Abbas rival oversees UAE medical aid to Gaza

Hamas has allowed Dahlan loyalists to hold political rallies in the Gaza Strip, much to the dismay of Abbas and the PA leadership in the West Bank.

A Hamas militant hands out a protective face mask to a Palestinian boy during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the central Gaza Strip September 12, 2020. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
A Hamas militant hands out a protective face mask to a Palestinian boy during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the central Gaza Strip September 12, 2020.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
While the Palestinian Authority has refused to accept medical aid to combat the spread of the coronavirus from the United Arab Emirates, Hamas has in recent weeks allowed the Gulf state to send medical equipment to the Gaza Strip.
The UAE aid to the Gaza Strip is being coordinated by deposed Fatah operative Mohammad Dahlan, an archrival of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Dahlan, who was born in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, moved to Abu Dhabi 10 years ago after a falling out with Abbas. He previously served as commander of the PA Preventive Security Force in the Gaza Strip.
The medical supplies to the Gaza Strip are seen by some Palestinians as part of Dahlan’s efforts to bolster his standing among Palestinians in a post-Abbas era. Dahlan is also hoping to improve his relations with Hamas, the Palestinians said.
Over the past few years, Hamas has allowed Dahlan loyalists to hold political rallies in the Gaza Strip, much to the dismay of Abbas and the PA leadership in the West Bank.
Abbas has indicated his desire to hold new presidential and parliamentary elections sometime this year. Earlier this week, he said he would set a date for the vote by January 20.
It is not clear at this stage whether Abbas intends to run in the election, if and when they take place.
Backed by Egypt, the UAE and other Arab countries, Dahlan reportedly considers himself a leading candidate to succeed the 85-year-old Abbas. Dahlan currently serves as a special adviser to UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Last year, the PA refused to accept medical aid from the UAE because it was sent through Israel.
Both the PA and Hamas have condemned the UAE for establishing relations with Israel.
On Sunday, a medical aid convoy entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. The convoy was received by several Dahlan loyalists, as well as senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad. It was the second shipment of its kind since the beginning of this year.
The convoy carried signs that emphasized Dahlan’s role in providing the Gaza Strip with medical aid to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Fatah Democratic Reform Current headed by Mohammad Dahlan (Abu Fadi) thanks Egypt and the United Arab Emirates for their unlimited support for our people,” the signs read.
The Dahlan loyalists who received the convoy praised the deposed Fatah official for his efforts to help the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
The UAE shipment included medical gear and an oxygen production plant, as well as ventilators and coronavirus test kits.
In statements published by Dahlan on some of his websites, he announced that more aid would soon be arriving from the UAE to the Gaza Strip.