IDF’s Southern Command chief goes to Qatar to reduce tensions with Gaza

Maj.-Gen. Herzl Halevi made a similar visit in February with Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen.

 Buildings are seen from across the water in Doha, Qatar (photo credit: REUTERS)
Buildings are seen from across the water in Doha, Qatar
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The head of the IDF’s Southern Command led an Israeli delegation to Qatar to reduce tensions with the Gaza Strip and restore a sense of quiet to the South.
According to London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, Maj.-Gen. Herzl “Herzi” Halevi flew to Doha on Monday along with other officials from the IDF, Shin Bet, Mossad, and National Security Council to convince Hamas leaders abroad to intervene to prevent a military escalation.
While Egypt has been playing the main role in mediating the crises, the report said the IDF wants to see Qatar play a larger role in mediating, and not just send financial aid to the group.
Qatar is the main financial provider to Gaza, periodically sending millions of dollars to Hamas every month for the past two years with Israel’s approval to pay for fuel for the Strip’s power plant, as well as to pay the salaries of the group’s civil servants and provide aid to tens of thousands of families.
Doha first began sending $5 million per month, later increasing it to $10m. and then to $20m. This year it started sending $30m. According to reports, Hamas is demanding another increase, $40m. every month in cash on a regular basis, to extend to a “pre-determined long-term period of time.”
Halevi made a similar visit in February when he flew to Doha on a visit with Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, which lasted less than a day.
During the visit, the two met with Qatari envoy to the Gaza Strip Mohammed al-Emadi and Qatari national security adviser Mohammed Bin Ahmed al-Misnad, reportedly “begging” the Qataris to keep sending money to Gaza.
Doha is also making great efforts to prevent an escalation between Israel and Hamas, “conducting intensive talks on the highest level with the goal of preventing an escalation, and to protect the residents of Gaza from more crises and blows,” Emadi said.
The report came as tensions continue to rise, with the IDF attacking targets belonging to Hamas every night for close to two weeks.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited an Iron Dome battery deployment site in Israel’s southern region on Monday alongside Commander of the IAF Air Defense Division, Brig.-Gen. Ran Kochav.
During his visit, Gantz spoke with soldiers on staff and was briefed on the division’s operations.

Early Monday, Israeli jets, tanks, and drones attacked Hamas posts and underground infrastructure in response to the continued launching of incendiary and explosive balloons, which caused 28 fires on Sunday.
Though rescue services say most of the fires were small and did not pose a danger to human life, they have destroyed dozens of hectares of brush.
Groups in the Strip have responded by firing rockets toward the South, injuring several Israelis and causing the IDF to deploy additional Iron Dome batteries.