After rocket from Gaza, Qatari cash flow to Hamas said stalled

Hamas official says unclear if third $15 million transfer from Gulf emirate into beleaguered enclave will arrive this month

A Hamas-appointed government employee in Gaza signs a document to receive 50 percent of her long-overdue salary from funds donated by Qatar, while others wait in the queue, at the main Gaza Post Office, in Gaza City, December 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A Hamas-appointed government employee in Gaza signs a document to receive 50 percent of her long-overdue salary from funds donated by Qatar, while others wait in the queue, at the main Gaza Post Office, in Gaza City, December 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Israel has reportedly asked Qatar to delay its monthly delivery of $15 million to the Gaza Strip, after a rocket was fired from the coastal enclave at a southern Israeli city overnight.

According to reports in Hebrew-language media, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defense minister, ordered the fund transfer frozen in the wake of the uptick of cross-border violence.

A Hamas official told The Times of Israel the group doesn’t know if Qatari funds will arrive this week.

“We have only seen the reports in the occupation’s media,” the official, who asked to not be identified, said.

The reports did not cite a source, though some referred to reports in Palestinian media. Palestinian media reports, however, referred to reports in Israeli media as their source.

There was no immediate comment from COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry body that coordinates with the Palestinians.

Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi (C) leaves a press conference at the Dar al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, on February 19, 2018. Hospital workers tried to approach Al-Emadi as he left, but were pushed back by Hamas policemen. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

The Qatari payments began last year as a way of extricating the Strip from a humanitarian crisis amid a spiral of violence.

In the previous two rounds of payments since October, Qatar’s envoy to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Mohammed al-Emadi, has brought $15 million in cash into Gaza for civil servants’ salaries and an aid project.

Both installments came during the first 10 days of the month.

A Palestinian woman counts her money after receiving her salary in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, November 9, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)

The Qatari cash injection is part of an unofficial truce between Hamas and Israel that was supposed to see an end to months of violent protests along the Gaza-Israel border in exchange for an easing of Israel’s blockade of the coastal enclave. Israel maintains the blockade to prevent weapons smuggling by Hamas and other terror groups sworn to Israel’s destruction.

A total of $90 million is to be distributed in six monthly installments of $15 million, according to authorities, primarily to cover salaries of officials working for Hamas.

Israel’s government has offered little information about the transfers, which have been roundly condemned by some on the right who see it as a reward for terror. A picture of money being brought into the Strip in suitcases was widely ridiculed.

A tense calm along the Israel-Gaza border gave way to renewed violence Sunday and Monday, including a rocket fired from the enclave at the southern city of Ashkelon early Monday morning. The missile was intercepted by the Iron Defense system, and the IDF responded with a series of airstrikes against Hamas targets in the Strip.

The rocket launch came hours after the Israeli Air Force struck two Hamas positions in the eastern Gaza Strip in response to an explosive device that was flown into southern Israel earlier Sunday, using a large cluster of balloons and a model drone. There were no injuries in the incident.

A drone-shaped device from the Gaza Strip, borne by dozens of helium balloons, lands in a carrot field in southern Israel on January 6 ,2019. (Courtesy)

Gaza protesters have launched hundreds of incendiary kites and balloons into Israel over the past nine months, sparking fires that have destroyed forests, burned crops, and killed livestock. Thousands of acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials. Some balloons have also carried improvised explosive devices.

Israel holds the Hamas responsible for all attacks coming from Gaza where the terror group, which seeks to destroy Israel, is the de facto ruler after having seized control in 2007 by ousting the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.

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