Gantz slams Netanyahu over Gaza cash infusion: ‘Deterrence has collapsed’

Late Sunday transfer of $15 million in cash from Qatar to Hamas-ruled territory followed days of violence on the border

A Palestinian man shows his money after receiving his salary in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, November 9, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)
A Palestinian man shows his money after receiving his salary in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, November 9, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced criticism Monday after a fresh infusion of Qatari cash was allowed into the Gaza Strip late the previous day despite ongoing violence emanating from the territory.

“Deterrence has collapsed. Suitcases full of dollars are once again entering Gaza without [Israel] having achieved a political solution that might bring quiet to the south,” charged Blue and White party leader MK Benny Gantz.

“The policy of the Israeli government toward Gazan terror: If you shoot, you’ll get more,” charged Labor party MK Itzik Shmuli. “The government is failing to provide security for residents of the south, but is succeeding in providing dollars to Gaza. Only a combination of military action against Hamas alongside a political initiative to isolate it will bring quiet to the south.”

A Qatari delegation led by envoy Mohammed al-Emadi entered the Gaza Strip late Sunday with a fresh delivery of cash for the enclave, according to Palestinian reports.

The delegation had been expected Saturday, but was reportedly delayed due to discussions with Israeli officials on issues relating to the truce deal aimed at keeping calm along the border.

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz at the Knesset, June 3, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

According to the reports, deputy Qatari ambassador Khaled al-Khardan entered Gaza. Later in the evening he returned to the Erez border crossing, where he was given $15 million in cash to take back into the Strip.

About $10 million of the funds were to be distributed to needy families in Gaza on Monday, while another $5 million are going to fund UN-run employment programs. The cash injections were originally used to pay salaries of Hamas employees, but this was stopped after opposition from Israel.

Another $15 million is reportedly being transferred to Israel to pay for gas to be supplied to Gaza.

Netanyahu has faced criticism in the past for his policy of allowing cash to flow into Hamas-ruled Gaza even as Israeli soldiers and civilians near the territory face incendiary balloons, shooting, violent protests and rockets launched and instigated by Hamas.

Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi (C) leaves a press conference at the Dar al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, on February 19, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

As Israel is now headed to a September election, right-wing politicians who have criticized the policy in the past stayed mum on Monday.

The Sunday cash transfer came on the heels of a fresh surge in violence, including two nights of rocket attacks and retaliatory air force strikes, and a wave of arson balloons sent into Israel last week and over the weekend.

Several thousand Palestinians gathered along the border for weekly protests Friday, with several hundred taking part in violent riots. Rioters threw explosive devices and rocks at IDF troops and tried to storm the fence in one place.

Troops responded with tear gas and live fire in some cases. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 46 people were wounded.

Arson balloons sparked at least seven blazes, including two large ones near Kibbutz Nahal Oz and Kibbutz Kfar Aza. Another fire raged in the Be’eri nature reserve. Firefighting teams and local residents managed to extinguish them, the fire service said.

Israeli Air Force jets carried out multiple airstrikes in the Strip early Friday, hours after a rocket hit a religious school in Sderot in southern Israel, causing damage but no injuries. The military said in a statement that fighter jets and other aircraft attacked “several terror targets, including terror infrastructure in military compounds.”

Damage to a school in Sderot, Israel, after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, Thursday, June 13, 2019. (AP/Tsafrir Abayov)

The rocket attacks led to growing calls among politicians for a major military operation, including assassinating leaders of Hamas.

No Palestinian group has taken responsibility for the attacks, but the Israeli military generally holds Hamas responsible for any violence emanating from the enclave.

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh on Friday told UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov that Hamas did not know who fired rockets at Israel over the previous week, and was conducting an investigation into the launches.

Tensions with Gaza have been steadily rising in recent weeks, with Israel blocking Gazan fishermen from access to the sea in response to incendiary balloons being launched over the border, sparking multiple fires.

Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007 and seeks to destroy Israel, has complained that Israel is not fully implementing an unofficial ceasefire deal between the sides, while Jerusalem has accused Palestinian terror groups of breaching the understandings.

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