HAMAS REFUSES QATARI CASH AFTER ISRAEL ALLOWS THIRD TRANSFER OF FUNDS
Islamic Jihad, the second largest group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas, voiced support for the Hamas move and called for the continuation of the weekly demonstrations near the border with Israel.
In a surprise move, Hamas announced on Thursday that it has rejected the $15-million third tranche of the Qatari grant to the Gaza Strip, vowing to continue its weekly protests along the border with Israel.
The announcement came following meetings between Hamas leaders and Qatari envoy Mohammed ww, who arrived in the Gaza Strip late Wednesday.
The Hamas official was referring to the controversy that erupted in Israel over the Qatari aid and the Security Cabinet’s approval of the transfer of the money to the Gaza Strip.
“We made it clear to Ambassador Al-Emadi that we refuse to accept the third Qatari grant in response to the actions of the occupation and attempts to evade the understandings reached under the auspices of Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations,” Haya said.
The weekly Friday demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel border “will continue until our rights are restored and until they achieve their goals,” he added. “Gaza, our people and our resistance, will not be part of the Israeli elections process.”
Thousands of Gazans have been protesting along the security fence on a weekly basis, taking part in Great March of Return demonstrations that began on March 30. The protesters are calling for an end of the 12-year-long Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas official claimed that the Qatari envoy expressed “understanding” for Hamas’s refusal to receive the grant.
Al-Emadi left the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing with Israel on Thursday afternoon. It was not clear whether he was planning to return to the Strip in the coming days.
Hamas has come under criticism from several Palestinians, especially its rivals in Fatah, for accepting the Qatari funds. Hamas’s critics have accused it of “trading Palestinian blood for money” and facilitating a US and Israeli “scheme” to establish a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.
The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine praised Hamas for turning down the Qatari grant and called it a “step in the right direction.” The group said in a statement that it had previously warned Hamas against Israeli attempts to “humiliate” the Palestinians. It called on Palestinians to participate in the weekly demonstrations near the border with Israel on Friday “in order to send a message to the [Israeli] enemy that the Palestinians won’t surrender.”