Hamas has agreed that Israel and the United States will examine the list of families in the Gaza Strip who were chosen to receive a monthly stipend from Qatar as a condition for transferring the money. Israel and the U.S. will ensure that the list of 160,000 families does not include any people who are Hamas activists or suspected of terrorism.
Hamas agreed not just because of the Israeli and American demands, but also because of pressure from the Palestinian banks which will transfer the Qatari money to Gaza, sources involved in the matter said. The banks are afraid they will be exposed to lawsuits if the money reaches members of terrorist organizations.
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Hamas has given up on the idea of a direct transfer of the money, $100 per family, because it understands that any aid will contribute to the stability in the Gaza Strip, a Hamas activist told Haaretz. The banks are under the auspices of the Palestinian Monetary Authority and asked for clarifications on the payment and fees on the transfer of the money. “We know that (Prime Minister Naftali) Bennett wants to be perceived as having broken Netanyahu’s way of operating, who had to deal with the claims he helped Hamas and financed it with cash,” said the activist.
Since the end of Operation Guardian of the Walls in May, Israel and Hamas – with the help of Qatari and international mediation – have been discussing the continuation of the humanitarian aid to Gaza, including the grants to needy families. The Qataris are proposing funding of $10 million to 100,000 families, though the number of families that signed up for the aid is almost 160,000.
Under the mechanism that has been set, some of the families that receive support will change every four months. As opposed to previous rounds, in which the families received the money in cash or through post office branches, Qatar will now issue a special card to be used to withdraw the money.
All the negotiations over the grants are expected to be completed within a week or two, say sources in Gaza, with the goal of having the aid operation working normally every month.
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that as opposed to the grants to the needy families, no understandings have been reached over the payment of salaries to 27,000 government employees that Hamas has appointed in the Gaza Strip since 2007, and the Palestinian Authority does not recognize. Hamas is worried that the PA will delay the payments or place obstacles in the way, reported Al-Akhbar.
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Since Hamas took control over the Gaza Strip in 2007 it has appointed a large number of government employees on its behalf, while the PA refused to pay their salaries. Hamas has informed Israel and the PA that it is willing to stop the protests along the border fence, including the launching of arson balloons, to advance the aid – but will not hesitate to escalate the situation violently if no progress is made in the next few days.