Hamas OKs Israel, Qatar agreement on grants for humanitarian purposes

The Ministry of Social Affairs in Gaza announced the beginning of payments from Qatar to about 100,000 needy families in the Gaza Strip.

Gazan citizens line up to receive their Qatari grant for humanitarian aid (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gazan citizens line up to receive their Qatari grant for humanitarian aid
(photo credit: Courtesy)
An agreement allowing Qatar to transfer funds designated for humanitarian projects in the Gaza Strip was reached between Israel and Qatar Saturday, Israeli sources told The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Maariv. Despite reports to the contrary, the sources said that Hamas also approved the agreement.
The deal was negotiated by the IDF's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj.Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, and the Qatari ambassador, Mohammed al-Emadi.
The Hamas Ministry of Social Affairs began distributing the funds from Qatar to needy families in Gaza on Saturday.
According to the Qatari ambassador's statement, his country will transfer $9.4 million to needy families, 94,000 total, of whom 44,000 will receive the $100 payments today. The families will receive the assistance each month for four months.
The families were called in alphabetical order to receive their payments from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. today. The distribution of grants will continue tomorrow at the same time.
Already in the morning, hundreds of Palestinians crowded local post offices, lining up to receive the funds. Families' reactions range from thanks to Qatar for the help, to anger at the public humiliation suffered by poverty-stricken families for such a small sum.
In the meantime, Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Ashraf al-Qaydara sharply criticized donor countries supporting health care in Gaza. He said that humanitarian donors are ignoring the shortage of hospitals in Gazap and the need for diesel to run generators to maintain electricity.
"This is an urgent need to save the lives of hundreds of people connected to medical devices," al-Qaydara said. "Electricity grants ended last November, and so far no additional grant has been transferred. The Ministry of Health drastically reduced spending. Health services now require 300,000 liters of diesel per month; this is an improvement due to the Qatari grant, instead of 540,000 liters of diesel fuel. Every time electricity is cut, we need 2,000 liters of diesel fuel."
Islamic Jihad also issued a statement Saturday threatening Israel. "Any Zionist attempt to harm the blood of our people, the resistance and the joint command center must respond," the statement said.
The Qatari ambassador said that Qatar is interested in holding elections in the Palestinian Authority and is ready to host reconciliation talks between rival Palestinian factions in order to bring about a "common vision."
"The Qatari grant comes as part of the urgent assistance that the sheikh is giving to the residents of the Gaza Strip, in light of the difficult conditions and on the basis of UN resolutions on the issue," al-Emadi said, rejecting claims that the purpose of the aid transfer is to harm the unity of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza. "There was a rumor that this was an exchange of money for calm, in order to break the Palestinian people and question the right of the factions [to resist], but this is not so. This is money transferred to the Palestinian people to alleviate their distress."
"The aid is humanitarian and is intended to solve the problems of the residents of the Gaza Strip and to bring about stability in the region," the ambassador said. "After Hamas announced that they were not receiving the money under any condition and to remove the pressures from all sides, it was agreed that the grant would be transferred to humanitarian projects in coordination with the UN.
Al-Emadi also referred to the possibility of disturbances near the security fence separating Israel from Gaza, and expressed the hope that, if there are demonstrations, they would be quiet. "The Palestinian people has the right to demonstrate and convey its message to the world, and I hope that the marches will be calm," he said.
This report was translated from Maariv.