Israel facilitates transfer of NIS 300 million to Gaza… in cash

$82 million from Gulf countries, EU sent via Israeli border crossing to Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave

A photo aired by Channel 2 showing a portion of some NIS 300 million in cash ready for tranfer to Gaza, March 20, 2017. (Channel 2)
A photo aired by Channel 2 showing a portion of some NIS 300 million in cash ready for tranfer to Gaza, March 20, 2017. (Channel 2)

Israel on Monday facilitated the transfer of some NIS 300 million ($82 million) — in cash — to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The money, funds from Gulf countries and the European Union, is intended for the salaries of some 50,000 Palestinian Authority government employees in the Palestinian enclave, Channel 2 reported.

A report aired on Channel 2 showed the cash wrapped in large plastic bags ready for transfer via an unnamed border crossing under heavy security.

Israel has reportedly agreed to several such payments, including one last summer by Qatar of 113 million Saudi riyal ($31 million) for salaries. Over the past several years, government employees in Gaza have generally been receiving a third to half of their salaries, given how cash-strapped Hamas found itself after Egypt’s crackdown on tunnels in 2013.

This marked a drastic shift in policy from 2014, when a similar plan presented by then-UN envoy to the region Robert Serry was struck down by then-Israel foreign minister Avigdor Liberman.

The salaries crisis is said to be one of the key reasons Hamas escalated tensions with Israel in the summer of 2014, leading to a full-blown war that claimed the lives of some 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis.

During the 51-day war that summer, Israel turned down a ceasefire proposal — conveyed, via US Secretary of State John Kerry — by Hamas’s Doha bureau that would have resolved the wage crisis in the Strip.

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