Banks in Gaza start handing out Qatari grants to impoverished Palestinians
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Banks in Gaza start handing out Qatari grants to impoverished Palestinians

Under the supervision of Doha’s Gaza Reconstruction Committee, 109,000 families in the Strip are slated to receive $100 payouts

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

A Palestinian man holds a $100 bill, part of $480 million in aid allocated by Qatar, in Gaza City on May 13, 2019. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
A Palestinian man holds a $100 bill, part of $480 million in aid allocated by Qatar, in Gaza City on May 13, 2019. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

Postal banks in the Gaza Strip started to hand out small Qatari grants to impoverished families Monday morning, according to an official in Doha’s Gaza Reconstruction Committee.

The distribution of the funds commenced hours after Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi, who frequently liaises with Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Israel about Gaza, arrived in the coastal enclave through the Erez crossing, the sole pedestrian passageway between the Jewish state and the territory.

Under the supervision of the Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee, 109,000 poor families were each slated to receive payouts in the form of a $100 bill, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Times of Israel, adding that the distribution process could last several days.

Qatar announced last week that it would send $480 million to the West Bank and Gaza to “aid the brotherly Palestinian people in obtaining its basic needs.” PA officials later said that Doha would deliver $300 million, primarily in loans, to Ramallah’s accounts and $180 million to Gaza.

Asked whether the funds for the needy families entered Gaza through a bank transfer or by land, the official declined to comment.

Qatar’s ambassador to Gaza Mohammed al-Emadi speaks during a press conference with UN Special Coordinator for the United Nations for the peace process in the Middle East, in Gaza City, on July 11, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

In the past nine months, Qatar has distributed $100 grants to needy families a number of times.

Fifty-three percent of Palestinians in Gaza live in poverty, a June 2018 United Nations report said. Eighty percent depend on international aid, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency, the main international organization that provides health, education and other services to Palestinian refugees.

Last week, a senior Gaza-based official said that Israel consented to the transfer of Qatari funds into the Strip geared toward grants for impoverished families, salaries of Hamas-appointed civil servants and UN-supervised projects.

“These are all matters that Israel agreed to two months ago, but evaded implementing,” the official, who is a senior politician, told The Times of Israel at the time, adding that the Jewish state also agreed to the continued entry of Qatari-bought fuel into the Strip.

The official said Israel approved the transfer of funds as a part of a ceasefire agreement with terror groups in Gaza, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

A picture taken from the southern Israeli village of Netiv Haasara shows rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on May 4, 2019. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)

After two days of intense fighting earlier in May in which terror groups launched over 650 rockets at southern Israel and the Israel Defense Forces carried out more than 300 retaliatory strikes throughout Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced that Egypt and other international parties had successfully brokered a truce deal.

Over the past several months, Israel has at times permitted Qatar to distribute funds to poor families as well as Hamas-appointed government employees. It has also allowed for Qatari-purchased fuel to enter Gaza since October 2018 to power the Strip’s sole power plant.

The Palestinian politician, however, said on Sunday he was now uncertain whether the funds would be given to the Hamas-appointed government employees. “The funds will go to poor families and cash-for-work projects, but it is now unclear whether they will contribute to the employee salaries,” he said in a phone call.

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