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Hamas refuses Qatari funds

Hamas rejected a $15m payment from Qatar yesterday after the Israeli Security Cabinet approved the transfer of funds.

Israel had delayed the payment after an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) officer was shot in the head by a Palestinian sniper at the border fence between Israel and Gaza. After lengthy discussions with his security cabinet on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the transfer.

Hamas accused Israel of imposing new conditions on the financial transfer. Hamas said it was unwilling to let Israel postpone the date for the delivery of the funds and demanded that a binding date be set for the money to be delivered. Hamas Spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Fawzi Barhoum, said that it had been decided to reject Israel’s policy of extortion and dictates.

Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said he had spoken to Mohammed al-Emadi, the head of Qatar’s Gaza Strip Reconstruction Committee, to explain why they rejected the money. He said: “Al-Emadi understood why we decided to reject the funds rather than accept them under the terms decided by Israel. Gaza will not be subject to extortion by Israeli election theatre.”

He added: “Hamas refuses Israel’s demand to transfer the funds via the Finance Ministry in Gaza, as opposed to the cash-based transfers in the two previous instalments.” Under the terms of an informal agreement in November, Qatar has sent $15m a month into Gaza. The payment would have been the third of six instalments of a $150m programme to fund civil servant salaries and fuel for power plants in Gaza.

Earlier this week, al-Emadi said Qatar will soon present an $80m project for the Gulf state to manage Gaza’s power supply, buying Israeli electricity in bulk and distributing it across Gaza while collecting payment from Palestinians in return. “We need to find a solution for these two million people—this is our aim and goal. Not just to deliver money because Israel wants quiet or Hamas wants money,” al-Emadi said.

The IDF has reinforced its presence along the Gaza border today in anticipation of violent demonstrations. Senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad official Khaled al-Batsh has said his group will escalate tensions along the border. The IDF has also deployed additional Iron Dome batteries in the greater Tel Aviv area and in southern Israel in anticipation of missiles being fired from Gaza.