Qatari cash arrives in Gaza, but payouts to Palestinians delayed

Mohammed al-Emadi says disbursement of funds to some 100,000 poor families held off due to ‘technical issues’

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)

Some $10 million of Qatari money entered Gaza late Sunday, but by the end of Monday, needy Palestinian families had yet to receive any money, leading to frustration for some.

Doha’s envoy, Mohammed al-Emadi, was in the coastal enclave to disburse the money, which is meant to help poor Palestinian families and keep tensions in the beleaguered Strip from boiling over. Emadi, who frequently liaises with Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and Israel about Gaza, crossed on Sunday into the coastal enclave through the Erez crossing, the sole pedestrian passageway between the Jewish state and the territory.

Emadi told the Qatari satellite broadcaster Al-Jazeera on Sunday that 100,000 poor families will each receive payouts in the form of a $100 bill.

Even though both Emadi and the Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee did not announce that Gaza’s postal banks would distribute the payouts on Monday, many Palestinians queued outside them in hopes of collecting the funds.

Kamal Musbah, 46, told AFP at midday he had been waiting since the early morning outside a postal bank in Gaza City.

“We don’t know anything yet,” he said.

Musbah and around 200 other people erupted with frustration when they were told in the afternoon to return the next day.

Qatar’s point man for the Gaza Strip, envoy, Mohammed Al-Emadi, attends a press conference at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, February 19, 2018. (AP/Khalil Hamra)

An official in the Gaza Reconstruction Committee did not respond to multiple phone calls.

A statement released by Emadi late Monday on the Gaza Reconstruction Committee’s website blamed the delay on “technical issues.”

During the Qatari envoy’s last trip to Gaza in mid-May, postal banks distributed $100 Qatari grants to tens of thousands of Palestinian families in the coastal enclave.

At the conclusion of that trip, Emadi told journalists in Gaza City that Doha will continue to provide “monetary support to the poor and modest families for a period of six months,” noting that it would come from the $180 million the Gulf state had pledged to send to the Strip a week prior.

Qatar announced on May 6 that it would send $480 million to the West Bank and Gaza to “aid the brotherly Palestinian people in obtaining its basic needs.” PA officials later said that Doha would deliver $300 million, primarily in loans, to Ramallah’s accounts and $180 million to Gaza.

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.

A Qatari official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP on Monday that Doha would also provide an additional $15 million for infrastructure projects related to Gaza as well as a UN-supervised cash-for-work program there.

A number of Palestinians in Gaza recently started temporary jobs as a part of the cash-for-work programs.

Hamas officials have said that the Qatari funds for impoverished families and other projects related to Gaza are a part of ceasefire understandings between terror groups in the territory and Israel.

AFP contributed to this report.

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