A couple of weeks ago, I reported that Qatar renewed its donations to the Gaza Strip for another year, at a total of 360 million dollars.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Bennett announced yesterday that Israel has stopped the flow of Qatari cash to Hamas.
So which is it? Here is the breakdown:
Since the end of the “Marches of Return” in 2019, Qatar has been giving 30 million dollars to the Gaza Strip every month (which is 360 million annually, except for a couple of months following operation “Guardians of the Walls”).
The 30 million dollars are divided as follows:
10 million dollars are handed out to about a 100,000 Gazan families in need (100 dollars per family).
10 million dollars are used to pay for fuel needed to generate electricity at Gaza’s power plant.
10 million dollars are used to pay for the salaries of Hamas officials.
So if Qatari money is used to pay for the salaries of Hamas officials, then what was the Israeli Prime Minister talking about?
Bennet referred to the method used to transfer the funds to Hamas.
Prior to operation “Guardians of the Walls”, the Qatari ambassador to the Gaza Strip usually brought the money with him in suitcases filled with cash. Since the operation, that method has changed.
So how does Qatari money make its way to the Gaza Strip now?
1. Gazan families eligible for the Qatari donations receive a code sent to them in an SMS, with which they can receive their share at various stores in the Gaza Strip.
2. The money for fuel for Gaza’s power plant is given to oil companies, who bring the fuel to the Gaza Strip in oil tankers.
3. The money for the salaries of Hamas officials comes in the form of fuel from Egypt, 10 million dollars worth of fuel each month. Here too, Qatar simply pays Egyptian oil companies directly. Hamas sells this fuel to private gas stations across the Gaza Strip, and in return receives cash that is then used to pay off the salaries of its officials.
So yes, Qatar stopped bringing cash to Hamas via Erez crossing. But Hamas still receives the same amount of money, only in the form of a commodity (fuel). This fuel makes its way from Egypt to the Gaza Strip, is then sold, and the profits go straight to Hamas’ coffers.
The amount of money which Hamas received remains the same. Only the process through which Hamas receives said money has changed.