Doha has agreed to facilitate a fuel-to-cash scheme to pay civil servants in the impoverished Hamas-controlled territory, said an official with the Islamist terrorist group.
By Erin Viner
“According to the agreement, Qatar will pay the equivalent of its monthly aid to Gaza civil servants, which is between $7 and $10 million, in fuel,” said Director of the Hamas media office Salama Marouf.
Marouf stated that under the plan, the fuel “will come through the (Egyptian) border crossing for sale in the market,” after which the cash is to be transferred to Gaza’s Finance Ministry to help pay the salaries for some 40,000 civil servants.
While Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi announced on 17 November that his country had signed agreements with Egypt to supply fuel and building materials to Gaza, Doha did not respond to a request for comment about the fuel being used to pay the civil servants.
A source familiar with talks between Qatar and Hamas cited by Reuters said that the fuel-for-cash deal has yet to be finalized, and because of guarantees sought by Doha to ensure the proceeds of the fuel will reach the civil employees for whom it is intended.
Spokespeople for Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and the country’s Defense Ministry have declined to comment on the Hamas announcement – which if true, would circumvent current restrictions on Qatari aid to the Palestinian territory.
In the past Jerusalem facilitated delivery millions of dollars to Gaza from its patron Gulf state for humanitarian purposes; but stopped the flow of cash after Hamas and other Islamist terror groups fired thousands of rockets at Israel last May until there is greater transparency that the funds are not being diverted for terrorist activity.
Since 2014, Qatar has pumped more than $1 billion into Gaza, home to 2 million Palestinians.