Gaza banks to dole out Qatari cash, but 40,000 cut from recipient list

After initially saying 100,000 families would get $100 each, Gulf official says only 60,000 to get payouts, with other $4 million to go to ‘other sustainable projects’

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

A Palestinian man displays a 100 dollar bill, part of $480 million in aid allocated by Qatar, in Gaza City on May 13, 2019.  (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)
A Palestinian man displays a 100 dollar 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 will start to distribute small Qatari grants to 60,000 impoverished Palestinian families on Thursday, an official from the Gulf emirate said Wednesday.

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, but on Wednesday he stated that the postal banks will only hand out $100 bills to 60,000 poor families.

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 which will be announced in the future.”

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

The Qatari envoy to the Gaza Strip, Mohammed al-Emadi, speaks during a press conference in Gaza City on May 14, 2019. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

Emadi said that the decision to reallocate some of the funds to “sustainable projects” 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 “technical issues” delayed the start of distribution of the small grants.

Both his statements on Monday and Wednesday did not clarify the “technical issues” that he said prevented the handing out of the funds earlier.

The Communications Ministry in Gaza said in a statement 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 Communications 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 Qatari grants to tens of thousands of Palestinian families in the coastal enclave.

At the conclusion of that trip, Emadi told journalists in Gaza City that Doha will 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.

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.

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