Qatar’s ambassador to Gaza has pledged continued support to the besieged coastal enclave on his first visit since the start of the Gulf crisis early last month.
Mohammed al-Emadi arrived in Gaza along with his deputy head Khaled al-Hardan on Friday.
“Despite the crisis in Qatar, we will continue to support you,” al-Emadi said on Sunday. “We will open a new Qatari project and continue the projects which are already under way.”
Over the past five years, Qatar has already pledged $1.4bn worth of reconstruction money which has been going to hospitals, upgrading roads to housing projects.
Al-Emadi is also the head of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza.
Hamas official Musheer al-Masri told Al Jazeera that the Qatari envoy’s visit “indicates the genuineness with which Qatar deals with the Palestinian cause”.
“The visit indicates Qatar’s full – and not just seasonal – support of Palestine, both on an official and popular level,” he said, “even with the difficult times they are currently facing.”
Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from Gaza, said that the Qatari envoy’s visit was seen as welcome news for the Hamas government, which “finds itself under a huge amount of pressure, not just from the Israeli blockade but also from the rival Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank”.
The PA has recently undertaken a series of measures aimed at applying pressure on Hamas to relinquish control, such as slashing the salaries of its own government employees in Gaza and asking Israel to reduce the supply of electricity to the besieged strip.
“Hamas is looking for more friends and it’ll certainly be glad that Qatar, for now at least, is pledging to maintain its support,” Fawcett said.
Some two million people live in the Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli blockade for 10 years. The UN has warned that the dire humanitarian crises afflicting Gaza would render the territory uninhabitable by the year 2020.