‘Gaza tensions won’t lead to Hamas-Israel war’ - sources

Hamas urges Qatar to continue cash payments.

Flame and smoke are seen during an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS)
Flame and smoke are seen during an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip
A new round of fighting between Hamas and Israel in the wake of recent tensions between the two sides is unlikely, sources in the Gaza Strip said Monday.
Egyptian, Qatari and United Nations mediators “won’t allow the return of security tensions, particularly in light of current tensions in the Middle East,” people familiar with the matter told the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds.
Hamas, meanwhile, has asked Qatar to continue its financial support to Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip for another six months, the sources said.
The current Qatari cash grants to the Gaza Strip are scheduled to end at the end of September amid fears that the Gulf state will not renew the payments.
The Hamas request to renew the aid came as thousands of families were scheduled to receive $100 from the latest Qatari cash grant. Some 100,000 families from the Gaza Strip have benefited from the grant so far.
The latest Qatari grant arrived in the Gaza Strip on the eve of the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha late last month.
Hamas officials expressed fear that Qatar would halt the payments to the Gaza Strip due to the economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus outbreak.
In March, Qatar agreed, at the request of Hamas, to renew the cash grants for an additional six months. The sources said they had expected Qatar’s positive response.
The sources, however, expressed fear that Qatar may not renew the payments to the Gaza Strip because of its commitment to provide urgent financial aid to Lebanon after last week’s explosion at the Beirut Port.
According to the sources, the resumption of incendiary balloon attacks from the Gaza Strip toward Israel is not related to the Qatari cash grant. “Rather, the balloon attacks are a result of Israel’s failure to ease restrictions imposed on the Gaza Strip,” they said.
Israel was not abiding by understandings reached with Hamas under the auspices of Egypt, Qatar and the UN concerning implementation of various projects, including the construction of a field hospital in the northern Gaza Strip and a water desalination project, the sources said.
The Israeli government was evading the understandings, they said, “although it tried to provide some facilities with regard to the introduction of international aid to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the Gaza Strip.”
Contacts are underway with Egypt, Qatar and the UN to resume implementation of the projects in the Gaza Strip, the sources added.
The recent tension, including the firing of incendiary balloons toward Israel, was part of an effort by Hamas to ensure the continuation of the Qatari financial aid, said Hassan Asfour, a former Palestinian Authority minister from the Gaza Strip. He accused Hamas of “tampering with the security of the Gaza Strip and exposing it to a new [Israeli] aggression in order to get money” from Qatar.