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Qatar says third cash installment to reach Gaza in coming days: report

FILE- Palestinian Hamas government employees queue to receive 60 percent of their long-overdue salaries in Gaza City, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. Gaza's Hamas rulers received dollars 15 million from Qatar to help pay the salaries of their civil servants.
AP Photo/Adel Hana

Fifteen million dollars in Qatari funds will arrive in the Gaza Strip this week after the transfer was stalled last week following violent clashes on the coastal enclave's border with Israel, a Qatari diplomat told Reuters.

“Due to the violence on the border, the Israeli government postponed it. The agreement is subject to there not being too much violence, so last Friday they (Israel) approved to do the third tranche,”Qatar's Mideast envoy Mohammad al-Emadi said. 

Unlike the last two installments, Emadi said he will not be personally carrying the cash with him into Gaza and will instead employ a new system. He did not provide further detail.

Israel's government agency coordinating the Qatari fund transfers, COGAT, declined to comment, according to the report.

Earlier on Sunday, Israel's army radio reported the money would in Gaza in coming days following Israel removing objection to the third installment designated for salary payments in the Hamas-run territory.

According to the report, the Qatari funds due at the beginning of January are now on their way after an almost two-week delay. The Qatari emissary will land at Ben-Gurion Airport Sunday or Monday before continuing through to Gaza.

The delayed transfer has led Hamas in recent weeks to threaten escalated violence if Israel did not allow the funds to be delivered, beginning with the weekly protests along the border.

However, last weekend’s protests were relatively stable compared to others, and no Palestinians were killed as a result of IDF fire, which recently has led to retaliatory rocket launches by Hamas.

Unconfirmed Palestinian reports claimed that Hamas on Friday instructed their members not to escalate the situation this week in order to increase the chances that Israel would allow the funds.

The $15 million shipment was delayed hours after a rocket launched from Gaza at the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon.

MAHMUD HAMS (AFP)

Reports attributed to the delay to the rocket fire and fears of escalated tensions, claiming the Israeli government acted to halt the transfer.

However, prior to the rocket launch reports had already been circulating indicating a delay in the funds was possible due to other factors.

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.

In November, Israel agreed to allow the transfer of $90 million in Qatari funds to Gaza to fund the Hamas-run government’s salaries as part of a multilateral agreement.

The deal with Qatar follows recent efforts from the Israeli government to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, including allowing the fuel transfers and salary payments.AP Photo/Adel Hana

A first tranche of $15 million was distributed in November. The second one was brought into Gaza in December 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.

Qatar had previously announced there would be six installments of $15 million, but the December package contained $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.

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