Qatar gives $15M to Hamas
GAZA, Palestinian Territory — Gaza’s Hamas rulers lauded on Friday what they described as a gain of their weekly protests along Gaza-Israel perimeter fence, which have often turned deadly, after receiving $15 million from Qatar to help pay the salaries of the territory’s civil servants.
“Today, we see some fruits of the protests — the partial breaking of the siege on Gaza,” Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, told reporters at a protest in east Gaza City, referring to the grant. “We are still waiting for the implementation of all other understandings.”
Since March, the Islamic militant group has orchestrated weekly demonstrations along the fence, in large part against a blockade Israel and Egypt imposed when it seized Gaza in 2007. Qatar, Egypt and the UN, acting as go-betweens for Hamas and Israel, intensified their shuttle diplomacy in recent weeks after a war between Hamas and Israel appeared imminent.
The Qatari grant is part of indirect Hamas-Israel understandings to improve living conditions for Gaza’s 2 million people and subsequently scale down the border protests, in which 170 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier have been killed since they began in March.
The closure squeezed Hamas financially. Recent budget cuts by the West Bank-based administration of President Mahmoud Abbas have worsened the situation for Gaza’s rulers, preventing them from paying complete salaries to their 40,000 employees.
But on Thursday, a Qatari envoy brought the money through Israel in three suitcases. It was the first instalment of $90 million that Qatar has pledged to cover salaries and other humanitarian operations for six months.