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Explainer

Where do the billions of dollars in foreign aid to Gaza really go?

From 2014 to 2020, UN agencies spent close to $4.5 billion in the Strip, including $600 million in 2020 alone

A Palestinian man receives financial aid at a supermarket in Gaza City on September 15, 2021 as part of the UN's Humanitarian Cash Assistance program, supported by the state of Qatar. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
A Palestinian man receives financial aid at a supermarket in Gaza City on September 15, 2021 as part of the UN's Humanitarian Cash Assistance program, supported by the state of Qatar. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

The international community has sent billions of dollars in aid to the Gaza Strip in recent years to provide relief to the more than 2 million Palestinians living in the isolated, Hamas-ruled territory.

The aid is intended to ease the burden on civilians of the Egyptian and Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza when Hamas seized power of the Strip in 2007. Israel closely supervises aid to try to ensure it bypasses the terror group. But the Hamas-run government benefits from foreign countries footing the bill for schools, hospitals and infrastructure, allowing it to conserve its own resources, including the taxes and customs it collects.

Here’s a look at the main forms of international aid to Gaza:

— From 2014-2020, UN agencies spent nearly $4.5 billion in Gaza, including $600 million in 2020 alone. More than 80% of that funding is channeled through the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, who make up three-fourths of Gaza’s population. Some 280,000 children in Gaza attend schools run by UNRWA, which also provides health services and food aid.

— Qatar has provided $1.3 billion in aid to Gaza since 2012 for construction, health services and agriculture. That includes $360 million pledged in January for 2021 and another $500 million pledged for reconstruction after the war in May. Qatar’s aid also goes to needy families and to help pay Hamas government salaries.

— The Palestinian Authority says it will spend $1.7 billion on Gaza this year, mainly on salaries for tens of thousands of civil servants who stopped working when Hamas took over in 2007.

Palestinians attend a rally marking the 34th anniversary of Hamas movement’s founding, in Gaza City, Friday, Dec. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

— Egypt pledged $500 million in aid after the May war, but it’s unclear how much has materialized. It sent construction crews to clear rubble over the summer.

— Germany and other European countries will spend nearly 70 million euros ($80 million) on water projects in Gaza this year, in addition to their contributions to UNRWA.

— The US has spent at least $5.5 million in Gaza this year on cash assistance and health care, in addition to contributing $90 million to UNRWA operations in Gaza and the West Bank.

— Israel is granting work permits to 10,000 Gazans who undergo security vetting, providing a crucial source of income for families with no known connection to Hamas.

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