even a year ago, when the images of Mashal in the gym first emerged, some praised him for keeping in shape, but there were also less enthusiastic comments.

 

"What's with all the air conditioners and the exercise machines, when the Palestinian people can't even get enough to eat?" one commenter wondered sarcastically. "Are these machines he took with him from Syria, or is it actually new funding from Qatar?"

 

Sporting life
Sporting life

 

The Hamas political leadership under Mashal relocated from Damascus to Qatar with the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, which created a rift between Hamas and Iran and its other allies Syria and Hezbollah, against a backdrop of statements by Hamas officials in favor of the Syrian rebels.

 

Private plane for Haniyeh
Private plane for Haniyeh

 

At the same time, Hamas' opponents renewed their attacks on the group, claiming it received its orders from Qatar and Turkey, and was actually a carbon copy of the Muslim Brotherhood. After Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi was deposed, the criticism against Mashal and his associates only increased.

 

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