Qatari envoy reportedly crosses into Gaza Strip

Qatari envoy reportedly crosses into Gaza Strip

Mohammed al-Emadi scheduled to discuss cash disbursements for needy families, infrastructure projects, as tensions between Israel and terror groups spiral

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

Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi reportedly crossed into Gaza early Friday morning.

Emadi entered the Strip at the Erez border crossing in northern Gaza, according to Palestinian media reports.

His visit comes as tensions spike between Israel and Gaza-based terror groups. Rockets were fired at Israel from the enclave late Wednesday, early Thursday, and last weekend, prompting Israeli reprisal attacks. Late Thursday night, Israel Defense Forces soldiers fired at and injured a Palestinian man who threw grenades at them across the border in northern Gaza. Earlier this month saw several attempted infiltrations into Israel.

Israel has allowed Qatar to deliver regular infusions of millions of dollars in cash to the Strip to help stabilize the territory and prevent a humanitarian collapse and further violence.

Emadi was reportedly set to oversee the disbursement of another $25 million in $100 bills to needy families, and to discuss infrastructure projects funded by the Gulf emirate in the Strip.

Emadi’s visit, which was set to last for a number of days, will “follow up on the Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee’s work and projects in the Gaza Strip as well as follow up on the payment of Qatari grants to poor families” in the coastal enclave, according to a Monday report from the Gaza-based news site Sawa.

The IDF launches flares near the border east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 22, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Hamas on Tuesday reportedly issued a direct threat to escalate the violence along the Gaza-Israel border if Israel hindered the entry of the Qatari cash into the Strip and failed to increase the supply of electricity.

The threat was published in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar on Tuesday morning and repeated warnings by Hamas and other Gazan terror groups that the blockaded Palestinian enclave was on the verge of an “explosion.”

“The factions have given the interlocutors a direct threat [to pass along to Israel]: If the enemy does not implement the understandings, allowing entry of the Qatari funds and increasing the quantity of electricity by this weekend, they will move to escalate on the ground,” an unnamed Hamas source told the newspaper.

Gaza has faced severe electricity shortages under a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade, which grew more severe after 2014, when an Egyptian crackdown against Hamas all but sealed the enclave’s border with the Sinai Peninsula. Israeli officials say that the restrictions are in place to prevent Hamas and other terrorist groups from smuggling weapons into the Strip

It’s not clear why Hamas was demanding that Israel allow the Qatari funds to enter the Strip, as there were no reports that Israel was planning to prevent the visit.

Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations have recently played key roles in brokering informal ceasefires between Israel and Gaza, which have largely entailed Hamas and other terror groups halting violence in the border area in exchange for the Jewish state scaling back some of the restrictions it has imposed on the coastal enclave.

Hamas, however, has frequently accused Israel of dragging its feet in implementing the informal agreements.

Analysts say that Hamas is desperately trying to prevent another round of hostilities with Israel in light of the Qatari money flowing into the Strip along with new reported plans to rebuild Gazan infrastructure.

Israel on Thursday blamed the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad for the recent increase in violence from the Gaza Strip and called for Hamas, the de facto ruler of the enclave, to rein in the rival terror group.

Fighters from the Al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Jihad terror group’s military wing, take part in a military march in the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on November 15, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

An IDF spokesperson said Islamic Jihad was responsible for any failure to implement the conditions of ceasefire agreements and that it will “suffer the consequences” for these activities.

The Islamic Jihad is the second most powerful terror group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas. Israel has routinely accused the Iran-backed group of seeking to derail its unofficial ceasefire agreements with Hamas by carrying out attacks from Gaza.

Hamas, an Islamic terror that seeks to destroy Israel, seized control of Gaza from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in a 2007 bloody coup. Israel holds Hamas responsible for preventing attacks from the Strip.

Hamas has sought to distance itself from the cross-border attacks over the past month, painting the perpetrators as young lone-wolf Palestinian attackers exasperated by the humanitarian situation in the enclave.

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