image Photo: Flash90

Israel, Qatar work to help Gaza

Israel is reportedly negotiating a further infusion of monetary support from Qatar to Hamas, against which Israel has fought three wars.

Mossad head Yossi Cohen and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, are believed to be in direct contact with senior Qatari officials; in attempts to coordinate the transfer of $100 million of money from Doha to Hamas, in exchange for the Islamists’ agreement to cease all rocket attacks on Israel’s southern communities for six months. Hamas has also demanded the renewal of civilian projects, including water and electrical infrastructure. Israel is also expected to raise the release of captive Israelis and the bodies of two IDF soldiers being held hostage by Hamas.

Qatar helped to mediate an end to the most recent exchange of hostilities between the sides in in August.

That intervention has prompted some Israeli officials to predict Doha might also establish formal ties with Israel, Qatar ruled out the possibility in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Hamas has been targeted in recent months by increasing public discontent amid an increasing economic and humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Gaza has registered 2,613 COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths.

Israelis have welcomed news of the emerging ceasefire deal, but voiced dissatisfaction it will only be short term in duration.

Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi told local media that he was “sorry that instead of eliminating terrorism, the Israeli government supports the transfer of money to a terrorist organization for half a year.” Those sentiments were echoed by the Eshkol Settlement Council head, Gadi Yarkoni, who said, “We will welcome any agreement that will lead to long-term peace. But a period of half a year of peace is not the strategic solution we hope for.”

Qatar has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Gaza over the years, in payouts Israel has facilitated in hope of heading off another conflict in the impoverished enclave. The last installment of funds is expected to run out in just a few weeks time, and Hamas has already been threatening a resumption of attacks on Israel. The IDF and Southern Command are preparing for the possibility of escalation in the south in the near future in the event that attempts to reach an agreement with Hamas are not successful.

Qatar has been boycotted by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt for maintaining close ties with Hamas, as well as the Islamic Republic of Iran.