Has EU Money Gone to Palestinian Terrorists?

The European Union should suspend the payment of humanitarian aid to Palestine, Oliver Varhelyi suggested after the brutal October 7 terrorist attack that claimed the lives of more than 1,400 Israelis. The words of the commissioner responsible for enlargement and neighborhood policy stirred a giant controversy, with some MEPs demanding his resignation. In the end, the European Commission decided to provide even more funds although it is quite possible that part of EU taxpayers' money has ended up in the hands of terrorists.

2023. 11. 15. 16:30
Rafah, 2023. október 24. A Gázai övezetben lakó palesztinoknak szánt segélyszállítmányt rakodnak a rafahi határátkelõ egyiptomi oldalán 2023. október 24-én, az Izrael és a Gázai övezetet irányító Hamász palesztin iszlamista szervezet fegyveres konfliktusának idején. MTI/EPA Fotó: Háled el-Fiki
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The European Union has been supporting Palestinians since 2000, and has traditionally been the largest donor. It is estimated that the EU and individual EU member states bilaterally, as well as Switzerland and Norway, have provided approximately one billion dollars in aid annually since 2008, to not only the West Bank, but also the Gaza Strip, which has been under Hamas rule since 2006.

Tracing the money back is not that simple, because it is given under various headings:

  • The Palestinian Authority receives direct funding to finance its operation, for example the payment of salaries and pensions, the operation of hospitals, and even Covid-19 vaccines were also covered from this amount.
  • Special resources are given for Palestinian refugees, including the operation of "refugee camps", of the health and education systems, as well as paying the salaries of teachers, doctors and social workers.
  • Additional funds are also earmarked for development programs, specifically slated to create jobs or improve infrastructure, such as water and energy supply.

From our money, too

As for the European Union, it has earmarked 1.2 billion euros for Palestinians over the period of 2021-2024. Characteristic of the reality of the bloc's strategy is that the goals set include using the amount to help the political and governmental reform of the Gaza Strip, to regain the democratic credit of the Palestinian Authority, which will lead to the restart of the peace process... And where does this money come from?

The European Union spends 1 percent of its annual budget on humanitarian aid: roughly 11.6 billion euros for the seven-year budget cycle from 2021 to 2027, this is approximately 1.65 billion euros per year. From this amount the EU helps dozens of countries all over the world, and the Palestinians also receive a relatively large portion.

The source of the money paid is from the EU budget, which is made up of member states' contributions, therefore ultimately the taxes paid by EU citizens.




The situation is further complicated by the fact that part of the money provided by the EU is paid primarily to various international and non-governmental organizations "working in the field", for example, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) created specifically to support Palestinian refugees in the region, the Red Cross or the World Health Organization.

Can we believe Hamas?

The question is: do we believe that the aid going into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip is not being siphoned off by the terrorist organisation? The European Commission itself has acknowledged the need to clarify this as soon as possible.

"Where Hamas is present at such a level in the day-to-day management of the isolated population living there, it is not difficult to imagine that it also plays a role in the distribution of aid. Especially as aid agencies and donors in the area also have limited capacity to monitor the use of aid," a source familiar with international aid channels explained to Magyar Nemzet.

EU aid having gone to Hamas cannot be ruled out. In any case, it's difficult to make a distinction, as being a Hamas member doesn't mean that the person is not needy,

he explained.

He added, however, that even if some of the aid does not land in the right place, many organizations are willing to take this risk, because the "damage is still less" than if nothing goes to the hundreds of thousands of people living in extreme poverty. He pointed out that this is also the case, for example, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Ukraine, where some of the supplies fall into the wrong hands, but if they don't get there, the countries would become inoperable and people would simply starve to death.


Tricky ways

The issue was also raised at the October meeting of the European Parliament's Committee on Budgetary Control - where Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi had to respond to questions. It is true though that even in the wake of the terrorist attack, many MEPs showed no interest to find out how the EU spends the money: only five MEPs—all right-wing—attended the hearing out of over 50, the European Conservative reported.

The report reveals that between 2021 and 2023, one-third or about €225 million of the humanitarian aid transferred to the Palestinians went directly to the Gaza Strip.

How was it possible to pour €225 million into a place that is fully controlled by a terrorist organization and nobody did anything or said anything? It is absolutely absurd,

Romanian right-wing MEP Cristian Terhes asked with indignation.


Although it is not unprecedented that Hamas has been caught stealing aid, the money does not go directly into Hamas' coffers. But they don't have to be caught red-handed, there are 'trickier' ways of going round the system. As the MEP pointed out, it is common practice, for example, for relatives of Palestinians who sacrifice their lives or go to prison for fighting against Israel to receive generous rewards and even pensions.

The payments substantially increase with the length of the prison sentence and include special bonuses for becoming a "martyr" for the cause, that is, terrorism is specifically rewarded.

Issues related to education were also raised: for example, teachers in UN-run institutions celebrated Hamas attacks, or schools are named after suicide bombers and teach about them in textbooks.

Or take the recent revelation that the water pipelines in Gaza, built with development funds, are just suitable for producing Hamas rockets...

If the money tap is turned off

80 percent of more than two million people living in the Gaza Strip are in need of international aid, with unemployment reaching 45 percent, according to UN estimates. Moreover, this reflects pre-war conditions, since then the situation has certainly worsened. The world organization says that at least $1.2 billion is needed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank by the end of the year, with much of that amount still missing. The Palestinian economy therefore is very strongly dependent on the umbilical cord of foreign donors; it is feared that cutting it off would lead to a humanitarian crisis. However, EU money is just one source among many, with the United States, Arab countries and Turkey also making significant contributions.

Cover photo: Aid supplies for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are loaded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing point on October 24, 2023, during the armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas in control of Gaza (Photo: MTI/EPA)

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