Ex-Spy Chief Claims Israeli PM ‘Missed Opportunity’ to Cut Off Hamas Funding


A former senior Israeli intelligence officer, Udi Levy, has claimed that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu missed an opportunity to financially cripple Hamas before its deadly attack in October. Levy, who was the head of economic warfare in Mossad until 2016, advised Netanyahu to target Hamas’s finances, which he believes would have hindered the group’s military build-up. However, he claims his advice was ignored.

Hamas gunmen killed approximately 1,200 people and took more than 250 hostages on 7 October last year when they infiltrated southern Israel. The Israeli military response resulted in the deaths of 29,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry. Levy asserts that by using financial tools, Israel could have crushed Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Levy also claims that Netanyahu did not act upon information about a multi-million-dollar investment portfolio controlled by Hamas and managed from Turkey. Since the October attacks, Israel has pledged to destroy Hamas. However, Hamas is not just a military force but also a political movement with financial support extending beyond Gaza.

BBC Panorama has been investigating documents acquired in 2020 that allegedly reveal the extent of Hamas’s investment portfolio. The portfolio reportedly includes around 40 companies across the Middle East and North Africa, with investments in various sectors. Since 2022, six of these companies have been sanctioned by the US Treasury for being directly or indirectly owned or controlled by Hamas.

Hamas has also had other long-term financial sources, including one of its most important early fundraisers, Yahya Sinwar, now the head of Hamas’s political wing in Gaza. He allegedly began raising funds for Hamas while in an Israeli prison cell.

Levy also claims that a significant amount of money from Qatar intended for humanitarian support in Gaza was used to support Hamas’s military arm. Billions more have been provided by UN agencies, the EU, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and numerous charities, all intended for humanitarian purposes.

Netanyahu has been clear about his opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state and how that strategic aim was linked to his position on Hamas funding. He has now pledged to destroy Hamas and any element in Gaza that finances terrorism. However, critics argue that by causing such devastation in Gaza, Israel may inadvertently strengthen Hamas’s resolve.

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