Iran, benefactors boost Hamas’ 2012 budget


The Hamas government in Gaza has approved a budget for 2012 which is up 25 percent year-on-year, indicating that donors, including Iran, benefactors in the Islamic world and Palestinian expatriates, are still heavily funding the movement.

Chief of parliament's budget committee Jamal Nassar says the budget will be $769 million, compared to $630 million in 2011.

Reports on the Palestinian financial crisis have increasingly surfaced in recent months, underscoring Hamas’ government is in dire financial straits.

Electricity, gasoline and water supplies have been unsteady in Gaza, pushing Hamas to be progressively more dependent on foreign donors.

Nassar said on Sunday that just one-quarter of the budget is from local revenues.

A second official said the rest comes from Palestinian expatriates, Iran and benefactors in the Muslim world. He spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

The militant Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States and Europe, won legislative elections in 2006, prompting long-standing tensions with chief rival party Fatah to boil over into violence a year later.

Hamas fighters in Gaza routed their Fatah counterparts in bloody fighting in 2007 and have been firmly in charge of the coastal territory ever since.

When the budget was drafted in December, the figure was to include “$405 million for salaries, compared to 298 million in the budget last year,” Ismail Mahfuz of the Hamas finance ministry said.

Main areas of expenditure are “security, public order, social services and education, which represent around 62 percent of the total budget,” the statement added. Mahfuz estimated tax revenues of $174 million for the coming year.

Hamas media center spokesman Hassan Abu Hashish said the provision of services would depend on aid from Arab and Islamic countries and institutions, without specifying which ones.

The salaries of about 30,000 civil servants paid by Hamas are often deposited late due to lack of funds, he said.