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Qatar to Continue Payments to Gaza, says Nation’s FM

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi said Qatar will continue its payments to Gaza to support the enclave, as it has been doing for years.

“We’re not going to change our mandate. Our mandate is our continuous help and support for our brothers and sisters of Palestine. We will continue to do it systematically as we did it before,” Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi added.

Qatari Foreign Minister’s remarks come against increased anger in Israel about years of payments from the Gulf state to Hamas. Under a deal, Qatari diplomats used to arrive in the enclave every month with suitcases containing $15 million in cash.

The cash deliveries were supposed to help pay Gaza’s civil servants. Pictures in 2018 showed workers lining up to receive $100 bills, CNN reported.

Israel had approved the deal in a security cabinet meeting in August 2018, during a previous Benjamin Netanyahu’s tenure as Prime Minister. At that time, Netanyahu was criticised for being soft on Hamas.

After Qatar’s envoy to Gaza, Mohamed Al Emadi, delivered the first suitcases of cash in November 2018, Netanyahu defended the initiative.

“I’m doing everything I can in coordination with security experts to return calm to (Israeli) villages of the south, but also to prevent a humanitarian disaster (in Gaza). It’s a process. I think at this time, this is the right step,” Netanyahu had said.

The then Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who was among his worst critics, called the funds “protection money”. Bennett later became Prime Minister himself in a short-lived government.

On Sunday, he told CNN that he had stopped allowing the payments to be made in cash when he became the Prime Minister, calling the cash suitcases a “horrendous mistake”.

“Why would we feed them (Hamas) cash to kill us (Israelis)?” Bennett asked.

Mounting criticism: The deal is one reason why many Israelis today place part of the blame for the October 7 Hamas terror attack on Netanyahu personally. A lot of people feel allowing the Qatari payments made Hamas stronger and, ultimately, made the brutal attacks worse.

Retired Major General Amos Gilad, who argued against giving Hamas cash when he was in the security establishment on Sunday told CNN that the money was “like oxygen” and that Hamas used it to cement its grip on Gaza.

Meanwhile, the UN agency staff in Gaza feels “abandoned” after the US vetoed the ceasefire resolution. The Commissioner-General of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, said UNRWA in Gaza felt “abandoned by the international community” after the US vetoed a UNSC resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza last week.

“It’s beyond disappointing. They feel abandoned by the international community,” Lazzarini told CNN in Arish, Egypt.

“They still cannot understand why, after 17,000 people have been killed, after almost the entire population has been displaced, we still cannot agree on a ceasefire.”

The UNRWA Chief said that his staff felt “deep frustration, deep disappointment, (and) outrage” at the failure of the UN to approve the resolution, adding that the system in Gaza is “teetering on the edge of a collapse”.

Gaza is “very close” to seeing “a breakdown of civil order,” which will not allow the agency to operate anymore, he said, adding some civilians in Gaza had resorted to looting warehouses in desperation.

“Too many people haven’t eaten now for two, three days in the Gaza Strip,” Lazzarini said.

“The more (that) we will see breakdown of civil order, the more (UNRWA) will be at risk not to be able to operate anymore.”

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