Qatar has begun funneling funds to the Gaza Strip via Israel and with US and United Nations approval, bypassing the opposition of the Palestinian Authority, Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar reported Saturday.
The report did not cite sources for its claim.
It said Israel, through the UN, had received Qatari funds for six months of increased fuel to Gaza’s only power plant — which will allow more hours of electricity to the beleaguered Strip — despite the PA’s efforts to thwart the action.
It also said the UN would provide funds to pay three months of salaries to Gaza’s civil servants, and that Israel had agreed in principal to provide permits to 5,000 Gazan merchants to enter its territory for business purposes.
The UN has also informed Hamas of moves to advance construction of a desalination plant in the Strip to tackle the territory’s water problems, Al Akhbar said.
The Haaretz daily reported Thursday that Qatar had agreed to purchase fuel for Gaza under a UN-brokered deal seeking to mitigate the severe energy crisis gripping the Palestinian enclave.
The majority of households in Gaza receive an average of three to four hours of electricity a day. The new funds would double that amount to around eight hours a day.
Israel hopes that alleviating one of Gaza’s worst electricity shortages in recent years will diminish the chances of full-blown military confrontation in the Strip, Haaretz said.
But Palestinian sources later told The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff that the PA had contacted the Israeli gas company that provides diesel fuel to both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and threatened to boycott it and stop all purchases if it transferred the fuel to Gaza. The PA warned it would start buying all its fuel and gas from another country, such as Jordan.
The sources also said PA officials called UN employees in Gaza who were to physically transfer the fuel and threatened that they would pay a “heavy price” if they showed up to work.
A decade-long Israeli and Egyptian blockade imposed since the Hamas terrorist group seized control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority has left the territory with crippling fuel shortages and deteriorating humanitarian conditions.
Israel says the blockade is in place in order to prevent weapons and other military equipment from entering the Strip. Egypt, too, has kept its Gaza border crossing largely closed during several years of sour relations with Hamas.
Gaza’s woes have been exacerbated by US aid cuts and an ongoing dispute between Hamas and the PA, which has cut the salaries it pays to workers in Gaza and imposed various sanctions, including cutting off payments for electricity supplies to the enclave.
Abbas has repeatedly warned that there can be no two separate entities ruling Palestinian lands, stating that if the PA is not handed complete control of the Gaza Strip, Hamas will have to take full responsibility for the territory.
In response to worsening conditions in Gaza, Hamas has increased the pace of violent border demonstrations on the Israeli border.
On Friday three Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy, were reported killed and dozens injured as some 20,000 Palestinians took part in violent clashes.
During the riots, the army said Israeli aircraft struck two Hamas positions in the northern Gaza Strip after Palestinians threw grenades and explosive devices at Israeli troops.
The large-scale protests came as Israel signaled it was rapidly losing patience and willing to go to war to stop the violence, while Gaza’s Hamas rulers vowed to push on with the rallies.