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Israel said to believe new round of fighting inevitable

Qatari envoy says cash transfer to Gaza off after PA backs out of deal

Palestinian Authority banks were set to send the money that would fund civil servants in Hamas-ruled Strip, but pulled out fearing exposure to sanctions

Hamas security forces in Gaza City stand guard as employees paid by the Palestinian Authority wait to receive their salaries outside a closed bank, on Thursday, June 5, 2014. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)
Hamas security forces in Gaza City stand guard as employees paid by the Palestinian Authority wait to receive their salaries outside a closed bank, on Thursday, June 5, 2014. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

Qatar’s envoy to Gaza said on Friday that efforts to send aid from his country to the Gaza Strip, including to employees of the Hamas government, were off after the Palestinian Authority backed out of the deal.

Qatar pledged $500 million for Gaza following the May 10-21 conflict that saw heavy bombardments in the Strip and intense rocket fire into Israel.

Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi said that a mechanism agreed earlier in the week where PA banks would transfer the money to Hamas employees was no longer an option.

He said the banks had refused to take part fearing they could be targeted by sanctions for transferring money to a terror group.

The issue of the civil servants had been a sticking point in setting up a mechanism to transfer the money. On Monday al-Emadi said the issue had been resolved “following an agreement by the different parties.”

The collapse of the deal was likely to further inflame tensions between Israel and Hamas, which has frequently stepped up provocations in a bid to pressure Israel to allow in money.

The report came as Channel 12 news quotes sources close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as saying that Israel sees a new round of violence with Hamas as a foregone conclusion — possibly within weeks — and was completing drawing up military plans.

The report said Israel wanted to deal with Hamas on its own terms and at a time of its choosing, and not be drawn into a conflict that would suit the terror group.

Israeli soldiers near the Gaza border near Sderot on August 24, 2021. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

However, the channel’s military analyst downplayed the report, saying Israel was still exploring options to reduce tensions.

Qatari support is considered a crucial lifeline for impoverished Palestinians living in Gaza, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2007, the year the Hamas terror group took power.

Israel, which still allows many goods into the Strip, views the blockade as a necessary measure to keep terror groups from being able to rearm.

Before the latest Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas-led fighters in May, the flow of funds from Qatar was considered vital to maintaining relative calm between the Jewish state and the Islamists.

But Israel has said that it was opposed to a resumption of the funding under the terms that existed before May’s hostilities, claiming that money was being used by armed groups rather than strictly for humanitarian needs.

Palestinians receive their financial aid as part of assistance given by Qatar, at a post office in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on October 6, 2020. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The stalemate appeared to have been resolved late last month when Israel and Qatar announced approval of a new mechanism to distribute the funds, with money transferred directly to individuals by the United Nations.

Under the scheme, Israeli-approved recipients in Gaza will be issued UN credit cards to withdraw the funds, sources familiar with the arrangement have said.

The Qatari envoy to the Gaza Strip, Mohammed al-Emadi, speaks during a press conference in Gaza City, on May 14, 2019. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

But the aid distribution had not yet started and unrest has persisted, with Palestinians staging protests and violent riots along the Gaza-Israel border. An Israeli soldier was shot by a Gaza gunman during a border riot last month and later died of his wounds. Two Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.

A source within Hamas said that a sticking point was its insistence that civil servants employed by the Islamists be allowed to benefit from Qatari aid.

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