Hamas Rejects Qatari Cash Infusion, Says Gaza Is Not an Israeli Pawn

Hamas deputy chief in the Strip tells Qatari envoy Mohammad Al-Emad Israel did not meet the terms of the agreement, and that Gaza will not become a pawn in the Israeli election

A Palestinian Hamas-hired civil servant displays U.S. Dollars after receiving her salary paid by Qatar in the southern Gaza Strip, December 7, 2018.
Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Hamas informed Qatar it will not accept a $15-million cash infusion into the Gaza Strip, the group's deputy chief said Thursday soon after Israel confirmed that it had approved the transfer of the Qatari funds. 

Khalil al-Haya said that Israel has failed to abide by its agreement to permit the funds to enter the enclave every month.  According to Palestinian news agency Ma'an, he added that Gaza will not become a pawn in the upcoming Israeli election.

The transfer that was to be delivered next was delayed for more than two weeks following an escalation in violence along Israel’s border with Gaza.

The Qatari envoy, Mohammad Al-Emadi, arrived in the Strip this morning and met with Hamas officials.

Earlier Thursday, Israel confirmed it had approved the transfer of $15 million from Qatar following recommendations from the security establishment officials. The money was expected to be distributed at the end of the week. An envoy from Qatar, Mohammad Al- Emadi, arrived in Israel on Wednesday to make preparations for the transfer.

 Emadi was to have left for Gaza early on Thursday. According to a source involved in discussions of the matter, all security cabinet members except for Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) supported the move. The beginning of the funds transfer was expected to take place on Thursday, but it is to be distributed to officials in Gaza only on Friday afternoon, at the time when protesters gather near the border fence. Israel believes that Hamas would not put the transfer of the funds at risk and will therefore act robustly to prevent violence at the demonstrations.

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The security establishment still considers the situation along the border tense, and any violence could lead to another delay in the transfer, even if Hamas is not responsible for it. Islamic Jihad and other groups object to Hamas’ position that it is better to maintain relative quiet on the border with Israel in exchange for receiving the Qatari aid money.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defense minister, had said that Israel would not allow the Qatari money into Gaza following in incident in which an Israeli officer was shot. Fuel trucks funded by Qatar were not blocked and have been going into Gaza on a daily basis.