Gaza’s Hamas rulers have imposed a slew of new taxes even though Gaza’s 2.3 million people are suffering not only from a 15-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade, but also from a new jump in prices caused by global supply-chain issues and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. With tens of thousands of civil servants to support, as well as its heavy spending on its military wing, it is no surprise that Hamas is seeking new sources of revenue. The government offers few services in exchange, and most aid and relief projects are covered by the international community. The funds help Hamas operate a government and powerful armed wing.
New taxes have been placed on imported clothes and office supplies just ahead of the new school year, sparking limited but rare protests in the impoverished coastal strip. The list also includes a tax of about $3 on pair of jeans, and $230 on a ton of plastic folders used to store papers. Demand for these items increases ahead of the school year.
Planned taxes on items like packaged nuts, with an import tariff of 2,000 shekels (nearly $600) per ton. In the past, nuts were imported tax free. The tariff on a ton of toilet paper rose from $90 to $580.
It is the latest steps are part of a series of taxes targeting a wide array of sectors, from street vendors selling hot drinks to restaurants, home building and cars.
Earlier this month, about two dozen members of the clothes merchants’ union expressed their frustration in public. They stood inside the building housing their union in Gaza City and held new pairs of jeans, with the price tags still on them, in the air for about half an hour. Two days later, the merchants gathered outside the offices of Hamas lawmakers. Police prevented the media from filming and ordered the protest to stop after allowing representatives of the union inside to talk to the lawmakers.