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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Hamas warns of mass border protests if Israel blocks Qatar aid into Gaza


Hamas has warned it would restart the 2018 Great Return March protest if Israel does not allow Qatari aid to enter Gaza.

Hamas has threatened to restart the popular Great Return March of 2018 if Israel refuses to let Qatari aid into the besieged Gaza Strip, the Palestinian group said on Friday.

The Great March of Return protests began in March 2018 and lasted for a number of weeks.

Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees, who make up 70% of Gaza’s overall population, marched to the Israeli border fence. The peaceful protests were met with aggression from Israel, with snipers killing at least 200 people and injuring over 8,000.

Earlier this year, Qatar pledged some $360 million in financial assistance to the besieged Gaza Strip for the year 2021. The aid plan was to be used to pay salaries, help families in need, and contribute to a power station as Gaza continues to suffer from stifling living conditions, including an ongoing electricity crisis, imposed by the Israeli occupation.

After Israel launched an 11-day relentless bombardment campaign on the impoverished Gaza Strip, killing over 250 Palestinians, including 66 children, aid to the enclave became even more direly needed.

Since May 10, Israeli airstrikes and missile attacks have destroyed several schools, homes, healthcare facilities, buildings that housed media offices in Gaza and many more.

To respond to the brutal offensive, Qatar’s amir pledged $500 million dollars to help rebuild the Strip.

However, Tel Aviv has refused to allow Qatari aid into the besieged seaside territory, prompting Hamas to warn it would revive the Great Return March border fence protests if aid does not enter Gaza by next week.

Israel accuses Qatar of funding Hamas in Gaza, which it views as a terrorist organisation. In recent weeks, senior Qatari officials as well as Hamas leaders have refuted those claims.

“Qatar has invested one billion four hundred million dollars in rehabilitating the Strip since 2012, and Israel knows exactly where all the money goes,” said Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

Qatar’s most recent $500 million aid donation will help rebuild around 45 housing units, in addition to some other facilities, Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lolwah Al-Khater said to Sky News.

“Let me remind everyone that the problem is not Israel-Hamas. It’s basically the struggle of the Palestinian people for the past 73 years. We’re talking about stateless people and in Gaza alone. There are 2 million people who are living in an open-air prison, but we’re also talking about many other millions who are refugees,” Al-Khater said.

In May, Qatar’s foreign minister also slammed the claim in an exclusive interview with MSNBC, saying that “Palestinians are not only Hamas.”

Read also: Hamas says won’t touch ‘single cent’ of aid to rebuild Gaza

Hamas’ Gaza Strip leader, Yahya Sinwar, also vowed that the Palestinian resistance group would not touch a single cent of international aid sent for reconstruction purposes to the besieged Gaza Strip.

“I affirm our commitment not to take a single cent intended for reconstruction and humanitarian efforts,” he said. “We have never taken a cent in the past.”

Qatar has played a pivotal role to end days-long Israeli aggression on the Palestinian people while also providing aid to victims in Gaza.

The truce agreement, brokered as a result of efforts by Qatar and Egypt, has been praised by leaders around the world for ending days of brutal violence.

Read also: UN, EU thank Qatar for facilitating ceasefire in Gaza Strip

The Qatari amir has repeatedly extended his continued support to Palestinians and stressed the importance of Palestinian unity to obtain legitimate national rights, among which is the establishment of an independent state.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said: “I commend Egypt and Qatar for the efforts carried out, in close coordination with the UN, to help restore calm to Gaza and Israel”.

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