The Jerusalem Post

US official: Hamas won’t get Gaza’s cash


WASHINGTON – The US will provide assistance to Gaza “through trusted, vetted, independen­t partners who distribute directly to the people in need, not through Hamas,” the acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs vowed on Tuesday.

Speaking at a panel discussion at the Wilson Center, Joey Hood said the US is working through various regional actors to ensure funding goes to Gaza through transparen­t, legitimate channels.

“If you’ve ever seen the vetting procedures that we and our partners put in place, it’s like a 60-page memo that I got to sign off on every year. Let me tell you, folks, it is intensive,” he said. “Through all of that, we’re providing more than $360 million in assistance to the Palestinia­ns. That includes $38m. in new assistance for humanitari­an efforts in both Gaza and the West Bank. We’re working with Congress to ensure these resources are available as soon as possible.”

According to Hood, that assistance is going to provide emergency shelter, food relief, health care and mental health care.

Speaking about the Israel-Hamas ceasefire, Hood said it mostly held, “but everybody who watches the region knows the situation remains really fragile.”

“Palestinia­n militants are launching incendiary balloons and airborne explosive devices from the Gaza Strip. Israel is responding with airstrikes against Hamas sites,” he noted.

“Fortunatel­y, no one on either side has been injured so far, but if this continues, it’s just a matter of time. We want to reduce the likelihood that this level of conflict happens again. So that’s why we think it’s essential to stabilize Gaza through a humanitari­an response with partners from the United Nations, Egypt, Qatar and others. We’re committed to working with all of them to provide that assistance for recovery efforts. We’re going to support that recovery in partnershi­p with Israel and the Palestinia­n Authority in a way that benefits Palestinia­ns directly but does not benefit Hamas.

“When you look at this unconditio­nal mutual ceasefire, between Israel and the militants based in Gaza, we think it was a function of the intensive but quiet diplomacy of the United States and our partners since the earliest hours of the conflict,” he continued. “We’re grateful to our regional partners, especially [Egyptian] President [Abdel Fattah al-] Sisi and the senior Egyptian officials who played a critical role in all of this. But again, a quiet one. The king of Jordan, the emir of Qatar, also played important roles throughout those 11 days.

“From the beginning, President [Joe] Biden was focused, intensely, on ending the conflict as quickly as possible with as few casualties as possible. Because sadly, we know from past experience that every day the conflict continues, more innocent lives would be lost. And we deplore each one of those innocent deaths.

“What this administra­tion is trying to do is to see – can we just make lives better for people? Can we just stop the dying and then make lives better for people, whether they’re Israeli or Palestinia­ns? That’s going to take a lot of work all on its own.”

Meanwhile, a group of House members arrived for a bipartisan congressio­nal delegation to the Middle East. Congress members joining Rep. Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on the delegation are reps. Ted Deutch, David Cicilline, Andy Barr, Abigail Spanberger, Sara Jacobs, Kathy Manning, Nicole Malliotaki­s, Brad Schneider and French Hill.

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