Qatar gives $15M to Ha­mas

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - WORLD - FARES AKRAM

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.

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