Gaza authorities began Wednesday handing out Qatari funds to seventy thousand needy families in the Strip, amid reports of an additional Qatari cash infusion to the coastal enclave.
Each family will receive $100, with $7 million transferred to the families in total.
According to local reports, the families were selected based on criteria set by the Welfare Ministry in Gaza, and the money is to be made available at post office branches.
The Qatari envoy to Gaza, Mohammed al-Emadi, issued a statement saying that the funds would be distributed over several days in alphabetical order. The last time such payments were made to poor families in Gaza with Qatari funding was in late October.
Meanwhile, the organizing committee behind the weekly Great March of Return protest along the Gaza border with Israel is expected to make a final decision on Wednesday on whether to hold a demonstration this Friday. The unstable security situation in the wake of the upsurge in hostilities earlier this month between Israel and forces in Gaza is the main consideration to be taken into account in deciding whether to hold the protest.
Over the past two weeks, the protests, which in the past have involved thousands of demonstrators and violent clashes with Israeli troops along the border fence, were called off. Sources in the organizing committee said, however, that policy on the demonstrations hasn’t changed but is regularly reassessed, considering the situation and the form that the protests should take.
The Palestinian Authority is awaiting the return from Qatar of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the hope that he will decide when presidential and parliamentary elections will be held. On Tuesday, Ismail Haniyeh, who heads the political wing of Hamas, met with the chairman of the central elections committee for the PA, Hana Nasser. Abbas is expected to announce his decision after Hamas makes its own position known. Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2007, when it ousted the Fatah-controlled PA.
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Hamas and Fatah agree that an election is necessary to support Palestinian reconciliation, even though mutual suspicions are likely to complicate an election to be held in both the PA-controlled West Bank and Gaza. Nor is it clear if and where Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem would vote, whether Israel, which annexed the eastern part of Jerusalem following the Six-Day War, would allow them to do so, and what the ramifications would be if they where not allowed to vote. The Oslo Accords of the 1990s bar PA activity in East Jerusalem.
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Wednesday that Qatar expressed willingness to provide up to $25 million of the logistical costs of an election in the West Bank and Gaza.