Gaza resident showcases $100 bill of Qatari aid money

UN to distribute Qatari aid to Gaza on Monday, envoy says

Following collapse of voucher agreement due to PA banks opting out, aid set to be disbursed in cash; officials did not say if or how distribution points monitored to ensure money bypasses Hamas

Reuters |
Published: 09.12.21, 20:15
The United Nations will begin on Monday to distribute cash aid to thousands of poor families in Hamas-run Gaza under a program funded by Qatar, the UN Middle East envoy said.
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  • Qatar has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Gaza since the 2014 war between the Palestinian enclave's Islamist Hamas rulers and Israel. But another round of fighting in May prompted Israeli and U.S. demands to revise the payouts to ensure they do not reach Hamas. They have since been on hold.
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    חלוקת הכסף הקטארי בעזה
    חלוקת הכסף הקטארי בעזה
    Gaza resident showcases $100 bill of Qatari aid money
    (Photo: AFP)
    Under a revised funding scheme coordinated by Qatar and the UN and supported by Israel, cash will be given out at more than 700 distribution points throughout the Gaza Strip, a UN official said.
    Nearly 100,000 beneficiaries will begin to receive the cash aid on Monday, UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
    Officials did not say if or how the distribution points were being monitored to ensure the cash bypasses Hamas.
    Qatar was also due to provide aid to civil servants in Hamas-run ministries under an agreement with banks under the jurisdiction of the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA).
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    Official disburses Qatari aid money to Gaza civilians at a local postal bank
    Official disburses Qatari aid money to Gaza civilians at a local postal bank
    Official disburse Qatari aid money to Gaza civilians at a local postal bank
    (Photo: Reuters)
    But the PA withdrew from that arrangement on Friday over concerns its involvement would expose it to legal issues. Hamas is deemed a terror group by the West.
    The Qatari funding scheme for Gaza's poor has won support from Israel, whose prime minister, Naftali Bennett, said on Monday it would ensure money reached those in need while bypassing Hamas.
    However, according to Bennett, the payments would be made in vouchers, not in cash as the UN official said.
    "The grant is being transferred in vouchers and not in suitcases of cash as has happened in the past," Bennett's office said in a statement.
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    ישיבת ממשלה
    ישיבת ממשלה
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi)
    When asked about the discrepancy, Bennett's office declined to comment.
    The premier on Sunday was said to consider reauthorizing cash transfers to Gaza Strip after PA's withdrawal from the agreement with the UN, according to sources familiar with the matter.
    Security officials estimate that Hamas will escalate tensions along the border with Israel if the money is not transferred to Gaza soon. As of Sunday evening, no decision has been made on the issue but one is expected in the upcoming days.
    A potential reauthorization of a cash-based transfer scheme to Gaza will come in violation of Bennett's past promises to bring an end to the practice for good.
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    חלוקת המענק הקטארי
    חלוקת המענק הקטארי
    Postal bank teller distributing Qatari aid money in Gaza Strip holds bundle of dollar notes
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Officials were still working to find a mechanism that would distribute cash to civil servants without funding Hamas military activities, Bennett's office added.
    Israel and Egypt hold Gaza under a blockade, citing threats from Hamas. The World Bank has said that the restrictions have contributed to soaring poverty in the enclave, home to 2 million Palestinians.

    Itamar Eichner contributed to this story.
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