Palestinian banks delay Qatari funds from reaching Gaza, worried about Hamas

Israel has refused to allow the entry of Qatari cash into Gaza since Operation Guardian of the Walls, stating that unsupervised money will reach Hamas and be used for terrorist activities.

By Tobias Siegal, World Israel News

Despite the outline agreed upon by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Qatar over allowing Qatari aid to be processed by PA banks and funnelled toward rebuilding the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian banking system is raising concerns and delaying the transfer of funds, Israeli media reported on Thursday.

The main concern being voiced by Palestinian officials regards potential lawsuits filed against Palestinian banks in case the Qatari money reaches Hamas and is used to promote or carry out terrorist activities by the group.

Israel has refused to allow the entry of Qatari cash into Gaza since Operation Guardian of the Walls, stating that unsupervised money will reach Hamas and be used for terrorist activities.

Therefore, Israel and Ramallah had reached a new outline that would see the money processed and monitored by PA-operated banks in Gaza and divided among 100,000 struggling families (100$ for each family and a total of 10 million dollars every month), without ever reaching Hamas.

Under this new agreement, the UN would be responsible for monitoring the process of transferring the money to struggling households in Gaza.

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However, with the funds expected to be sent by Qatar as soon as next week, PA banks in Gaza might delay their arrival.

The Palestinian banking system is well aware that Israel will closely monitor the situation, raising concerns of lawsuits being directed toward the banks if money does end up reaching Hamas, a very tangible possibility, as indicated by a senior Hamas leader earlier this week.

On Wednesday, a TPS report stated that sources in the Gaza Strip have emphasized that Hamas would not agree to waive the payment of wages to its 27,000 civilian administration employees in Gaza, quoting a member of the Hamas leadership saying that “any agreement to transfer funds from Qatar to the Gaza Strip will not take place without the consent of Hamas and we will not give up the payment of salaries to government officials in the Gaza Strip.”

This may be problematic for the PA, which has insisted that the payment of wages to Hamas operatives not be included in the outline.

The same official added that “the Palestinian banks are nothing but a means and we will control the routing of funds.”

Such remarks may explain the Palestinian banks’ latency in moving forward with the agreed outline, fearing legal repercussions posed by Israel over their potential involvement in funding terrorism.

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Meanwhile, Hamas has demanded to be more involved in the process and to receive the funds directly, going as far as threatening a new escalation with Israel if funds are not transferred soon.

 

Baruch Yedid/TPS contributed to this report.