A Palestinian Hamas-hired civil servant receives her salary paid by Qatar, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip December 7, 2018.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
The Qataris on Saturday began disbursing financial aid to thousands of families in the Gaza Strip. The move came one day after Qatari envoy Mohammed El-Amadi announced that the third tranche of his country’s grant to the Gaza Strip - $15 million - will go to funding various projects in the coastal enclave in cooperation with the United Nations and to supporting impoverished families there.
El-Amadi’s announcement effectively ended a crisis over the Qatari grant, which erupted after Hamas announced last Thursday its refusal to receive the funds.
Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, explained that this movement would not accept a situation where it is exposed to Israeli “political blackmail.”
Hamas, he added, does not want to be part of the Israeli elections campaign. He was referring to the controversy that erupted in Israel over the Security Cabinet’s decision to approve the delivery of the Qatari money to the Gaza Strip after a three-week delay.
Israel allowed the transfer of the funds on Thursday, after holding it up for a number of days because of escalating violence along the Israel-Gaza border.
Thousands of Palestinians converged on post offices throughout the Gaza Strip to receive the payments, which were handed out under the supervision of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, which is headed by El-Amadi.
Each family will receive $400 in four installments, sources in the Gaza Strip said, and that at least 50,000 families will benefit from the Qatari grant. The remainder of the funds will be invested in humanitarian and infrastructure projects, which will be carried out in cooperation with the UN in the next few months.
Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas official based in Lebanon, said on Friday that his movement “will not allow Israel to evade the understandings” regarding the Gaza Strip that were reached under the auspices of Qatar, Egypt and the UN. Hamas, he said, “does not accept blackmail.”
Arouri told Hamas’s Al-Quds TV network that the Gaza Strip was a volcano that was on the verge of eruption against Israel. Hamas has not reached any peace or permanent truce deal with Israel, he added. He also accused Israel of seeking to “impose realities that undermine the understandings” over the Gaza Strip.
Arouri and leaders of several Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip said that the weekly demonstrations near the border
with Israel will continue until the blockade on the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave is lifted.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that his movement’s refusal to receive the Qatari grant was aimed at sending a message to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“The policy of exchanging roles [between Netanyahu and Abbas] to strangulate and blackmail the Gaza Strip will not succeed,” Abu Zuhri said.
Osama Qawassmeh, spokesman for Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, scoffed at Hamas’s refusal to accept the Qatari grant.
“Hamas did not object to the principle of the entry of the funds to the Gaza Strip,” he said. “Rather, Hamas objected to the amount and the humiliating way the money was being delivered.”
According to Qawassmeh, Hamas demanded $20 million instead of the $15 million it was supposed to receive. Hamas, he claimed, also demanded that the funds be delivered to the Gaza Strip away from the attention of the media.
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