As the Gaza Strip continues to be pounded by IDF airstrikes, there has been an increasing amount of discussion in foreign media and within Israel about how to get to the hiding places of the Hamas leaders in tunnels that have been deliberately constructed under Gaza’s hospitals, schools and mosques.
But Hamas’ true leaders, at least on paper, do not even live in the Gaza Strip, let alone put themselves in harm's way. They, instead, lead a jet-setting lifestyle in the luxury hotels of the region, in places like Doha in Qatar, Beirut in Lebanon and Istanbul in Turkey.
In 2017, Ismail Haniyeh became the head of Hamas’ political bureau, the highest position in the terror organization’s leadership structure.
He, along with many other senior Hamas leaders, have lived in the Doha, the capital of the Gulf Emirate of Qatar, for years.
Haniyeh’s “victory speech” and prayer of thanks after the Hamas massacre on Oct. 7 was broadcast live from a luxury hotel by the Doha-based and state-owned Al Jazeera TV network.
Shortly after, the Four Seasons Hotel chain was forced to issue an official denial that Haniyeh lived in its Doha branch, following reports indicating it was Haniyeh’s main residence.
Haniyeh moved to Doha a few years ago, leaving behind his luxurious Gaza residence in the now-destroyed financial neighborhood of Rimal, an upscale section of Gaza where many Hamas leaders possess large homes.
The decision to move Hamas’ operations to Qatar was made by Haniyeh’s predecessor Khaled Mashal in 2012. Mashal transferred the headquarters of Hamas to Qatar when the Syrian Civil War complicated the situation in Damascus, their former residential location.
A Qatari official told the French news agency AFP that the establishment of Hamas’ political bureau in Qatar was coordinated with the U.S., which continues to maintain its largest naval base in the region in the Emirate.
Hamas’ leadership allegedly also spends a lot of time in Turkey, where Haniyeh and his No. 2, Saleh al-Arouri have obtained residency status and Turkish passports from the authorities, allowing them to travel internationally.
Another important outpost of the terror organization is in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, which is where Saleh al-Arouri currently makes his home. His former residence in Samaria, in the West Bank, was razed by the IDF on Monday.
Arouri also meets regularly with the other terrorist leaders who call Beirut their home, such as, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Ziyad al-Nakhala.
Hamas’ official representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, also reportedly lives in Beirut.
However, relations among the terror leaders are not as harmonious as they may appear.
Recently, after Mashal called on Hezbollah to contribute more to the war between Israel and Hamas, he was criticized in Lebanon.
Sources close to Hezbollah called Mashal “a man who sits in a seven-star hotel,” who should be ashamed to call on Lebanon to start a war against Israel, Ynet News reported.
“This story is not welcome. Someone is sitting in a hotel in a Gulf state and dares to say to Hezbollah, ‘Thank you, but it is not enough.’ Khaled Mashal does not have a good influence on our environment in general and, in particular, after what happened in Syria,” a Lebanese journalist commented.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.