Gaza's civil servants line up to receive Qatar-funded salaries
AP Photo/Adel Hana
Employees of the Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip began collecting their salaries for a second month Friday, after Qatar pumped more cash into the territory with Israel's blessings.
It came despite a major flareup between Hamas and Israel that saw Avigdor Lieberman resign as Israel's defense minister after accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being soft on the Islamist group.
The cash transfers were first approved by Israel, which disqualified hundreds of Gazans from receiving funds based on connections to Hamas’ military wing.
Qatar, however, reportedly thinks Israel’s ability to prevent the money from reaching the wrong hands is limited.
Hundreds of employees of Hamas government departments waited in long queues outside banks in the Gaza Strip from the early hours.
The Hamas-run finance ministry announced in a statement to local media that the money would be distributed over the next two days, with employees receiving 50 percent of their salaries.
Doaa, a 36-year-old employee at the women's ministry in Gaza, said she came early in the morning to receive her salary.
"This payment helps us to live our life and meet the needs of our children, even if only a little."
In Qatar's operation, a total of $90 million is to be distributed in six monthly installments of $15 million, according to authorities, primarily to cover salaries of officials working for Hamas.
The Qatari payments follows concerns in Doha that the aid could be seen to finance terror, a potential public relations disaster in the US for the Gulf state.
Qatar has reportedly made the donation conditional on the Israeli government publicly expressing its gratitude for the initiative, according to a story published on Thursday in Israeli news site Walla.
The story seem to be corroborated by a statement by Israel's US Ambassador last week, which thanks Qatar for "its efforts to improve the situation in Gaza".
The Government of Israel thanks the UN’s Mladenov, Egypt and Qatar for their efforts to improve the situation in Gaza and hopes that a long term agreement can be reached that will both maintain Israel’s security and enable Gaza’s development.— Amb. Ron Dermer (@AmbDermer) December 4, 2018
A first tranche of $15 million was distributed in November. The second one was brought into Gaza late Thursday by Qatari ambassador to Gaza Mohammad al-Emadim, attending a reception organized by the Hamas administration, according to a Palestinian source, who also provided a breakdown of the sum.
The Qatar envoy to Gaza also met Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
Qatar had previously announced there would be six installments of $15 million, but the package will this time contain $25 million, divided as such: $5 million for salaries, $5 million for unemployment, and $5 million for humanitarian relief.
Another $10 million has been earmarked for electricity and fuel.
The Qatari cash injection is part of an unofficial truce between Hamas and Israel, that was supposed to see an end to months of violent protests along the Gaza-Israel border in exchange for an easing of Israel's crippling blockade of the coastal enclave.
But on November 11, Hamas and Israeli undercover troops had a bloody gun battle following a botched Israeli raid in southern Gaza.
In the following days, Hamas fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response, with the Israeli army striking Hamas targets in Gaza.
A ceasefire two days later ended the violence, but Lieberman, who was opposed to the Qatari money transfer, resigned.
Hamas has controlled Gaza since pushing out rival faction Fatah in a 2007 near civil war.
Fatah civil servants were then instructed not to work, so Hamas has hired around 40,000 additional staff.
Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.
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