Israel says it has achieved an agreement with Qatar and the United Nations on a method to move aid from the Gulf state to the besieged Gaza Strip, bolstering hopes for relief in the Palestinian enclave that has been devastated by Israel’s conflict with Hamas.
Aid disbursement following the May fighting has been delayed in part by an Israeli dispute over Hamas and a debate over how to prevent the party from gaining access to such funds.
Following a May 21 truce that mostly ended hostilities, Hamas, the Palestinian party that rules Gaza, has agreed not to touch the donor money, which has emerged as a significant topic in mediation talks.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced the agreement on Thursday, saying he had spoken with Qatar “to establish a mechanism that ensures the money reaches those in need while maintaining Israel’s security needs.”
According to the new system, Qatari aid “will be transferred to hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza by the UN directly to their bank accounts, with Israel overseeing the recipients,” Gantz expressed in a statement.
Gantz also stated that Israel will continue its “pressure campaign for the return of the Israeli soldiers and citizens that are being held hostage by Hamas” alluding to two soldiers who went missing in action during the 2014 Gaza conflict and two civilians who slipped into the territory independently.
Hamas has made no quick statement and has not provided any information about the four Israelis’ conditions.
In recent years, Qatar has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to Gaza’s poorest households. The finances have been a major source of stability for the poor area, which has a 50 percent unemployment rate.
Israel has suspended the payments since the May war, asking for guarantees that none of the money will reach Hamas. Before the war, $30 million in cash was transported to Gaza in bags every month through an Israeli-controlled crossing.
Qatar’s Gaza Strip Reconstruction Committee announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations to distribute $100 to each of around 100,000 Gaza Strip families beginning in September.