Qatar has resumed its distribution of aid to the besieged Gaza Strip for the first time since an escalation in violence in May between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian group that governs the territory.
The Hamas-run government’s official news agency said the money is being disbursed through supermarkets, money exchange shops and other retail stores in a process that will continue during the coming days. The office of Qatar’s Gaza envoy, Mohammed el-Amadi, confirmed on Wednesday that the payments had restarted. The UN has said the funding amounts to $40m.
Al Jazeera’s Youmna al-Sayed, reporting from Gaza, said the aid will be delivered in amounts of 320 shekels (about $100) and “not in dollars like it used to be before”.
Qatar has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Gaza since Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in 2014.
Before the most recent escalation in violence between Israel and Hamas, Qatari diplomats delivered millions of dollars in cash by carrying suitcases through the Beit Hanoun border crossing, also called Erez by Israel, which controls the crossing. The policy has sparked controversy within Israel, with critics seizing on the optics and accusing the government of bowing to Hamas pressure.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has promised to end such deliveries since becoming prime minister in June.
The Qatari aid previously went to some thousands of poor families and to pay the salaries of civil servants in Gaza’s government. The aid to the families has resumed, but there is not yet an agreement on the aid for Hamas’s government payroll.
In the wake of the renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas in May, the United States pledged to work with the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority to rebuild Gaza. But the PA, which administers some parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, withdrew from the aid agreement.
As a result, the UN announced on Monday that the Qatari funds would be distributed through the same mechanism its agencies use in the territory.