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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

Palestinians slam ‘gangster’ Qatari cash entering Gaza

The Palestinian Authority has been sidelined in the deal to supply new funds for enclave

Palestinian Hamas government employees queue to receive 60 per cent of their long-overdue salaries at the main Gaza Post Office, in Gaza City, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. AP
Palestinian Hamas government employees queue to receive 60 per cent of their long-overdue salaries at the main Gaza Post Office, in Gaza City, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. AP

The Palestinian Authority expressed anger at Qatar’s delivery of millions of dollars to the Gaza Strip on Friday, accusing the official who delivered the funds of doing so like a “gangster”.

Qatar has agreed to send up to $90 million to Gaza over the next six months, with each installment worth $15m, to ease tensions between Hamas and Israel, who have been engaged in cross-border skirmishes for months.

Ahmed Majdalani, a senior Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official, slammed Doha for making the deal without the input of the umbrella group for Palestinians in the West Bank.

He criticised Qatar’s envoy to Gaza, Mohammed Al Emadi, who he said drove the money to Gaza through Israel like a “gangster” and “smuggled the money” into the besieged coastal territory.

“The PLO did not agree to the deal facilitating the money to Hamas that way,” Mr Majdalani, who is close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said.

He said that an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire deal had faltered because of Qatar’s actions.

While Israel sanctioned the deal, some senior ministers criticised the transfer of money into Gaza.

“This is capitulation to terrorism, and in effect Israel is buying short-term calm with money, while severely undermining long-term security,” Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, as quoted in Yediot Aharonot newspaper on Friday.

The cash deal appeared to be aimed at stopping border protests and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces.

But, despite the transfer, clashes continued on Friday. One Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire and 37 others wounded by gunshots, the Gaza Health Ministry said. Rami Qahman, 28, died after being shot east of Rafah in southern Gaza, the ministry added.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2007 and has since fought three years with Israel, the last being in the summer of 2014 when Israeli forces killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, many of them civilians.

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Read more:

Calmer protests along Gaza border after Hamas ceasefire gesture

Hamas agrees to end protests along Israel-Gaza border

Israeli army opens probe into killing of Gaza medic

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Since March 30, Gazans have protested Israel’s crippling siege on the territory at their shared border. Israel restricts Gaza’s land, sea and air space and imposes strict security measures at its people and goods crossings into the enclave.

The weekly rallies were met with Israeli fire. Snipers killed at least 221 Palestinians, many of them unarmed civilians. They also wounded and maimed hundreds more, some that doctors say were intentionally shot in the lower limbs to incapacitate them not temporarily, but in some cases for life.

Israel says the protesters were trying to breach the border and enter Israeli territory. It holds Hamas accountable for the protests and, as its rulers, any actions coming out of Gaza.

The tensions have escalated to the point where fears of a new outbreak of war have been expressed by senior international officials, such as Nikolay Mladenov, the UN envoy to the Middle East peace process.

Qatar has said it will pay money to those wounded in the border protests, as well as $100 each for 50,000 impoverished Gazan families.

In another Israeli-approved deal, Qatar has started buying additional fuel for Gaza's sole power station, allowing planned outages to be reduced to their lowest level in years.