Gaza banks start handing out small Qatari grants to impoverished families

Doha envoy says only 60,000 will receive payouts, not 100,000 as he said on Sunday

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

Palestinians receive financial aid from Qatar at a post office in Gaza City, June 20, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinians receive financial aid from Qatar at a post office in Gaza City, June 20, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Postal banks in the Gaza Strip started on Thursday morning to distribute small grants of money from Qatar to impoverished Palestinian families, according to Palestinian news sites.

Photos posted on Sawa, a Gaza-based news outlet, showed long lines of Palestinians at the banks, queuing to receive their payouts.

Families in the Strip have been waiting since Sunday for the money to be distributed, after Mohammed al-Emadi, a Qatari envoy who heads the Gaza Reconstruction Committee, entered the impoverished enclave with at least $10 million.

Emadi said Sunday that 100,000 needy families would receive the payouts, in the form of a $100 bill, but on Wednesday he amended the number of recipients to 60,000.

He also said that the funds Qatar initially allocated for the remaining 40,000 families, $4 million, will instead go to “executing other sustainable projects that will be announced in the future.”

A spokesman for the Gaza Reconstruction Committee did not respond to phone calls.

Emadi said that the decision to reallocate some of the funds was made following consultations with “the ministries and relevant parties” and as a part of an effort “to achieve the maximum benefit from the Qatari grant,” without elaborating.

He said in a statement on Monday that unspecified “technical issues” had delayed the distribution of the small grants.

Mohammed al-Emadi (C), chairman of Qatar’s National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, arrives for a press conference in Gaza City on January 25, 2019. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

The Hamas-run Communications Ministry in Gaza said in a statement on Wednesday that postal banks would distribute the small Qatari grants to impoverished families on Thursday, Sunday, Monday and Wednesday between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The ministry also posted a link on its website where Palestinian families can check whether they were selected to receive a $100 bill.

During the Qatari envoy’s last trip to Gaza in mid-May, postal banks distributed $100 grants to tens of thousands of Palestinian families.

At the conclusion of that trip, Emadi told journalists in Gaza City that Doha would continue to provide “monetary support to the poor and modest families for a period of six months,” noting that it would come from the $180 million the Gulf state had pledged to send to the Strip a week before.

Palestinians receive financial aid from Qatar at a post office in Gaza City, June 20, 2019.
(Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Qatar announced on May 6 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.

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.

Qatar has agreed to provide the grants to impoverished families in Gaza as a part of recent ceasefire understandings between Israel and terror groups in the Strip. Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seeks to destroy Israel, seized control of Gaza in 2007 in a violent coup against the Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed