Published On: Fri, Jul 22nd, 2016

Qatar gives $30 million to pay Hamas public sector workers in Gaza

The funding is meant to '"alleviate suffering and financial distress.'

Gaza ruins
Qatar said it would give $30 million to help pay the salaries of thousands of Gaza Strip public sector Hamas workers left without a full wage package since 2013 on Thursday .

The donation was welcomed by Hamas, the Islamist group that dominates the enclave. They said it would help ease the wage shortages that have tested already strained relations with the US-backed Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

The emir of the wealthy Gulf state, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, said the payment of 113 million riyals was meant to “alleviate suffering and financial distress”, according to Qatar’s state news agency, QNA.

The question why is Israel apparently helping Qatar partner with its enemy to rebuild their territory? Qatar does not have diplomatic relationship with Israel, and the Jewish state has always tried to isolate Hamas while has accused Qatar of financing the Islamic organisation.

Last month, when commenting on Israel’s recent move to allow Qatar to channel its reconstruction aid through Hamas, Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of research for Israel’s military intelligence, told NPR,  “Life is full of contradictions and strange things.”

According to NPR, Kuperwasser thinks that letting Qatar help Hamas will be beneficial for Israel in the long run. “We believe that better conditions in Gaza would lessen the incentive of Hamas and the population to go again to a war, so in a way, it is helping the deterrence, ” he said. He added that in 2014 after the war, Qatar was the only country willing to help.

According to humanitarian news service IRIN,  Qatar alone has pledged $1 billion, the European Union pledged $568 million, the US $212 million, and Turkey and the United Arab Emirates both committed $200 million. But of February 2015, only about 5 pecent of what had been promised reached Gaza.

Hamas fighters seized control of Gaza in 2007 from forces loyal to Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, triggering years of mutual distrust.

A reconciliation pact signed in 2014 by the two sides raised hopes among Hamas that its 50, 000 public sector employees’ wages would be taken care of via the Palestinian Authority (PA) payroll.

But the Palestinian Authority cannot afford to pay all the extra workers. International donors who support the PA budget, including the European Union, say they want an audit of workers and cutbacks to the bloated payroll, which costs more than $2 billion a year.

The Hamas-hired public servants have grown restive and in 2014 protested over their lack of payment which is partly due to a continued blockade imposed on Gaza by both Israel and Egypt.

“The July payment will be made in full immediately once the Qatari financial fund is received, ” Hamas’ deputy finance minister, Youssef al-Kayyali said.

Qatar, which hosts the largest US air base in the Middle East, has for years preserved influence with Islamist forces across the region it believes are the long-term future.

The breadth and resilience of Qatar’s links to Islamist groups including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has suffered a crackdown in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, fuels suspicions in other Gulf states.

Reuters, Ynet News

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