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Qatar raises annual aid to Gaza to $360 million

Increase said to be around 50 percent, although no official statistics available; Qatari envoy al-Emadi enters Hamas-run enclave to announce new aid projects

Palestinians receive their $100 financial aid as part of the aid allocated by Qatar to poor families, through a post office, in the town of Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip, on December 3, 2020. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinians receive their $100 financial aid as part of the aid allocated by Qatar to poor families, through a post office, in the town of Khan Yunis, southern Gaza Strip, on December 3, 2020. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Qatar will raise its yearly aid to Gaza to $360 million, the conservative Gulf monarchy’s government announced on Sunday.

“This grant…will be used to pay employees’ salaries, provide financial aid to needy families, and operate power stations to limit the worsening of the humanitarian situation, and difficult living conditions in the Strip,” the Qatari government said in a statement carried by its state-owned mouthpieces.

No official figures on the total sum from last year were available, although some Palestinian media sites claimed that around $240 million was handed out by Doha in 2020.

Hamas officials announced the increase in mid-January, but Qatari authorities did not confirm the budget boost until Sunday.

With Israel’s approval, Qatar since 2018 has periodically provided millions of dollars in cash to Gaza’s Hamas rulers to pay for fuel for the Strip’s power plant, allow the group to pay its civil servants, and provide aid to tens of thousands of impoverished families.

Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh hailed what he deemed a “fraternal blessing” from the Qatari regime.

“This support is an extension of the faithful position of the State of Qatar in easing the siege on our people in Gaza, and toward the Palestinian people in general. It proves the depth of the ties between the Palestinian and Qatari peoples,” Haniyeh said in a statement.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh attends a meeting with foreign reporters at al-Mat’haf hotel in Gaza City, June 20, 2019. (AP Photo/ Adel Hana)

As part of the announcement, Qatari envoy Mohammad al-Emadi arrived in the Gaza Strip on Sunday night to unveil a new series of Qatar-backed aid projects in the coastal enclave. Al-Emadi, who regularly travels between Israel, Doha, and the Gaza Strip, has served as an unofficial broker between the three sides.

According to Palestinian media reports, al-Emadi is scheduled to lay the foundation stone for a new hospital in Rafah, as well as dispense $10 million worth of aid to poor Gazan families.

Hamas, a terror organization that avowedly seeks to destroy Israel, has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, when it wrested control of the enclave from its rival Fatah after a bloody series of clashes. Since Hamas’s takeover, Israel and Egypt have imposed a strict blockade on Gaza, which has had a devastating impact on the Strip’s economy.

Israel says that blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas from massively arming itself with deadly weaponry.

Demands for Qatar to renew its aid have reportedly been at the root of several rounds of escalation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas, with the Gaza rulers hoping that Israel will pressure Doha into increasing the sum it sends to the coastal enclave.

While Israel does not have official relations with Qatar, which allegedly also enjoys close ties to Iran and Hezbollah, Israeli officials quietly support the continuation of Qatari aid to the Gaza Strip as a means of relieving the enclave’s humanitarian crisis.

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