After Cease-fire, Gazans Still Waiting on Qatari Money and Warn of Relapse Into Conflict

If things don’t start to move by the weekend, we could be back to another escalation, a Hamas source says

A Palestinian fishermen unload their catch at the seaport of Gaza City, April 22, 2019.
Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Three days after the announcement of a truce between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza, the coastal enclave is still waiting for measures that could improve the situation, and warn of the risks of continued deadlock.

On Wednesday morning, Gazan fishermen reported that the sea was still closed off and that they have not been able to go to work for several days now. There is no official word yet as to when the Qatari money to pay Hamas bureaucrats’ salaries and aid needy families will arrive.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 26Haaretz

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Ahbar reported Wednesday morning that the Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi could arrive in Gaza this Friday to coordinate the money transfer and advance projects to create jobs in Gaza, but the report has not been corroborated by any official source in Gaza, Israel or Qatar.

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As Haaretz reported earlier this week, at the cease-fire negotiations in Cairo, Palestinian factions informed Egyptian mediators that they would wait one week for the understandings to start being implemented, including immediate steps such as opening the sea and the border crossings and bringing in the Qatari money.

“Meanwhile, everything is closed, and in Israel they’ve gone on vacation for the holiday,” a Hamas political official says. “The expectation is that things will start moving this weekend. Otherwise, we’ll return to an escalation.”

On Tuesday, Gisha, an Israeli human rights organization, wrote to Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Coordinator of the Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) commander Major General Kamil Abu Rukon, warning against continued closure of the border crossings, which are only expected to reopen on Sunday.

Palestinian men carry a mattress out from the rubble of a building that was destroyed by Israeli air strikes, in Gaza City, May 7, 2019.
AFP

“The continuous closure of the crossings has drastic implications for the two million residents of Gaza,” the organization warned. “Throughout the entire week, no vital goods entered Gaza, including those meant for humanitarian needs; traders are incurring losses due to the entry of goods being blocked; agricultural goods meant to be sold outside Gaza are going to waste; fishermen are unable to earn their livelihood; people who hold permits for humanitarian visits to relatives are unable to exit Gaza, and the same goes for patients who have appointments for medical treatments that are unattainable in Gaza. Arranging for alternate appointments and obtaining new exit permits from Israel could take weeks or more.”

The quiet will also be put to the test when the weekly protests resume at the border fence on Friday. In Cairo it was agreed that the marches would continue but be held in check, and that the launching of incendiary balloons from Gaza and nighttime activity by Hamas along the border would cease. The March of Return's organizing committee says it will call on participants to stay far from the fence to avoid injuries. However, spokespeople for the Palestinian factions in Gaza stressed that their joint operations room is still operating on an emergency basis and that they are ready for any scenario, including the resumption of rocket fire into Israel.