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Gazan banks hand out fresh round of Qatari grants to poor families

Doha says $100 bills will be distributed to 75,000 families; Qatar’s envoy says payouts to continue through March and likely afterward

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

Palestinians receive financial aid as part of $480 million allocated for assistance by Qatar, at a post office in Gaza City on May 19, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinians receive financial aid as part of $480 million allocated for assistance by Qatar, at a post office in Gaza City on May 19, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Postal banks in the Gaza Strip started to distribute the latest installment of small grants from Qatar on Tuesday morning to impoverished Palestinian families, Palestinian news sites based in the coastal enclave reported.

In the past year, the banks have distributed such Qatari grants several times to tens of thousands of needy families in the small territory.

Doha has agreed to provide the grants to poor families in Gaza as part of recent ceasefire understandings between Israel and terror groups in the Strip, including Hamas.

Photos posted by the Hamas-linked Palestinian Information Center’s Twitter account showed lines of Palestinians at the banks, waiting to receive their payouts.

Mohammed al-Emadi, the head of the Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee, said in a statement on Sunday that 75,000 needy families would receive payouts in the form of a $100 bill, starting on Tuesday.

During the past several months, the Reconstruction Committee has announced varying numbers of beneficiaries of the grants. For example, in May, it said it would give 109,000 poor families in Gaza payouts; in June, it said it would grant funds to 60,000 needy families.

An official in the Reconstruction Committee, who spoke on condition of anonymity in late November, said that the number of beneficiaries has fluctuated based on “the decision of the [Qatari] ambassador,” without elaborating.

The Hamas-run Communications Ministry in Gaza said on Monday that postal banks would distribute the Qatari grants to impoverished families over most of the next several days between 8 a.m. and 2:30 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.

The beginning of the distribution of the latest round of the grants comes after Emadi visited Gaza last week.

During his stay in the Strip, he told reporters that Qatar would provide monthly grants to impoverished families through March and likely would continue to do so afterward.

Since October 2018, Qatar has also spent millions of dollars every month to pay for fuel to power Gaza’s sole power plant.

Emadi, who has frequently visited Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, maintains contacts with the the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, the coastal enclave’s Hamas rulers and Israeli officials.

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 and their descendants.

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