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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

‘It’s not Israel-Hamas’: Qatar’s Lolwah Al-Khater takes aim at ethnic cleansing of Palestine


Qatar pledged $500 million to reconstruction efforts in Gaza after occupation forces destroyed several houses in the province. 

Qatar’s aid money 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.

The facilities will include the rebuilding of Qatari Red Crescent, the 11-storey al-Jalaa building, which hosted Associated Press and Al Jazeera journalists, and Hamad Rehabilitation Hospital— all of which were demolished by Israeli airstrikes during the 11-day bombardment.

The official also added around 50% of the aid will also go towards the energy sector in Gaza to provide Palestinians with electricity to help increase the power supply from two to 16 hours per day. The other half of the donations will go towards 430,000 of the poorest families living in the city, each of which will receive $100.

The aid aims to cover basic food necessities and medical expenses for the community, Al-Khater added, speaking of the major $500 million aid package announced by the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to help reconstruct Gaza.

During the interview with Sky News, the anchor tapped into ongoing allegations regarding Qatar’s aid to Gaza given the presence of the ruling Hamas movement in the city, prompting a swift response from the Qatari official.

Read also: Blinken thanks Qatar for securing Gaza ceasefire

“This claim is absolutely inaccurate. Whoever has been talking to you, Samantha was not saying the truth. Yes, we do exercise very, very strict measures on our aid in general. And this has been done through the UN and obviously with the approval of Israel, because to Gaza, you have two passages.. and it wasn’t going through Egypt,” the official explained.

“So it has to be going through other means. And that is in this case with the approval of the Israelis. So no… the answer is everything has been going either to the electricity sector or to humanitarian purposes. Most of the commentators from Israel who are saying this, they’re saying this for domestic reasons and political reasons for election purposes,” she said in a dig at Netanyahu’s election campaign.

Read also: Blinken thanks Qatar for securing Gaza ceasefire

Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani also slammed the claim in an exclusive interview with MSNBC, saying that “Palestinians are not only Hamas.”

“We cannot reduce the Palestinian people living under occupation and consolidate them in just one group. There are 2.1 million people living in Gaza who are in desperate humanitarian need, there are people who are suffering and suffered from this war, there have been a lot of children killed in the war,” the FM said.

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

“We welcome any international or Arab effort to rebuild the Gaza Strip,” Sinwar said.

“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 and Egypt-brokered ceasefire

Earlier this month, Qatar and Egypt-brokered ceasefire in Gaza was implemented, a crucial more that ended an 11-day Israeli bombardment that killed 248 Palestinians including 66 children.

When asked about the ceasefire, Al Khater added that “we have to remain optimistic” that it will hold.  However, it is important to pinpoint the root causes of the issue, which started with Israel forcing Palestinians out of Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in what is described as “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinian people, she said.

“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.

“And we’re talking about Oslo that was never fulfilled, not because of the Palestinians. Let’s remember that the two leaders who signed Oslo were finished not by the Palestinians. One of them was assassinated by an Israeli fanatic. The other one died under siege after three years of siege. That was Yasser Arafat. So, once again, we need to address this issue holistically.”

Qatar has been among the most active nations in responding to Palestinians facing Israeli aggression, with accelerated efforts since the flare-up earlier this month.

Among the initiatives was a QAR 60 million QRCS fundraising campaign for Palestine under the title ‘We Are All Palestine’. The campaign aims to benefit more than 593,000 Palestinians in Gaza, Jerusalem and several cities in the West Bank.

In addition, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken held a phone call with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani last Thursday to discuss the Gaza ceasefire.

According to US spokesperson Ned Price, Blinken thanked Sheikh Mohammed for Qatar’s “assistance in helping to secure the ceasefire between Israel, Hamas, and other parties in Gaza”.

The US state secretary also stressed the importance of joint international support for humanitarian and development efforts in Gaza.

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