Qatar to send $480m to West Bank, Gaza after truce with Israel

Funds to be sent to Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza for health, education and humanitarian relief, Qatar announces.

Palestinian man sits on debris near a building that was destroyed by Israeli air strikes, in Gaza City
The recent three-day surge of violence has led to the deaths of at least 25 Palestinians and four Israelis [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Qatar has said it will send $480m to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip after a ceasefire deal ended the deadliest fighting between Israel and Palestinian factions since a 2014 Israeli assault on the enclave.

A statement from Qatar’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday morning said $300m would support health and education programmes of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), which controls parts of the West Bank.

Meanwhile, $180m would go towards “urgent humanitarian relief” in United Nations programmes and towards electricity.

Hamas’s political chief Ismail Haniya welcomed the move. In a statement, he thanked Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

“I express my thanks and gratitude to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and to the government and people of Qatar for this honourable move reflecting the generosity of Qatar,” Haniya said.

Israel and Gaza reach ceasefire agreement amid tense calm

The decision, he said, is a “continuation” of Qatar’s unwavering support of the Palestinian people.

The recent three-day surge of violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel has led to the deaths of at least 25 Palestinians and four Israelis.

A ceasefire deal was reached early on Monday, and no Israeli air raids on the Palestinian territory have been reported since the deal came into effect.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said Egyptian mediators, along with officials from Qatar and the UN, helped reach the ceasefire deal.

An Islamic Jihad official, on condition of anonymity, said the truce agreement was based on Israel easing its blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has been under a crippling Israeli-Egyptian siege since 2008.

Among the steps, the official said, were the easing of limits on the fishing zone to 12 nautical miles (about 22km) off the coast of Gaza and improvements in Gaza’s electricity and fuel situation.

Some two million Palestinians live in Gaza, the economy of which has suffered years of blockade as well as recent foreign aid cuts and sanctions by the PA – rival of Hamas, the group that governs the Strip.

Qatar has long been a major donor to the Palestinians. In January, post offices in Gaza distributed financial aid donated by the small, natural gas-rich country to 94,000 families.

Last month, Qatar opened a much-needed artificial limb and rehab centre for residents of the enclave.

Qatar proposed the hospital in 2012 when then-Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani became the first head of any state to visit Gaza since Hamas seized control of the territory.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies