Arab and Western officials say Israeli claims that Hamas is stockpiling food, fuel and other supplies have merit, The New York Times reported on Friday. This, as Gaza’s 2 million population is left “scraping by with what little food and water they scrounge up.”
Hamas has been building dozens of miles of tunnels under the Gaza Strip and filling them with supplies needed for a long fight, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to compromise intelligence sources.
Hamas has hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel, ammunition, explosives, food, water and medicine, they said.
One senior Lebanese official said Hamas has enough stockpiled to fight for three to four months without resupply.
“Yet with Gazans facing a humanitarian catastrophe, Hamas’s stockpiles raise questions about what responsibility, if any, it has to the civilian population,” the Times reported.
Israel has said that Hamas bears responsibility for the Gaza population, and has rejected calls that it must allow fuel to enter the Strip.
“Hospitals warning that they’re running out of fuel is a serious matter, and should be addressed by the governing entity of the Gaza Strip: Hamas. They have fuel, enough to pump water and provide essential electricity for hospitals. Priorities,” tweeted IDF Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, on Oct. 26.
Similarly, when the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) posted on social media that without fuel it will be forced to halve its operations in the Gaza Strip as of Oct. 25, the Israel Defense Forces responded to the post with an aerial photograph that showed 12 large white vats lined up in two rows.
“These fuel tanks are inside Gaza. They contain more than 500,000 liters of fuel,” the IDF posted. “Ask Hamas if you can have some.”
Samir Ghattas, an Egyptian strategic analyst who studies the Gaza Strip, said it was unlikely Hamas would share its resources, telling the Times, “The Hamas movement cares only about the Hamas movement. The public of Gaza mean absolutely nothing for Hamas.”