The United States invested more than $400 million in taxpayer funds on development projects inside the Gaza Strip since Hamas took over the territory in 2007, according to government funding documents.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the State Department’s humanitarian arm, reported spending some $400 million on various development projects in the Hamas-controlled territory since 2009.
U.S. funding to the Gaza Strip has taken on renewed significance since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel over the weekend that has killed more than 1,000 and wounded many more. While USAID says the money goes toward humanitarian assistance, lawmakers and analysts have warned for some time that American investments in the territory could be stolen by Hamas and used to fund its terrorism campaign against the Jewish state. Hamas's strict control over the territory means that aid groups operate within its confines.
When President Joe Biden took office in 2021, the United States began pumping millions into the Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip. America spent "at least $5.5 million in Gaza" that year on "cash assistance and health care" programs, as well as donating $90 million to a United Nations organization that operates in the area, according to the Associated Press.
In mid-2022, the Biden administration announced an additional $316 million aid package for the Palestinians, including projects in the Gaza Strip that included building 4G wireless networks.
Between 2021 to 2024, the Biden administration is slated to spend "over $500 million in programming to support the Palestinian people," including those in Gaza, according to separate USAID funding documents. This includes "wastewater management [programs] in both the West Bank and Gaza," as well various aid projects targeting "vulnerable populations in the West Bank and Gaza."
Other programs allowed the administration to spend "up to $250 million over five years to advance peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians to enable a sustainable two-state solution."
It is unclear how much of this money was spent directly in the Gaza Strip, and USAID has not reported firm figures breaking down the funding.
The money was allocated even as the State Department privately expressed concerns that aid dollars could be stolen by Hamas and other terror groups, the Washington Free Beacon reported earlier this year.
In communications from 2021, State Department officials decided to pursue a sanctions waiver that would have allowed it to skirt anti-terrorism measures and begin pumping aid into the Palestinian territories.
"We assess there is a high risk Hamas could potentially derive indirect, unintentional benefit from U.S. assistance to Gaza. There is less but still some risk U.S. assistance would benefit other designated groups," the State Department wrote in a draft sanctions exemption request circulated internally in March 2021, shortly after Biden took office. "Notwithstanding this risk, State believes it is in our national security interest to provide assistance in the West Bank and Gaza to support the foreign policy objectives."
At the time, the State Department was publicly sidestepping concerns the aid could be stolen by Hamas.