Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90
A Gazan showing the money he withdrew from an ATM in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
A Gazan showing the money he withdrew from an ATM in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (archive)

Suitcases containing $15 million in cash provided by Qatar entered the Gaza Strip on Friday morning to pay the salaries of Hamas and Palestinian Authority employees.

While the move could not be carried out without approval by the Israeli Cabinet, who reportedly approved it two weeks ago, the transfer of the suitcases took place with no statements made by the IDF Spokesperson or by the Israeli Government.

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On Saturday night, right before embarking for Paris, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was asked about the suitcases and whether he thought they would restore security to the Gaza Belt, to which he responded: “I am doing what I can, with coordination with the security forces, to restore the quiet to towns in the south, but also to prevent a humanitarian crisis. I think that at this moment, It is the right move.”

On Sunday morning, Education Minister Naftali Bennett condemned the cash transfer, saying it was akin to “paying protection” to Hamas.

“You are buying short-term quiet,” Bennett told Kan Bet Radio, “but you are conveying a message to the other side that they can implement violence to get what they want.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in response that out of all the Cabinet members, he was the only one to object to the cash transfer or to any kind of agreement with Hamas.

“Bennett either suffers from amnesia, or he is lying,” Liberman tweeted after Bennett’s interview. “Bennett supported the cash transfer from the beginning, as well as the [transfer of] Qatari fuel, and also proposed to allow 5000 Gazan construction workers to enter Israel to work.

“Bennet objected to any military action against Hamas, and the responsibility for the ‘protection’ is on him and his party,” Liberman continued, adding that in the Cabinet meeting that voted on the cash transfer two weeks ago, he had been the only Cabinet member to object.

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