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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

UN begins distribution of Qatar cash aid to Gaza


The Qatar cash funding scheme to Gaza was tweaked and revised following the Palestinian Authority’s withdrawal from the scheme.

Doha’s envoy to Gaza, Mohammed Al-Emadi has confirmed that Qatari aid to the besieged Strip has officially resumed after months of obstacles imposed by Israeli authorities.

According to the Strip’s official news agency …  the aid is being distributed via supermarkets, money exchange shops and other retail stores.

The United Nations has revealed that the funding amounts to $40 million, with Al Jazeera’s Gaza correspondent, Youmna al-Sayed saying a total of 320 shekels, approximately $100, will be distributed to each family.

Al-Sayed said the aid is not being delivered in dollars as was the case previously.

Earlier this week, the UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland said the global agency would begin to distribute Qatar cash aid to thousands of poor families in Gaza on Monday.

Under a revised funding scheme coordinated by Qatar, the UN and supported by Israel, the cash aid will be handed out at more than 700 distribution points throughout the Gaza Strip.

Eligible families will continue to receive notifications over the coming days informing them of their enrolment and when they will receive their assistance. This comes in addition to ongoing aid to needy people in #Gaza implemented by #UN agencies,” said the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process via Twitter.

This comes after Qatar’s aid envoy to Gaza Mohammed Al-Emadi revealed that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had withdrawn from an agreement to provide funding from Qatar to the Strip over concerns that its involvement could expose it to legal issues.

Qatar was also due to provide assistance to civil servants in an agreement with Palestinian banks under the jurisdiction of the PA.

The funding scheme for Gazans is supported by Israel, which had for months blocked the essential assistance from reaching the Strip. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said Israel would ensure money would reach those in need while bypassing Hamas.

Israeli officials are still working to find a mechanism that would distribute cash to civil servants without funding Hamas, Bennett’s office said.

Read also: PA withdraws from Qatar funding scheme for Gaza over ‘legal concerns’

However, according to the Israeli PM, 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.

Reuters requested a comment on the discrepancy in methods, but Bennett’s office has declined to comment.

Israeli hindrance

Doha has taken responsibility for the rebuilding of the Gaza enclave since the 2014 war between the territory’s rulers Hamas and the occupying Israeli state.

Having already pumped over $1 billion into Gaza projects since the conflict, the Gulf state pledged another $500 million in late May when a deadly Israeli onslaught killed more than 200 Palestinians including dozens of children.

Under a deal signed between the Qatari Gaza Reconstruction Committee and the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Qatar pledged to allocate $40 million to support nearly 100,000 families in Gaza.

However, Israel had blocked all attempts to deliver the much-needed aid until now.

In August, al-Emadi announced that an agreement had been reached “regarding the Qatari grant and the opening of the Gaza crossings in order to establish a state of calm and stability.”

Israel and Egypt have held Gaza under a 16-year siege. More than 2 million Palestinians live in dire conditions due to an Israeli blockade on the Strip, described as the world’s largest open air prison.

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