Qatar leader promises Hamas emergency aid for struggling Gaza

Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani phones terror group chief Ismail Hanieyh, pledges $9 million to buy fuel for medical centers

Khaled Abu Toameh is the Palestinian Affairs correspondent for The Times of Israel

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani attends the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit at Bayan palace in Kuwait City on December 5, 2017. (Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani attends the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit at Bayan palace in Kuwait City on December 5, 2017. (Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

The emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on Thursday phoned Hamas terror group leader Ismail Hanieyh and promised urgent aid to the Gaza Strip.

Al Thani affirmed that Qatar would continue to support the Palestinian people and construction projects in the Gaza Strip, according to media reports in Qatar.

The emir also pledged to provide the Gaza Strip with fuel, especially for hospitals and medical centers.

It was the first phone conversation between a world leader and Haniyeh after the US’s recent decision to add the Hamas leader to its global terror blacklist.

In this file photo taken on January 23, 2018 Hamas’ leader Ismail Haniyeh delivers a speech in Gaza City on January 23, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

The Qatari emir has also instructed his government to provide the Gaza Strip with medicine, food and fuel worth $9 million dollars, the Qatari newspaper Al Arab said.

The paper said that the decision came in wake of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and appeals issued by United Nations agencies.

Haniyeh was quoted as thanking the Qatari emir in person and on behalf of the residents of the Gaza Strip for the emirate’s ongoing support for the Palestinians.

Haniyeh briefed the emir on the “critical humanitarian conditions faced by the people of Gaza as a result of the ongoing siege of the territory and the resultant fuel shortage,” according to the Qatari News Agency.

Palestinians collect aid parcels at a United Nations food distribution center in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, January 28, 2018. (SAID KHATIB/AFP)

On Wednesday, the UN warned that the Gaza Strip’s emergency fuel supplies would run out in 10 days.

The UN said that $6.5 million was needed for the purchase 7.7 million liters of emergency fuel in 2018 to stave off a collapse of services.

“Immediate donor support is urgent to ensure that vulnerable Palestinians in Gaza can access life-saving health, water and sanitation services,” said UN official Roberto Valent.

“Hospitals have already begun to close. Without funding, more service providers will be forced to suspend operations over the coming weeks, and the situation will deteriorate dramatically, with potential impacts on the entire population. We cannot allow this to happen.”

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