Photo Credit: Joseph Clark/U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. soldiers with the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) ready the USAV SP4 James A. Loux to deploy from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. on March 12, 2024. The unit is deploying as part of a Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore mission to conduct 1,800-foot causeway off the coast of Gaza to enable the flow of supplies from the sea to Gaza

At the request of the US, and despite Israeli objections, Qatar is financing and will operate a pier being built in Gaza to receive humanitarian supplies. Moreover, the Gazan company contracted by Qatar to do the construction work is close to Hamas, a development that is “absolutely against the Israeli security interest,” according to one official in Jerusalem.

“The United States turned to Qatar so that it would take over the financing and operation of the pier, which will be built in the northern Gaza Strip, at the initiative of the United States,” several Arab diplomatic sources told The Press Service of Israel.

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A senior Israeli political official told TPS-IL, “Israel objected because it is not in love with Qatar’s involvement, to say the least.”

Palestinian Authority officials from Ramallah involved in the efforts to build the pier told TPS-IL, “The Qataris have an interest in establishing the pier in the Gaza Strip and, among other things, to preserve their presence and gain leverage over Hamas and even strengthen their position against Egyptian influence in the Gaza Strip.”

But Qatar’s relationship with Hamas, and Hamas’s ties with the lead contractor raise questions. The Cyprus-Gaza maritime corridor for aid deliveries was intended to bypass Hamas, which has been hijacking delivery trucks.

“Hamas also has an interest in building the pier, as long as it is carried out by the Qataris, because Hamas is concerned about the idea of building the pier and sees it as a sham and a cover for a long-term Israeli presence in the Gaza Strip,” local Gazan contractors told TPS-IL.

The contractor, Al Hisi is one of the largest construction and engineering companies in Gaza. The smaller business owners told TPS-IL that Al Hisi gets most of the Qatari contracts. The World Central Kitchen, a US-non profit contracted by Qatar to provide food, has also turned to Al Hisi for help with establishing a network of kitchens around the Strip.

“It’s not surprising, this company wins a very large part of the tenders of the local government and the government ministries of Hamas, and it is also preferred by the Qataris,” the contractors said. “The company receives the patronage of Hamas and even transfers payments and benefits to it in exchange for promoting the tenders.”

Al Hisi has been responsible for numerous housing projects funded by Qatar in recent years. It also promotes projects funded by the Islamic Bank, a bank close to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamic Bank is banned in Israel but operates Gaza, the Palestinian Authority and neighboring Arab countries.

An Israeli source said the involvement of Qatar and Al Hisi in constructing the pier “is absolutely against the Israeli security interest.”

At least 1,200 people were killed and 240 Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on October 7. Of the remaining 134 hostages, Israel recently declared 31 of them dead.

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Baruch reports on Arab affairs for TPS.