Israel allowed $1 billion in aid from Qatar to Gaza over last six years
AP Photo/Adel Hana
From 2012 to 2018, Israel allowed Qatar to funnel some $1.1 billion in aid money to the Gazan-based terror group Hamas, an international organization informed Israel’s security cabinet according to a Haaretz report published Sunday.
Nearly half of the funds went towards investing in infrastructure in the enclave, another 40% for education and healthcare, and the remainder went to Hamas and other groups in the strip.
Hamas also collects an additional 30 million shekels ($8.2 million) in taxes on the fuel Israel sends to Gaza and another 100 million shekels in taxes on imported goods.
Qatar provided some $200 million in aid in 2018 alone after US President Donald Trump cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Palestinians.
The cuts threatened to shutter UNRWA, the international body dedicated exclusively to providing humanitarian assistance to Palestinians throughout the Middle East.
But in January, Qatar signed an agreement to provide $500 million to a number of UN agencies, mostly to UNWRA in order to help 180,000 Gazans and counter the unemployment.
The rise of aid from Qatar stoked concerns that the funds might violate sanctions imposed on Hamas due to the group’s being classified as a terrorist organization, prompting Israel’s Attorney General to call on various government bodies to ensure its legality.
But the gulf country was in fact courted by Israel, Egypt and the UN in order to fill the void left by the Trump administration’s drastic decision that was an apparent attempt to pressure the Palestinians to submit to US-brokered negotiations with Israel.
Last week, Israel’s security cabinet was reportedly informed by defense officials that Gaza’s health system is on the verge of collapse, making it difficult for the IDF to wage military campaigns in the Hamas-run enclave.
The aid from Qatar has been funneled through Israel, which sometimes halts its transfer during times of violent escalation on the border.
Recently Israel postponed the transfer of $15 million in Qatari aid that was expected in Gaza -- the third of six planned tranches, totalling $90 million, in connection with the truce.
The funds have been transferred in the form of wads of cash inside suitcases, since Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas decided to block transfers from Palestinian banks to Hamas as tensions between the factions remain high.
Qatar has also stepped up its funding to other Arab countries in an apparent effort to smooth over diplomatic crises with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt.
In 2017 Arab countries received only $700 million from Qatar in comparison with just $10 million in 2011.
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