Postal banks in the Gaza Strip will start to distribute small Qatari grants to 100,000 impoverished Palestinian families on Sunday, the Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee said on Friday.
Mohammed al-Emadi, a Qatari envoy who heads the committee, crossed into Gaza in the early hours Thursday morning.
In the past year, the banks have distributed $100 Qatari grants several times to tens of thousands of needy families in the coastal enclave.
Israel has allowed Qatar to deliver regular infusions of millions of dollars in cash to the Strip to help stabilize the territory and prevent a humanitarian collapse and further violence.
This week’s payment to 100,000 families marks an increase in the number of beneficiaries over the last two payments, when 60,000 families received disbursements.
The increase was aimed at “lessening the burden on the people of the Gaza Strip in light of the difficult humanitarian situation that it is living,” the committee said on its website.
The statement added that the disbursement comes as students in Gaza’s schools and universities were set to begin their school year.
The recipients were chosen by the committee in coordination with the Social Development Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, and the distribution process was scheduled to take several days.
Emadi’s visit was set to last for a number of days and would include discussions on infrastructure projects funded by the Gulf emirate in the Strip.
His visit comes as tensions spike between Israel and Gaza-based terror groups. Rockets were fired at Israel from the enclave late Wednesday, early Thursday, and last weekend, prompting Israeli reprisal attacks. Late Thursday night, Israel Defense Forces soldiers fired at and injured a Palestinian man who threw grenades at them across the border in northern Gaza. Earlier this month saw several attempted infiltrations into Israel.
On Friday thousands of Palestinians protested along the border between Gaza and Israel, with some rioters taking part in violent clashes with Israeli troops. Some 8,500 Palestinians took part in the protests, one of the highest turnouts in recent months.
A number of the protesters threw explosives, grenades and Molotov cocktails at Israeli troops. The army responded with tear gas and occasional live fire. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said 122 Palestinians were wounded in the clashes, 50 of them from Israeli fire.
Hamas on Friday praised the perpetrators of a bombing in the West Bank that claimed the life of a 17-year-old Israeli girl and seriously injured her father and brother.
Gaza’s second largest terror group, Islamic Jihad, said the attack was “a natural response to the actions of occupation forces and settler gangs against the Palestinian people.” It said “resistance lives and is expanding… will continue to escalate as long as the aggression against our people continues.”
Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations have recently played key roles in brokering informal ceasefires between Israel and Gaza, which have largely entailed Hamas and other terror groups halting violence in the border area in exchange for the Jewish state scaling back some of the restrictions it has imposed on the coastal enclave.
Hamas, however, has frequently accused Israel of dragging its feet in implementing the informal agreements.
Analysts say that Hamas is desperately trying to prevent another round of hostilities with Israel in light of the Qatari money flowing into the Strip along with new reported plans to rebuild Gazan infrastructure.
Israel on Thursday blamed the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad for the recent increase in violence from the Gaza Strip and called for Hamas, the de facto ruler of the enclave, to rein in the rival terror group.
An IDF spokesperson said Islamic Jihad was responsible for any failure to implement the conditions of ceasefire agreements and that it will “suffer the consequences” for these activities. Israel has routinely accused the Iran-backed group of seeking to derail its unofficial ceasefire agreements with Hamas by carrying out attacks from Gaza.
Hamas, an Islamic terror that seeks to destroy Israel, seized control of Gaza from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in a 2007 bloody coup. Israel holds Hamas responsible for preventing attacks from the Strip.
Hamas has sought to distance itself from the cross-border attacks over the past month, painting the perpetrators as young lone-wolf Palestinian attackers exasperated by the humanitarian situation in the enclave.
Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.