Critics say the manner in which the funds have been transferred into Gaza befits the mob rather than an international aid money transfer, with the money being brought into the strip in cash and stored in briefcases.
But very few details regarding the transfer mechanism have been made public. The following details—which were cross-checked and corroborated with senior sources in Gaza, Qatar and Israel—explain how the mechanism works.
Overall, Qatar pledged to donate $150 million to the strip as part of what the Gulf nation calls the Qatar Development Fund.
The first $90 million—transferred in installments of $15 million per month over a six months period—is intended to pay the salaries of some 30,000 Hamas civil servants in the Gaza Strip, with each Hamas government employee receving $100-$1,600, totalling $10 million. The remaining $5 million fund a welfare program for 50,000 people defined as needy, with each person receiving a sum equivalent to $100.
An additional $60 million—$10 million each month—would be used by Qatar to purchase fuel to restart Gaza's power plant and improve the supply of electricity.
The civil servants eligible for the Qatari money are government officials who have been employed by Hamas in various civil service ministries (such as health, welfare, and treasury) after the terror group took control of the strip in 2007. Members of Hamas' security apparatus are not eligible for the Qatari-funded salaries, since they normally also serve in Hamas's military wing.
To ensure those eligible for the salaries are not involved in Hamas-led terror activities, Qatar forwarded a list with the names of all 80,000 eligible public servants to the Israeli government for approval. Following a thorough examination of the names, individuals ruled out by the Shin Bet were removed from the list.
How the money will be distributed
The funds are distributed to the general population through postal bank branches across the strip. Israel has indirectly demanded from Hamas to place strict security—supervised by Qatari officials—around all ten postal bank branches serving as distribution centers to avoid robbery.
Any civil servant or needy person eligible to receive the money is required to present an identity card, fill out a form and give their fingerprints. The exact amount each person is entitled to is noted in a reference provided by Qatari officials.
Once all 80,000 forms are filled, they are photocopied and sent to Israel for additional examination.
One photocopied document signed by a Hamas official—obtained exclusively by Ynet—was indeed accompanied by a fingerprint and a reference confirming the sum received.
Some $186,000, which remained unclaimed, were deposited in a bank account belonging to the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza to prevent unauthorized use of the funds.
Fuel transferThe $60 million worth of Qatari-bought fuel will also enter the strip in installments over a six months period.
The Qataris initially planned for the Palestinian Authority to buy the diesel from Israel tax-free through the UN and then resell it to the Gaza power plant with a 65% tax and pocket the difference. The PA, currently overwhelmed by financial woes, would have turned a $39 million profit. But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refused to cooperate with Qatari authorities.
As a result, Qatar and the United Nations signed an agreement under which the latter will buy the fuel from Israel and transfer it to the strip’s power plant.
To ensure the high-quality fuel reaches its destination without being replaced on the way by Hamas with cheap contaminated diesel, the UN accompanies each tanker from the moment it enters Gaza through the Kerem Shalom border crossing and until it reaches the power station.
Abbas tried to sabotage this move as well by putting pressure on the Israeli fuel companies and threatening to scrap agreements signed with the PA. Eventually, the UN signed a deal with a small Israeli company that has no contracts with the PA and was willing to sell fuel to Gaza.
The fuel helped restart three out of the four turbines in the Gaza power station, which has significantly increased the supply of electricity in the coastal enclave.
Since the first installment of Qatari funds was delivered to the strip, various industries in Gaza’s economy have been revitalized, including the restaurant business and the hotel industry, while the overall purchasing power has improved.
At the end of the day, what the Qatari money is really trying to buy is quiet, even if it is only for six months. No one knows what will happen afterwards, but six months is a considerable period of time that could lead to additional changes—which could lower the flames under this pressure cooker called the Gaza Strip.